Posted Tuesday, November 9, 2004
In issue # 28 (see (http://www.home-business-network.com/profiles28.html)) we profiled a brand-new internet startup called AllPiercings.com. A couple (Erik & Dawn Olsen) were launching their first venture selling "physical products" online, and allowed us a glimpse into their thoughts and challenges involved in starting such a business on a shoestring. This is a follow-up roughly six months later...
Tiffany: Well Erik, how are things going at (http://www.AllPiercings.com)
Erik: Much better than I anticipated! The last 6 months or so have been a real learning experience, and we've made a few mistakes here and there, not to mention wasting some time and money with suppliers that couldn't deliver, but I think we've now begun building a real head of steam, and each month is exceeding the previous month in terms of overall sales.
Tiffany: That's great! You mentioned that you made a few mistakes and "wasted some time and money". What kind of mistakes did you make?
Erik: One of the biggest mistakes was in terms of some of the suppliers we were using. When you spend $1000-$2000 on an initial order with an overseas supplier (which many of the larger ones require as a minimum buy), and that supplier doesn't deliver (in terms of quality and sometimes even the actual stuff we ordered), most of the time you're left holding the bag. It was hit and miss for awhile in terms of finding suppliers that delivered the kind of quality goods we're comfortable selling. All in all, our "quest" to find good suppliers resulted in about $7000-$8000 in unsellable merchandise we essentially had to throw away. At this point, I kind of chalked that up to the "cost of doing business", and I'm simply glad that we finally found 4-5 suppliers that can deliver consistently high-quality goods.
Tiffany: WOW....$8000 is an expensive "lesson" indeed. Is that your only mistake?
Erik: Ha! Far from it! No, that's just the one that actually "cost" us the most in terms of actual definable dollars. Other mistakes included poorly "optimized" pages, streamlining our product photography (a HUGELY time consuming process for an amateur), among dozens of other small "tweaks" that have needed to be done over the last 6 months or so. Having said that, I think we've finally got all the major kinks worked out within the last 7-8 weeks, and things have really begun to roll!
Tiffany: "Begun to Roll", huh? Ok mister, let's hear some numbers!
Erik: Ok...not to be too specific, but...Between direct sales, repeat customers, and affiliate referrals, we're now averaging (for the last 3 months) roughly $400 per day in sales.
Tiffany: $400 a day? That's great!
Erik: Yeah, we're pretty happy. But there's a great deal of room for improvement, and we've sunk every last cent we've earned right back into it, and probably will for the next 2-3 years or so.
Tiffany: You mentioned "affiliate referrals" as part of your sales numbers. What are those?
Erik: Basically, I included an "affiliate program" in our system that allows other website owners/operators to sign up with us and earn 20% commission on any sales they refer to us. As of today, we have just over 400 affiliates. I'll probably be closing the program to new affiliates soon though.
Tiffany: Why would you close it? If 400 affiliates is good, wouldn't 4000 be even better?
Erik: Maybe for some programs in other markets, but I don't think so for ours. We're pretty picky about the affiliates we approve (it's not an automatic process), and our niche is small enough that I don't want to dilute the value of the program to the current (producing) affiliates.
Tiffany: You mentioned "room for improvement". What kind of improvements are you going to be making?
Erik: For starters...more new designs and more product lines. We've just added a line of "barefoot sandals" that are selling very well, and plan on adding other types of body jewelry as the year goes on. We've also put a deposit down on some retail space at our local mall which will be available in late October. Hopefully we'll be ready to go there prior to the holiday shopping season! Other improvements include some upgrades to our system that will simply make the shopping experience more streamlined for the customer, as well as a few streamlined admin functions for us.
Tiffany: In our first issue, we didn't really talk about goals. What are your goals this year for AllPiercings?
Erik: It's funny, but as our sales continually improve, I seem to keep moving the bar a little higher. Seriously though, we've honestly exceeded my goals to this point, but in terms of just raw numbers, I'd like to see us at a consistent $1500-$2000 per day in sale within the next 18 months. A lot can happen between now and then of course, but that's a goal I think is attainable.
Tiffany: Sounds great! Well, I for one am very happy for your success, and we'll be checking back in with you in a few months! Good Luck!
Note: We'll be following up on Erik & Dawn's progress in the coming month's. Stay tuned!
Note: You can visit the site referenced in this article at (http://www.allpiercings.com)
About the Author
Tiffany Bank's is the Editor in Chief of the Home Business Network website.