Running an eCommerce store can be great- flexible hours, low startup commitment, can be run from anywhere. The worst part? Hands down, dealing with customer service emails. I used to absolutely dread this, but wasn’t quite big enough to outsource it yet. The good news? The […]
It’s common knowledge that working from home is more efficient than working from the office, right? Yes. BUT. When you work remotely all the time, are you really more productive than working from an office? It depends. What do you mean by being more productive?* […]
I recently sold an e-commerce site I owned. The buyer had plenty of time to ask questions before the sale and was happy with the price. He didn’t even negotiate.
The transfer included not just the site with all products + suppliers, but also the facebook page and the ad data. I showed the buyer which products did well, how to turn the successful ads back on, and how to check their performance.
Happily Ever After?
Last week, I got an email from the buyer. He was frustrated with the site, said the products didn’t really sell, that he’s run some ads but they didn’t work, that the site isn’t working and he doesn’t know what to do with it now.
So, I looked at the site. It’s is a great example of what NOT to do after buying an e-commerce site.
How to kill a successful e-commerce site:
- Change everything
- Remove things that the seller recommended keeping to increase conversions
- Add things that could decrease conversions, like higher shipping prices
- Spend almost nothing on new, untested ads
- Ignore the proven ads included in the sale
- Ignore how much the previous owner spent on ads
- Be surprised that the site isn’t wildly successful with your “improvements”
- Blame the seller for selling you a “bad” site
My first thought was that this is one isolated case. This can’t be common, right??
Surprisingly, this actually happens quite often when new owners take over successful websites. When I think about it, some of my early non-success online even followed a similar pattern.
Ouch! I’m guilty of it too.
Common mistakes after taking over a website:
- Assuming you know what will work
- Underestimating the value of continuity
- Changing many variables at once
- Changing things before you have established a baseline to compare
- Not investing enough; unrealistic cashflow expectations
Here is what you SHOULD do after taking over a successful e-commerce website:
- Continuity is key! At first, keep everything as close as possible to how the old owner had it. Even if you think you can improve, make sure you can replicate their success first. You bought this site for a reason- make sure to use every bit of their know-how to get it running at least as smoothly as when you bought it.
- Once you have a baseline, NOW you can make changes. Make small changes, one at a time, and monitor their success compared to the baseline. The things you thought would work might not, and the things you thought wouldn’t might work well.
- Track your progress. Keep notes on what helped your bottom line and what didn’t. Remember that humans aren’t perfect, our memories and impressions are biased. Only the numbers tell you when you’ve really improved.
- Don’t be afraid to invest in the data you need! One day may not be enough to see if a promotion is working or not. $5 spent on ads may not be enough to see if they are working. If all else fails, put things back exactly the way the previous owner had them.
- Plan your cashflows realistically! Especially with businesses driven by ads, remember to put in perspective how much the previous owner was spending to generate their results. If they were spending $2000 per month but you’re spending $500, you can’t blame them for your lower sales… Figure out how to replicate their results first, then see about improving performance.
Taking over a website is always more complicated than you think. It’s easy to get caught up and lose perspective. Hopefully these tips will help you (and me) not to make the same mistakes next time we buy an online business.
Last week I needed to have a signature certified by a notary. I’ve had this done before, but I’m in France and wasn’t sure how it would work here or how much it would cost.
When I asked the internet what to do, it told me all sorts of things like “notaries in France don’t certify signatures” and “you need to get an appointment at the US embassy and pay $50” or “city hall will certify signatures but not without an official translation of the document”.
Guess what? After stressing out about the internet’s misinformation for two hours, I finally just used Google Maps to find the notary (“notaire”) nearest me and called them.
I asked if they could certify a signature (“certifier une signature”). They said sure, stop by anytime.
I showed up 15 minutes later, saw the notary immediately, showed him my passport & signed the document in front of him.
I said, “I hope it’s not a problem that the document is in English”. He said, “why would it be a problem? I’m certifying your signature, not the contents of the document”.
So. Much. Common. Sense. He stamped & signed the document and sent me on my way.
Bonus: Guess how much he charged me? Nothing. (Also: They had really nice AC and it was SO HOT outside)
Lesson of the day: Sometimes the internet doesn’t have all the answers. Sometimes real life is surprisingly straightforward.
PS: I’m 95% sure that the process for a certified copy (of a passport, etc) would be equally straightforward. Don’t worry about what the internet is telling you. Just find the nearest notary.
While we were in Bali last fall, we needed certified copies of our passports. We wondered whether this would be complicated. Turns out, finding a notary and getting a certified copy in Indonesia is surprisingly simple. Step 1: Find the nearest notary on Google Maps. […]