June 24, 2024

Site Analysis: Can a Marketing Contest Increase Sales for This Online Retailer?

Site Analysis

What’s wrong with this Web site?

More than 10 years ago, Don Chernoff introduced SkyRoll.com with the idea that a Web site could better explain his unique carry-on luggage and provide another sales channel for his products. Those sales, however, have been disappointing.

The idea for the SkyRoll line of products came out of Mr. Chernoff’s experiences as a frequent flier. One particular flight gave him the inspiration. “I’m watching this guy trying to fit this ungainly garment bag into the overhead bin, not a pretty sight,” Mr. Chernoff explains on his site. There was so much “jammed into it that it looked like an overstuffed kitchen trash bag with a handle. First it made me wonder why anyone would want to use a garment bag. Then it made me think that the shape of garment bags was inefficient and awkward,” he says.

Mr. Chernoff, who was trained as a materials engineer and computer chip maker for Intel, went home and created the prototype for the SkyRoll carry-on. “I bought a section of very large diameter PVC tubing, about the width of my suit jacket,” he continues. “I also bought some fabric and Velcro and enlisted a friend who was handy with a sewing machine to help make an outer cover. I wrapped the suit around the PVC and held it there with the cover. It worked. The suit came out wrinkle free. I had a concept but was a long way from a product you could actually use to travel.”

Soon after, he was in business. Fast forward 19 years and the SkyRoll products are available at certain retail outlets and online. While Mr. Chernoff says he is happy with the look of his site, he is extremely disappointed in his sales. He sells from 20 to 40 units a month through the site; his goal was to sell 10 times that amount. In the brick and mortar world, SkyRoll sells from 2,000 to 3,000 units a month, more during the holiday season.

In an effort to increase online sales, Mr. Chernoff had the site redesigned a year ago at a cost of about $2,000, but it hasn’t helped. He has also tried a variety of paid and unpaid marketing tactics to bolster traffic and sales, but he has gotten very little return on his time and money. He tried using Google AdWords, but spent  only a few hundred dollars and found that it did little to help. The results for unpaid search were disappointing as well.

More recently, Mr. Chernoff created a contest that encourages site visitors to take pictures and videos of the “craziest carry-ons” they encounter. It was Mr. Chernoff’s hope that these photos and videos would become popular and drive traffic to the site. Once the visitors arrived, he hoped, they would stay around long enough to learn about SkyRoll and make a purchase.

To date, the contest has been a disappointment. “We have not had much luck getting the word out,” he said. “Travel writers have not picked it up. We are looking for a way to get bloggers and travel enthusiasts to start spreading the word via new media. This is the kind of idea that would benefit from word of mouth, especially among people who travel a lot and flight attendants — they see all kinds of crazy things.”

Please take a look at the site and consider a few questions:

•    Does the site provide enough information to make you want to buy anything?
•    Does the site make it easy to buy?
•    Does the site create a sense of trust?
•    Do you have specific suggestions about the design, navigation or marketing?
•    What are your impressions of the “Crazy Carry-On Contest?”
•    What are your suggestions for improving the contest?

Next week, in our follow-up, we’ll collect highlights from your comments. I’ll offer some of my own impressions. And we’ll get Mr. Chernoff’s response as well.

Would you like to have your business’s Web site or mobile app critiqued? This is an opportunity for companies looking for an honest (and free) appraisal of their online presence and marketing efforts.

To be considered, please tell me about your experiences — why you started your site, what works, what doesn’t, why you would like to have the site reviewed — in an e-mail to youretheboss@bluefountainmedia.com.

Gabriel Shaoolian is the founder and chief executive of
Blue Fountain Media, a Web design, development and marketing company based in New York.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=a813fb84ee35f380897c8ecf7f64c078

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