Monday, December 2, 2019

Live Sale

     Friday I had my annual Black Friday sale. I have done that every year for the past 10 or more, but this year I wanted to do something different. In the past I have, collectively, taken thousands of photos and written hundreds of ads for my sales. This is incredibly time consuming and I dread doing it every year. It is not fun in any way and is really just a ton of work. This year I decided to do a live sale, which is not really something we see in the model horse hobby (though I thought I heard something about Stone doing something like a live sale? Theirs may be different, I am not a Stone collector). I have watched a bunch of live sale for things like LuLaRoe and Paparazzi jewelry and they really can be a ton of fun and very interactive. That's what I wanted. And easier than taking tons of photos and writing out tons of ads. 
     So I started planning and advertising. I did a couple of quick ad videos saying the day and time my sale was going to be, including the time zone. I warned people to do their math so they knew when to tune in. And I organized the stuff. I ended up showing 105 individual items on Black Friday. At the beginning of the day everything was incredibly organized. 
     In general, I am incredibly organized anyway. I have to be just to do the things that I do. But I printed out numbers for items ahead of time, all printed backwards since everything is backwards on a live video. Then I tagged everything and organized everything in order. This was to make it easier for people shopping the replay. Next time I might just mix up numbers. 

      I worked out how to set everything up, and that was actually a couple of days of thinking things out. I figured the sale would likely be around an hour, though I was way off on that (it was in fact about an hour and 40 minutes). We have a lot of remodeling going on in our place so finding someplace with a good background, where I still had room to set everything up, was really important. So I set up in my work space, aka, my bedroom. I actually do a large portion of doll work sitting on my bed and working off a tray in my lap. It is better for my back than sitting at the kitchen table for hours at a time. So I borrowed Ethan's phone tripod, gathered up a bunch of stuff for prizes, organized everything so I could find it and show things in a way that was efficient, and I gathered the extra stuff. I made sure to have a notepad, a sharpie (because you never know when you need a sharpie) a pen, a pad of sticky notes, my stack of discount cards (for people who shared the live video I offered, $5 off, $10 off, 1/2 price shipping and free shipping. They were all folded so I could not see them and I grabbed them randomly). I was ready. I had what I wanted the description to say written out word for word so I knew I wasn't going to miss anything. Having a good description can be really important for a live video. I gathered some drinks, tried to think of any last minute things I might need and then I waited. 
     About 2:30, a half hour before my advertised start time, I hit "Live" on my Facebook studio page. You don't start right way, you get the set-up page. I typed up the description and reread it several times to make sure it wasn't full of typos (and I caught some and fixed them.) and then I waited. When it was 5 minutes to go time I put a post on my studio page. And then I waited. And I was nervous. I had a bullet-point schedule taped to the front of the tripod so I could remember which order I wanted to do everything in. Even the trivia was on there. I was as ready as I could possibly be. 

