#14 Finally Bali Abundance goes from Ebay to Ecommerce
Ebay had restricted our store and our sales were on a downward spiral I could not give up now… I realised I had totally relied on Ebay for sales and this was a big mistake, so it was time to think of other ways to bring in customers to turn our business around.
This was happening for a reason another lesson I needed to learn the hard way. Our beautiful customers were making suggestions to try to help our situation as we are in the back streets of Tullamarine so no main road exposure. I needed customers to find us, we joined House of Home a third party ecommerce platform for selling furniture and listed our items on this site.
We put some stock on Gumtree as this was free and also gave us more exposure online. We did letterbox drops and also mail out and scheduled some sale weekends. My son suggested I should put up some signs up. I got some printed and put them up with electrical ties on fences all over Melbourne.
I did get in trouble a for a few of them but luckily was not fined and customers did start to come in from viewing these signs. The local car wash where I ordered my morning coffee was on the main road and they let me put signs up which are still there today. We were marketing on Facebook and Instagram but were still struggling. I decided to do a Massive Sale with a company called Hush that had a huge data base and did the marketing and you did not need to pay up front but they took a percentage of your sales and wanted you to do massive mark downs.
Companies going in to liquidation often used them but it was desperate times so we did this and had a pretty good response even though we were probably selling at cost or below cost. This bought more awareness to the warehouse and some new customers that returned again after the sale.
I really needed a Website so I no longer had to rely on Ebay for Sales, my local coffee shop had suggested a guy named Antoine so I gave him a call. He came out to see me and I told him it had to be on a budget and what had happened. He made a few suggestion and was very reasonably priced. Antoine has been a person I am so so grateful to have met. He guided us to make a website that was easy to use and also looked professional. He has been priceless and still helps us on a regular basis whether I am in Melbourne or overseas. I know I have IT Support which is what you need when running an online business. In January 2017 our website went live and today most of our customers find us on Google or find us through Social Media. Thank god we did finally get the website up and running as Ebay has made so many changes that it is much harder as a furniture seller on their site and our sales have never really recovered and dropped by about 80%.
I had always loved Indian furniture and wanted to import from India but this seemed such a large country and I did not know where to start. I met an agent in Melbourne and imported a 20ft container by choosing photos that were emailed to me. The stock arrived and was good quality however I really felt I wanted to go to find the furniture myself as I had to just rely on the photos that were sent and a lot of the furniture was not my taste. I loved the mix of the Indonesian and Indian furniture and felt they complimented each other.
Money was starting to come in and something else I had always wanted to do was a Trade Fair but I did not have a website set up for Trade so decided to do the Home Show as my Website was already set up for retail.
The Home Show was quite expensive but I had saved the money and thought it would be a way to bring brand awareness and new customers to our warehouse to increase our sales. We had 2 four poster beds set up and so many people complimented our stall and also thanked us for coming to the Home Show.
However, I was hoping to take heaps of Orders for Four Poster Beds, and had them already in production in Indonesia. We sold lots of homewares and people took business cards and also joined our emailing list.
We did not sell one bed so this had been quite a big expense for us and had not really worked. Another lesson learnt. I had now also lost interest in doing a Trade Show as it is a lot of work and expense with no guarantees of success.
Things were starting to turn around in 2017 we were also finalist for the Hume Business Awards I had given myself 2 years to turn the business around and had gone back to just Jeff in the warehouse and Arlene helping me in the office and with customers.
It was now time to get some help so we could grow Bali Abundance I employed Sarah who is our accountant and she implemented Xero as our new accounting system and has all our accounting under control so this was great that I did not need to worry about the accounting side of my business.
My daughter in law Chloe had been coming in to unload and price containers and had now started to also help get all the listings onto our website. I would photograph the stock and Chloe would list so this was also a great support and Chloe still helps us regularly.
In 2018 my daughter Tess had left her job and came back to help me out part time while she looked for another position. This was great timing as things were starting to get busy and I was about to look for someone part time. Tess helped me write an advert for Seek to find someone part time. We had a huge response mainly from students who were looking for part time work but I was hoping to find someone more long term. Two resume’s stood out and I interviewed Cassandra and Karina. I could not decide so split the job and employed them both. This was a little scary as I did not want to put more financial pressure on myself but just trusted that with two people we would bring in more sales. This was actually a great move as when we are busy we have more resources to draw on and they both have their own strength in skills which has become the perfect balance for the Bali Abundance Team.
Things were going really well although we did hit another obstacle this year. I headed off to Bali on another buying trip but unfortunately some things just did not seem right with my cargo agent. We had know each other since the start and I trusted him 100%. He is a good man but his circumstances had changed and I quickly realised I needed to get my furniture out of his warehouse. I took 7 truck loads of furniture to a new cargo agent. This was really hard for me and also for him. However this was a lesson I had to learn that in business you always need to be more careful and not trust 100%. We are still friends and I do believe he will make the situation right when he can.
This was a valuable lesson for me as I planned to go to India in January 2019 on my own to source my very first container of furniture. I quickly learned that as a women in business in India I needed to check and double check everything, the process was totally different to Bali and I learnt quickly and some of it the hard way! At times it was quite frustrating however I loved my trip to India and was hoping to go back in 2020 as I know I can do it much better the second time.
This beautiful man Manjit pictured below helped me so much and was a Guru of vintage furniture. He had offered to be my agent on my next trip as he had just sold his shop to retire. I purchased some furniture and homewares from Manjit and we talked about our love of Indian Doors and Vintage Furniture and how it was in our blood we were just drawn to pieces. He was as passionate about vintage furniture as myself and he knew where to find the best pieces from all over India and Nepal. I was so looking forward to my next trip I felt meeting him was meant to be. Unfortunately I recently had news he had passed away during this crazy pandemic, such a beautiful man. He was sending me videos he was out feeding the people in the street from his car and also feeding the animals in the street during Covid. I was so looking forward to my next trip, I was about to leave for India just before the pandemic hit. Hopefully I will get back to India someday soon and he will be my guiding angel watching over me.
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