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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, July 05, 2013

Slump & Slumber & Summer Numbers

First, let’s get June’s numbers out of the way. This was supposed to be last week’s post, after all. 


Total income: -27.1%
Total COGS: -47.9%
Payroll: -47.7%
Marketing: -20.4%
Net Income (Profit): +295.6% (+$410)

Year to Date: 

Total income: -21.9%
Total COGS: -31.5%
Payroll: -19.7%
Marketing: -24.4%
Net Income (Profit): +20.9% (+$307)

How does net income grow when sales are in freefall? Inventory corrections! I have a lot more kites in stock than Quickbooks thought I had – a one-time situation, unfortunately.  

Things started to fall apart in the middle of July 2012, so my targets look easier for the next several months. “Look” being the operative word; the first week of July still managed to finish hundreds of dollars behind LY. 

Maybe the Corn-n-Tater deal will still come to the rescue, or maybe not. The owner’s hour-long rambling telephone call led to nothing except an overage charge from Verizon and he didn’t answer my concise email followup. What we have here is a failure to communicate. Oh well...I can’t take over his sales until after vacation anyway. 

Speaking of which, don’t be alarmed by the inactivity for the next two Fridays. 


Way back in May 2011 – at about the same time that Google Base became Google Product Search and started charging merchants to participate -- Google imposed new requirements on product feeds. (That’s the file that one must upload monthly if one wants one’s products to show up in searches, as this one does.) It started innocently enough with UPC and manufacturer product numbers. Sunshop didn’t support those at the time so I had exactly none in my database. Many of my offbeat products don’t have official numbers anyway. So I requested, and ultimately received, an exemption from Google.

I have been dutifully adding UPCs whenever I bring in new products or reorder them. After two years maybe half of my active products have these numbers. But Google keeps piling on more and more requirements. Sunshop is always a step or two behind Google, and I’m usually a step or two behind Sunshop, so my product feed is pretty lame. Only that long-ago exemption keeps me in the game.

Until now. “Account level exemptions for unique product identifiers will no longer be supported after July 15th, 2013 in the US…. After these dates, non-compliant items might then be disapproved and disappear from Google Shopping.” …which I guess is what the cool kids call Google Base nowadays.

BUT they threw me a lifeline! I can manually add a new column called “identifier_exists” to my feed and set the value to FALSE for products without UPCs. That’s a pain in the ass, but “Yay!”, I guess. At least they will still show up. 

I gamely set out to do that and quickly hit another snag. Sunshop supports another requirement called “Google Type” – a list of broad categories for Google’s most popular search categories. Most of my stuff isn’t trendy enough to fit any of those so I leave them blank. But Panther Vision caps fall under “Clothing & Accessories > Clothing Accessories > Hats” and I duly designated them as such, thinking that seemed like a good thing to do.

Not so fast. Apparel requires a slew of other feed requirements such as gender, age group, color, and size. Sigh. I suppose I can add all that crap manually, too. But wait! My Panther Vision pages all contain multiple colors, and Google finally gets around to warning that “If you are trying to indicate multiple colors for multiple similar items (product variants), submit these as separate products each with the same item group ID and a different color value.”

My caps are divided into seven distinct products with 43 variations, and not all of those are colors. I might take the time to manually expand those seven lines into 43 lines and then entering correct values if I could do it once and for all, but I would have to repeat the process every month at the very least (Google actually recommends submitting new feeds every few days).  

OK, Google, you win again. I’ll bypass all that rigmarole by simply removing my caps from the clothing category. Not so fast! Sunshop did not include a “none” or null line in their category list. Once a product is assigned a category there’s no going back. I finally had to edit my SQL database directly to remove it. 

All of that work serves to make my product ads invisible to searches. Thanks, Google!

So I’m left with one recourse: complaining to my blog. I’d love to storm off and stop paying for Google Base results entirely, but unfortunately they have come to account for half of my paid clicks. This is going to be painful no matter what I do. The only thing that would actually solve this is if Sunshop supported all of these requirements…and even then I would have to pay my developer to upgrade Sunshop again. 

News flash: It’s a corporate world and the little guy just can’t catch a break.


As long as I’m laying out new Reasons to Hate Google, I should note in passing the passing of Google Checkout. That payment method never accounted for even 1% of my sales and Sunshop’s integration was half-assed anyway. I’m happy to see it go away.

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