Tuesday, 31 December 2013

08:50 – Our original goal for 2013 was to double kit sales over 2012. We didn’t quite make that, but we weren’t far off, either. We fell short of doubling by only $6K or $7K. That’s not too bad, considering that we got hammered in late spring by the sequester and in October by the budget deadlock. For those three months, which should have been big months, we barely beat 2012 figures.

For 2014, our goal is to at least double 2013 sales, which means we’ll need to ship 1,000 kits or so. That’s challenging but it should be doable.

09:59 – Here’s something interesting I just stumbled upon during a web search: Amazon Supply (Beta). First I’d heard of it.

23 thoughts on “Tuesday, 31 December 2013”

  1. Do you really think that the sequester and budget deadlock really affected your business that much? Our September sales were freaking awesome and then October and November were real duds.

  2. Yeah, I do. From January through May we were running at 4X to 5X 2012 figures, month on month. In June and July, that dropped to about 1.1 X. Our August sales were 2X those of 8/2012. September was 1.6X those of 9/2012, and would have been 2X if sales hadn’t fallen off a cliff in the last week (just as the budget crap peaked). October dropped to 1.2X, and then November jumped back up to 2X.

  3. According to the sign in page for Amazon Supply, if you have a regular Amazon account you can sign in with that and if you are a Prime Member you get Prime benefits.

  4. I wondered what was going on. This must be mixed in somehow with regular Amazon, because all of a sudden, in the last month or so, when I query Amazon for something, I started getting returns for case lots. Was looking for a particular toaster, and of course I get something like 40 pages of stuff to sift through, and scattered around it were some products in lots of 100 with a price in the thousands.

  5. I think that Amazon is getting closer and closer to delivery today for free in all major metropolitan centers. Amazon sees Walmart as their major competitor now and wants to take their customers away. Home Depot and Office Depot also. All grocery stores.

    All that requires delivery today for free. Maybe a autonomous truck drives down the street, launching delivery drones as it goes past delivery points. Unladen after their deliveries, they catchup to the truck for their next delivery.

  6. Prosperous New Year to allllll… I’ve been trying to promote a tool I’ve invented and maybe 2014 will be its’ debut??????

  7. My Sam’s Club membership is up in a month. Is it time to move on the new Costco that is 3 miles closer to my home? Is Costco worth an extra $10/year membership fee over Sam’s?

  8. I’m going to be joining Costco. They have some furniture that I want, and the manufacturer makes it exclusively for Costco. Did a pretty exhaustive search and cannot find it elsewhere. My only other encounter with the membership clubs was Pace. Don’t know what happened to them. I got a free introductory membership when living in Boston, but the quality of their food products was pretty awful. Really did seem like seconds.

    Never been in a Sam’s. Tried once, but they had no provision for letting me test it out without first joining. At one time nearby Walmarts gave out Sam’s trial memberships, but apparently they do not need to do that anymore. Although my wife ALWAYS demanded to see the room we would be renting when staying overnight at some place and I didn’t (I just chose expensive places that I have had a previously good experience with), I am just not going to pay for membership in some place without first trying it out. I have been in Costco many times with friends, so I don’t need a trial. But even the YMCA here lets you have a preview week before joining.

  9. My Sam’s Club membership is up in a month. Is it time to move on the new Costco that is 3 miles closer to my home? Is Costco worth an extra $10/year membership fee over Sam’s?

    Lynn, I use the Costco on Richmond (where the HISD castle used to be) and quickly dropped Sam’s about 18 months ago.
    Pluses for Costco: I did cost comparisons for a number of the items I buy on a regular basis, and Costco was cheaper by a little. Costco has more “upscale” stuff, sort of like the difference between Target and Walmart. Much better wine selection.
    Plus for Sam’s: If you stock vending machines (I have a brother out of state that does) Sam’s sells vending packs of chips, gum. etc. Costco doesn’t. Also, there are more Sam’s locations.
    Minus for Sam’s: Stores are not as nice and have crappy parking lots.

    Overall, Costco’s market is middle class buyers. Sam’s is vending machine owners and lower middle class buyers.

  10. First comment of the new year!

    And now that I’m here… I find I have nothing to say.

  11. Speaking of Amazon, is it me or does their search capabilities leave something to be desired? Always seems to return some totally unrelated items, can’t sort results unless you select a ‘department’, can’t sort just on price just on the ‘Amazon’ price, etc.

