Ecommerce

Bootstrapping Inventory Management Gone Right

I recently came across a fantastic presentation called The Resilience of Costco. The entirety is worth clicking through because Costco is a fascinating case study. They are thriving with in-store retail when others are struggling. There are a whole host of reasons why they’re able to do this, from their membership model to their limited SKU selection to their cheap warehouse space, or even how well they compensate their employees. One slide about inventory management really stuck out to me, and it reminded me that… Continue reading

6/25/19

Programming Debt Paid

I’ve been working tirelessly the first half of 2019 because I saw a major goal in sight: for the first time since we launched the Detailed Image shopping cart in 2007, I could be caught up on all of my programming projects. Early in the year I set a goal to accomplish this by Memorial Day, giving me the summer to dial back and relax a bit. This morning I pushed out the code for my last project and hit my goal 10 days early!… Continue reading

5/17/19

Is This the Reason Amazon Sends Small Items in Large Boxes?

One of the great mysteries in shipping is why Amazon, with all of their logistics expertise, often sends small items in big boxes. I wrote a post about this a few years ago. The comments section is particularly enlightening. We have lots of theories, but no answers. This practice is particularly unfair to FBA shippers who have claimed that they end up paying higher rates because Amazon charges them DIM weights on those unnecessarily big boxes. Yesterday I was listening to This Week in Tech… Continue reading

12/28/18

Now Running On Our New Server Cluster!

Two Saturday’s ago, after a lot of preparation, we migrated Detailed Image to a much-improved server configuration. Thankfully, this wasn’t prompted by any sort of major issue. Rather, in the process of disaster planning we identified a few spots where our redundancy wasn’t as strong as we’d like, the most glaring of which was our server. Since the total chaos of our move in 2008, we’ve been on a dedicated server. We upgraded once in 2011, and that machine lasted us right through this migration…. Continue reading

9/25/18

In-Depth: Overhauling Our Dropship System

Like most online retailers, we don’t stock everything that we sell. Some items, like pressure washers, extractors, and paint thickness gauges are too bulky and/or too pricey for us to stock and ship. In these cases we “dropship” the item, meaning that when the customer orders it we then place an order with the manufacturer to have it shipped direct to the customer. While these orders are a small minority, they’ve been steadily increasing over the years. Our previous system mentioned to customers during checkout… Continue reading

8/27/18

Memorial Day Madness – When Systems Get Pushed to the Limit

Typically, I don’t spend a ton of time within our day-to-day operations. More so than anyone else at our company, I’m usually working on developing features that will improve our customer experience and/or save us time and mistakes. Most of the time I’m a few steps ahead, meaning I’m creating/fixing/improving something that’s not quite a problem yet or that we probably don’t need yet, but that we think we will in the future. Having this mentality has largely saved us from ongoing total chaos as… Continue reading

5/30/18

Order Confirmation Pages – Old Navy Needs to Step up Their Game

Order confirmation pages are a semi-regular discussion for us. They’re interesting because there isn’t one universally agreed upon purpose for them. My partners and I will see a unique example and then start discussing ours. Should we upsell the customer into another purchase, or to add to their order? Should we attempt to promote social sharing through something like our Refer a Friend program? Should we provide information about the product(s) ordered to keep them on the site and get them excited for their order?… Continue reading

5/2/18

The Great Detailed Image HTTPS Migration

In mid-January we finished migrating all of Detailed Image to HTTPS. We’ve now got the shiny “Secure” badge in Chrome on every single one of our pages: This project should have been simple, but it sure wasn’t, in large part due to the fractured nature of various organizations on the web and within Google. While the technical implementation is relatively straightforward, the business decision to do so can be downright scary. A Little Background When we launched our shopping cart in 2007 (and did major… Continue reading

2/6/18

Amazon Has Quietly Started Delivering Packages

Amazon Flex. Does that service ring a bell? It didn’t for me, not until I read Gizmodo’s exhaustive piece last week entitled Amazon’s Last Mile. It begins: Who delivers Amazon orders? Increasingly, it’s plainclothes contractors with few labor protections, driving their own cars, competing for shifts on the company’s own Uber-like platform. Though it’s deployed in dozens of cities and associated with one of the world’s biggest companies, government agencies and customers alike are nearly oblivious to the program’s existence. Flex is in 50 cities… Continue reading

11/21/17

Customer Service as a Competitive Advantage

In the first season of the Masters of Scale podcast I heard Reid Hoffman tell a story about the early days at PayPal. I couldn’t figure out which episode it was from, but he told the same story to the Harvard Business Review last year: We faced this issue at PayPal. In early 2000, payment transaction volume was growing at a compounding rate of 2% to 5% per day. That kind of growth put PayPal in a deep hole as far as customer service was… Continue reading

11/7/17