Hello again, welcome to week 17 of the Buy Localized blog. Last week I did a bunch of paper work, worked on a feedback process with the developer and added a bunch of products.
I had a couple talks with the developer co-founder last week. We’ve really struggled with speaking to customers. We currently cannot reply to messages left by customers, we haven’t built that function yet, and we can’t identify users so that we could contact them on another channel where we could have a conversation. That has resulted in us having way way less communication with users than planned, it’s a big problem. In a perfect world all 4 of us would be talking to ~5 users every day, getting their feedback and ideas for improvement. That came up last week as we realised our development to-do list wasn’t accurately reflecting what our users wanted. That happened because we hadn’t built a formal plan, I had just imagined we would all be talking to users, discuss it amongst ourselves and proceed. What ended up happening is the developer co-founder was quite reliant on me for direction, more than I had thought. For the moment I’ve been giving a clearer idea of what I think is important, and we are pushing the ability to put banners in the extension and reply to users way up the priority list. In the coming weeks we will either be much more aggressively asking users for their opinion, or we will sort out a more formal priority list, so we are both on the same page most of the time. beyond that we have been making big strides to adding categories to the extension, and have a chance of getting that out this week.
Another strong week, 15,000 listings. That number will go up quite a bit this week too, we are going to move effort off of our more cold research and more on to confirming brands we have already contacted. We will clear almost all the backlog and then start working more on cold leads. On top of that we are writing another article, and have started to find companies that we like that offer products in that category.
Traffic remains constant at high double or low triple digit visitors every day. I haven’t been promoting the project much, I have instead been spending my time on improving our database. The article we made a couple weeks ago, on Herbs and Spices, performed better than anything else we’ve done. It still is cheaper to get users with paid ads, but not by a huge margin and that type of content has a lot of long term benefits too.
One piece of feedback we get, the most common maybe, is people asking us to do an extension that is non China instead of pro USA, and today I wanted to talk about why we went this way. Our motivation has always been based around not supporting the Chinese government. It was why I started this and recruited a team of people who feel the same way. The thing is researching all these companies is very expensive and we can only find a limited amount of companies a day. On top of that the USA is the largest western manufacturer by a large margin, so they would have way more products than the other countries in that version of our extension anyways. The idea has always been to make a great version of our extension pro USA, and then to start adding other countries. Because the USA is so large and manufactures that much adding more countries wouldn’t greatly affect product variety, with the notable exception of electronics. With any product category other than electronics we will have a pretty good non Chinese alternative, and we don’t have the research to go and find an array of alternatives from a bunch of countries, we don’t have the resources to do that. It is something that gets discussed very frequently here, it’s clear that when people come to our site and search and don’t find an acceptable product, they believe it’s because we are USA only and not because we just haven’t had the time to research it yet. We’ve done a tiny fraction of US B2C manufacturers, we could continue adding thousands of products a day for years. Eventually we would like to add more countries and have them grouped, so that people can easily select groups of countries that they agree with, however that is a long way off.
This week’s blog post was more operational, and rambly, than before. In a lot of ways I’m not sure where to go with these. They are written internally to start with, and they are invaluable in that regard. But we haven’t attracted more than a handful of regular readers and I’m not sure I should be getting this deep into the nuts and bolts of operations publicly. Let me know what you think, and see you next week!