Posts Tagged ‘e-commerce’

This Christmas – What Will You Be Buying?

November 8, 2008

I heard on our local radio station yesterday, Hereward FM someone wondering when Christmas songs would start being played, it’s still the beginning of November!!! I think the phrase “Christmas has come early” really is true this year, but not in the usual sense of the phrase. The Telegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/3333572/Christmas-shopping-starts-early-as-cost-conscious-consumers-plan-festive-spending.html) suggests that christmas consumers are beginning their Christmas shopping two weeks earlier than normal this year, due to the credit crunch and recessionary pressures.

For example, Christmas shopping sprees have already started, so far this morning I’ve seen a blog about two friends who have been to Birmingham this week for christmas gift buying and it’s only November. I’ve spoken to a couple of friends on the phone who have decided they’re going into town today to see what’s around so they can start budgeting and sales for Christmas gifts on our website have already started coming in… (the first one this year was recorded on 7th September!) It seems like although people are cutting down on buying extravagant things like cars and houses this year during the current economic climate, will they be also cutting down on expensive christmas gifts too?

This years predicted biggest selling christmas toys include; ‘The Baby Born with Magic Potty’ (£25 – £39), ‘Elmo Live’ (£52-59), ‘Star Wars Clone Trooper Voice Changer Helmet’ (£22-£35) and ‘Biscuit My Lovin Pup’ (£129-£159). The prices range from £22-£159, which in terms of budgets can work out as quite expensive. Obviously, advertising and other children will have a huge impact on the toys your children will “expect” this Christmas. Perhaps you can invest in other, thoughtful and lasting gifts for other members of your family and friendship groups in order to save costs on your christmas shopping this year?

I put in christmas gifts into Google and was confronted with 9,090,000 websites related to christmas gifts… that’s a lot. I’m sure many of them are offering the same gifts at different prices and others are offering fabulous, affordable gifts but won’t ever be found by consumers. I have made a list of good places to get wine and chocolates before, but the following links make really interesting thoughtful gifts that you may never have even though of…!

This website offers recycled gifts that you can give as christmas gifts : http://www.bynature.co.uk/erol.html#50517×0&&http%3A%252F%252Fwww.journalism.co.uk%252F66%252Farticles%252F532721.php

How about getting a concert or gig ticket? http://www.ticketmaster.co.uk/ you’re sure to make memories and collect some great photos, you could make a day of it… take a picnic, go window shopping and then go to your concert, show or football match. It makes great gift ideas for him and for her.

http://www.winegifts4u.co.uk offers a selection of gifts for children and adults alike including engraved gifts which can be kept forever; money boxes, photo frames, ales and beer can all be engraved at affordable prices. We also offer a selection of fun drinking games to keep you busy over the festive christmas period with friends and family. As well as a range of experience gifts, wine and champagne christmas gift sets.

I think children will always want the “hot” toys of the times, which often tend to be expensive, this is mainly due to advertising and peers. However, I think people could perhaps begin purchasing more thoughtful, lasting gifts for their friends and other relatives, it’s just a case of thinking about what these gifts could be…, some of the links offered give the christmas shopper another perspective, so they have the option.

According to The Telegraph, ‘Experts, believe a sharp downturn in Christmas spending is unlikely as Britons seek festive cheer and family comfort after months of depressing economic news.’ I agree. What do you think?

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Engraved Gifts – Engraving Machines Development

November 8, 2008

Engraved Gifts

When we began offering engraved gifts, we were limited to the range of gifts we could provide our customers because we used a metazza engraving machine, which limited the size and shapes of the engravable gifts we were able to engrave.

Metazza Engraving Machine

Metazza Engraving Machine

We decided after a year of working with the metazza, it was time to invest in some new equipment to allow us to offer premium engraved gifts to our customers; such as engraved champagne, engraved wine and other luxury engravable presents including photo frames, zippo lighters and tankards.

Obviously, it was a requirement that at least 3 members of staff had sufficient training and practise on the new machine, so a training day was scheduled between the supplier and 3 members of the WineGifts4U.co.uk on Wednesday 3rd September, however due to unforeseeable circumstances the sales rep, Warren who was due to take the training had to postpone the session due to family commitments, this was not a problem other than another date could not be agreed with all four people for one month, because of pre-arranged meetings and appointments. The second date for training was scheduled for 10th October at 9.30am. At 9am on the Friday 10th October, we received a phone call from the new trainer, John, who informed us that his vehicle had been involved in an accident and that he was not hurt and he still hoped to make the session he had to go to hospital first to be checked out. We received another call at 12pm saying that the training lesson would again have to be re-arranged…

By this point we had loaded the new luxury engraved gifts onto the website, because we expected the staff to be trained and the equipment to be up and running on 10th October. However, orders had already begun coming through via word of mouth and search engine optimisation… Finally, the training session happened on Friday 17th October 2008, with Stephen, who had still not fully recovered from the car accident the previous week. Unfortunately, one member of the WineGifts4U team missed out on the training though on this date due to prior commitments.

