Practical Ecommerce

Pros and cons of running 2 businesses

I launched My Event Décor in January 2017 to sell products to corporate event designers and marketing managers. My Wedding Décor, which I started in April 2015, targets couples, wedding planners, and stylists.

I first addressed My Event Décor in January, at “The challenge of setting up a second website.” In this post, I’ll address the pros and cons of running two ecommerce sites.

Pros

Tap different markets. The obvious benefit is I can reach different niche shoppers: event professionals in one case, and mainly individual consumers in the other.

Cross sell. Once I have obtained customers on one site, I can pitch the second business to them (in a sensitive and timely manner).

For example, marketing managers who order through My Event Décor for a corporate event may be planning their wedding and thus could make use of My Wedding Décor. Similarly, My Wedding Décor customers may need to organize an expo stand, product launch, or charity fundraiser for their company.

Reach multiple geographical areas. My Wedding Décor concentrates on Melbourne rentals while My Event Décor focused on items for rent in Melbourne, Sydney, and Brisbane. Fifty-two percent of Australians live in those three cities.

Sixty percent of all orders across both websites for purchase and rent are for metropolitan Melbourne, with 9 percent shipped to Sydney and 5 percent to Brisbane. The remaining 25 percent of sales is to the other capital cities and regional areas.

Tap different peak seasons. Australia is large. The distance from Hobart, Tasmania to Cairns, Queensland is 1,791 miles, much longer than the 1,360 miles from Miami, Florida to Portland, Maine. There are multiple peak seasons for events due to the widely differing climate zones.

The southern hemisphere late spring through to mid-fall period — November through March — is peak season for warm weather weddings from Brisbane south to Hobart.

From Brisbane to Cairns, however, few people schedule weddings or corporate events due to the heat, humidity, and rainfall. Instead, northern Queenslanders typically hold their events during late fall through winter to mid-spring — May through October. This helps My Event Décor as that period is traditionally quieter for events in the southern Australian states.

While orders from Queensland comprise 11 percent of overall sales, 60 percent of have been from regional areas where they cannot access event décor products. I am interested to see how much impact My Event Décor makes in 2017 and beyond.

Maximize inventory. I list on both sites the same products for weddings and corporate events, with different titles, meta tags, and unique copy depending on the site. Thus I can maximize the rental turnover of my product by having it listed twice in different ways.

For example, peacock chairs are popular with bridal couples for their wedding ceremony table photos while they appeal to certain businesses who hire them as props for expo stands, store openings, and product launches.

More revenue. An expanded reach leads to more revenue. I increasingly receive emails and phone calls to my Melbourne office from Brisbane event managers wanting to plan an event in Sydney, or vice versa. The niche products available on My Event Décor may help me close enquiries for that website. In fact, My Event Décor has earned 24 percent of my total revenue for both businesses since it launched in late January 2017.

Cons

Higher expenses. I pay more to have two domain names, two Shopify carts, and two sets of processing fees and apps, not to mention printed business materials. I have spent thousands this year on website design, search engine optimization, and newsletter layout.

SEO challenges. Each product needs unique copy and meta tags to avoid being penalized for duplicate content. This takes significant time.

Google Maps challenges. Only recently I discovered that My Event Décor was not listed on Google Maps because, while My Wedding Décor address was verified, the newer website was showing as a duplicate address. Since fixing it by revising the address somewhat, the unique visits to My Event Décor in July have risen 54 percent over the same period in June.

More product sourcing. Two businesses means more product sourcing is required to provide a unique range across both websites. I also have to source products for two other states, as well as nationally.

Inventory-management challenges. If a customer hires items from My Event Décor that are also on My Wedding Décor, I have to block it out on the latter site.

Delivery challenges. Which website order takes priority for delivery? I am currently juggling revenue and profit against time constraints for rental orders, which typically require delivery for the same day.

Time constraints. Two websites greatly increase the volume of emails, text messages, phone calls, and live chat.  This means I have less time to write blog posts and social media updates even though these are vital for marketing. I am spending increased time simply managing quotes and bookings and less time on business direction with two websites. I have to determine how best to manage my one-day-per-week employee.

How have you managed running two website businesses?

email-news-env

Sign up for our email newsletter