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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 16, 2011

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

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

Last Saturday set the YTD record number of sales with 23, but their paltry size led to a merely average day in dollars. Saturdays are historically the slowest day of the week. People bought almost nothing but Whisky Stones and lighted caps, and usually only one. At least that made the weekend’s business easy to process; 50-some packages fit neatly into two big boxes. In past years, before I learned not to sell bulky things, they would have overflowed the living room.

But this make-or-break week started on Sunday, as weeks tend to do. I went into it $1,400 ahead of LY (according to Excel, whose numbers are more dear to me than Quickbooks). Here’s the blow-by-blow for those who wish to recreate the anxiety:

•    Sunday’s paltry 11 sales brought in only $565, blowing $300 of my lead, but at least the average sale was back up where it belongs. Running total: +$1,100;
•    My car’s radio said that Monday was supposed to be “Green Monday”, the second-biggest online day of the year. I was indeed up against a 4-digit day LY. It flopped and set me back another $800. Uh-oh. Running total: +$300;
•    Twenty-seven sales on Tuesday – henceforth to be called “Green Tuesday” – racked up the second-busiest day of the year (and the high point in number of sales) and clawed back $250. Running total: +$550;
•    Wednesday should have been the last four-digit day of Christmas. People made a nice run at it, but I still dropped another $270. Running total: +280;
•    I beat Thursday’s modest target by $40 for +$320 on the year.
•    Today was much stronger than expected; I’m up $170 with the whole evening yet to go. Tomorrow is basically a throwaway.

So Week Seven is going to finish somewhere around $800 behind LY, but that still leaves a YTD surplus of roughly $500. Although I call next week the Eighth Week of Christmas, it’s really just a cooldown period.


And what would Christmas be without some new hatred?

Reasons to hate UPS – O UPS, why do you play games with me? When my customer’s 2nd day air package arrived with a big bootprint and crushed merchandise, I was peeved. Because this particular customer is of the variety that will not use email, it took two days to straighten out her complaint over the telephone and generate a $35 loss. When I filed a damage claim and you processed it almost instantly, I forgave you. When you called to tell me that the paperwork had to be resubmitted because I had sought $25 for a $24.99 item, I was peeved all over again. But I understand that computers can’t tolerate discrepancies and the penny difference was my fault, so I forgave you again. Two peeves, two forgivings…that’s a wash. Then you had to go and email me a Credit Card Billing Adjustment report with $12.45 in upcharges. I swear that the address you call residential was a business according to the USPS – yes, I really do check. But adding a rural delivery surcharge to the very same package that you damaged cinched your new Reason to Hate.

Reasons to hate Facebook – Facebook recently changed from reporting each post’s impressions to showing “people reached” – i.e., unique viewers. I used to see over 100 impressions, which jibes with my 138 “likers” pretty well. Now I see that I’m really only reaching 27-32 people, two of whom are me; more than 100 people that I thought were following Curio City are actually blind to my posts. I’m pretty sure that happened when Facebook introduced the “top stories” interface; any “liker” who hadn’t interacted with your page recently got dropped. The 25 or so people that I’m reaching now mostly “liked” Curio City after that change. I don’t know what, if anything, I can do about that…Facebook’s interface is largely impenetrable to me, and it’s constantly changing anyway. All I know is that it’s not nearly the communication tool that I thought it was.

Reasons to hate Google – Back in May, Google Product Search (formerly Google Base) added a requirement that most products include a unique identifier – either the UPC or a manufacturer’s number. Sunshop did not support those fields at that time, so I had exactly zero. I started adding numbers for new products and reorders after I finally upgraded to a version that included them. Well, last Sunday Google spoke: “Your items are at risk of being suspended.” They gave me seven days to supply the missing data, after which they’ll review my items again. Needless to say, I did not have very much time during the busiest week of the year to look up 600 useless numbers. So I petitioned Google for an extension. Their cryptic response, signed with an Indian name, left me unsure whether they’re going to nuke my products or not.

Does it matter? I really have no idea how Google Product Search works or if it sends me any business at all. But I’ve been submitting a data feed every month for years. Between paid search, natural search, and (maybe) Product Search, Google drives over 80% of my business. I must appease the Google gods. It’s their internet, after all.


Finally, a friendly tip for marketing people: Email with the subject line “Happy Holidays” always gets deleted unread.

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