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View Full Version : Trying to improve - Your Impressions Good/Bad



Burl Source
07-02-2012, 10:28 PM
I would like to do better at what I am doing with the Knife Handle Materials business. I figure the best way to figure out how to do that is to listen to what you have to say. Thank you in advance for any advice, encouragement or constructive criticism you are willing to share.

1st to give a little background.
I came to It's a Burl in 2005. Worked 1/2 time making items to sell in our galleries and 1/2 time selling wood over the internet. Mostly whole burls and burl slabs on ebay. By 2007 I was working full time selling wood over the internet primarily to guitar builders, artists and furniture makers.

In 2008 I started focusing on the knife makers and started doing my own wood stabilizing. After a couple years doing my own stabilizing I found that K&G could do better stabilizing for close to the money I was spending on chemicals to do it myself. It was a no-brainer to switch to getting my wood stabilized by a company who was thought of as one of the best in the industry. When I made the change to K&G there was a significant increase in sales.

In 2011 I started paying more attention to the Kitchen Knife world. Turns out I was oblivious to the fact that a lot of the knife handle wood I was selling was going on Kitchen Knives. After a few of my regular customers invited me here, I visited the Kitchen Knife Forums. I found out that there was a lot that I didn't know about kitchen knives, like everything. You guys have done a good job teaching me. I have several good kitchen knives now and my cooking has improved dramatically.

Before I joined the Kitchen Knife Forums I was scared to spend the money it took to get the Best of the Best figured woods for handle material. It was from the advice and encouragement of the forum members that I got up the guts to take a chance with the really good stuff. Since I began to carry some of the really high end woods sales volume has had another significant increase. Directly related to the willingness of the people on this forum to give good advice.

Now that I have made a short story long, I am asking for your guidance again.

Since I do almost all of my selling through my web store I was hoping to hear your impressions good or bad.
I know it is having a good impression on some because of the volume of sales.
But........I think it is leaving a bad impression on some people as well.
This is what I was hoping to improve.

Some of this concern is based on analytical reports I have run on my web store. The rest is that I feel that you need to constantly learn and improve or things begin to stagnate. The more I learn, the more I realize how much I don't know.

In my web store.
Just last month there were 110 abandoned shopping carts.
This means customers had selected pieces they wanted to get and for one reason or another did not complete the purchase.
There were also about 20 unconfirmed orders.
This means customers had added items to their shopping cart, gone through the checkout process but did not complete payment for their order.

I am not sure what is the cause of this.
What it means to me is "I am doing something wrong".

SpikeC
07-02-2012, 10:50 PM
I have learned to ignore some of the stuff that the web store does during checkout. When going through the process it gets really wonky, butt I can't describe it without going through it again. We have gone over this before and the strangeness then continues, I think that many just give up.

Deckhand
07-02-2012, 11:02 PM
I have been very happy and certainly no issues. Wish I could give some helpful negative feedback, but alas have none. You have been very helpful, and I trust what I buy from you.

GlassEye
07-02-2012, 11:05 PM
The abandoned shopping carts–When web-shopping I will sometimes add items to a cart, then go to checkout to see the shipping costs and total. I may not make the purchase, or may come back another day to make that purchase.

I have not bought from your webstore yet, but plan to soon, so I can't comment on how it works for me.

rsacco
07-02-2012, 11:14 PM
Just a few thoughts...I don't know if 110 abandoned carts or 20 unconfirmed order is high or low without knowing more about your site metrics. Also, I've been through your purchase flow several times and I've come across some issues that make ordering from your site a bit confusing. One example is that I have had problems numerous times when trying to add an item to my cart when the cart contained an item from a previous visit. I've had to go about emptying the cart a couple different ways before I could add the item that I wanted purchase (as opposed to the item in my cart from the prior visit/session). This may be throwing off some of your analytics reports. Lastly, where are you seeing the most fall out in your cart funnel? Payment Method?

