Shop Talk: 20 Months of Website Sales
Remember last week when I tried to blame my lazy writing habits on a feeling that my blog posts were sometimes answering questions that no one was asking? Well, sometimes I start asking myself questions and have to plow through the numbers to get the answers I want… and shit… I might as well post them since I did all that work. This week I’m trying to decide what to do with this mail order website next year and I’m churning over all the questions that brings to mind.
I launched this website about two years ago, and the plan was to create a mail order site that featured not only my Nix Comics stuff, but works created by my peers and a curated selection of the types of comics and records that influence me. The main goals were to bring in an extra couple hundred bucks a month that I could fold back into making comics, to find people who like the kind of old comics and records I carry and introduce them to Nix Comics and to help put some money into the pockets of new comics and records creators. I don’t think I’ve been terribly successful in achieving any of those goals.
Nix-retail.com is a “unlimited store” plan from Wix and it costs $299 a year. I also pay $5 a month for an advanced search option, because their basic one stinks. So, I pay about $30 a month to run this site. I chose it over other similar sites like Squarespace because the unlimited plan didn’t put a cap on number of items in my shop and the design interface is fairly utile, if a little quirky due to being dumbed down a hair too far.
Here is the basic sales info for the 20 months I’ve been running this website: Total Website Sales Amount (Without Shipping fees): $1293.71
Number of Orders: 66 Number of items sold: 162
Average # Orders/Month: 3.3 Median # Orders/Month: 2
Average Order: $19.60 Median Order: $12.15 Order Range: $2 to $200
Worst Month: No Orders, $0.00 (Happened 4 times!) Best Month: $285 and 11 orders
Orders by Categories:
Category $Amount # Sold Nix Comics $531.20 82
Artwork/Prints $275.00 3
Used Comic $234.50 34
Used Zine $72.40 12
Used Record $70.91 12
New Record $38.75 3
New Comic $38.15 10
New Zine $18.85 5
Book (New or Used $14.00 1
I hope that the people who called me "brave" for posting show numbers last week recognize this week's post a cry for help. Heeeeeeeelllllp!!!!
Part of the reason I started this site is because I was feeling pressure to do less crowdfunding. I was getting a lot of "can't you just put up a website where I can go buy the same stuff?" and "You need to find a different way to get money for your projects" type comments. I think those are fair comments.
BTW: You should know that I'm petty. I have kept track of the people who asked "can't you just put up a website where I can go buy the same stuff? and NOT ONE of you fuckers have bought anything from the website.
Nix Comics items alone wouldn't pay for the site.
Any category item listed as "new" is full of items that I either bought direct from artist from imprint/record level or from a small distro. Those numbers suck and I feel like I've failed those artists
Sales are really spiky. Months where I push Nix Comics stuff or run an event/sale that have an on-line component are the best months.
For those of you interested, my current shipping rates are $5 in the US, flat. Sometimes I pay less on actual shipping and sometimes more. It all evens out.
Many moons ago, I used to sell stuff to folks in the UK, Spain, and Japan on a regular basis. USPS international shipping is now too expensive to make that viable.
To gross $200 or so a month, I need to receive 10-11 of my average orders or 16-17 of my median orders.
I don't think my problem is the site itself or the fee structure, which is in the same realm as competitors squarespace or shopify, the problem is in getting people to the site..
I really want this project to work.
Even though that's the case, I'll probably need either an epiphany on how to make more sales or find a cheaper option..
Ebay over the same period:
Ebay has changed a lot in recent years. When I first started Nix Comics my funding pushing included selling about 2000 records on ebay in a month's time. Not long after that, they capped the number of sales per month a seller can have, based on their seller rating. My max is currently 500 listings and $10,000. Why do they cap it? I have no earthly idea, but they do. Ebay charges a listing fee items (Usually 35 cents) that don't sell and a final value fee for those that do sell (10% of the total including shipping.). Even with a free 50 listings a month, their current price schedule has made it tough for me to make money on Ebay and I mostly just use it for clearance purposes, listing items at wholesale or less.
I have listed items on Ebay 10 out of the 20 months that I have been running this site, incurring $323.51 worth of fees in that time. Approximately 48% of the items listed were clearance items that sold for less than I purchased them for. Ebay Sales Amount Number % clearance
Total $1,630.38 218 48%
By Category Amount Number % clearance
Book $21.00 2 100%
New Comic $60.93 27 78%
Nix Comics $37.89 6 97%
New Records $445.99 49 84%
New Zines $47.04 11 36%
Art/Prints $310.00 12 0%
Used Comics $196.97 39 8%
Used Records $202.82 21 0%
Used Zines $307.74 24 8%
Sales on ebay for me are actually generally lackluster. More than half of the total above came this past September when I ran a bunch of valuable collectables and clearance auctions at the same time.
That big September also accounts for half of the fees total
I've sold a surprising amount of original art on ebay, most of the pieces have been my custom picture sleeves in the 12-20 range.
I'm pretty broke and need to do more clearance on ebay, but that's a bitter pill.
Compared to Discogs: After the shop at What the Rock?! closed last year, I put most of the same records I have up on the website up on Discogs as well. Generally at a higher rate than the website to accommodate the 8% per item fee. ($69.22 to date with some pending) I think that their fees are super reasonable and sales have been the most consistent month to month among Discogs, Ebay and my own website.
Discogs Sales $882.00 78
New records $520.00 27
Used Records $362.00 51
This is the only place where I regularly sell new records and almost never need to discount them.
It's cool to list my own records on discogs. What's up with the 2 people who "want" the Jenny Mae 'n Jerry Wick comic and record set, though? I don't think you'll find it anywhere else... Just pull the trigger.
Discogs allows buyers to make offers. Some of the offers I've received have been truly annoying requests for one third or more off a single record. Go screw cheapskates!
I have included a lot of gratis comics with discogs sales, fishing for new fans. To date, I can't point to a single comic sale that came from one of those free comics. May be time to cut bait on that technique.