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Unfamiliar territory (Read 3775 times)

    I finally out grown my tiny apartment of nine years and moved into my own house a couple of months ago. It wasn't a moment too soon. The dining room in the new house became my warehouse. The brand new dining room table has mounds of running apparels instead of dining ware. It all started many months ago when some of you wanted to sport shirts with the site's logo so that you can identify each other in races. It was a good idea but honestly I felt that it is somewhat over my head. The first problem was finding a quality shirt. Since it will be used for running, it has to be made of a technical material. Most of the vendors I contacted either sell only cotton t-shirts, or technical clothes that are unreasonably expensive. Trent recommended Francis Communications, Inc to me. They are the vendor that printed shirts for The Harpeth Hills Flying Monkey Marathon (there you go Trent, free plug for your marathon and good luck!) They sent me various samples and I did an informal survey with the folks in my running club. Everyone loved a particular shirt and that was what I went with. It is made of 100% polyester but is soft and somewhat stretchy. The ladies tank tops are even softer and stretchier since it contains 8% Spandex. The next hurdle is how to collect orders. The obvious choice is PayPal. After some research, I decided to use Google Checkout to handle the transactions for the following reasons:
  • Security: The assumption is that Google has the resources to prevent hackers from breaking into their systems. I have only one server and do not want to expose it to any kind of attack. My server does not see any of your financial information. The only information it stores is the number of shirts available.
  • Fees: Until recently, PayPal is the only online payment system readily available so it is a monopoly in that it can charge a higher fee. For a $20 order, PayPal charges $0.88 (4.4%) which is rather high to me. Google is offering free transaction processing for the rest of the year. Even after the honeymoon period, their fees will still be lower than PayPal's, which means I can pass the savings onto you.
  • Proper charging: Your credit card will not be charged until I send out the packages. I'm not sure if PayPal allows this.
  • Flexibility: Even though the shopping pages consist of only three pages, a lot of work goes on in the background before and after you place the order. Paypal does not allow exact shipping. I can set a flat rate, or charge shipping as a percent of the order. Neither method will keep the total cost down. Google Checkout allows me to specify actual shipping to each country. After the order is finalized, Google notifies my server so it can update the inventory. Pretty neat stuff.
  • The last problem is how to send out the shirts. I will be using the United States Postal Service, which is convenient to me (very important) and offers a competitive rate. I did a test run with the beta testers and the shipping time was less than one week, including Europe. I still need to decide if I should go to the post office or simply buy stamps so I can drop them off at mail boxes. I'm not a good business person. I enjoy sitting in front of the computer and create tools on the computer. I have no idea what kind of markups stores put on their merchandise but I wouldn't be surprised if these shirts would go for $25 or $30 in the stores. The shipping costs consist of what the USPS charges me plus the cost of envelopes and labels. So long as I can break even, I'll be keeping the shirts at a reasonable price and I'll keep passing the savings onto you. Now that the shirts are out, I hope you like them. I don't know where this is heading, but if the demand is there, I can look into long sleeve shirts as well. Just a thought. eric Smile


    Kill

      Thanks, Eric, both for the update on the shirt project as well as everything else you do for our community of runners in this corner of the internet! When you come up for air and reclaim your dining room, I will definitely be interested in a long sleeve version!

      Passion is a rather frightening thing because if you have passion you don't know where it will take you.

       

      When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?

        I think I speak for everyone here in saying how grateful we are for your services Eric. Thank you! Good luck with the new house and I hope you get your dining room table back soon!


        Blaine Moore (MM#2867)

          Having just bought my house a little over a year ago, I can certainly understand the whole recent move bit. Glad you had the table available, though! I know that I saw the option there earlier this morning and still haven't ordered, but that's mostly a convenience thing. Never fear that you have an order coming from me either tonight or tomorrow. And since I put the image in the other thread I figured I might as well throw it here too: You never know when somebody might have trouble finding something. Wink (By the way, thanks for linking to Trent's marathon. I now understand the whole monkey thing that is constantly bandied about on here.)

          Run to Win
          24 Marathons, 17 Ultras, 16 States (Full List)



            Eric - just wanted to tell you that I LOVE my RA shirt - have worn it several times, even with this winter weather....THANK YOU for doing all that you do for us! I am in awe of all that you do (insert little bowing emoticon here)!
            Next up: A 50k in ? Done: California-Oregon-Arizona-Nevada (x2)-Wisconsin-Wyoming-Utah-Michigan-Colorado


            A Dance with Monkeys

              I love to run in unfamiliar territory. Wait. What was the question?
                Is there going to be shirt that will have a not so modest logo in the future? www.RUNNINGAHEAD.com in HUGE letters

                Vim

                  Is there going to be shirt that will have a not so modest logo in the future? www.RUNNINGAHEAD.com in HUGE letters
                  Once I can see my dining room table again, I'll make another batch with bigger lettering in the back. I think the front graphic is just the right size. It's hard to tell what the appropriate size should be. I just don't want it to be obnoxious.
                    Hey, once you can see that table, it'd be time to start thinking about long sleeve tees, right? That way they'd be ready for the summer rush... Big grin Just playin'. Wink I think the ladies' RA tank top is fabulous. In fact, I asked Santa to bring me some RA tank tops...

                    Roads were made for journeys...


                    Gandalf the Grey

                      Just playin'. Wink I think the ladies' RA tank top is fabulous. In fact, I asked Santa to bring me some RA tank tops...
                      ... and did Santa provide the necessary service? Big grin

                      Running ... just keep running!
                      Fancy a holiday running in the French Alps?


                      Needs more cowbell!

                        Once I can see my dining room table again, I'll make another batch with bigger lettering in the back. I think the front graphic is just the right size. It's hard to tell what the appropriate size should be. I just don't want it to be obnoxious.
                        I think obnoxious would be good. Anything less wouldn't fit my personality.... Evil grin

                        Kirsten - aka "Auntie Kirsten"

                        '14 Goals:

                        • 2 olympic distance duathlons -- 6 days apart -- PR at least 1

                        • 130#s (and stay there, gotdammit!)

                          The last problem is how to send out the shirts. I will be using the United States Postal Service, which is convenient to me (very important) and offers a competitive rate. I did a test run with the beta testers and the shipping time was less than one week, including Europe. I still need to decide if I should go to the post office or simply buy stamps so I can drop them off at mail boxes. eric Smile
                          Eric, have you checked out/ considered having your pkgs scheduled for pickup by your carrier? I can't remember if the package you sent me was via first class, but if it was, I believe you can now use the Shipping Assistant to print out labels/ delivery confirmations as well as schedule pickups, which are free. The ship asst. doesn't allow you to print postage, so you'd have to do that with stamps, but it might save you some time and gas. USPS Shipping Assistant
                            ... and did Santa provide the necessary service? Big grin
                            Yep. Big grin

                            Roads were made for journeys...