My Technology Story

Do you ever experience a time when too many things seem to go wrong?  Welcome to our November (and early December)!

November and December are very busy months for us.  Numerous orders are My Technology Storyarriving in our inbox daily and we spend a large part of our day picking, assembling, packing and shipping orders!  Nothing new with the routine we’ve followed for over 15 years! 

But this year is different!!

In early November, we developed a problem with our internet.  Living in the hinterlands of rural Idaho, the importance of technology for our numerous businesses cannot be overstated.  I no longer travel as a sales rep; we no longer run retail booths and we closed our store years ago.  All our business is done via the internet.

After calling our internet provider (several times) and having our modem checked twice, and eventually, replaced and updated by their tech people, we are still uncertain if it is fixed.  Currently, it works intermittently, only to go out, with no warning, for days at a time. 

My cell phone is connected with my email accounts, so, thankfully, I can access orders via my phone.  On the other hand, we cannot process payments, run or print our shipping labels, nor adjust the website (if necessary) after orders are completed.

So while dealing with our on and off internet service, we developed a second problem:  Our hosting company discovered malware on our sites.  To deal with this issue, they shut down ALL our websites!  Because our e-commerce sites are hosted by an outside provider, our main physical product sites and still up and running.  Unfortunately, none of my other sites are functioning including my Selling to Gift Shops website and blog and all the associated websites. 

As it turned out, our extended Black Friday special that ran through Cyber Monday became inaccessible on Monday, November 26 — several hours before it was officially over!

If you were trying to purchase one of our e-guides and was unable to do so, please accept my apology.  Until the problem is fixed and the sites are released again, our hands are tied!

If I did not realize the importance of working technology, I do now!  *sigh!*.

Part Two of our Technology Story

During this time of stress and frustration, I was able to find a bit of peace.  But I had to step back and look at the big picture.  In reality, other than maybe disappointing some of my readers and followers, how did this really impact my life?  Was I going to contract a fatal disease, was I going to lose a loved one, was I going to find myself homeless …. of course not (although, I wondered if I was going to lose my mind!)?

My Technology StoryIt took time and work to focus on the ‘good’ coming out of this and seeing what message may be connected to this seeming disaster.  Although I could find no lesson, I did manage to find peace and patience in the midst of it all. “This too shall pass” came to my mind and I remembered that everything always works out.

It was then that I discovered a way to clean up some of the malware off my sites.  As a result, all of our 20+ websites are currently up and running!

And, our internet provider was finally able to do some testing on our lines while our service was down.  As a result, he ended up replacing our equipment etc. which, by default, gave us a higher speed internet service (at no extra cost).

Hopefully, we are done with the difficulties (or nearly done).  And I learned some very valuable lesson:

  1. Have patience! Seldom do problems last forever.
  2. The world will not end if I cannot post what I want when I want ….. as a matter of fact, maybe I need to learn to let go of some of that ‘control’.
  3. Maybe, it is time to make some changes with our internet and website companies rather than struggling with the problems we have experienced before and during this situation.
  4. My happiness cannot be based on how well my internet and website are working.  I have too many other blessings going on in my life.

Thanks for listening to my rants and final resigning words.  Next time, I will find and see the ‘good’ during a difficult situation sooner!

Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Malcolm and I are empty-nesters — with our kids being gone or celebrating Thanksgiving elsewhere. Rather than eating alone, we typically attend our town’s community dinner on Thanksgiving.  Of course, we miss being with family, but it is nice to catch up with the friends we see at the community dinner.

This year we sat with the new library director who is busy with an expansion program for the library.  They currently have the new extension’s outside frame built and are waiting for the funding to finish the inside.  I find this project particularly interesting as they tore down a house I lived in between my marriages in order to build the extension!

Thankfully, Thanksgiving is early this year, giving us an extra long holiday selling season.  With the official start as the infamous Black Friday, the season is over 30 days long!  We have found that the longer the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the more sales we make!  Go figure!!

