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Introducing Ashford Fair, and looking for feedback/input


#1

Hi, I’m Elliott. I’m part of a website design and development company in Louisville, Kentucky, USA.

About two years ago, we had the idea for an e-commerce project we called Ashford Fair aimed at selling antiques/collectibles/unique items. The ideas was that it would be a kind of flash sale site, with weekly “fairs” featuring items around a particular theme. Advance emails would go out the night before. Also, we intended that visitors would have to sign up (at least provide an email address) to see the items, as is popular on other flash sale sites. The target market isn’t technical people, but people who are interested in home decor and accessories.

On and off for about a year we developed, tested, and photographed, and finally launched Ashford Fair in November 2013. ( http://www.ashfordfair.com )

And…we’ve had one sale so far.

So we have two problems:

  1. We can’t seem to get people to buy.
  2. It’s prohibitively expensive to keep using adwords to get traffic.

We’ve dumped a good bit of money into Adwords as a source of traffic, but we’ve noticed two things. When we require an email address to even see the site, it’s like a 90% bounce rate. But at least we did get some email addresses to send the weekly announcements to. When we took the email requirement off, the bounce rate dropped, but now we don’t get any account creation. Either way, very few visitors will drill into any product at all. We’ve paused the Adwords campaign until we figure out what to do. :slight_smile:

We’ve tried using Pinterest as a source of traffic, but that hasn’t shown any results.

I would greatly appreciate any feedback that anyone can give regarding what we may be able to do better. Specifically, ideas around attracting “good” traffic (ie, HN traffic still wouldn’t sell anything–wrong market), and ideas around convincing visitors to buy.

Thanks,
-Elliott


#2

I wonder could you team up with someone who already has a big list/following/traffic and provide them with an inventory clearing service? It might move the goods a lot faster than a plain old discounts section (like this http://questoutdoors.com/quest-nation/current-promotions/winter-sale/ ) on their website?

If they use a 3d party like you, they also don’t ‘damage their brand’ by discounting, that’s the pitch www.gilt.com/‎ use I think.

Of course, these types of partnerships would probably be tough to acquire, but maybe if you can just get one, and successfully clear out the inventory a store wanted rid of, you will find it much easier to get the next deal.

Q. Where do you get the antiques/collectibles/unique items ? That doesn’t sound like a good market to me for flash sales as the value of those items are in the eye of the beholder and do people buy that stuff if they can’t pick it up and inspect it? If it were me, I’d use your existing technology in another niche.


#3

I think you might have an identity problem, on first glance (which may be all you get) you look like a bricks and mortar antiques fair in somewhere called Ashford, to me Ashford is place in Kent, UK, but doing a quick google there are a few Ashford’s in the US too, if your users aren’t anywhere near an Ashford somewhere they’ll probably bounce immediately.

This is particularly prevalent when you click the about us page, as you see a building, reinforcing the idea that this is B&M.

Using the term fair is also confusing, I’ve been looking at the site for a few minutes, and I still don’t really get what you mean by fair.

My advice change the name and make it more obvious what you do, you have (had) some nice pieces.


#4

It’s not clear from the site that it’s a flash sale type of experience. It looks like an ecommerce store so I wouldn’t be surprised if people just come to the site, browse a bit and if they don’t see anything they like, leaving. (And are the products only available for a short period of time? If so that should be more evident.)

Not surprising that adwords isn’t a good source of acquiring customers. Back of the envelope: If your clicks cost $1 and you convert 10% to provide email addresses, then, say, 10% of those folks will ever buy anything from you, you’ve spent $100 to acquire a single purchaser.

I agree with @duncanm that you should find someone who already has the audience you’re targeting. You might want to check out a company called stacksocial.com. Totally different vertical but an instructive marketing structure. They source and run all aspects of their daily deals that are targeted to techies/mac enthusiasts and basically white label the service for publishers who already have that audience. They then give the publishers a cut of the revenue.


#5

Seems similar to the business model that gilt.com is doing. I agree with @tompowell that the flash sale aspect should be more prominent on your site. Also, home decor is huge on Pintrest, I know you said you have tried it, but what sort of effort have you put into that? Maybe double-down on the Pintrest channel and see your results. If you have the capital to support it, maybe have a flash sale with an extreme discount and only market it through Pintrest, try to get some buzz going. Back in the day that is how woot.com got some of it’s initial traffic and exposure.


#6

The site looks fantastic! Very clean and easy on the browsing eye.
Don’t know if it’s a bug but when clicking on the “Brown Goblets” it first goes to

http://www.ashfordfair.com/product/ready-for-the-holidays/

only when clicking the Brown Goblets on that page takes you to the Goblets page:

http://www.ashfordfair.com/product/ready-for-the-holidays/brown-goblets

HTH. Good luck!


#7

Thanks. That was kind-of by design: there would be a row or two of highlighted products, and clicking on them would take you to the entire fair, not specifically to that item. We may need to rethink that. We’ve seen what looks like the same type of confusion from researching our inspectlet logs.