Pilot World Shop offers quality general aviation products at affordable prices. The business also financially supports my flying hobby and has given me more flexibility to do more of what I love.
Chris Wilkinson, Pilot World Shop
At EKM, we hear lots of heartwarming stories where selling online has enabled people to fulfill their passion. Chris Wilkinson is a perfect example of someone who is living life to the full, using the profits made from his online shop to fund his piloting pastime. We caught up with Chris to find out more about his business and remarkable hobby.
Introduce yourself and Pilot World Shop, what was your motivation behind starting the business and what do you sell?
I’m Chris Wilkinson, founder of Pilot World Shop. We started in June 2018 and we sell headsets, survival and safety equipment for general aviation pilots.
My motivation to start the business was to be more involved in the aviation industry. I have flown light aircraft from the age of 16 and it’s been a passion of mine ever since. Having used many aviation products over the years I spotted a gap in the market to start a new company to offer products in the ‘mid-range’ of pricing and quality. I found that you can get inexpensive headsets that don’t offer a good enough quality or very expensive headsets, which are great quality but not everyone can afford. Pilot World Shop offers quality general aviation products at affordable prices. The business also financially supports my flying hobby and has given me more flexibility to do more of what I love.
How did you get into flying?
I asked my Dad to get me an air experience flight for my 16th birthday and I never looked back. When I was at college I got a part-time job to continue paying for flying lessons to get my Private Pilot’s License (PPL) and I qualified at the age of 17…before I could even drive a car!
Did you have any experience in selling online before starting your business?
No, I didn’t have any experience. Just plenty of enthusiasm and a willingness to learn. I read a lot about how to set up the online shop and the EKM blogs and videos were invaluable and I have taken so much knowledge from these to help me set-up my online shop.
How did you earn your first sale?
What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced since starting your business?
The biggest challenge has been getting good quality photos of my products on a low budget. We’ve had some photos from manufacturers but they tend to be one photo or low quality/resolution. We’re still experimenting taking product photos, getting the right lighting and getting to grips with editing software!
What do you love most about running your own business?
I love how simple it is to run an online shop and I get huge satisfaction when a sale comes in and I can package up the products (and a couple of freebies!) and ship them out to the customer. It’s a really proud moment when people believe in you, buy your products and you send them off and get fantastic feedback about your customer service. It’s a real buzz!
What advice would you give to new shop owners just starting out?
Get your pricing right – do your research and figure out where you want to be in the market. The content on your website, telling your product story, and having great pictures is so important. The hard work doesn’t stop the day the shop goes live, it’s only just beginning. Figure out how you’re going to promote your site and products, how you’re going to package and ship the products, and how you’re going to manage stock levels.
What are your plans for the future?
I want to expand my product line for 2019, which I’m researching and trialling new products for at the moment. I’m also thinking about expanding into other countries, especially those with fair weather climates for flying.