And of course, this is time to finish off the last of our re-organization of our products, gift supplies, and shipping materials as the biggest sales season of the year begins.

Today (Friday), is a good day to check and double check your inventory and supplies to make sure everything is ready to go!  Since so many people are at the Black Friday sales at the various retail outlets, online sales are typically slow until Saturday or even the following week.

Enjoy your weekend!  From this moment forward, we might all be too busy to think of anything other than filling orders!!

 

 

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Inspirational Quote about Thanksgiving

Inspiration about …Inspirational Thought about Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a national holiday in the United States, celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November. It originated as a harvest festival. Thanksgiving has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789, with a proclamation by George Washington after a request by Congress.  The event that Americans commonly call the “First Thanksgiving” was celebrated by the Pilgrims after their first harvest in the New World in October 1621. This feast lasted three days, and—as accounted by attendee Edward Winslow—it was attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims.

“Thanksgiving is one of my favorite days of the year because it reminds us to give thanks and to count our blessings. Suddenly, so many things become so little when we realize how blessed and lucky we are.”

~ Joyce Giraud —  a Puerto Rican actress, model, philanthropist, film and television producer.

The First ThanksgivingDespite all the wonderful food most of us enjoy, Thanksgiving is the time of year when we express gratitude for all the great family and friends, and the many blessing we receive every day.

Just like the first Pilgrim’s and Indian’s Thanksgiving meal, we share our bountiful food with our family and/or friends in celebration of all that we are thankful for the year.

I want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving by closing this section with one final inspirational quote:

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.”

~Henry Van Dyke — an American author, educator, and clergyman.

Last Minute Website Tweaks

I was gone most of last week taking care of my daughter and her 5-year-old son after my daughter underwent a minor surgery.  One thing I noticed very quickly is how much energy a 5-year-old has pent up, just waiting to get out!

I wish I could capture all his energy and use it for myself.  His show of energy reminded me of all the things I knew needed my focus as soon as I got back home.  Busy, busy, busy getting the last of our holiday products in stock and on the website.

Over 2/3 of our Tastes of Idaho sales happen between now and the end of the year.  We frequently get additional ‘corporate orders’ which consists of large amounts of products and/or baskets sent out for customer and employee gifts.  Counting all of the orders, phone, website, and corporate, we are usually too busy to do focus on anything else!

So about now, I need to make sure that everything is accurately lined out on the website BEFORE the big rush hits!

Last Minute Website Tweaks

In order to make sure all of my last minute website tweaks are taken care of, I formulated this quick checklist:

  1.  Check all of my products (192 of them this year), making sure those items that are in stock are listed as available and those that are not (didn’t make the sales last season) are removed or hidden.
  2. Update any price increases since the last time I ordered the product (we typically take the wholesale price per item, add a pro-rated shipping amount and double it — rounding to an acceptable retail price)
  3. We track inventory, so I update all the inventory amounts to make sure they reflect what you currently have in stock.
  4. Check all the photos to make sure the product is clearly represented.
  5. Rework any verbiage — especially on the home page and terms pages — for accuracy and ease.  (I don’t want your customers to be confused)
  6. Check shipping rates and update where necessary.
  7. Check all supplies needed such as shipping boxes, tape, bubble wrap and/or peanuts, labels (if needed), and organized these in a streamline fashion (think assembly line).

By this time, your marketing plan should be in place and new product emails are sent to your customers/subscribers at least once a week.  And if you are featuring a Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale, make sure you announce it and repeated the announcement several times.

Anything else?  Did I forget anything?

 

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Are You Ready for Holiday Sales?

I am currently out of town, helping my daughter, but wanted to check in with some an important question:

Are you and your products ready for holiday sales?

Typically, it is late for wholesale purchases (although, I am still getting a few), but if you retail, you still have a bit more time.

Here are some links to help you along:

Drawing a Crowd to Your Retail Booth

More Holiday Booth Display Tips

Dealing with Holiday Stress

Preparing Your Online Store for the Holiday Season

Making Your Holiday Booth Inviting to Customers

More Holiday Tips