A Really Cool New Detailed Image Feature

Earlier this week we launched a feature called the Detailed Image Daily Special. It’s pretty much exactly what it sounds – each day one of our products is on sale for 24 hours. The Daily Special is featured on the homepage with a nifty little countdown clock:

Detailed Image Daily Special

A special message and countdown clock are also on the product page in case someone reaches the product from somewhere other than the home page:

Detailed Image Daily Special

Here’s how we do it: each night at midnight Eastern time our system automatically selects an item and places it on sale. The sale prices is determined from a formula that factors in our profit and cost of goods sold and reduces the price by a set percentage of profit. We did it this way – instead of a flat discount like 25% – because some products we make 200% on and others we make 10% on and we didn’t ever want to be selling an item for less than our cost. We have the option to exclude certain items from the formula. The formula also makes sure we have plenty in stock and that the item hasn’t been on sale recently before selecting it.

Once selected, all other discounts applying to that item are temporarily disabled. An email is then kicked out to anyone on our newsletter list who has opted in for these daily emails (by default current subscribers are opted out since we felt a daily email was too much unless you specifically asked for it). The script obviously also takes the previous days sale item off of sale.

I’ve stayed up the last two nights until after midnight to ensure everything works well and so far it’s worked flawlessly. The best part is that there’s no work involved, it’s 100% automated – my favorite type of feature.

How this feature came about is a really random story, and a testament to how flexible a small business owner can be. About a week ago George and I got into a discussion about updating the content on our home page a bit more frequently to try to get it indexed more often. Other pages on the site get crawled more frequently because they are updated more frequently. One thing led to another, and we remembered this idea George had about a year ago to run one item on special every day. The benefits are obvious (discussed below) so I said I’d program it. I figured it would take me a month or so to get it done around the rest of my work. Turns out I only needed about 10 hours in full to complete it, and here we are with it live a week later.

As I said, the benefits seem obvious but I’ll list them anyway. George wrote a great post yesterday that covered the main ones:

  • Customers are more likely to visit the site daily.
  • Getting daily emails keeps Detailed Image in your mind EVERY DAY – not just a few times a year when you make large detailing purchases.
  • It gives George and Greg extra content to post about daily in the forums we sponsor. Initial feedback has been great – look at what some of the people over on E90Post had to say.
  • It creates a gap between our competitors and us. They all run off-the-shelf shopping carts, so this feature that cost me 10 hours of work might cost a competitor thousands of dollars and take months to implement.
  • For that day, we’ll get a ton of Google Product Search traffic/sales because we’ll have the lowest price…by far.
  • It enables us to cycle through inventory faster.
  • Customers initially attracted to the site to buy the Daily Special will be subjected to our upsells. We’ve already seen several orders that came from forum posts about the Daily Special but resulted in large sales.

Like everything else, this is one more micro-innovation that makes us just a little bit better as a company. I expect that at some point in the near future we will roll this out on Tastefully Driven as well. TD has been getting a good amount of sales considering it’s been getting almost no attention lately. The busy season (Spring/Summer) for DI has really locked up all four of us – we want to capitalize on it as best we can. I want to do more for TD, but I realize that come Fall and Winter we’ll flip our attention to TD marketing and spend the majority of our time growing the site. For now, it’s just good to have it up and slowly but surely growing. There’s no doubt in my mind that the best business move is to capitalize as much as possible on DI while we can.

6 comments on A Really Cool New Detailed Image Feature

  1. Adam McFarland says:

    Yes – that was the site that George saw that gave him the idea way back when. I couldn’t remember what it was…very cool site.

  2. Nethy says:

    Just what I was thinking Nev.
    If I where an e-tailer, I’d definitely make a point of being a Wooter. Ideas. Surprising how many e tailers never buy online.

    One noteworthy is Woot.com’s marketing focus. It’s about getting products for the customer base, not customers for the product base.

    *the daily mail.
    Tricky. Even if you have highly interested subscribers,your list fatigue could be a battle. Can I make a couple of suggestions.

    a) RSS, not instead but as an option. I think it works better for high frequency communications.

    b) Big unsubscribe button + Recovery on the unsubscribe page. For example, Have three options. “Unsubscribe. Stop sending me emails. I mean it.” ; “Take a break. give me a couple of weeks off” ; “Until further notice” ; Unsubscribe me “Ask me again in a month”

    I’d want to split test the unsubscribe/recovery page to get it just right. My guess is that being a little charming may go a ways. That’s the reason I’d make the unsubscribe button big.
    - You have a better chance of recovering if you get them to unsubscribe 1 or 2 mails/days before they go hunting for the button.

  3. Adam McFarland says:

    Thanks for the feedback Nethy. To your points: RSS is on my to-do list already and should get it up today :).

    Again, it is opt-in specifically for the daily emails. Our existing newsletter base isn’t on these – I’d say through 3 days we only have about 50 people signed up for the daily specials, which is fine by us. Honestly, I/we aren’t really concerned about it. They can unsubscribe/re-subscribe at will in their My Account page, and this “newsletter” is different from the more important monthly one. Email is an alternative, not a requirement. If they’d rather get updates via RSS or the car forums, they can do that too. No one is forcing the daily emails on them.

  4. [...] rotation on the homepage.   George came up with the idea of having the banner show our automated Daily Special.  Autopia (like most sites) will pull your ad from an image or from Javascript.  So he approached [...]

  5. [...] Daily Special system will feature a different popular item each day with only a few seconds of work on our part to pick [...]

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