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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, October 25, 2013

Cutting My Own Throat

I officially recused myself from the Dr. Oz promotion when I learned that the doctor expects 70% of the show’s viewers to order their Corn-n-Tater Bags over the Internet. That’s a lot more than the 20% that I had guessed – potentially 35,000 orders, not the 10,000 that were already freaking me out.

I might have been able to set up a second website dedicated to those orders. It would’ve cost me around $1,200 to do it and my developer’s availability was iffy. But even if I could have gotten it done in three weeks, I had no way to stress test it. Based on a $1 per order commission, I might have earned as much as $35,000 – pretty damned good for a $1,200 investment, on the face of it, until you realize that my payment processing cost would’ve wiped out most of it (35,000 orders times $17 gross times 3.25% processing fee equals $19,335 right off the top), and the consequences of dropping the ball would have been devastating. The Healthcare.gov debacle is the latest example of what happens when a busy website launches without sufficient testing...something the game industry has known for a long time.

Passing up a break that was far bigger than I have ever wished for might seem stupid and self-defeating. Homecooked Shortcuts is going to divert their link to a professional fulfillment house for a few weeks of pure insanity. Steve promised to restore the link to Curio City as soon as volume falls below 100 orders a day. That’s still twice as many orders as I’ve ever shipped in one day, and it could go on for days or even weeks. Even without that, I’ll still get spillover sales from people who find me through search. So I still stand to reap considerable reward from the Oz thing without cutting my own throat. If this pans out, I’ll still set new records for November and December.

This all assumes that product is available. Homecooked is “only” producing 25,000 bags on the assumption that Dr. Oz is exaggerating. That’s a huge investment for them. If the doctor’s results match his projections, though, those bags will all be gone in a few hours. My $2,000 gross from the 150 that I have in stock will be the end of that. I guess I should place one more reorder before the Nov. 13 air date, even though the 150 that I already have looks like an awful lot.


I lost interest in the Google Analytics training after the first two lessons proved to be aimed at big companies that employ marketing and web development specialists. I wanted some tips that I could use; instead I got a lot of general information that would be relevant to Wal Mart. The third of six sessions started getting a little more practical, but I ran out of time to complete the course. Oh well. I didn’t really need to know how to segment my data among web and mobile applications and create data sets customized for my international sales force. I might still complete the remaining lessons by the Oct. 30 deadline if I unexpectedly find myself with nothing else to do.


WTF Google? 

“In your Merchant Center account, you have selected the ‘Carrier-calculated’ 
shipping option at the account level; however, you have not provided item level ‘shipping weight’ attribute values for all of the items included in your feed or via API. Shipping weight values are required in order for the ‘Carrier-calculated’ shipping option to calculate and display shipping costs on Google Shopping.

“Starting on November 5 2013, we'll begin verifying that all accounts using the ‘Carrier-calculated’ shipping option are including ‘shipping weight’ values for each item. Items using the ‘Carrier-calculated’ shipping option that do not include ‘shipping weight’ values will generate errors during insertion and the items will not be eligible to display in Google Shopping.”

Good old Google, always making compliance harder for little players. Obviously, all of my items have the weight attribute; I couldn’t ship them otherwise. The problem lies in Sunshop’s data feed. I don’t know how this never came up before but I am once again at Turnkey’s mercy…please don’t make me lie to Google and tell them I’m using an arbitrary fixed shipping rate of, say, $6.

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