Well January 2015 has come and gone and we already have learned quite a bit about online business and assisted selling sites. After the great or not so great Google Panda and Penguin update of 2014 we had to make some changes and learn some lessons. But January was kind to me and I learned some valuable things about how we can do better on our assisted selling sites.
First the Holiday Season Sucked
Well not the actual celebration of the holidays but the sales portion of the holidays were not the explosion we where hoping for. But if truth be told, we did not prepare as good as we did the last year so maybe we deserved a little of it. The reason was that we thought sales would naturally increase due to the forecasting of so called experts. So the lesson we learned here was even though people are paid to guess holiday sales it is still no excuse for poor planning and preparation.
In hindsight I would have increased our holiday offerings on eBay and Amazon with special pricing and bundled offers. The one thing that I did do was increased our inventory for Amazon fulfillment and bulked up our ordering points on our more popular products. As it was our sales increased a little over last year but for the holiday season they mostly remained flat. So in the end I believe that this year we will plan a better holiday approach starting in the end of October or beginning of November.
Cutting Costs and Re-Evaluating our Vendors
One thing I have been really focused on this past year was to look at cutting our costs and re-evaluating our vendors. I have been obsessed with looking at a lot of the products, services, and supplies and making sure that we are getting the best value for our money. A lot of times I think we forget that we are customers to our vendors and we should not be afraid to ask them for a little help in reducing costs.
I already wrote an article about cutting costs so I will focus this on working with your vendors to lower costs of your products. Usually vendors will do a price increase around the first of the year or in February so the beginning of the year is the best time to negotiate with Vendors for better deals throughout the year. Normally I would get with them to see what kind of volume discounts we can get for ordering more products, increase our buying power by looking at new products from each vendor, and looking at vendors of similar products.
- if you are planning on increasing business a good place to look is with your current vendors, see if you can negotiate a lower price based upon a volume commitment over a year or so. Use your past business history to negotiate a better percentage of jobber or retail.
- another good way to get better prices from your vendors is to look and see if they have new products, or you can bundles existing products together to make new products.
- finally you can pit one vendor against another. The trick to this is not to do it maliciously but to do it with the intent of strengthening your relationship. Look for vendors with similar products and see if you can negotiate the best possible price from either. The decide which vendor offers you the best value and work with them. The goal here is the best possible product for the best price.
It Takes A Lot to Stay on Top
Of things, that is. As we continue to grow our business it becomes more difficult to stay on top of all the things that we need to. One thing I constantly have to stress to those I work with and to myself daily is to prioritize, delegate, and pay attention to the details. Each day we have to do a lot of tasks and sometimes we get mired down in them and forget to do the one thing that we need to do and that is to build the business. So while I pay special attention to details, I do a lot of delegation (and pay attention to them to make sure they get done), and prioritize making sure I carve out time to build the business. That is the most important thing, prioritizing time to make sure you get the things you want to get done…DONE!
The Last Lesson Learned
Its kind of like the last melon, yum! Well the last lesson we learned in the first month of 2015 is that you should plan on your needs now but always look at scalability. When we first started we pieced together a phone system that kinda worked for our needs. It seemed like we outgrew it the day after we just got used to it, but then we just ended up keeping it going because it was almost to hard to change it. But if we had taken some time in the beginning and planned out the need for additioanl phone lines, 800 numbers, and employee extensions we might have choosen an all together different phone option. One we could of started small at first and then scaled to our needs in the future.
So in the end, we learned that we need to be better prepared for the holiday season, negotiating better prices with vendors, prioritize your business tasks, and plan for scalability. All leasons learned in the first month of January 2015.