  12. Alan, I’ll bet that Amazon’s search works very well … from the perspective of the people who pay for its development.

  13. That’s it exactly. Amazon search is optimized for Amazon’s interests rather than the customers’.

    For example, I’d like to be able to search their instant video offerings but limit the results to only items that are available for free to Amazon Prime members. I don’t want to see anything that requires me to pay extra, but that’s not an option.

  14. Alan, I’ll bet that Amazon’s search works very well … from the perspective of the people who pay for its development.

    Given everything else that Jeff does so well with Amazon I’m kind of surprised about the search issues…

  15. Isn’t Amazon’s interest to sell more stuff?

    Not exactly. Amazon’s goal is to maximize long-term profits, which isn’t at all the same thing. They obviously believe that allowing Prime customers to filter for only videos that are included with Prime would cost them money. So instead they show the pay-for videos right along with the ones available for free on Prime. With data-mining, they may even know that I have never paid for any PPV and am unlikely ever to do so, but they insist on putting the PPV stuff in my face anyway.

  16. Not exactly. Amazon’s goal is to maximize long-term profits, which isn’t at all the same thing.

    I can understand your point related to their videos but what about when it comes to physical goods? If I search for “Sony Portable Radio” I’m kind of annoyed to see a DeWalt radio near the top of the search results. Sure, show it if I search just for “Portable Radio”…

    So then I tried searching for “Sony Portable Radio -DeWalt”. That seems to have gotten rid of the DeWalt radio but now even higher on page 2 is this… http://www.amazon.com/Grand-Theft-Auto-Chinatown-Wars-Sony/dp/B002F87WEW/ref=sr_sp-atf_title_1_18?ie=UTF8&qid=1388597682&sr=8-18&keywords=sony+portable+radio+-dewalt

    I know it’s for a “Sony” PlayStation but a radio??

    On the other hand, I tried the same search on eBay and through the first eight pages of results there was nothing but, you guessed it, Sony radios.

  17. I wasn’t disagreeing that Amazon frequently presents bad search results unintentionally, merely saying that they also do so intentionally.

  18. My impression is that Google searches have deteriorated in the last several years, too. When I get stumped on something, simple searches used to return somebody who had exactly my problem, but knew the solution, and had enough knowledge to explain the why’s of the problem’s cause and how the solution worked.

    Now, I cannot even find answers to problems. My Galaxy S3 Android Smartphone is a good example. EXACTLY HOW does the call blocking/rejection option do its job? Lots of people want to know, but nobody does know. Lots of guesses. It really is not “blocking/rejection” because when I enter a number, they can still get through to my voice-mail and leave messages.

    Lots and lots of people searching for answers to various problems, but few solutions on Google anymore.

  19. Lynn, I use the Costco on Richmond (where the HISD castle used to be) and quickly dropped Sam’s about 18 months ago.

    I have wandered the new Costco on I-69 here in the Land of Sugar twice now. It is very impressive and three miles closer to the house. But my Sam’s is here in the Land of Sugar also (hwy 6 and 90) and very well kept up. And they have inventory as I bought four new P265/70R17 Michelins there on Christmas Eve for my trusty Expedition. And with a $70 cash rebate from Michelin to boot. Our Costco does not stock that tire for some reason.

  20. Amazon search is mostly bad in the USA, where they carry every kind of product you can imagine. In Germany, where we usually look, the search is much better. I therefore have the impression that the problems are mostly a matter of having so many products to search through. That said, I am sure our host is right: they certainly include items they hope you will buy, even if they aren’t what you were really looking for.

    Google search is actually pretty amazing; I don’t have the impression is has deteriorated. Just a couple of years ago, almost every search included irrelevant results from eBay and other big commercial sites that had somehow gamed the search engine. This rarely happens nowadays. However, Google does suffer the same problem as Amazon: a surfeit of sites all vying for the top spot. Figuring out which ones to actually present, in which order, cannot be easy.

    The one criticism I have of Google is the one brought up in the Ted Talk on filter bubbles: Results are optimized on a per-person basis. For neutral product searches, this is probably not too important, but for anything dealing with news or politics this strikes me as very, very dangerous to society. Everyone is led to think that their personal views are much more widespread than is actually the case.

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