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Every Friday, I post a small insight into running Curio City and/or Blue Hills Editorial Services. My most recent posts are directly below. You can also start with the first post, or use the subject labels to the right to home in on particular topics. Feel free to comment on anything that interests you.
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Friday, December 14, 2007

The Home Stretch

Oops! I did it again: Another customer claimed that I short-shipped him two USB fans. Although I’m reasonably sure that I put them in a box, I can’t swear that they went into his box. My physical count inconclusively came up 1 over. Fortunately, the cost of this mixup is minor.

The setback that I wrote about last week had a happy ending. The customer whom I suspected of receiving my mis-sent parcel really did get it, and she contacted me as soon as she got back from a vacation. I must bear in mind that not everybody lives online and works 365 days a year, like I do. Normal people get days off…holidays…even vacations.

I was briefly tempted by her kind offer to return the caps, but I stuck with plan A and offered them to her without repercussions. She immediately placed a large second order that partially offset my loss. That reinforced my long-held belief that a satisfied customer matters more than a profitable sale. Although I must say that I do like profitable sales.


I usually write or revise a bit of my weekly blog entry each weekday, then clean it up and post on Friday morning. This week I thought it might be interesting to preserve the day-to-day journal approach as I chronicle Curio City’s performance during this busiest week of the year in 2006, with its daunting sales targets for this year.

The first week of December (last week) never quite made up its poor start, and ended up about 14% behind LY, so I'm going into this intimidating week with a deficit already.

Sales were mediocre on Sunday, surged nicely on Monday, then turned strange on Tuesday. On Monday 293 customers visited my store, setting an all-time traffic record. (For comparison, normal non-holiday traffic is around 100 visits.) Just as the first of three huge backup orders of Panther Vision lighted caps arrived, this hottest item of the season stopped selling almost entirely. I had been selling at least a dozen caps a day for the past couple of weeks. I found another store undercutting my price by $3 per cap, so I promptly cut my price. While I was in a sacrificing frame of mind, I knocked my Pursehooks down a couple of bucks, too. What started out as a novelty in the fall seems to be ubiquitous now, and robust early sales sputtered out almost entirely.

So Tuesday looked like a bloodbath – one of those disturbing days when things get so quiet that I suspect technical problems. A rare, large jewelry order staved off disaster, but still left me substantially behind LY. Then, just 15 minutes before midnight, two more orders arrived to save the day. Traffic fell to 196 visitors, down a third from Monday’s peak.

Wednesday, which should have been the strongest day of the week and one of the best of the year, continued the slowing pattern. The smaller items that I’ve been selling in great quantities (and with which I’m very well stocked) are dead. I should be bouncing off the walls trying to keep up with them. Instead, I’m selling just enough large-ticket items to keep a pulse going. (Levitating globes FTW!) Each day I fall farther behind LY, and I don’t know what changed. It is as if Christmas shopping ended on Monday night, just as my major reorders started to hit. It makes me literally sick when something major and unexplained like this comes along. I feel an urgent need to do something, but I have no clue what, or if anything I do would make any difference. At times like this that I wish I had coworkers to talk to. Wednesday ended many hundreds of dollars behind LY. Traffic was basically flat at 203 visits.

Thursday opened with only one small sale waiting for me. I resolved during my morning walk that I am not going to stress out over it anymore. I’ve done everything I can do. This morning I added shipping advice right on my key product pages, and cap sales revived. Maybe that’s all I needed all along? If so, it’s a valuable lesson. I wish I’d learned it two days ago. This is the time of year when every day counts. Traffic is still around 200 visitors per day.

My ambitious plan to kick out one last newsletter plugging my new 4-LED Camo cap died in a major snowstorm. My delivery run to the post office and UPS Store – normally a 30-minute errand -- took more than two hours. I’ve been scrambling to update my product pages and get the newsletter ready, but it’s 7 PM, and tonight is the Kraken Enterprises Christmas party. I’m outta here.

This morning (Friday) I spent two hours shoveling. so I don’t have time to polish up this post. I need to crank out that newsletter and ship my orders. Yesterday ended up pretty strong and today is off to an encouraging start. With luck and hard work, I can probably keep sales up for about five more days, and maybe recover a bit of my sales deficit.

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