The holiday orders have all been delivered and hopefully we have made thousands of children and adults happy with their gifts of toys and hobbies. Whether it was an RC car, train set, model kit, model rocket set or slot car set, hours of fun were spent together with friends and family enjoying the gifts.

As we reflect on 2009, there are several key areas that we will evaluate and determine whether to stay the course, invest more or to go in a different direction. Here are the key areas that we will look at:

  • Traffic
    How did our sources of traffic perform compared to 2008? This is a good time to critique PPC programs, SEO initiatives, link building, social networking, affiliate programs, email campaigns, product reviews, personalization and offline efforts. We launched a Facebook page and Twitter account in the past 6 months and need to determine what direction we want to go with those efforts. While it is sometimes difficult to quantify the effectiveness of social networking, I do believe it is a great way to further interact with our customers.
  • Content
    User generated content by way of product reviews has been terrific for us. As we generate more and more reviews, there is also a need for our customers to connect with each other and also post and answer questions in a way that only hobbyists can. This is an area that will be growing for us.
  • User Experience
    This is an area that is critical in the conversion funnel in trying to squeeze out increases here can return big dividends. We underwent a site redesign over a year ago and as get feedback from more of our customers, we will continue to make improvements to our home page, category and product pages.
  • Site Search
    With over 60,000 products available for sale, site search is critical and this is an area that we measure internally on an ongoing basis. If our customers cannot quickly and easily get to the products they are looking for, we need to make the proper enhancements to improve the usability.
  • Product Selection
    We are always looking to expand our selection to our customers but to stay within our areas of expertise as well. We have been researching several product additions to our assortment and will be performing tests in those areas. Testing is key in all areas. Remember to test, measure the effectiveness, make changes, and test some more before making large investments. On the product side, if you can test without investing into inventory that’s a huge plus.
  • Operations
    The fulfillment process is highly tested in December and the returns process is also tested in January. We have recently implemented systems to facilitate simpler returns for our customers because we view it as an opportunity to further serve them in getting a product that they need instead.
  • Alternate Sales Channels
    As a retailer and wholesaler, we serve many customers: consumers, other retailers and non-profit organizations just to name a few. We also sell on marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay. While some channels contribute more sales and profitability than others, we must continue to fuel the more profitable ones and continue to market in those areas.

Each one of these areas will take weeks to evaluate, and then the implementation process is when the fun begins as we determine where to grow our business. As the curtain comes down on 2009, we will be getting a running start into 2010.

Best wishes in the New Year.

Ken Kikkawa
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