Thursday, August 19, 2010
Globe-Trotting Fiber Finds Its Way Home
When you open an online store, there's a lot to figure out. Even if you have a venue like Etsy as your host, you still have to make certain decisions. What will you make? How will you market your products? What will you charge? How will you ship? Should you sell internationally? It takes most of us at least a few months to get everything sorted and running like clockwork.
For me, one of the big decisions was to start selling internationally. I don't know why this felt like such a leap, but it did. I guess there is a little more risk involved. There's customs forms and you have to figure out what shipping will cost all over the world. Still, it's the best decision I've ever made.
It's exciting when you wake up in the morning and find that people have been shopping in your store while you were sleeping. In the beginning, I kept track of each new country to which I shipped. China! Chile! Finland! New Zealand! It felt incredible to me that my hand dyed roving was traveling the world. At some point I lost track of all the countries. There were too many of them.
What happens when something goes wrong? That's what we all worry about and that's kind of why I'm writing this post. For all the other store owners or people who are thinking about it, I thought it might be nice to share my track record. In two years, eight months and eleven days of doing business, during which time I've made 2,698 sales and shipped 1,128 packages (most people order more than one item), only one package has been lost in the mail. Not bad!
So what's that picture of a crumpled mailing envelope all about? Well, I thought that was going to be lost package number two. This package left for Spain on June 28, but never made it to my customer. After patiently waiting for its arrival beyond a typical time frame, I sent her a replacement. I was nervous about this second package making it to her, because all the information had been correct on the first one. What went wrong? After less than two weeks my customer sent me an email letting me know that the second package had made it safely. I was relieved.
I had accepted the loss of the first package. I told myself it was the price of doing business. I would just have to absorb the cost. Then yesterday, it found its way back home. Rumpled and stamped, written on (in Spanish) and stickered, here it is! Once more, the roving inside is still in perfect condition! How about that? My roving traveled all the way to Spain and back again. I'm a little envious. I've never been to Spain!