Weekly Store Update: 1 January
Happy New Year! Wow...what a ride that was! At least we ended the year with a bang and with a new year comes new...things. Like you, we're looking forward to what 2023 might offer. In that spirit, we have several operational changes to share with you this week. Plus, the usual restock lists and such. So, slap on your party hat and jump on in!
Welcome to our weekly newsletter! For our new readers I'm Eric, and Wendy and I run Stone Valley Games. This newsletter is our way to share both local and world-wide gaming news of interest that popped up last week. It also provides our subscribers, both local and remote, some information on the going's on around here so everyone feels like part of the action. At the bottom of this newsletter we show you the restocks, new items, and preorders added to the store last week. It's not too difficult to navigate, so let's get to it!
THE END OF YEAR SALE
I'm happy to report many of you took advantage of our End of Year sale last week, and we're so grateful! It helped move the needle in the right direction after missing out on the Black Friday event due to my surgery recovery. It really was just what we needed.
We modified a few internal processes this time around to help smooth things out and keep things less confusing in the packaging and shipping side. You know, we're used to a certain number of orders in our day-to-day operations. During these sales events that number spikes into the hundreds. Again, it's just a very few of us, so streamlining is the key. We're happy to say we caught up with the sale by the last day! That's a whole day ahead of my original projection. So, let's just say the changes I implemented this time are about as good as they can get, and we'll carry them forward to future events.
Best part, our website did not crash out of the gate. I learned a little something from previous events to help there and now we have that part basically bulletproof. Everything went off right on time and I noticed only two small things that needed an early course correction.
First was a math error in the sales spreadsheet. It was showing incorrect sales percentages. No, not on the sales items themselves (which were spot on)...only the percentage. Helpfully, in another small change for this sale I had embedded a OneDrive document to the website. In this way I only needed to make the change in the origin document and the fix rolled thru instantly. Much nicer than how we used to embed.
The second was an issue with handheld devices. While the prices rolled through in real-time, the website front end changes didn't appear on handheld, only desktops. Once I took a look, I realized I needed to purge the server so the new data could flow through. A click later and the handheld devices were seeing the updated page.
That was it...basically no drama at all. Then for the next few days it was a blur of orders and packages and products going out the door. Which reminds me of the last change we implemented to help out in this area.
As you know, we are a storefront too. I am a more than vital aspect to make everything regarding the sale work correctly. When we have customers in the store, they become my priority which takes me away from the sales processing. So, while customers are in, everything else kind of grinds to a halt. In order to incentivize curbside deliveries during our sales event I decided to do a giveaway for local customers who ordered for curbside pickup. That worked very, very well! We only had a few customers pop in, and they were not aware of the sale. All in all, this change was another significantly helpful nuance that helped focus our efforts.
Which reminds me.... the giveaway 😀 We announced that we would give a copy of Paladins of the West Kingdom and Sagani to the local pickup winner. We drew the winner's name, and it turned out to be Mark G! When we contacted Mark, he mentioned he already had Paladins of the West Kingdom and asked us to draw again for another winner - so we did! The second winner was Gwen G. for the Paladins of the West Kingdom! Congratulations to all our winners and thanks so much for participating. Mo' Winners = Mo Better!
Again, this local giveaway was so successful at keeping foot traffic down that we will definitely do similar things in future sales events. When will the next big one be? We anticipate sometime around the Spring season, so expect the next big one March-ish! However, as we explain later in this newsletter, there will be many, many more sales events this 2023 year than ever before.
2023 OPERATIONAL CHANGES
In next week's newsletter we will lay out our sales and other interesting numbers to see how we did compared to 2021. It's always fun putting that report together! However, we have already initiated several internal changes to meet our goal of continually streamlining how we do business.
Right off the top I'm very happy to report we do not have any anticipated changes for our storefront. Everything here is running smoothly! Well...actually there will be one little change. We're going to start incorporating colored shopping bags to mix things up a little. Fun!
There are, however, several changes lined up for our online store. I guess I need to start by saying for our new readers that it's just two of us running everything around here. However, as I mentioned over a year ago, with the arrival of our grandson it's really been mostly me as 'Nanna' has places to be. Now, I love, love, love doing what I do - but I am always looking at process improvements to help me out. The following list may seem long, but in actuality are individually quite small things that I anticipate will add up to real improvement.
First things first, we were able to negotiate better USPS shipping rates. You'll especially see them with the Priority mail tier. Of course, as with all shipping prices, the further you live away from our store the more expensive things will be. However, I tested the system over the last ten days or so and it's very, very competitive now.
We are also going to stop including SVG bling with the orders once our current supply runs out. We've had our SVG Merchandise available for over three years now and have sold maybe...six things? It might be a good idea, but it's just not panning out, so, we're going to do away with it.
We are also going to stop the monthly giveaway. Instead, we will be conducting a monthly "mini sale". We figure this will impact far more gamers in a positive way than a monthly drawing. I don't have the process completely figured out yet, but you'll see the first one in January. That's not the only sales event though as I'm planning on throwing in some flash sales for good measure too. However, just to keep things interesting, we may still conduct occasional giveaways. All of that sales and giveaway information will be anchored to this very newsletter. So, if you are receiving this now, you are set to be at the forefront of any updates.
Finally, we're going to stop including personalized handwritten notes with our orders. I tested the theory in our sale last week, and not including the note saved considerable time. We might lose a bit of our personalization with this change, but success has kind of forced our hand.
Well, I do have to say that these small changes are just polishing an already well-oiled machine. As always, we'll keep an eye on things and adjust accordingly.
THE WRAP UP
Okay, enough news for this week! Below are the Restocks, New Items, and Preorders added to the shop last week. Well... maybe not preorders. The sale kept me kind of occupied 😀 You can click on the item to learn more, and many of the products have review and gameplay videos so you can see the game in action. If you're visiting our page and you'd like to keep up with our giveaways, sales, new products, and articles like this one just create an account here. Once created you will be subscribed to our newsletter and become enrolled in our loyalty system, instantly earning 50 Stones that you can use on your very first order. A Stone? One Stone is equivalent to One Cent. That doesn't sound like much, but you earn 2 Stones for every dollar spent and 5 for each product review, so though it may seem small, those savings add up fast! Redeem your Stones upon checkout, and they can save you up to 10% off your cart total. Loyalty Matters!
No preorders added last week
I’m bummed to hear about these changes. I always appreciated the notes and swag in the packages. Also the drawings were fun. I feel these little things distinguished you guys from other online board game retailers. Makes sense that these things go when things are going well I guess.
I agree with Ben— that little personal touch helped earn my loyalty. I wonder if you’ve considered keeping the notes going just for new customers?
I can understand that Dave. We’re going to run it this way for a time to see how it goes. I anticipate the majority of new customers will know the difference between us and others regardless just based on how we are. Again, time will tell, but we do appreciate the input! —Eric