Welcome to Curious Business

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.
Add to Technorati Favorites

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Halloween Ball

It’s funny, how products sometimes blow up out of nowhere. I’ve carried novelty golf balls since the beginning. A few months back somebody bought enough Halloween balls to propel that style onto the bestseller list (they do sell year-round). This week a blogger in Italy picked up on them (see the 29 Ottobre 2009 post). I can’t read Italian, but I do know that her link works. Links are good. Creating product links is part of this blog's reason for existing. Even if none of her readers buy anything from me, that link will raise the page’s stature in the all-seeing eyes of Google. Halloween is over, so that should be the end of it…but who knows where it will really go from there?

I’ve explained that I don’t particularly like international sales. I lose money on the currency conversion, the charge processing cost is higher, the shipments take considerable time to prepare, and I am supposed to hand the parcels to a postal employee, which means either scheduling a carrier pickup or (shudder) standing in line. Last week I stood in line with a package to Denmark and one to Canada among my domestic shipments. One clerk was working the counter while three others bustled around officiously. The working clerk was tied up with an old woman who apparently had set aside her whole afternoon for the post office. Eventually a manager-type came out and started trying to steer people toward the automated postal center. He couldn't take my international packages, though – those had to be handed to a counter clerk, he said, and he couldn’t hand them off for me. :rolleyes: OK, whatever. Finally I made it to the front. The clerk took my packages, and then told me that he couldn’t scan in labels purchased online because those are already “accepted”, technically. From now on, I’m going with carrier pickup, even though it adds an extra day.

Which brings up a new reason to hate both Canada and UPS – a twofer! A customer paid $39.98 for two sets of Whisky Stones – which is to say, rocks. Postage to Canada was $16.15, bringing it to $56.13. Converting to Canadian funds made that $60.76. And then Canadian Customs hit him for $36.49 in import duties. Bottom line: $97.25 for 18 pieces of rock. They’re nice rocks, but wow.

I strengthened my international shipping wording. Truth is that this seems to happen to everyone who chooses UPS Standard to Canada. USPS shipments are less likely to be intercepted. I don’t know whether that’s Canada’s fault or UPS’s, and so I shall hate them equally this week.


I went back to manual click bids after seeing some weird money allocations from Google’s conversion optimizer. I only had the nerve to stick with it for four days. My daily spend rose by about $4 per day. On three of those days I got the usual 50-75 clicks. On the last day I got 83 – a little better than average. I did make three international sales during the period, which is also more than average…but that’s hardly desirable. I think I’d have to run this for at least a month to draw any conclusions, and that’s a more expensive experiment than I care to perform. Maybe I’ll try it again during the slow season. Or maybe not. I don’t really like surrendering control.

October was a phenomenal month. I wish that the changeover from 2-LED to 3-LED lighted caps could go on forever. Sadly, the old ones are selling out, and that’s going to take some wind out of November’s sails.

Of course it all comes down to November and December, but here’s what it looks like going in. Remember, this year’s plan is +25% growth (reduced from 33% when the economy collapsed).

For October:

Total income: +58.0%
Total COGS: +61.2%
Payroll: +232.5%
Net Income (Profit): -50.1%

The YTD numbers:

Total income: +24.2%
Total COGS: +21%
Payroll: +44.2%
Net Income (Profit): -37.4%

I continue to steer more money into my paycheck at the expense of my year-end profit -- not the optimal tax strategy, but I need every penny while Anne is unemployed. COGS is rising more slowly than income. And income is very near my 25% growth target. Pretty good numbers all around.

The next two months will decide next year’s plan. Tentatively, I’ve set it at 30% growth, but I might lower that if Christmas is a bust.

1 comment:

  1. Matrix1:20 PM

    Quick SEO tip to increase sales, instead of random generator of numbers that you have now for products, make it a profuct name. so it shouldn't be curiocityonline.com/index.php?!ddkf23jsfd
    randomly generated numbers. it shoul;d be curiocityonline.com/footballgolfballs.php.



What do you think? Leave a comment.

Google Search