Week 12 – Making improvements, trying to find out what to do in the mid and long term

May 18, 2020

It’s funny how much things change. Last week’s blog post was quite negative, however a few hours after I published it I ran across a couple similar extensions that had received venture funding, and didn’t seem to be doing a great job. I’ll talk more about it father into the article, but we were a lot more optimistic this week!

The Extension

Search, search, searccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccccch. Search is on the mind, we did a bunch of the work in improving it last week, including making it a lot faster and making it much easier to tweak, we will be releasing the improvements this week. We also worked on the crawler and a log in system for our users. We’ve had so many little things come up that have delayed the search and front end changes, and kept it at a fairly poor state for much too long. We are finally past that though and are making big strides on it, after that we will work on other things we need before we start charging, while taking feedback on ways to improve the search.


We did a nice 10,000 listings this week. I spent most of my time on it, going through the tougher “multiple” brands. At the start to keep it simple we only did brands that manufacture exclusively in the US. Well these days we are running out of the really easy ones of those, so I’ve been clearing some of the very high volume multiple, which is a lot more time consuming. I need to take some educated guesses and err on the side of caution, I’m sure I’ve marked 1000’s of made in the USA products not made in the USA, because the companies don’t feel like telling us and I couldn’t find information they are. I’ve also been working on a big sheet of hard to find products, electronics and spices. I want to know for once and for all if there are monitors, cables, mice, graphics cards and everything else in a computer that are made in the USA. So far I haven’t found much, which was to be expected, but I have run across some noteworthy things and I will post that at some point.

Content Creation

Nothing really posted this week, and I’m wondering if I should continue this section of the blog posts. Obviously not every company will attract new users through content creation, think of your local restaurants, is it possible they could write blogs or articles on food that would bring in customers? Really unlikely in my view. The research and stuff we do is interesting, or at least I think so, but we just don’t get any clicks. I don’t know how to proceed with it, and so haven’t been working on it.

The Website

We had a good user week, there are several large Facebook groups popping up and I’ve been quite active in them. A problem now is that we only have a Chrome extension, so we only have a possible solution for 20-30% of our visitors, that makes all that stuff pretty ineffective. In this coming week I’m going to add a disclaimer to the bottom of the page, shift the articles around so that the series of “what does made in the USA mean to us” and “How we research” are always at the top, and work on the about us page. The about us page is atrocious, I’m also going to change that but I still haven’t figured out how, I’ve thought about it a lot.

So the good news this week was running into a couple other companies with similar ideas, though they are doing ethical shopping and not made in. They both got venture funding, one to 850K and the other I’m unsure of. This has made us a lot more confident, and I think that value for money so far for us has been incredible. It’s also called into question subscriptions. One of them gets affiliate revenue, the other data, and I want to talk about that. Getting a subscription for access to a shopping database like we plan isn’t something I can find anyone else doing. I find it very concerning that both of our competitors is working off behind the scenes revenue, not asking their users to explicitly pay. I’ve been sitting here thinking I don’t even pay for YouTube premium, despite spending way too much time on YouTube, would I pay for our extension? The issue with affiliates is time, it’s imperative people have a great choice of companies. Amazon gives a tiny % these days, it’s not viable to run a business on it, other companies would be a much better choice, but we would need to negotiate with them individually, and have them install our software and that’s going to be incredibly hard. We have ~2500 companies in our database currently, and that’s not enough for great results, if we were to try and negotiate deals with 2500 seperate companies and have them install software to measure the results it would cost millions and take years, it would also make us one of the largest affiliate networks. I’ve sort of softened my position on Data collection, I use Facebook and Google every day, and they mine and exploit my data in pretty much the most egregious possible way. From the rates I’ve seen it would be pretty easy to get profitable with data, as pretty much no one uninstalls our extension and when we advertised it the costs were low. Overall I’m having some real second thoughts with subscriptions, it’s something we can implement a first version of relatively easily, but I worry we will get a minuscule sign up rate and won’t be able to advertise, and I find it very concerning I can’t find any similar companies that do it.

That’s it for this week, a positive week. If you made it to the end, and use the extension, send us an Email! We are dying to get some feedback, no one ever tells us what they don’t like about the extension.

Gareth Struivig de Groot is the founder of Buy Localized. He originally hails from Vancouver, and he is passionate about helping people get informed about where the things they purchase come from.
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