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A Modicum of March Madness - How A Sale Comes Together
A Look Behind the Curtain...
Saturday, March 16th, 6:00 PM: With only 3 hours to go before the soft launch of the Lady Luck Sale, yet another problem is brought to my attention. Brianna had found a few more major oversights. At this point, between 60 and 70 hours of labour have gone into the sale (at the least!), so any issues at this stage of the game actually hold the potential to negatively impact a customer's shopping experience. Thank goodness we had time to fix them.
I probably earned a few incredulous stares from my employees as they heard me grumble: “Okay, whose crazy firkin' idea was this sale in the first place?!... Oh wait, that would be me”.
Our new website is barely 6 months old and trying to get it to do what you want is, in so many ways, kind of like trying to drive a Ferrari when you've only ever ridden a skateboard. Soooo much power and so much more to handle. All those new features and options. "Ooooh what happens when we select THIS button?" (Editor's Note: Never press THAT button).
Considering the amount of work that is required to put something like the Lady Luck sale together (especially as a small business) you may be asking yourself: "then why do it?". I wanted an online-only sale for several reasons:
- To promote the new website.
- To promote the in-store pick up option.
- Move some overstocked items.
- Sell down some slow sellers.
- Give the Boardgames.ca newsletter subscribers (a different list from the retail store subscribers) another good reason - other than the employee pricing offer - to have a look at the website.
- Have fun with St. Patrick’s Day by giving away some Lady Luck games.
- Another reason that stays under my little green hat.
Simple. right? If only.
When Lady Luck Isn't on Your Side
First, we looked at adding Lady Luck for free if you spent $100 on items assigned that category in the website. Nope, the website adds it based on dollar sales period, not just on a category.
Then we looked at adding it for free if a customer bought any three items in the Lady Luck Category. Tim, my operations and logistics manager, found a way to make that work, but when he was testing it out he found that if he then deleted the free Lady Luck game from the cart at check out, the software then made the next cheapest item free instead. That would have been a (lucky) dog’s breakfast if Tim had not caught it.
So we fell back to Plan A, whereby our staff would add the game to the order AFTER the customer places a qualifying order. Not the best solution, because the size and weight of the Lady Luck box is not figured into the shipping costs of the original order.
Well…. Now we eat some Lucky Charms for breakfast…
A Brief Intermission
Just a minute here…it is 15 minutes to St. Paddy's day as I write this. Alex, the fine laddy he is, will be editing this from Hong Kong where he is visiting, so I need to get it done tonight to account for the time difference. May as well get a beer…
The Final Stretch
8:00 PM: With an hour to go before soft launch I fired up the banner. Aaaghhh! The landing page isn't coming up at all! The Lady Luck game itself does not have links to the sale items and the actual discounts are not showing up under the drop down link on the main page. I can only figure out so much so fast, so I turn off the Lady Luck banner and email my website genius, who is on standby (Thank God he is not Irish tonight!). Not a minute later, a message flashes on my iPhone - someone has posted a message on Facebook advising us that the sale has crashed. What! REALLY?! Fixes and modifications get done between us over the next hour…
9:10 pm: And not a minute too soon.
Launch. Review... Waagghhh!
*Click hide, save*
*Click hide, save*
*Click hide, save*
After a bit of investigating, I realized that we had somehow applied both the 50% and the 75% off discount categories to the games, which had then stacked. Whew! That was close! Fixes made, and the banner gets fired up for good.
Thirteen minutes later the first order comes in. There goes a FAT MAT at a loss to a lucky customer using in-store pick up.
And away we go...
And it All Comes Together
With only 5 categories and about 80 items, it doesn't take long to browse the sale. Some will sell out mighty quick, though. Well, out in the sale, that is. We don't want to sell out of EVERY item in the sale. With some, we do and with others we just want to reduce the quantity on hand. Tim came up with a clever solution to that using the new software, as well.
Let me wrap up with some picks for you. And don’t forget, you'll get a copy of the Lady Luck board game free if you snag $100 or more worth of games from the Lady Luck sale categories:
Mombasa, a highly rated game (with a score of 7.9 and ranked 62nd overall!) on Board Game Geek (BGG), and a deal at 50% off. 10 in the sale.
Same again for Tzolkin. What a cool game (Ranked 7.9 and 32 on BGG!) at 40% off. 5 in the sale.
Better than it looks and out of print: Gangster at 50% off. Load up the whacked gang member and drop him into the lake next to Chicago! Almost no luck factor in this game either. 4 in the sale.
King’s Abbey…never played it. Looks mighty good at 75% off, though. Only four In the sale.
Okay, beer is done. It is now St Paddy’s day and I have to get up in 7 hours for some green eggs and ham. Alex is going to give me heck for being too long winded. (Editor's Note: Be thankful there's an ocean between us).
Happy St. Patrick's Day!