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.
Friday, December 04, 2015
Week 5: Crest of the Wave?
With 14 sales, Black Friday tied for the busiest day of the year up to that point, but since they only averaged $21 it wasn't all that lucrative. As much as I'd like some $100+ orders to bring the average up, that's OK; little sales are a bit more profitable due to a Sunshop fluke that overcharges for First Class postage. Nickels and dimes, my friends, it's all about those nickels and dimes. November ended as the best since 2012 and came in 6th overall.
But that was Week 4 and this is Week 5, LY's high water mark and probably this year's, too. Sunday's 17 sales raised both the "busiest day" bar and my hopes for Cyber Monday. After a slow start a late-night surge pushed it to 19 sales, but once again the average amount was surprisingly miserly. I had sent out a newsletter advertising free shipping for $50+ orders. I posted it to Facebook (all of three people reached...thanks, Facebook), and that post also appeared in the Twitter feed at the bottom of my store's front page. For good measure I added the promotion to my News page and personally emailed some friends whom I suspect are blocking my newsletters. For all of that, only two people used the coupon.
Fine. Eating the shipping costs slashes profitability by 15-20% and I'm already running in the red. A front-page banner would have been effective, but one only ever sees the same old sliders unless one empties one's browser cache. Returning customers wouldn't be able to see the new slider at all and new visitors would see it every time they came back. That makes it too dangerous to use sliders for temporary promotions, alas. I wonder if smartphones have caches that work the same way.
Anyway, Monday's 19 sales stood as the busiest day this year, if not the most lucrative, until another late-night blitz pushed yesterday to 21 -- again, mostly in the $15-20 range. This week as a whole has tracked LY pretty closely. As of this writing I can't tell if Week 5 will beat LY or come up short; I need a huge Friday, and it's not encouraging so far. I sense that people have completed most of their shopping and are down to small, fill-in purchases -- if so, that's happening nearly two weeks earlier than expected, and it's going to be a serious problem. I shouldn't see much tapering for another 10 days yet.
One fellow sent me this message: "Tried to order some hats and couldn' ". Hmm, not very enlightening; can you give me details? "Couldn't place my order. I would like 6 of those hats with lights." Believe me, I would very much like to sell them to you, but "couldn' place my order" tells me exactly nothing. I asked him to either tell me the exact error message or call me so that I can place the order for him, as I'm sure it was either user error or an invalid credit card. That apparently was too much to ask. Pity; I would have liked his $114.
The $1,833 that I invested in Metal Earth has now returned $1,068 -- better than halfway to break-even (not counting advertising, which I don't even want to think about), but it's slowed to a trickle as the most popular models are gone. I know what I did wrong and will rectify that next year. I'll get around to a "lessons learned" post after Christmas limps across the finish line.
Last year Week 6 fell just a whisker short of Week 5 and December depends on that happening again this year. My last shipment of Panther Vision beanies, due on Wednesday, might help, although those have been disturbingly quiet for the past few days. We shall see.