In our first year in this businesses we turned over somewhere under a million pounds. We were selling more dolls in a month than any other UK company (there weren’t too many then) did in a whole year. We achieved this by offering a level of service that most people expect from the likes of Amazon and by being friendly, open and approachable. Everyone else was doing the crazy hassle and hustle and we were focusing on our service. Everyone else was on the breadline (and many still are) whilst we were profitable and reinvesting in the business.
As a new industry, there’s nobody else to copy and so we were pretty much inventing things as we went along. We were the first to import dolls directly and take the worry away from our customers. Now everyone copycats it. We were the first to declare full value on our dolls and pay full rate customs on them. Most people still don’t do this. We were the first to inspect the dolls and repair any minor defect prior to shipping. Some now do this. We were the first to hold dolls in stock, ready for shipping. Some dabble at this, but either can’t afford to do it or don’t know how to work it (we can’t keep enough in stock).
In the second year we tried some things that kind of backfired. We outsourced some of our packing and shipping and standards dropped. Not to the extent that anyone really noticed but we did. The thing is that no-one really cares about your business and customers as much as you do and so we’re in the process of bringing the last of that outsourcing back in house. Another issue were the changes we made to our website, which were essential, but meant a loss of google rankings (at one point we ranked above Amazon). Thankfully, they’re on their way back.
Our strategy is long term as we see the huge benefits at the end of this rainbow both to us as a company and to mankind in general. There are markets and sales we don’t pursue, as such pursuits require an unsustainable level of energy and are often actually detrimental to you as a business. The amount of thinking it takes to understand an industry that is just starting to take off is mind bending. The increasing number of bedroom competitors who spring up, thinking they can grab a slice of the pie by selling counterfeit goods, tax evasion or simply misleading customers serves ultimately to damage the industry. We’ve largely ignored these and focused on our own goals but having now achieved them a focus of our third year will be targeting them. Sure there are many short cuts to sales, a lot of kiss assing or just sheer nagging and repetition that will get you to where you want to be. There’s a better approach though and that’s thinking about everything that’s wrong with the industry and starting to put it right in your own way.
We’ve dealt with many shysters in this industry who are simply interested in the money (the sharks of this world) or those who just don’t have the vision necessary to succeed. You’ll notice that we’ve dropped various manufacturers from our lineup and you’ll soon see some new ones – those with the vision, work ethic and business sense to make a difference. Cutting ties, often to our own temporary detriment but in pursuit of a higher goal, is the best form of homage to a business or industry.
Our main focus in the third year will be normalising this business in the way that Ann Summers did for womens lingerie and toys. So if there’s a time when you feel we’re not talking to you so much then why not come with us. Bring this into the open and become the public envy for all to see.