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, June 10, 2016
O No, Canada
This week brought an email inquiry about six dozen (unspecified) lighted caps -- a nice juicy $1,200 sale, even at my deepest discounted price. That kind of thing catapults a month from ordinary to record-breaking; just a few of them would turn a losing year into a winner. Only a fraction of these bulk requests ever pan out, though, and this didn't look like one for the win column.
Strike One: The shopper asked about embroidering, which I obviously don't do (although I did consider it years ago, during the heyday of lighted caps). Strike Two: I only keep a dozen of any given color in stock at a time, so I'd need to special order them. Strike Three: The shopper was from Canada, and I foolishly warned him about import duties. Canada only exempts $20 from tariffs (most of the world lets you import $1,000 or more duty-free) and large orders never escape the tax man. Even if he avoided Customs by having his order delivered in the US, he would have to declare them at the border, and Canada would soaked him there for a couple hundred bucks.
He went quiet after that. I can't blame him. A better salesman than I would have kept quiet about tariffs and just closed the deal.
Truth is, I hate shipping to Canada. I like Canada. I've been to Canada many times. My wife's father was of Canadian extraction. But over the years I've had more complaints from Canadians than from any other non-US customers, and they usually involved tariffs (like there's anything I can do about those; take it up with your government. One customer asked me to lie about the value of an order, but that's kind of illegal). "What about NAFTA?" you ask. That pertains to B2B commerce. Canada does not want its citizens to shop in the US.
I've pared my Bing Ads spend down to just a few bucks a week, but since that handful of clicks delivers no sales whatsoever I'm going to suspend it entirely after Fathers Day. I feel like I have enough data on my Shopping campaign now to reactivate it successfully for Christmas. Google "Product Listing Ads" outperform my regular campaigns dramatically and I'd hoped for a similar result at Bing -- they use the same product feed file, after all. Nope. Bing is worthless for advertising.
On my personal PC, Microsoft keeps trying to bribe me to use Bing with some loyalty program called Bing Rewards, which I judged too complicated to bother with. It might be worthwhile if one has the patience to game it -- I buy my clothes at Bob's Store because their prices are great if one plays the coupon/discount/rebate angles. But that's tedious. I do it when I'm buying something expensive and tangible like clothing; I don't want to think about it when I'm consulting a search engine. I might change my mind if I thought I was leaving money on the table, but as far as I can tell it only pays off in discounts toward buying selected crap, and I never buy anything I don't need.