We were lucky enough to have the chance to sit down with Steve Acree, owner and founder of Seismic Audio Speakers, to get a firsthand account of the company’s growth, challenges along the way, and creative solutions they’ve found to unlock continued success.
Watch the video and find the full script below.
Luke: To get started, introduce Seismic Audio.
Steve: My name’s Steve Acree, and I’m the owner of Seismic Audio Speakers in Memphis, TN. We sell pro audio equipment that bands, DJs, karaoke people, and churches would use. We started in 2000 with twelve products and didn’t really know what we were doing. We started on eBay just selling parts, and as the business grew, customers started asking us for completed cabinets rather than just the parts. It took off from there — people started asking for cables to go with the speaker cabinets, amplifiers to go with the speaker cabinets… they started asking for subwoofers, monitors, and other items that compliment pro audio speakers. Back then, we had ten to twelve products; today, we have nearly 2,000 products.
Luke: What’s the story behind Seismic Audio’s name?
Steve: Originally in 2000 when I started this business, I was really just looking to make extra money for the weekend. In order to distinguish all my products, I gave them my initials — SA. So if I sold a 15” speaker, I just called it SA15. Well, as the business grew, I had to give a reason why everything had “SA” on it, and I didn’t want to start Steve Acree Speakers, so I came up with the name Seismic Audio. I had a roommate who was a geologist, and he thought I should call it Seismic Activity. I said, “Well it’s audio equipment, so let’s call it Seismic Audio.” From there, Seismic Audio was born.
Luke: Where does Seismic Audio fit into the audio retail ecosystem?
Steve: I attempted to make Seismic Audio a niche in the audio field. I wasn’t aiming for home audio or car audio — we went after the pro audio field: the band members, the DJs, the karaoke guys, the guitar players. We expanded to schools and churches; anybody that would need the large speakers that you can see in a coliseum, or locally here at FedEx Forum: the niche products that you typically don’t find unless you go to a specialized store such as Guitar Center or Musician’s Friend. Our goal was to open up the market to less expensive pro audio equipment and eliminate the middle man.
Luke: What has been most challenging as Seismic continues to grow online?
Steve: Seismic was ultimately on 11 marketplaces, plus we had our website — so we were selling on 12 channels. One of the biggest problems we ran into was not only trying to manage 12 channels, but gathering the plethora of data that we had and trying to distinguish what we had — who our customers were, what products they were ordering… What’s popular on Newegg might not be popular on Amazon. What people are buying as a package on our website might not be the package they’re buying on eBay. So we needed to figure out what products to offer, what products to order, what products we needed to make for each particular marketplace (and for our website), and that was a huge challenge.
Luke: How has Seismic begun to tackle the data problem?
Steve: As we were trying to solve the problem of gathering the data from multiple marketplaces, we came across Echidna. Echidna showed us a program called Empower. It was customized to fit our data, our needs, and ultimately start solving the problem we’ve had of having all this data and not being able to use it, not being able to find it, and not being able to read it once we did find it.
Luke: How has Seismic used Empower specifically?
Steve: We were able to consolidate our data from 11 marketplaces and our website — so 12 different channels — and we were able to bring in all of our information to one dashboard, view it quickly and as an overview, see what we’ve done for the day or for the week or for the month. But as you dig deeper, we’re able to break them down as far as the SKU level — how it performs on a particular site, how it performs with other SKUs, where it’s being sold, where it’s popular, what region of the United States is buying this product. Ultimately, our goal is to take this data and advertise correctly with Google AdWords and Facebook ads. Rather than spend $1,000 on an ad all over the United States, we’re now able to take that same $1,000 and target where the product’s popular and selling, ultimately leading to more sales of that particular product. This program is helping me eliminate costs with advertising and over-ordering and overstocking our products. It’s also helping us increase our sales to know which products we should purchase per-marketplace.
Luke: What does it look like for Seismic going forward?
Steve: Going forward here at Seismic, I really feel like I’ve found a partner that can help the business grow, that actually understands the eCommerce world of helping us grow on the eCommerce side. Before Echidna, we kind of winged it with the data and on our web designs. We did things we thought the customer would like. Echidna’s really shown us that data can drive the design of your website and drive your ordering processes. Using the Empower program that’s customized to our specific needs has really been a blessing here at Seismic Audio.