Crothcipt
07-02-2012, 11:20 PM
The abandoned shopping carts–When web-shopping I will sometimes add items to a cart, then go to checkout to see the shipping costs and total. I may not make the purchase, or may come back another day to make that purchase.

I have not bought from your webstore yet, but plan to soon, so I can't comment on how it works for me.

I have not done that on your store, but on others. From what I remember from the last time I bought, there seems to be not as fluid as when you are using the store. Not sure how to put it tho.

Just went and looked at the check out. I don't know about the software, but maybe if you go through the address and check in before you go to cart, it may seem more friendly?

chinacats
07-02-2012, 11:52 PM
I have had no issues with your site. I would say that the checkout process is slightly unusual but has caused no difficulties...you definitely aren't losing business when people see your shipping charges :>)

Eamon Burke
07-02-2012, 11:57 PM
Sometimes I will add everything and go to checkout to find out the price of shipping. Maybe people don't know the shipping is free.

VoodooMajik
07-03-2012, 12:42 AM
I had some issues with Checking out via Paypal, but aside from that my sole experience purchasing from yourself was beyond ideal. Free shipping must certainly help.

Johnny.B.Good
07-03-2012, 01:13 AM
I don't remember having a problem checking out on your site Mark, and I think the navigation on your site is pretty simple and effective.

I really like the short videos you produce for the more pricey blocks. I think this is definitely worth the effort (hopefully your sales back me up on this). I would like to see you do them for all the blocks on your site. It provides a sense of scale and color/figure that just doesn't come through in still photos.

tk59
07-03-2012, 03:16 AM
I have no problem with the site and I also appreciate the videos. I may be responsible for an abandoned cart or two. As my pile of wood grows, I'm getting a little better at controlling myself. :)

markenki
07-03-2012, 03:21 AM
I sometimes add an item to my cart to keep track of pieces I like, without necessarily going through with the purchase. Maybe if you add a feature to allow users to add pieces to a "wishlist" or "watchlist" you would see fewer abandoned carts. It would also be cool to see pieces that have sold recently still listed on the site, but marked as sold. Also your prices are WAY too high. You need to cut them in half. :-)

tk59
07-03-2012, 03:34 AM
Oh yeah, it would definitely be nice to be able to see stuff that recently sold, as long as it is marked as such. As for prices, I would most likely buy more if the prices were lower. I'm not sure if that would translate into more profit in the end.

markenki
07-03-2012, 03:46 AM
I was joking about the prices. Of course, I'd prefer lower prices, but who am I to say whether your prices are high.

Taz575
07-03-2012, 06:57 AM
I am responsible for a few abandoned carts! I will often add stuff to see how much it costs, check how much money I have and realize I can't buy anything right now :( The wishlist idea is a good one!! Prices are great, much lower compared to other places and you get more wood usually since your pieces are usually larger than the 1.25x1.5x5 size most other places carry.

Muscles
07-03-2012, 07:20 AM
If only more online businesses went to the same depths you are, enjoy the rabbit-hole that is analytics. I agree about people adding to cart to check shipping costs, I am guilty of this on many a site and especially international sites like yours is to me.

Kudos for requesting feedback good or bad direct from your clientele, that takes some stones.

FYI we experience about a 5% cart abandonment rate and 1% indefinite payment pending on our online store and this is very common in the ecommerce world...

PierreRodrigue
07-03-2012, 08:29 AM
I to have had issues at check out. Item already paid for still in the cart, and they cause the error loop because the process will not let me buy something already gone. So I have to clear the cart and start over. Sometimes I can clear just the old items, but there are other times I have to clear the whole box. I have also had issues selecting items, then when checking out, the item count for that particular block is "0" I clear it, go back to the store to select another, and see the same block has "1" available. I try again with no luck, I get "rather grumpy" and log out. Come back after a couple hours, and try again. Sometimes with better results, sometimes not.

