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Content vs. Ecommerce

Discussion in 'eCommerce' started by andy_boyd, Jan 20, 2006.

  1. #1
    I am at somewhat of a cross roads. Currently I operate 4 stores online that sell a range of products which I must source, pack and ship from the UK to USA. It is time consuming, costly to run and I seemingly never get a break from email and customers wanting to know where their stuff is.

    I also have a few content sites running either AdSense, Chitika or a combination of both. I make enough money to pay my wage from the content alone.
    SEMrush
    I'm getting so annoyed with running ecommerce stores and find myself much more motivated to work on my content. Any advice?

    Should I sell my stores, keep them on and force myself to work more on them or what?
     
    andy_boyd, Jan 20, 2006 IP
    SEMrush
  2. T0PS3O

    T0PS3O Feel Good PLC

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    #2
    Couple of options you have there...

    Get staff to do the customer service and other stuff you don't like. Unlike you and me, some people enjoy the daily shower of whinging bastards, stupid questions and chasing couriers. That frees up your time to research new offerings. Some products are far less prone to problems. They don't break, are no-brainers, etc. Or spend your time developing better systems so the lot becomes more managable. Or spend your time on service based, adsense sites etc.

    Sell it off. But make sure it's not a mess. If you can show solid performance, there will be people interested. Selling businesses is not something you should do online though if you want to most out of it. That should give you a nice chunk to invest on service based sites and no more customers from hell.

    Focus your offerings. If you can't get extra staff, cut out those products that give you most hassle. The 80/20 rule probably applies. 20 percent of your products give you 80% of the hassle. Get rid of it. Focus your offerings - get rid of the problems. You'll go down in revenue initially but once everything is ironed out you can invest the additional time and motivation you have in better marketing of the remaining goods, squeeze more out of them, or in your service based offerings.
     
    T0PS3O, Jan 20, 2006 IP
    itsme and andy_boyd like this.
  3. jestep

    jestep Prominent Member Premium Member

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    #3
    If you are making good money with the content sites, then you really don't need the other ones.

    First off, make sure you actually want to run the ecommerce sites. Assuming that you do, I would pick one, or two and then make them great sites. Pick the ones that you are most interested in. Sell the rest and focus on just the 2 sites.
     
    jestep, Jan 20, 2006 IP
    andy_boyd likes this.
  4. andy_boyd

    andy_boyd Active Member

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    #4
    Thanks for the advice guys. I think that for me to reply on contextual ads alone at this stage would be too much of a risk. Even though the idea of making money and not having to deal with customers is great, I would still have to deal with search updates etc.

    I think this would be the best way for forward for me ...

    Pay someone to come in on a part time basis and let them take care of all the packing and shipping. That would free up my time and I could get on with making more content based sites. Once I have the content based stuff ticking over healthily, I could get the person to do more hours and admin related tasks.

    How does that sound?
     
    andy_boyd, Jan 20, 2006 IP
  5. T0PS3O

    T0PS3O Feel Good PLC

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    #5
    Sounds like a plan. I'd write some guides/manuals first so you don't have to tell the new guy over and over what to do. That way you can get someone 'cheap' - just make sure they can read.
     
    T0PS3O, Jan 20, 2006 IP
  6. andy_boyd

    andy_boyd Active Member

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    #6
    Another option would be to change completely what I sell and move to a dropshipping model. Currently I have to bring in stock etc. and move it on to customers, whereas with dropshipping I wouldn't have to touch a thing.

    Has anyone got any experience with that? Is it worth getting into?
     
    andy_boyd, Jan 20, 2006 IP
  7. MattEvers

    MattEvers Notable Member

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    #7
    In my experience, it can be very scetchy. Dropshippers may send out your product today or two weeks from now, and you never know. And if you don't know, then neither does your customer.

    That means no more return business from those who have to wait. Backorders are a pain in the ass as well. Having the stock in house assures you can set an amount of stock available and never have to worry about it not being there for the customer.

    I think hiring somebody would be a better choice over dropshipping.
     
    MattEvers, Jan 20, 2006 IP
  8. lorien1973

    lorien1973 Notable Member

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    #8
    dropshipping sucks because a million other online stores will have the same product. Inevitably, it'll be on ebay too. And they will mark it up 10% above cost, which, in essence kills the product for a real business.

    If you stock stuff, you can be much more certain people will keep the prices higher as they have a financial interest in making money off it (they have space to pay for, bills to pay, etc). Stocking is the way to go.

    For my sites, I stock about 30% (maybe) and dropship 70%. For what sells, its a lot closer to 50-50, though - as stuff I stock is far more unique and interesting. Dropshipping is a pain in the ass too - you have idiots handling phones at other businesses and they never fix your problems. If you make a mistake its far easier to tolerate than some other person doing it.

    I'm at a crossroads too. I'm sick of dealing with idiots every day. People ask the stupidest questions, don't believe you when you give them the answer, or just want to pick a fight for no good reason at all. I'm either considering hiring someone to take calls/emails or outsourcing it (which is another option too).

