State of the Union for June 15, 2015

For anyone who might still be concerned about site speed, forget about it. Ten days ago we moved the site to a managed server and we’re running better and faster than we’ve ever run.

Everything about the site is stable now, from both the vendor and the customer standpoint. For those of you who know about websites:

WordPress – The site is built on a WordPress foundation. It’s the most flexible and best supported platform available, and it’s the easiest platform for YOU to use.

Woocommerce – Our shopping cart system is based on the free Woocommerce plug-in for WordPress, plus a few additional premium plug-ins that allow us to open up the site for vendors.

Theme – Our theme is a premium Woocommerce theme created specifically for large ecommerce sites that carry thousands of products. It’s automatically responsonsive, which means we’re automatically mobile-friendly.

Managed hosting – We’re now on a managed server, operated by a company that specializes in WordPress/Woocommerce ecommerce sites. We’re not just being hosted now, now we have a team of techies watching our back.

Site speed is consistently rating at A and B, no orders are being dropped, no log-in problems from customers or vendors, no Paypal problems. In short, all systems are GO and for the first time since we started the site we feel 100% confident the site can handle unlimited growth.

That being said…

If you’ve been with us for a while then you know we’ve always had an evil plan to take over the coupon world. We might joke about it but trust me, we’re totally serious. In the past we’ve been limited by the site itself. Everytime we’d reach a new milestone something would go wrong with the site because it just wasn’t stable enough to handle the extra load. We’ve taken three steps forward and two steps back so many times we can’t count them anymore.

Now, it’s been a little over a year but, as I said, we’re finally 100% confident the site can take anything we throw at it. Over the next few months you’re going to see a huge push for more new vendors and more new customers.

 

Customer Service and Refunds

 

Since April, all customers have been required to agree to our Terms before they can proceed to checkout – every time they place an order.

We’ve checked several other coupon clipping sites and our Terms are all pretty standard: We guarantee we’ll ship it but we won’t guarantee delivery. While some of our terms may seem harsh, we rarely see an abandoned shopping cart.

Refunds are also at an all-time low. We refund less than 1/2 of one cent for every dollar ordered.

On the other hand…

We have heard from a few customers who haven’t asked for refunds because they read our Terms and they don’t think they’ll get a refund. These are generally shipping problems. (Customers who get the wrong coupons or the order is short always contact us for assistance.) So…

Customers are assuming we won’t issue a refund for any kind of shipping problem. This means our Terms page is working but it also means we can potentially piss off a lot of customers if we’re not careful. If they don’t get their order quickly and they can’t ask for a refund, they’re never going to order from us again!

Every time a customer places an order that means she’s accepting our Terms, and she’s also expecting US to live up to our part of the bargain:

  • All orders placed by 1 PM EST ship the same day. (Saturday cut-off is 11 AM EST)
  • All orders shipped to the exact shipping address the customer places on her order
  • All orders shipped accurately

Summer Sales Slump

 

Yes, it’s summertime and that means sales are going to take a dip, for two reasons:

Customers don’t shop as much during the summer. I spent 10+ years working for grocery stores and June, July and August suck. People are on vacation, they’re out in the sun having fun, it’s too hot to eat, and they’re just not concerned about stocking the pantry this time of year.

Manufacturers typically put out fewer coupons this time of year and those they do print are usually not that exciting because they know people aren’t shopping right now.

NOTE: We’ll have TWO weekends in July with NO inserts – 7/5 and 7/19. BUT… On 7/26 expect to see FIVE inserts – 2 SS, 2 RP and the P & G.

 

Here’s the Summer of 2014

 

Keep in mind that June was the first full month with vendors and Jessica and I were also still clipping. Jessica and I accounted for 20% of sales each month.

June sales – $3966.90 with 7 vendors

July sales – $4151.32 with 13 vendors

August sales – $7881.64 with 17 vendors

September sales – $10159.76 with 20 vendors

 

Now, 2015

 

June 1 – June 15, 2015: So far we’re at $3975.52 for the month of June, which means we’ve already done 100% of the sales we did for the full month of June 2014.

Yes, the site is still growing, even with all the problems we’ve had this year. And remember, Jessica and I stopped clipping last October. So all sales go to vendors, now.

 

Does the Early Bird Really Get the Worm? Yes. Yes he DOES!

 

A few weeks ago we started providing the new listings, already typed up with images attached. Over the last 2 weeks we’ve seen a 25% increase in traffic. This is huge, folks!

Before we started the pre-made listings…

As soon as we saw a few of the new coupons pop up we’d send out a newsletter letting customers know they were rolling in, but we started to notice a huge drop off in traffic. Customers were reading the email andcoming to the site, but when they only saw 4 or 5 coupons from the new SS or RP listed they gave up and went somewhere else.

Worse, after a few weeks these same customers just stopped opening that newsletter and stopped making THCM their first choice.

We tried waiting until at least one vendor had at least most of the insert listing before we sent our newsletter but by then customers were already getting their coupons from someone else.

Now that we’re providing the pre-made listings, more vendors are able to get more of the coupons up as soon as they get their inserts. More customers are opening that newsletter now and more of them are coming to the site from that newsletter because they know they’re going to see COUPONS now.

We fully expect this trend to continue and we believe that getting those listings published earlier will be one of the key contributors to growth. Whether you order these premade listings or not is entirely up to you, but we suggest:

Order the premade listings. These are a huge time-saver! All you need to do is add your price, add your inventory and adjust your lot size (I send them to you with the words ‘Lot of 10’ but you can make it anything you want.)

Find a preview somewhere and get your listings ready early. Don’t wait until you get your inserts before you even start working on the listings. Have those listings ready to publish the minute your inserts arrive. (I try to publish the previews on the site but I don’t always have time. I check for previews at Klip2save and CouponPreviews.com)

Always check your preview listings against your actual inserts. Previews always differ from the actual insert. The actual insert generally contains coupons that weren’t listed in the preview. Sometimes the HOT coupons aren’t in the previews, and sometimes the coupon values are different.

 

Let’s Wrap It Up

 

Jessica and I have never been more excited about the site than we are right now. I can’t stress enough how relieved we are to finally have the site sitting on a stable foundation. It’s a huge load off our shoulders and it’s going to allow us to finally focus on growth instead of spending all our time tweaking the engine.

Believe it or not, our main concern has always been the vendors. If you think about it, everything hinges on you. In our little Marketplace, you provide the inventory and you take care of the customers, we merely provide you with a roof and a cash register.

And now that the roof is finally sturdy (I said ‘STURDY, not just patched!) and the cash register works, we can move forward with our evil plot to conquer the coupon world and make The Happy Couponer Marketplace the first and only place customers come for coupons!