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Would you engage holiday help for your marketplaces business?
In a strange occasion of synchronicity, I’ve had two conversations this week with people that are related. The first was with a marketplace seller who sells on eBay and Amazon, wondering if there were competent people you can hire to come in and take over your business selling for a week or two when you go on holiday.
We’ve explored this problem before on Tamebay: Can a marketplace seller ever really go on holiday?
The other chat was with an experienced ecommerce entrepreneur with broad marketplace selling experience who was interested to know whether I thought there was any opportunity in being a consultant who would step into to run a business for a few weeks when owner operators were on holiday. She was even willing to chuck house and pet sitting services in as part of the deal.
First the seller: He was clear that you can put on your holiday settings, or switch it all off entirely. He’d considered using a fulfilment house or the like and managing it all remotely from an iPad by the pool. But what he really wanted was a “Mary Poppins” (his words) to come in and take over for the duration of his vacation. His business is successful, with tasty turnover and profitability, but it’s just him and his wife and some part timers operating out of their house and garage. He’d love a totally switched off family holiday but was realistic enough to accept that he would need to login in twice a day to keep abreast of activities.
His key worry is that shutting down operations for the duration of his holidays will have detrimental impact on his profile on marketplaces. He doesn’t want to slide on eBay Best Match or lose his best Buy Box positions on Amazon. and he wants to keep on earning. But how can you find someone you trust who can get to grips with your operations quickly at a fair price?
The marketplaces expert we know was interested to know if anyone would be willing to buy her services. She was well aware of the variety of challenges: every company is different, she’d need to prove her trustworthiness and also be able to get to grips with a client’s requirements with speed and alacrity.
I was honest with her: I thought it was a very difficult task to bone up and hit the ground running quickly and then take the reins of another person’s business in a way that was successful and cost-effective. Her very good point was that the first time would be very tricky, but that it could develop into a repeated, effective relationship over time.
Needless to say, I’ve put the two in touch with each other and I’ll be interested to see whether they come up with an agreement. (I suspect not, because of the short time before his imminent holiday.) But is it something that you would consider?
If you could find the right person and develop a rapport, would you let someone else run your business while you are on holiday? Would you worry too much? Can you let go? Or is it just too personal?
Does any entrepreneur ever switch off? Even if you have staff to run the business whilst you are away.
In the scenario above, I do not see his problem, he has a couple of part time staff surely he can trust them to go in and pack the orders for a week.
Apart from the physical packing of the orders, most of the business can be run remotely.
We have tried two options when away.
1. Shut the shops down and put on holiday mode, usually switching them back on the night before we travel home to give them time to appear in searches, which they do quite quickly.
2. Leaving the shops live but change the despatch time to the date that we arrive back. This involved a bit of work, as each morning I sent a message to all buyers, from the day before, to thank them for the order and to confirm they understood the delivery date was longer than usual, in case they missed it.
Most people were happy to wait, even if they had not noticed the delivery date, others got refunded and thanked us for pointing out something they had missed
On the whole, sales were a lot slower and it meant we were quite busy when returning. But a third of something is better than a 100% of nothing.