    Tops is totally right. 20% of products cause 80% of problems. Get rid of those products. I had a product that broke upwards of 20% of the time, and even though it brought in a ton of business, in the end, it just wasn't worth the hassle of carrying it any longer. Customers are the same way too. 10% of them cause 90% of your problems.

    I have a new puppy this week right now. He ordered on monday and calls me everyday wondering where his stuff is - even though I tell him every day that it'll be there on monday. Its all very frustrating.
     
    lorien1973, Jan 20, 2006 IP
  9. andy_boyd

    andy_boyd Active Member

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    #9
    I can totally sympathize with you Lorien. I know that I could really cut out a lot of the hassle that I get by just withdrawing a certain line of products, but that would mean taking a big hit in terms of revenue.

    One of the sites that I run has a very limited selection of products on sale, but they are heavy and hence cost more to ship. I have actually stopped taking orders on this site temporarily so that I can adjust charges for shipping and product. The thing is that I am based in the UK and most of the orders go to the USA via air. I only charge about $10 - $20 to ship via UPS, which is a pretty good rate. But even at that, people complain.

    I've been thinking that as part of my new streamlined strategy I will force a minimum sale. I know that this is going to slow sales, but is it really worth my time to pack a $10 that costs $10 to ship? Would I not be far better off only dealing with sizeable orders, like $50 / $60 and above?

    As well as this, I will be putting prices up and further trimming the product line. Sounds drastic I suppose, but less to sell means less to stock. This combined with higher margins and a more realistic shipping pricing should help.

    Or not?
     
    andy_boyd, Jan 20, 2006 IP
  10. lorien1973

    lorien1973 Notable Member

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    #10
    I would avoid a "minimum order amount" on your site. If you'd not want to ship a $10 order, then either remove $10 items or make them order in qty's of 4 or something more worthwhile.

    I've considered changing from commerce to info as well. Here is the issue, as I see it:

    Let's say I do $80,000 in retail sales each month, profit (assuming a keystone markup) is $40,000 - before real expenses of course.

    That same traffic may convert into $8000 or so in adsense dollars, if you are lucky. Unless you can cut expenses to meet the lower income (and are willing to wait 30-32 days for each check), you could be in a little bit of a crimp.

    I am not sure I'd be happy with a straight check once a month. While I hate dealing with customers most of the time; I enjoy the idea of finding stuff at a trade show or finding a new vendor - and seeing customers buy it and enjoy it as well. That means a lot to me (weird I know) and its one of the bright spots. Having a content site is the exact opposite - your goal (seemingly) is to make people go away thru your ads.
     
    lorien1973, Jan 20, 2006 IP
  11. andy_boyd

    andy_boyd Active Member

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    #11
    Well said Lorien. There is a vast difference between content and ecommerce, which is why it is hard to choose. In the end I suppose it is best to keep honing my ecommerce operations to make them more efficient and profitable, which will make me more motivated. And I suppose there would be no harm in adding a few hundred good historical articles to my 5 year old domain?
     
    andy_boyd, Jan 20, 2006 IP
  12. Deano

    Deano Sail away with me.

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    #12
    Do you sell a lot of the same products to the usa? Could you use a warehouse in the US as a middleman? Or would that just eat all your profits?
     
    Deano, Jan 22, 2006 IP
  13. jagan

    jagan Well-Known Member

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    #13
    I was having same issue but in different business related to hosting. I have increased my content site and earning good from those and kept the one website for all purposes like web hosting, web design and all other services and promoted that only, now i will say that i am top.

    Before this i was having near 5 websites on hosting and each new website on each services, now i am using those to promote main website, Single STOP SHOP for all services.
     
    jagan, Jan 22, 2006 IP
  14. andy_boyd

    andy_boyd Active Member

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    #14
    I had thought of this but there are problems with this model. I would have to ship a lot of my products out in bulk via sea freight to the warehouse in the USA, which was going to cost somewhere in the region of $600. Then I would be charged a weekly storage cost per pallet, plus packing and shipping fees.

    This looks like it would be handy to operate as it is just a matter of emailing order details, but I think it could be quite expensive and may come with a unique set of problems: how are returns dealt with? what happens if an order isn't shipped out in time? what happens when a single line runs out of stock, but it is not cost-efficient to ship out another batch costing $600?

    At the moment it costs me approximately £12 per parcel from door-to-door, (UK-to-USA). Transit time is about 2 weeks, give or take. Maybe I'd be best to just stick with this?
     
    andy_boyd, Jan 23, 2006 IP
  15. VelocitySC

    VelocitySC Peon

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    #15
    If you sell you would have a hard time selling something that isn't turn key. If you had a staff and manager to run daily operations then you would be better set to sell... also depending on your revenues and internal rate of return, and other factors.
     
    VelocitySC, Feb 2, 2006 IP
  16. marouane az

    marouane az Peon

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    #16
    Thanks
     
    marouane az, May 9, 2020 IP