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.
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Friday, December 02, 2011

On the Fifth Week of Christmas, My Business Gave to Me...

A five-digit month/four minutes offline/three giveaways/two gorgeous days/and a big rusty pail of fail.

I needed a five-digit month just to match LY, so that’s less wonderful than it sounds. More wonderful was an $1,100 lighted cap telephone sale that propelled yesterday to a new one-day sales record. Thieves don’t usually order by phone and the charge passed the fraud screening with flying colors, so I think it’s OK. That not only put November in the bag, but even put me $800 ahead of last year to date. If I can just hit my numbers for the next few weeks I might still avoid my first-ever year-over-year decline.

Look at all the black ink, courtesy of the past two days:


Total income: +23.8%
Total COGS: +32.5%
Payroll: -4.1%
Net Income (Profit): +48.4%


Total income: +1.7%
Total COGS: +0.6%
Payroll: -1.1%
Net Income (Profit): +11.3%

Ain't that beautiful? Speaking of sales records, you might like to see them. 

•    Biggest day: Yesterday, at $2,202, surpassed the previous record of $2,169 on 12/8/08 (when the New York Times Gift Guide mentioned the LED Motherboard Christmas Tree  )
•    Biggest week: $6,344 on 12/13/08 (thanks to the same random act of media)
•    Most sales in one day: 51 on 12/9/09 (Boston Globe Whisky Stone mention)
•    Best paycheck ever (2 weeks): $1,943 on 12/25/10.

Cyber Monday brought in 14 sales, the best single day this season until yesterday. Unfortunately most of them were so small that the day ended up $120 behind LY. Of the 11 new orders facing me on Tuesday morning, 10 were under $20. I don’t mean to be unappreciative, but after PayPal takes 55 cents from an $8 purchase and I stuff it in a 35-cent padded mailer, it’s barely worth the time it takes to generate a label and drive it to the post office. One or two orders like that is just a small nuisance. It becomes a problem when they define a busy day.

On the plus side, I didn’t have any trouble loading them into my Miata. 

The weekend’s offer of free shipping on orders over $50 should have prevented exactly that. Only one person redeemed the coupon. Lesson learned: Cyber Monday sales should be one-day only, simple, and highly targeted – just a few specific items prominently on sale. Maybe next year I’ll try creating a temporary category and moving a handful of items into it -- no coupon necessary. This year’s offer was generous, but it took two paragraphs to explain, and if there’s one thing the past five years have taught me, it’s that shoppers don’t read. 

BTW, I passed a milestone this week with transaction #7,500. Imagine what that pile of boxes would look like.


Here’s a helpful tip for telemarketers: If you call me during the Christmas season, I won’t even take the time to be polite. Bonus tip: If you call me back after I tell you to take my phone number off your list and hang up on you, you will not find that my mind has changed.

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