Mike Davis
07-03-2012, 10:04 AM
Maybe it is because i use it so much, i have no issues with your site...in fact i can almost do it blindfolded. I am responsible for a few abandoned carts, for exactly the purpose of keeping track of stuff i like, sometimes to go to checkout and find them gone lol. Your store is fine IMO.

mhlee
07-03-2012, 12:20 PM
I was responsible for several abandoned carts a few months ago. The wood I wanted to buy that I put in my cart was sold while I was deciding to buy it.

This happened to me at least twice. :curse:

kalaeb
07-03-2012, 12:42 PM
I think your site is great! No issues there, sometimes I have issues when I checkout from my phone, but other than that no issues.

Burl Source
07-03-2012, 01:09 PM
One example is that I have had problems numerous times when trying to add an item to my cart when the cart contained an item from a previous visit. I've had to go about emptying the cart a couple different ways before I could add the item that I wanted purchase (as opposed to the item in my cart from the prior visit/session).
I believe I got the cart issue fixed a couple weeks ago.
When the store software was upgraded it caused the save items in cart settings to be set for 999 days. Now this has been changed to 8 hours. If anyone is still having an issue with old stuff or previous purchases still in the cart please let me know. When I think of times I have made purchases on other websites I am prone to give up if I have to jump through too many hoops. I called the software tech support and they agree with your comment that emptying items from the cart will add to abandoned cart stats.


I was responsible for several abandoned carts a few months ago. The wood I wanted to buy that I put in my cart was sold while I was deciding to buy it. This happened to me at least twice. :curse:

The way the store software works is that an item will show in store inventory until a person who has placed it in their cart completes checkout. Sometimes more than one person will have the piece in their cart at the same time. The software gives the piece to the 1st to checkout. Others with the same piece in their cart will show a 0 quantity when they checkout and will need to remove the item from the cart. So far I am unable to find a way to change this.

Burl Source
07-03-2012, 01:21 PM
I have learned to ignore some of the stuff that the web store does during checkout. When going through the process it gets really wonky, butt I can't describe it without going through it again. We have gone over this before and the strangeness then continues, I think that many just give up.

I am hoping that if something strange happens, people would consider calling or sending an email showing what happened. I know a casual customer would probably not do this and just say "f*** it". I fit into that category sometimes.
But....if I am told what happened I can contact tech support and get specific problems addressed. I try to reward those who go through the extra effort to make things right.

Anyone here is always welcome to call me. My phone # is 541-592-5071. It is a cell phone that I carry with me at work. If I am running machinery I might not here it but I will always respond to messages left on voicemail.

Burl Source
07-03-2012, 01:31 PM
Oh yeah, it would definitely be nice to be able to see stuff that recently sold, as long as it is marked as such. As for prices, I would most likely buy more if the prices were lower. I'm not sure if that would translate into more profit in the end.
The highest priced pieces actually have the lowest profit margin of any items in the store. While those pieces account for about 50% of the sales, they only account for about 10 to 15% of the profitability. Many of the higher end pieces are too expensive for a large portion of the store customers budgets. I may be guilty of having to much of the store inventory being higher cost pieces creating the impression that all my inventory is expensive.

I am glad you guys like the videos. I was afraid that with my stumbling over words and rambling on about the wood I might be a bit annoying.
While it only takes me a few minutes to film the video, it takes about an hour or so to upload the video to youtube because we have such slow internet here.

The store software allows me to enable a wish list.
I had not done that before because all the items in the store inventory are one only.
My thought was that it would be disappointing to make a list and then find many no longer available when you go to get them.
I never know what is going to happen with the items for sale. Some sell within minutes of adding them to the store others weeks.
I will probably add the wish list and we can just see what happens.

WillC
07-03-2012, 01:43 PM
I think you go above and beyond. I have not found anything anywhere that matches your store for quality and service vs cost.:biggrin:

Burl Source
07-03-2012, 02:21 PM
Back on the subject of prices.
1st impressions can be deceptive.
It is easy to look at a few different supplier websites and see something like Stabilized Koa blocks selling for $50.
That gives the impression that the going rate for a block of stabilized Koa is $50.
Then you go to my web store and see a lot of Koa blocks selling for $100+.
1st impression is "this guy is charging double what the other guys charge".
I am guilty of this sort of 1st impression myself.
The things I didn't take into consideration with my first impression are:
Shipping charges
Size of the piece
Quality of the figure
and the fact that the other sites might only show an example photo, not the piece you get.