Or so I thought. 
      I was a bit worried before the live since I figured there was every possibility that not a lot of people would watch and I would be sort of talking to myself. I have been to live sales where I am watching and the viewer count is very low (1-5). I was afraid this would be me. I was wrong. And I was shocked and very quickly overwhelmed. Within the first few minutes my viewer number was in the 30's and 40's ad pretty much stayed that way for the entire broadcast. It may have gone over 50 at some point, but I was scrambling and didn't really get a chance to check. As soon as things got rolling I was rushing to make sure I wrote down everyone's name who purchased (sticky notes are your friend!)
     And trying to read comments to make sure I was not missing things. Sadly some of the commentator's comments were not showing up. I have had this happen to me while I was watching live sales. I don't know what causes it, some glitch in Facebook most likely, but I do know sometimes if you close out the video and go back in that fixes everything. It may also work to fix the no audio issue some people were having.
      I made sure to have plenty of hydrating beverages. I could have used some social lubricant (wine) to help ease my nerves, but I wanted to be as sharp as I could during this. Fear can do that for you, lol! So I had a couple of cans of seltzer on top of one of my shelves. I lack for space, I don't lack for creative places to put things. 
      I did end up fairly comfortable before the end of the sale and I was having a really good time. Even from the start, when I was frazzled and wild I was having a good time. Live sales are a ton of fun, both as a watcher/shopper and as the seller. I did learn that it would have been a really good idea to have a helper. I wanted to make sure to keep things moving since I have watched live sales that dragged on and on because the seller was disorganized. I lost things a couple of times but either found them quickly or moved on. I didn't want my sale to lag. But it would have been very beneficial to have had a helper. If I had someone with me to write down the sticky note tags for sold items I could have been watching the comments more thoroughly. Things went by so fast! I scrolled back several times but I may still have missed something, and I am really sorry about that. Also without a helper I was at the mercy of what I could do, on my own, without leaving an empty background too often. So the sold items were a huge mess by the end. My prize box ended up being the hold-all for one shopper's items. If I had had labeled bins for everyone, that might have helped. But I ended up with 24 buyers by the end of things. I had no way to predict that I would have that many. I never dreamed I would have that many. I am still sort of in shock and really touched that people watched.
     In the end, I know there are things I can do better and I know I made a few mistakes. It is what is is. I did the best I could with something that was very new for me (and scary) and very new for the model horse hobby. Some people didn't like it and that's OK. Not every selling platform is for everyone. I have spent years doing print ads and no matter which selling platform I choose (MH$P, Etsy, MHP, etc) someone won't like it. You can't make everyone happy all of the time. And that is OK too. So for anyone that chooses to do a live sale in the future, remember, you will likely get some sour grapes. Try not to let it bother you. 
     On a random note, I wore my Mares in Black T-shirt on purpose. Even though I knew very well it would show up backwards. I was doing a model horse sales event so really wanted to wear something model horse related. My Region X T-shirt is kind of too big at this point. Black is very slimming and I worked really hard on my weight loss and I wanted to show it off. Plus there is nothing at all wrong with throwing out a bit of hobby love to another really unique model horse thing that we have. It really is an excellent time to be in the model horse hobby!
     The aftermath of the sale was a big pink explosion. I did pan around a bit to show people the  mess, but I also took this photo. I had items everywhere, with sticky notes telling me who everything belonged to (even though I had at least one mistake). After I caught my breath for a minute I started sorting. I kept losing people's tags during the live (if I had a helper, they could have organized this so I wouldn't have multiple piles for each person) 
      I sorted everything and put each person's stack in baggies, with their names taped on the front. It worked fairly well. Then I started working up who bought what and how much everything costs, with the shipping, and I started messaging people. And I continued to stress a bit. I had a list of everyone who purchases items, what they bought, the total, the discount, the shipping and then the new total. I would send this to people and then mark their name (in sharpie) as billed. When they paid and their items were packed I marked their order as done (in sharpie). This was, and still is, an easy way to see what I have left to do. 
      I worked on packing and shipping (still stressing) for a lot of Saturday. I wanted to get as much packed up and ready to go as I could. I had everyone else's baggies in alphabetical order in my plastic shoebox (previously the prize box). I ran out of bubble mailers and had to go out and get some more yesterday. I continued to pack things as they were paid for and I posted a list of prize winners who I needed an address from. I am up to two of those medium sized grocery bags full of things to be shipped. There is still a bunch in the shoebox, but some of those are waiting for dolls to be made and added to them. And some I am still waiting for payment on (but I did give until Friday 12/7) and some are prizes. 

       The live sale was incredibly fun. If you are selling things at a discount I would recommend doing the math to see what the new price is. You can tell people the original price and the sales price, but some people really want to know just what the sale price is. If you have a lot of stuff for sale, have a helper. Someone to write down who bought what will make things so much easier after the live is over. If you put number on things, make sure you print them backwards. When you do a live, the video is backwards, unless you have someone filming you. Make sure to have a drink or two with you so you don't end up with a mouth so dry you can't talk. Advertise your sale as much as you can before sale day, and get things as organized as you can. And be prepared for the aftermath. If you have a large sale, and it goes well, you will have a lot of packing and shipping to do.
     Today I am hoping to get to the post office and ship the first round of packages. My two bags of things. We have no school today because a big winter storm came through yesterday afternoon and last night. We had probably 6 inches of snow and then I don't know how many hours of freezing rain. It is a mess out there. It's still early though. If I wait a few hours my town will have scraped the roads bare and salted plenty. We are expecting more snow today, potentially, but I don't think all that much. I will be happy to have some of the shipping done. I need to stop at Joann's and get a piece of fabric I need for one of the custom dolls. Then I can come home and do some sewing. 
      To wrap up, this idea went better than I ever could have imagined. Even with the craziness and the mistakes that I made. It was fun and different and even though I am still working on parts of it 3 days later, it was way better for me than taking hundreds of photos and making a hundred ads (it would have been 105 ads). I am incredibly grateful to everyone who came and watched the sale, even if they didn't buy anything, and I am in awe of what I managed to pull off and shocked and humbled by the support I received. Thank you so much.


Debbi Baird said...

Wow, Anne! Sounds like a lot of work and a great post about how it went and what you'd do better the next time around! I might think about doing it someday! Have a great day!

pawprint said...

I'm glad you had a good time with your sale -- I was worried you would find it too stressful. Even though I tuned in late I watched a good portion of the replay and I thought you did amazingly well, and your customers got great deals on a wide variety of items. Congrats on a job well done!

ShamrockFarmsInc. said...

I’m so glad it went well! I regret not being able to watch/participate, but happy your hard work and bravery paid off! :)

Jo-Anne Baker said...

Biggest congratulations Anne ypur sale was amazing. Looking forward to more in the future. ❤

Wendy Saunders Coady said...

I only wish I’d known about it. I guess FB didn’t love me that week. Congrats!

mbutler500 said...

Thanks for doing the sale.