Throwback Thursday: All hands on deck

This post comes from around this time last year when we were all set to go with our brand new web-site. Little did we know then that it was set to flop, in the entire time we had the site we had about 3 or 4 sales, which hardly felt worth the effort. We’re up and running with our brand new (and improved) web site this year and we’ve also set ourselves up with a myhigh.st shop with a select group of our favourite products. I like to think that since we’ve moved on from our old site and dusted ourselves off after a less than exceptional first year. I’m hoping we can approach the new site(s) with some experience and realism. On with the ‘throwback’; when I read through this old post I can’t help but think  ‘poor old 2013 John’, how little he knew…

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I always write about toys (or at least I try to stay on topic as much as possible) but I thought I might also write a wee post today about the ‘toy shop’ from ‘John the Toy Shop Guy’. For those of you who didn’t come upon this blog as a result of a link from Fun Junction’s facebook page, I work in two fairly small independently owned toy shops in Crieff and in Perth in Scotland. I have to admit the opportunity to play with toys for a living is really rewarding and one of the best things about my job is helping people to engage with toys that they may be less than familiar with. Second to that is the exciting prospect of new and unusual toys which accompanies every new catalogue we get through the door.

The hour is drawing close

The hour is drawing close

Here at Fun Junction these two things are coming together in the work that we’ve all been doing lately on our web-site. We’ve (wisely or not) pledged to have this web-site ready for orders at the start of May and it’s becoming all too apparent just how close by this deadline is. One of the main problems has been the time it takes to write a product description, we made a decision fairly early on to try put in our own description of a product, where possible, rather than simply copying and pasting the manufacturer’s. The idea behind this was to personalise the description and use it as something like a store-based product review of the toy.

It’s been hard going: at times writing these descriptions has been fun (my personal favourites are this and this [dead links]) at others it simply feels nail-bitingly slow going and I have to admit a few products have ended up with copied and pasted descriptions due to time constraints. However, as time goes on we’ll hopefully get a chance to inject some personality and humour into the ones that have slipped through the net.

tumbleweedWe have less than a week to go and to be honest most of the site looks right to me, though there are loads of behind the scenes tweaks to deal with. We’re also all panicking about how we’re going to deal with deliveries and we’re not sure what to do in terms of postage. We’re pretty sure we won’t be getting enough to warrant an account with a courier to start with so the cost of deliveries will probably be pretty high to begin with. What’s more a lot of things on the web site itself feel like a work in progress and we’re seriously considering asking friends family and some regular customers to be ‘beta testers’ for us, just to iron out any problems. I think the main worry (it’s certainly my main worry) is that we’ll launch this newly revamped web-site next week, after months of work and nothing will happen; no one will shop there or even browse it and we’ll find our site bombarded with virtual tumble weeds. This is probably one of the most common worries you can have about a new endeavour, that you put time and care into making something and no one cares. Though perhaps the opposite is equally frightening: what happens if our site goes viral and everyone in the world loves it and has to buy something from us? The truth will hopefully be somewhere in between, and putting all our worries to one side we’re all in all pretty excited about this new addition to the business and I hope customers enjoy their visits there.

It’s sometimes easy to get caught up in negative thoughts but all I need to do is remember our facebook following and the extremely discerning and intelligent people who read this blog and I can relax a bit. Here’s hoping that people at least stop by for a look next week. If you do happen to find yourself browsing our website after next Wednesday then feel free to let us know what you think to it and give us suggestions for improvements either here on my blog, on the facebook page or on the contact form [another dead link] on the web site. Sorry for the slight departure from the norm today, I just felt like venting a bit of this mixture of excitement and trepidation, thanks for taking the time to read this and wish us luck on next week’s launch. I should also point out that this blog is now a member of the Mumsnet bloggers network, so I’ll say a quick hello and welcome to anyone popping in from there. If you’re new to my blog my posts are normally more topical and toy centred, feel free to have a look at past posts in links on the right.

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It’s an uncanny experience being able to read the positivity and energy (and the slight trepidation) I had at the start of an endeavour that I now know was doomed to failure. Part of me feels I’ve learned some lessons, gaining some new skills and abilities in the process, and part of me is resentful of the time that feels wasted. The strangest thing is probably the fact that it’s almost impossible to be able to see how a venture will play out in the early stages. Certainly a few months in it became clearer and clearer that the time was not well spent and that the web sales we’d hoped for just weren’t materialising. It makes me a little worried that our new site could become a case of history repeating itself, I guess time will tell.

What kind of similar experiences have you had, where optimism and energy just weren’t enough? Do you think people can tell, deep down, when something won’t work and that I was just kidding myself back in 2013? and possibly the most important question for me: What do you think of our new web site (here’s the link)? (sorry couldn’t resist a plug) Thanks for reading, all the best, John

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