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Do You Shop Or Sell Products Online? A Must-read

Feb 9, 2008
Every day the emails arrive. "Rick, you have too many stores!!", or "Rick, how in the world am I going to find what I want or need in all your shops?" etc. The general theme is "Why so many web stores?" I will do my best to answer.

We want to make money. Ok, ok, that is western education school of thought. Of course we want to make money. But that is a very tiny part of the bigger picture.

Humor domination of the world wide web is a good start. Ok, a little joke, but that does not mean it cannot be a goal. I know it is arrogant but it is so, and why lie? I am told that in any given year there are approximately 10,000 cartoons on the Internet and out of those 10k cartoons only about 5 or so last longer than a year. This is our tenth year and to be honest, we didn't even start to monetize the site with stores until 14 months ago; and even think about Google Adwords until a few years ago? Why? Because we really looked at the entire thing as a hobby and my creative team was entirely voluntary. Then we started selling. Then manufacturing came. Then we were suddenly a business. It all took a life of its own.

Our main site, Londons Times Cartoons remains free. We want to always keep it that way; as, with 8500 original cartoons, mostly in color, we look at it as a cyber-museum of sorts, and to make it a membership site, as we once thought about doing, to us, would dampen the spirit of the whole idea of it. Why pay for the opportunity to have a good laugh (we hope, anyway).

Learning what sells in a marketplace that is untapped is not the easiest thing in the world. Nobody really knows in the cartoon world except other cartoonists and their licensing people. So one has to run down to Barnes and Nobles and find out what is selling well. And it turns out it's not just t-shirts and coffee mugs anymore.

Reliable items that move rapidly include day planners, tank tops coasters, sweats, hoodies, aprons, clocks, infant wear, thongs, maternity dresses (yes, really), men's women's and kids tops and baseball jerseys, tote bags and even key chains and tote bags.

Rather than open one big store, I launched several large stores and a number of niche shops. This gave me a chance to test the market and see who liked what.

Why do we do it that way instead of packing everything into one store? A number of reasons. A lot of people don't want to go to a large department store, for instance, for one or two items that for which they are looking.

Some shoppers for instance, know they want a funny but romantic holiday gift for their soulmate so they are more likely to visit our thong store, AThongInMyHeart.Com, rather than RickLondonCollection.com or Ricklondonwear.com simply because they don't have to wade through other items and can find exactly what they want click, buy, and have it at their door within a few days, and not too many days longer overseas.

Whether it be aprons, greeting cards, or coffee mugs and other such online shopping store items in which we have narrowed it down to niche marketing, they know they can find it at one or all of our stores. We do not charge any more for products that are in those stores, that are also in our larger stores, we simply offer an alternative quicker convenient buying method for those who do not want to spend a lot of time on the net shopping.

There are many paths to succeed in both selling and buying on the net. Just because we do it one way, does not mean it is the only right way. There are many paths on this Information Superhighway to success.

We enjoy watching the analytics from sites that measure rankings and such and see how each site is doing. Generally they remain popular and gain in popularity as the days go by (thanks to you) and it keeps us in creative mode.

Are you an addicted cyber-shopper like me? I enjoy it so much mainly because it is so nice to find items that are difficult if not impossible to find in real shopping malls, you may enjoy comparison shopping channels like Shop.com, Bizrate, Shopzilla, etc. I enjoy using those for home entertainment, computer equipment etc. But they really are not made for the niche shopper looking for that original unique product that can only be bought at one store (and possibly its affiliate stores at similar pricing).

My tendency is to investigate products at Ebay, Shopping.com etc. regularly, to see if a particular online store has items featured there. I check their rankings on Ebay particularly if they are. For instance, 3drose, our manufacturer, sells our products on Ebay, Shop.com, Amazon.com and various other shopping channels. I check their ratings. We are fortunate with 3drose. They have a 99.4% positive feedback rating with almost 12,000 transactions, being one of Ebay's oldest and largest power-sellers. This helps with automatic quality-contol. The marketplace will give positive or negative feedback based on their experiences.
About the Author
Cartoon creator Rick London started as a cartoonist and it was "only a hobby. Now he has 9 e-stores of comic gifts including the award-winning Rick London Collection Rated Funniest Cartoon Gifts & T Shirts On The Net Rick London Collection
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