My Guide to Running a Successful and Profitable Shop
Hello! I have decided to share my method to running a profitable shop. In this guide, I will be using a training shop as example. I chose this shop because this is where I have the most experience, and have had the most success. My intention by writing this guide, is to teach that you do not need to be main-market, or in any market at all to be successful. Also, I do not believe that you need to be in a mall either! I actually recommend not joining a mall when you start up shop. The method that I will be teaching mainly revolves around correctly placing your name on the shop wizard.
To run a successful shop, there are a few factors that come into play. You need to have repeat customers. Repeat customers are customers that come back, time and time again, and buy from your shop. Usually they will have your shop bookmarked, for quick access to your shop. These customers believe that your shop is the best one to go for the item that they need and you are selling. Having repeat customers means that the longer and longer you have your shop running, the less and less you will have to advertise, and the less and less you have to worry about having the best, or most competitive prices. The repeat customer has already decided they like your prices! Another factor is that you have new customers constantly coming in. Most people think that to have new customers, they need to join a mall, or they have to spend 40,000,000NP to be in the main market..or spend millions on the notice board. While I do believe that this helps, and eventually you may decide to spend all those points and go main market. Go you. But you can have a shop that makes just as much NP, and pulls in just as many customers as the "pro mallers" do, without all that. I'm going to try my very best to explain the what, when, where, why etc. on how to do this.
Part II. - The Basics
Note -I'm going to try to provide screenshots throughout the guide to be as helpful as possible. Since I'm not currently running my own shop, there are a few screenshots that I can't really provide, but I will try to explain as clearly and simply as I can
Another note - If your following my guide step-by-step, read the WHOLE thing first before doing anything
Like I said, in this guide I will be using a training shop as my example. Training shops are great. You can have a huge shop with 1,000's of items in stock, but only 10-15 actual items. When I was running my shops, I would simply start out with just the 10 basic codestone set. You can do One and Two dubloon coins, maybe some scratchcards, but remember that everything you buy to sell is an investment, so you need to think about your return on your investment, how long/how often they will sell etc. The basic codestones are in the highest demand for training.
So, a few basic things are needed to start off your shop. You need to have your shop completely stocked, before you even open it. By completely stocked I don't mean if you have a size 500 shop to go out and buy 300 of each codestone, spend 20 million NP just on your stock before you even open the shop. Just make sure that before opening your shop, you have spent what you intended your base investment to be, or you have reached your goal. Such as 25 of each codestone. If your running a Dark Faerie shop, then maybe your goal was to have 75% of the items that the Dark Faerie has asked for.
Another basic thing for your shop is to have your shop a size that you feel comfortable with before you open. It doesn't have to be huge, just enough to fit your stock. Your shop size will grow simple off of the profits of your shop. Or whenever you feel like blowing some NP.
You want to get some graphics for your shop front. I DO NOT recommend making the visitor scroll for 10 seconds before they can see your shop. Here is an example :
The shop front has a nice little graphic on it, shows what it's selling, short and sweet. This is what I would recommend.
That about covers the basics. Let's move on!
Part III. - Buying Your Shop's Stock
To start off a shop, I would recommend opening up an excel sheet and writing down a few things to keep organized. You may even want to keep up with your excel file for a while. After you have been running your shop for a while, this becomes tedious and repetitious. But when starting out I highly recommend keeping organized.
Since I are using a training shop as example, and I used to run a training shop here is what my excel sheet looked like.
Super simple and to the point. The Avg. paid column was just a guesstimate, hardly an average honestly, it was more near the maximum price I paid, to insure I wasn't selling anything for a loss. I only used an excel sheet for a very short period, because after a while, keeping up with your shop stock becomes natural and you don't need to write things down. If you don't want to use excel or notepad, grab a sheet of paper or a notebook and pencil. That way you won't have to switch between screens!
