Our Top 10 Mistakes: (Part 1 of 2)
As Basketsgalore approaches its 10th Birthday we’re looking back at some of the highs and lows of setting up an online gift basket business.
As you can imagine a lot has changed since the first Basketsgalore website went live in 2001. Over the years the primary website has seen five rewrites with numerous amendments in between. Here is a selection of our most memorable mistakes.
And on the basis that more is learnt from our mistakes than our successes, we begin with the aforementioned.
1) Maya the talking Mannequin.
This was a great idea in theory. It involved purchasing a software licence to enable a 3D character to talk to the customer and deal with their most frequently asked questions. The character had to be programmed to blink and make facial changes.
We got to the point of beginning voice recordings for the character and programming changes in facial expressions. Maya was uploaded to the website, but was met with a hail of opposition. “What’s that dummy doing in the corner?” was the most frequent question. Maya was quietly dropped from version IV of the website.
2) Animation Website
The animation was brilliant, we got the detail perfectly and it was drawn by an excellent company from Canada. We wanted something which set us apart from the competition and the animation captured it brilliantly. Unfortunately it slowed the website. With Google’s emphasis placed on fast loading times, it became a casualty of progress.
You can see it confined to the annals of e-history at:: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nuOiwRG_8Dw
3) Babygifts.basketsgalore.co.uk. In the olden days of the early 2000s, sub-domains were highly effective. Over the years we simply didn’t have enough resources to tackle this domain effectively. It is now in its 3rd incarnation and has been transferred to a new domain; babybasketsgalore.co.uk. However, the 2nd version was a horror and is a testimony to what happens when you keep patching and repairing a website. Navigation was confusing, imagery, shapes and fonts were mish-mashed. When design and technology do not coordinate this web-site is the result.
4) Valentines Gift Boxes. Perhaps our favourite mistake of all as it was an elementary and idealistic novice’s mistake. When the company started off we targeted Valentines Day as a great potential market for our gift baskets. We wanted red boxes and we would wrap them for delivery around our local area. The supplier needed a minimum order quantity and we agreed. We had no idea what 1000 boxes looked like, but its quite a lot when you’re working from 2 downstairs rooms and a garage.
Looking back on it now, we sold quite well as we were running around drumming up sales days in advance with flyers and calls to local businesses. However, the legacy of the red boxes is that 80% of them are still floating around. They are still wrapped in their original brown paper and at least provide some amount of insulation in our roofspace.
5) Brochure No 1. Our first brochure was a horror from a financial and marketing perspective It was designed in 2002 and bears testimony to naïve and irrational youthful exuberance. We chuckle about it now as it was 10 years ago and we have moved on eons since then. It was full A4 sized 16 page colour glossy brochure. It was expensive, cumbersome and completely ineffective. In our defence it must be remembered that the internet was not like the way it is today. E-Commerce sales were still very much in their infancy. Our beautiful brochure was obsolete as soon as it was printed. Thankfully we could not afford to print many. Nevertheless it is remarkable how certain elements of that brochure can still be seen today, so on that basis perhaps it was worth it. There was category segmentation, imagination, and clear competitive differentiation from anything else in the market place. It was a Gift Basket brochure designed for a small region of the UK which was theoretically sound, but practically incorrect.
Click to view original brochure.
Hopefully if you are thinking of starting up a gift basket or hamper business, you will recognise some of these issues and consider our experiences. Maybe it will help to prevent you from making the same mistakes.
Second part of our Top 10 mistakes of the past 10 years next week.