I try to do things a little different than the other guys.
I show large photos of the individual pieces for sale.
Shipping is Free.
Most of my pieces are cut oversized.

Here is an exaggerated example to make my point. It is hard to tell the difference because they are only rough sanded.
The piece on the left is a standard size block. The one on the right is one cut a bit oversized. It contains more than twice as much wood.
Plus the one on the right has considerably better figure. Both are the same type of wood cut from the same billet.

http://i901.photobucket.com/albums/ac219/burlsource/apr12/002-15.jpg

The one on the left when stabilized might sell for $50 in my store with the one on the right selling for $125.
Looking at the small thumbnail photo and the $125 price tag, 1st impression might be "this guy is crazy".
But at second glance at the dimensions and larger photos the big piece becomes the better deal.

Burl Source
07-03-2012, 03:05 PM
I have just added a wish list to the web store.
With each item in the store there are 2 buttons;
Add to Cart or Add to Wish List.

There is an option with the wish list that allows you to reserve an item.
Reserving a piece places the wish list piece in your shopping cart.
NOTE:
This does not pull the item from the store inventory.
It is still available for purchase by someone else until the first person with that piece in their cart completes checkout.
It does not appear that this is something I can change.

markenki
07-03-2012, 06:32 PM
Cool, Mark! Thanks!

Crothcipt
07-04-2012, 12:13 AM
I have only bought a couple of pieces of wood so far. When I got my first piece I thought that those are larger than what I thought they were. After looking through your store a few times I realized that prices reflect the size of the wood. I now have a problem going to other wood sites. Most don't show a larger picture or talk about the piece much. You do a write up, and some vids. which shows a service that is not used (from what I have seen) much. I thought posters were just joking with you, on prices.

It also speaks volumes that you are even asking for feed back.

VoodooMajik
07-04-2012, 06:45 AM
I have only bought a couple of pieces of wood so far. When I got my first piece I thought that those are larger than what I thought they were.

I found mine to be larger then I expected. I built a guitar a few years ago so maybe the prices don't seem to rough to me in context.. (I was lucky enough to find someone who built guitars and had cut a milled a ton of stuff himself locally)

El Pescador
07-04-2012, 11:08 AM
I think you need a wood of the month.

Crothcipt
07-04-2012, 12:40 PM
+10

markenki
07-04-2012, 02:33 PM
I thought posters were just joking with you, on prices.
I certainly was. Very happy with the products and service. Mark rocks (not me, the other Mark).

maxim
07-04-2012, 03:33 PM
A am happy too :D
Thanks for great products !! Price is also right on !
I want to see some more non stabilized stuff too

The Edge
07-04-2012, 05:50 PM
Never had a problem ordering from your store. Though, maybe it is too easy for me to order sometimes, but that's another matter all together.

Cipcich
07-04-2012, 09:33 PM
There is at least one anomalous aspect to the functioning of your site, but I would have to go and purposely add something to a cart (with every intention of abandoning it) in order to describe it. That would, however, be the first time I've abandoned a cart. Kind of like going into a supermarket and walking away from dinner . . .
It can't be too difficult to navigate or I wouldn't have a wood collection.

Crothcipt
07-04-2012, 10:47 PM
There is at least one anomalous aspect to the functioning of your site, but I would have to go and purposely add something to a cart (with every intention of abandoning it) in order to describe it. That would, however, be the first time I've abandoned a cart. Kind of like going into a supermarket and walking away from dinner . . .
It can't be too difficult to navigate or I wouldn't have a wood collection.

from someone who has worked in a supermarket, it happens all the time. and yes someone has to put it away.