New Engraving Machin

New Engraving Machine

The machine was installed and the training began, firstly the engraving software was introduced and demonstrated, this was fairly easy to understand as it required working with Photoshop, which the WineGifts4U staff are au fait with. After an hour of software training, we moved onto being shown how the software worked with alongside the machine. Champagnes and wines were gifts we were hoping to engrave for customers and offer on our website, so we practised engraving on some cheap sparkling wines and some empty wine and champagne bottles. The software and machine proved simple to use and the engraved champagne bottles and engraved wine bottles looked very impressive. We also did a few of the orders we had already received on the website, which consisted of a zippo lighter, key rings and dog tags.

At this stage, John told us that after all his years of experience in engraving, he still sometimes got things wrong. He told us a story about trophies. One time when he demonstrated how to use an engraving machine, not dissimilar to the machine we had purchased he was asked to engrave a small plate on a trophy that had lots of other small plates which had been engraved with dates and names of winners over fifty or sixty years. The data was inputted to be engraved onto the empty small plate, unfortunately the orientation setting for the was inputted as portrait, when it should have been landscape, so the cutter tool path went across the plates that had already been engraved! I am sure we’ve all had issues like this at one point or another!

The engraving machine has a function to test the tool path, so if in doubt you could use this.

We spent about 4.5 hours training and when John left, we had a pretty good idea how to engrave gifts. A member of staff loaded the first job, a bottle of champagne to test by himself, he went throught the procedure as had been demonstrated, but he could not get the cutter to move to the correct position to begin engraving. He tried and re-tried, but could not get the job to work. After an hour, he got so frustrated that he called John to see if he could help. John suggested lifting the head on which the champagne was mounted, which immediately solved the problem!

Since then our skill levels have improved tremendously. More and more complex engraving is being done. A beautiful watch was given by a family member to give as a gift to a friend, who wanted the watch engraving. So, we set the job up on the jig, used the laser to test the tool path, which worked perfectly, then pressed the button to finish the job and crossed our fingers! The tool came down and cut the name in the correct place perfectly. The family member who wanted th gift engraving was delighted, but the member of staff who completed the job got a huge amount of job satisfaction, but more importantly this job brought in extra money for the company in these difficult economic times.

The sales representative of the engraving machine supplier has rung to see how we were getting on with the machine and to ask if we required anymore help. He is coming down in a couple of weeks to give us some more advanced training.

The engraving maching has proved extremely successful for our gift product range. During economic times such as these it is always difficult to find money, time and resources. However, in our case the machine has helped to improve profits and sales. We are getting regular orders, even in such a short space of time since loading the gifts onto the website for champagne, wine, ales and photo frames just to name a few. Engraving all of these engravable gifts is giving every member of staff who completes a job, job satisfaction, because the systems and processes we have created within the organisation from the stages of ordering the gifts online to dispatching the gifts are working really well.

I am sure other people have encountered similar experiences, and if you’d like to share your thoughts or experiences please feel free…

The issues with setting up an online business

May 22, 2008

This is not a sales pitch as such, but it is an account of my tumultuous experience in setting up an online business, www.WineGifts4U.co.uk, selling original personalised gift ideas for all occasions. In reality, setting up a full e-commerce website is a very complex topic, which might take me a while to explain, so I’m going to condense it down into manageable chunks over a few weeks:

 

1)    The motive behind setting up an online business.

2)    How did we go about setting up an e-commerce website?

3)    Problems we faced after putting the website “live”.

4)    Website development.

5)    Top Tips that we think will help new e-business starters to avoid the mistakes we made.

 

Let’s start from the beginning…

 

During 2006 and 2007, with a little (ok, a lot of) help from our in-house graphic designer, Lea, my sister, Hanifa, my dad, Asgar and an ingenious web coder named Charlie, a website www.WineGifts4U.co.uk was created.

 

The motive behind setting up an online business

 

Vin De Terre Ltd was established in 1997 by Asgar Dungarwalla, as a wholesaler in beers, wines and spirits supplying pubs, nightclubs, restaurants and sports clubs within a fifty-mile radius of the warehouse. The company began with just three employees eleven years ago, and over time has grown to employing nine members of staff today. Over the last two years, Vin De Terre Ltd has diversified its product range to include personalised gifts, including personalised wine, personalised champagne, vodka, whisky, mugs, engraved items and a ‘design your own’ t shirt section. These gift ideas are incorporated onto and sold through the website, www.WineGifts4U.co.uk, which a subsidiary company of Vin De Terre Ltd

 

Over the last few years, due to raw material and fuel price increases, inflation and the smoking ban in July 2007, sales in beers and spirits have steadily declined, so the company has focused its efforts on wine, where there is growth and where margins are better.

 

The personalised gift business, WineGifts4U was developed following a conference six years ago, where the focus was on the ‘personalisation’ of marketing products and services, which captures the consumers’ attention. The brief for this website was a location where customers (the general public as well as corporate clients) could personalise the wines we sold on the wholesale side of the business, online and in real time with their own images and messages to create unique gifts (which would be appreciated by the recipient) for all major special occasions throughout the year.