A Marketing Experiment while Getting My FujiXerox Machine

There was this computer hardware company (we will call them Company AT) where I bought a few entry level Xerox printers 5 years ago. And ever since I checked the ‘Subscribe me to the latest promotion…’ check box, I have been receiving their newsletters. And I did not opt-out of the mailing list, which probably says alot about my level of FOMO (Fear of Missing Out).

They started sending me emails, and the links in their emails were directed to their website at AT2U.com

And in the beginning of those emails, their website was either out of service, or was hacked. I actually took the trouble to call them up and alerted them about it, but they don’t seem to be able to fix it. Or nobody seemed bothered about their website.

And a few more months passed. They seemed to have decided that their website could be an important sales channel to complement their retail operation. And that’s when the SMS starts coming in, and I had to admit I was quite impressed at the level of customization that was invested in these promotional SMS- “Get Your Xerox Phaser 3010 Toners at Only RM225.00”.

They actually remembered which printer I bought.

And I did buy those toners from them.

And just today, I bought a bulky Fuji Xerox CM305DF for our new office. But I did not buy it from them. I got it from a retail store that I have never heard of in the mall.

Then, as I drove back to setup the printer in the office, I kept thinking what went wrong with Company AT’s marketing? They’ve been very consistent with their Petronas and KFC Vouchers. They occasionally sent me warnings about toners and printing supplies price hike which I find very useful.

But why didn’t I buy the CM305DF from Company AT? Where was my sense of loyalty to this company that has been persistently sending me product updates and offerings? I was just comparing their prices online with other online portals such as Lazada and Lelong yesterday, and they’d one of the lowest pricing.

The salesman that was attending to me wasn’t very knowledgeable and not at all helpful in closing the sale. He was lucky I was a determined buyer who had done his homework.

And so, I ran a list of possible factors that could have caused me to buy from the unknown retailer:

1) There was no additional value buying from Company AT. No member points, no rebates. Maybe free delivery, but I am already in the mall, so it makes no difference.

2) There’s a lack of human interaction when I am shopping online. There are a lot of other questions I threw to the salesman where I got almost instant answers, e.g. price of the toners, similar price products, cost of ownership, special features etc. I couldn’t get all these from the online stores, at least not instantly. And if you are shopping online at 11pm, the phone numbers don’t work either. I guess fast and timely human response is very important to get me to part with my money. Impulsiveness at work here.

3) I could get physical with the products. I tried to carry a few of the printers to gauge their weight, opened up the compartments and paper trays, checked out the cable connectivity. All these help to reinforce the idea of possessing the printer, even though I hadn’t pay for it yet. I was also able to instantly visualize how the printer would fit in my office. And there’s no way these information can come so easily from product photos on the web.

4) A retail space can be a very controlled experience. The moment I stepped into the retail shop, instead of being distracted by irrelevant banner ads, annoying Facebook game invites, I am surrounded by products that the retailers wants me to see. The retailer had somehow meticulously designed the surroundings to give him the best ROI per square feet. It’s like walking into a trap :-)

As a guy who runs a few e-commerce businesses, I am particularly curious in identifying what goes on in the mind of a potential customer who in the end, after all the marketing and communications I’ve done, still end up not buying from me. A returning customer is one of the best assets a business can have. If I can keep improving the odds of my customers coming back over and over again, we are on the right track to a healthy bottom line.

2015-06-21T03:07:27+08:00June 21st, 2015|E-Commerce, Entrepreneurship|0 Comments

OpenCart and Journal Theme

If you are familiar with how OpenCart works, you would have realized by now that getting your OpenCart up-to-date can be a very overwhelming task.

Each time the folks at OpenCart announces a new release, everyone starts popping champagne because someone’s finally going to fix the critical bugs, but lo and behold, each new releases also introduces a new swarm of bugs.

