Multi-channel businesses

As many of you know, we run Fortress Geek as well as Starlit Citadel. We’ve also started dealing with Kicsktarter fulfilment to some degree, occasionally helping publishers get their Kickstarters out to their backers in Canada and the US. Running a business that has more than one channel of fulfilment / multiple avenues is actually significantly more complex than just running a single business. Sure, most of the backend is the same (putting boxes into boxes as Keith used to say); but its in the details that make things difficult.

One of the biggest toothing headaches this summer has been dealing with the increasing volume of business we are seeing in the other channels other than Starlit. It’s a good problem to have, but we’ve been forced to revise our processes again as we take into account the various ways that orders now arrive on our backend and need to be shipped out.

Going from just shipping with Canada Post to offering UPS means we now have 2 different software systems to work with, 3 different websites to access and multiple new customer touch points. Part of my job has been making sure that, for our staff, it all looks the same as much as possible. It shouldn’t matter where the order comes from, how we deal with it should theoretically be the same.

Theoretically, and we’re working towards clearing that up; but it’ll be a while still.

Heat and the human element

Down in Vancouver, we’ve been having a bit of a heat wave. 28-30C temperatures every day can get pretty warm and even our warehouse which is mostly made of concrete and set below ground-level (slightly, it’s on a slope) stays warm through the day. Without air-conditioning, it’s not much fun.

Why am I talking about heat? Just that I notice people moving slower, getting less done just because it’s not as easy to do so. It also makes us more irritable, less prone to thinking kind of thoughts of customer sand suppliers like who do something minor.

We’re all human, but sometimes, it’s easy to forget that. Small irritations, after a while, get blown out of proportion. A customer who loses his temper at us and sends a bitter e-mail doesn’t have to apologise, we’ll still take their money the next time they are in. We can’t afford to do so, working on the other end; having to keep each e-mail / reply / interaction pleasant. It gets hard, and so things slow down, as we take a moment to step back and just consider the best options.

Our new Affiliate Program

Starlit Affiliate Program DetailsWe have decided to launch an affiliate program for Starlit Citadel.   We’re letting Clixgalore run our affiliate program because really, we’re not that interested in running our own program and dealing with the necessary software that would require; so we’re letting them deal with it. Sure, they get a bit of a cut but it does mean that we can set it up and ignore it (sort of).

What’s an Affiliate Program?

Basically, it’s like a referral program that uses money instead of reward points to reward people. It’s mostly geared towards people who have a website and/or e-mail list and really isn’t meant to focus on individual referrals like our customer reward referral program.

How much do you earn?

We currently provide 5% of the product cost (i.e. sub-total) of all products for each referral item that is purchased (and confirmed shipped).  The system is set-up such that anyone who clicks through from an affiliate link you provide is cookied for 90 days – so any purchase(s) he makes during that period will be automatically designated to your account. It works really well for blogs because these blogs can continually push out new posts and thus continually ‘re-cookie’ these customers.

Why only 5%?

Due to the low margins that we have, we can’t really afford to offer more than 5% without reducing the margin that we make to unacceptable levels. It’s also the reason for a long-time we haven’t had an affiliate program.  Truthfully, we’re still not sure if it’ll work out well, but it’s worth a shot to see if we can generate further revenue this way.

5% is better than nothing

That’s what we think. So, join away!