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Ecommerce Forum

Sales of one type of widget fall to zero
Where would you look?

 3:49 pm on May 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

There's a brand of widget I've been selling for several years that I do very well with. Even in the slow months, of which May is one, I sell one to four of these widgets a day. Sometimes I'll go a day without a sale, but most days I sell at least one.

On May 2nd, orders for these widgets stopped, and I haven't had an order since. I've had orders for other brands and types of widgets, but not these, which are my most popular item.

I've been advertising using AdWords, and people have been clicking on the ads. I checked Analytics and Webmaster tools, and there doesn't seem to be a change in traffic from the keywords related to these widgets.

My distributor says that sales of these particular widgets are down about 20% over last month, but my sales are down 100%

Any ideas as to where else to look for a cause?

Thanks for any replies.



 6:15 pm on May 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

If the distributor is also seeing a significant drop in sales the first thing that comes to mind is simply obsolesence.


 6:51 pm on May 19, 2012 (gmt 0)

Just through bad luck, his 20% as a whole might translate to 100% for you. Strange things happen. I was getting hammered for most of the last 8 months. Starting a week ago my sales plummeted. How do you go from non stop to nothing in a couple days? Weird, but it happens. I think the key is to keep coming up with new stuff and just having enough variety to cover the low points.


 2:17 pm on May 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Is one of your competitors dumping stock with a sale?


 4:12 pm on May 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sounds like a competitor has come along with a better/cheaper product. Even with that, I'm shocked your sales would drop completely off the map. We've had competitors come along more cheaply and it might decrease our sales by half, but never all together.


 9:36 pm on May 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Sounds simple/obvious, but do you have any kind of inventory management/control in your shopping cart? We had an instance where an item was popular to add to the cart, but the cart wasn't releasing these items correctly after they were added and abandoned. Have you tried adding one to the cart and completing the checkout process since this started happening?


 10:43 pm on May 21, 2012 (gmt 0)

Have you gone through the complete checkout process (even clicking on your own ad) to test the entire process?

I would also do what p5gal5 is suggesting, to look at the inventory management/control, as well.


 3:30 am on May 23, 2012 (gmt 0)

Thanks for the replies. I've tested my site and my cart using other computers on other networks, and it all works fine.

I had an order for one of the widgets today for the first time in three weeks, and I've been having orders for other brands of widgets all along. It's just this one line of widgets that's just gone down the tubes. I'm even increasing my AdWords spending on it, but no go.

I've also checked on competitors, and I haven't found one of Google's page one retailers who are lower in price than I am. (I was once on page one for everything, but that ended 2/24/2011).


 12:37 am on May 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

It could be worse... You could have spent all your savings on FaceBook stock. :)


 7:45 am on May 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

I haven't found one of Google's page one retailers who are lower in price than I am.

Price is not always such an important factor. It could be something else - delivery times, number in stock, product description, trust signals.

Perhaps a competitor has made improvements - not necessarily being better than you - but communicating one or more of this factors better than you to the customers.

In some niches there is also a reverse effect in prices. We lost a significant amount of sales for one of the luxury brands we sell when our competitors stopped offering discounts and raised the prices to the same level we sold for - the recommended retail price. Price can be a trust factor, too and being too much cheaper than the competition can raise suspicions.


 2:58 am on May 25, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've experimented with price, and found that I sell the most when I have my prices as low as I can get them. It's not the way I'd like it, but I'd rather sell four units with a profit of $25 each than two with a profit of $50 each.

I got a couple of orders in the last two days for the widgets that haven't been selling. I'm beginning to think that this is election-related in a reverse way.


 3:09 pm on May 26, 2012 (gmt 0)

If are are making the same profit selling 2 at $50, why go to the extra work to pack twice as many items to make the same profit.

Over the years, I have found that slow periods (after normalizing for seaonal trends), are just normal variation.

Ajustments due to new competitors, industry trends, discounters entering the market, does not result in sudden changes overnight. Erosion of market share takes time.

The best thing to do is to find your standard deviation of your sales over a long period of time, and weight the results based on seasonal trends.

65% of the time your sales will be 1 SD away from the mean average daily sales amount. (average days)

30% of the time your sales will be 2 SD away from the mean average daily sales amount (slow and good days).

5% of the time (3 SD), sales will be excetionally hot, or extremely slow.

1% of the time (4 SD), you will hit new records, or wish you never got out of bed in the morning.

Just like you have hots days, with greats sales, you in turn have slow days with poor sales. They all fall on the bell curve.

If you track sales on a daily basis, you will become maniac-depressive with wild mood swings. DON'T DO IT !

If you can't find any technical reason (website down or slow, etc) don't sweat it, its normal statistical variation.

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