That’s Open Source for you…

Anyway, if you are using Journal Theme for your OpenCart, always remember to update the Journal theme right after you updated OpenCart. It doesn’t matter if there’s no new version for Journal, but just proceed to update your Journal with the latest version you have on hand so that you overwrite the files on the freshly updated OpenCart. If you don’t update your Journal theme and proceed to access the admin pages, you might lose some or all of your Journal theme settings, which can be a pain-in-the-ass.

You will not get any warnings from your Journal theme. I learned this the hard way. You’ve been warned!

2015-06-05T00:50:26+08:00June 5th, 2015|E-Commerce, OpenCart|1 Comment

WooCommerce Now Part of WordPress

WooCommerce Now Part of WordPress

On 19th May, one of the most popular e-commerce WordPress plugins – WooCommerce becomes officially part of the WordPress family.

Some fast facts on WooCommmerce as of May 2015.

    Founders: Mark Forrester & Magnus Jepson
    Number of Employees: 55
    Downloads: 7 million with approximately 1 million active installed base
    Market Share: 30% of All Online Stores Worldwide (In comparison, my favorite e-commerce platform OpenCart has about 7.13%)
    Acquisition Cost (Speculated): USD30 million (Source: recode.net)

It’s Automattic’s biggest acquisition so far. With WordPress backing up WooCommerce, we know that:
1) e-Commerce is important to bloggers, and to Automattic.
2) Plug-ins development can be a lucrative business model.
3) Besides banner advertisements and sponsored posts, you can monetize your content on WordPress by selling physical goods

I have personally not used WooCommerce, only got around installing it 3 years ago on one of the blogs I manage. I didn’t like the interface and I had a difficult time convincing myself how a plug-in could turn WordPress into a full-fledged e-commerce platform- equipped with invoicing, payment, inventory and logistic features. Call me an old fart, but I am in the camp where if you try to do too many things, you start to compromise on your real strengths.

2015-05-31T21:53:38+08:00May 31st, 2015|E-Commerce|0 Comments

eBay Gets a Taste of Its Own Medicine

If you’ve been a seller on eBay for some years, you would have experienced eBay’s notoriety in protecting their buyers, often at the expenses of the sellers. Not only that, policies and algorithms changes in eBay has always been kept secret and it’s always up to the sellers to figure out before their sales vanish into oblivion.

So, it’s nice to know that eBay is not all that invincible after all:
http://www.businessinsider.my/google-search-algorithm-update-panda-40-hurts-ebay-2014-5/

Things really hasn’t been going very smoothly at eBay recently:
eBay Wants You To Change Your Password After Huge Hack

2014-05-23T02:09:04+08:00May 23rd, 2014|E-Commerce, Traffic Building|0 Comments

Purchasing and Sourcing

Both activities get products into your store.

One should be automated, the other one needs a bit more intervention from you.

Purchasing is a formula built using a few variables- stock status, historical purchase, sale’s growth (or decline) etc. You should have a system that tells you this automatically. Your time is better spent elsewhere.

Sourcing is a bit more intuitive. A bit of trials and errors, hits and misses. Having a budget will also help reduce the risk. You get better the more you do it.

2014-05-16T02:59:38+08:00May 16th, 2014|E-Commerce|0 Comments

Platforms

They are generally 2 types of online selling platforms.

Type A: One that allow others to sell on it (eBay, Lelong, Rakuten, Mudah.my, Taobao) and ,

Type B: One that sells directly to customers (Amazon, Home Depot).

Note to merchants (sellers) who are offered both platforms from the same company. If you don’t manufacture your own products or owns the brand you sell, it’s a matter of time before your sales is ‘usurped’ by the company because they know exactly what you sell and who your customers are.

That’s what big companies do. They eat the small ones to get bigger.

Read about how Amazon utilizes 3rd party sellers (The Everything Store by Brad Stone) to gain insights on market trends and demands.

2014-03-04T23:51:34+08:00March 4th, 2014|E-Commerce|0 Comments