Basically, you just want to keep track of what you are selling, what you paid, and what you intend to sell your items for. But don't get ahead of yourself here. Pricing is what makes or breaks your shop. Pricing is what brings in the customers, keeps the customers coming, and keeps the customers coming back. I will cover how to strategically price your items..in the next guide! Just kidding, that will be in the next section
Yeah, I had red codestones there, but if your going to run a codestone shop...just don't mess with them or keep a very very low stock. People who train with red codestones just search for the cheapest price and buy. Once you are a bigger shop, you could incorporate them. But beware because the prices fluctuate by the thousands on a daily basis..either someone training their pet just went and bought 50 of each red codestone, inflating the price by 3,000NP a pop, or a hoarder is letting go of 500 of each codestone, deflating the price by 3,000NP a pop! I tried it a few times and was minimally successful in doing so. Someone with a top 10 shop, in a super popular mall could get away with selling them at like 10,000NP above the price. And probably sell like 3 of the damn things a day.
Part IV. - Pricing Your Items
The price of your items is absolutely the most important part about running your shop. This is valuable information peoples!
Since I am using the example of a training shop, this method is very simple to explain, and to use, because you can start off a large shop with as little as 10 individual items. Now, you should have your excel sheet open, to reference what you paid for your items, and then to write down what you are going to price your items. Let's get started pricing!
Let's go to the shop wizard.....
Swoosh! Ok, here we are at the shop wizard.
To start off, there is a key bit of information to know before I continue explaining. You need to know where your name will show up on the shopwizard. As anyone knows, every time you refresh you get a different view of different shops. So when someone searches, which view of the shops will show your item? Here is a little chart to know this!
Confused? Ok, I'll explain. Each line with 3 letters/numbers (or 2 letters, for the last two lines) is a group. When using the shop wizard, every time you refresh you are shown a different group. These groups are determined by those letters/numbers, which are the first letter/number in a username.
Example : If your username is boygenious101, then your username will be in this grouping B,O,1. You will show up on the shop wizard with other peoples usernames that start with either B, an O, or a 1! Now that you know that, you can get to pricing.
The top item on my excel sheet was...Mau Codestone. And I wrote down that the average, or more near the highest price that I paid was..4,000 NP. You want to price your item higher than what you paid, obviously, so you can make a profit. That's the whole point. But what should that price be? Well, you will want to price some of your items as the lowest price in your grouping. You do not have to price every item the lowest, but a good percentage of your shop, at least starting out. The longer and longer you run your shop, the more free you are to price your items, because your customers are loyal and come back either way. Anyways, let's assume that my username is boygenious101, and I am pricing my Mau Codestone.
Let's start our search, and refresh until we find where my username would be placed if my Mau Codestone was priced well enough to show up.
There we are! Now, remember that not all of your prices have to be the absolute lowest. Just having a bulk amount of your item will make someone click on your username instead of someone elses. This is because they will be thinking that most likely, you will have the other codestones (or faerie quest items..etc) that they need. In this grouping and this codestone, it seems noone else is selling them bulk at a very reasonable price. So maybe you want to price it at 3,559NP. You will still be pretty high for your result, and you will have a bulk amount of the item, so users are more likely to click on your username instead of the other.
Do you have a general idea of how to price your items now? Keep in mind a few things. Not every item should be priced the lowest. The for that being, your shop is just going to get bought out, and for a very low profit. Where is the fun in that. Then your just going to have to completely re-buy your shop stock, and you made a whopping 5,000NP for all that hard work. Try to keep your prices reasonable, with a few of them being priced the lowest in your group. If you want, you could take maybe 20% of your stock, and make those items very profitable. So say you are paying an average of 4,500NP per Tai-Kai codestone, this could be an item that you charge 7,599NP for. You can do this because the user will assume that all of your codestones were priced fairly because they found you from the shop wizard.
Another simple pricing tip is to not end your prices with "00". If I want to price something at 3,500NP, I would price it at 3,499. If you wanted to price your item at 3,550NP, I would price it as 3,549NP instead. It creates the illusion of being cheaper, when it's only 1 NP of a difference.
Part V. - Conclusion and Anything Else I Forgot
Using the shop wizard to attract customers is, in my opinion, the absolute best way to attract customers and keep them coming back. Having competitively prices items makes people want to buy from your store. And while you are doing that, you are still making a profit. A good strategy is to take your original investment, and don't spend any more of your NP. Use only your profits to upgrade your shop and grow your shop stock. That way, if you sell off your entire shop stock, you will come out with either more NP than you started with, or your original investment, with a larger shop!
A note on larger shop sizes
When it comes to large shop sizes, as in placing your shop into one of the three markets, I have a little advice. In my opinion, most shop traffic nowadays comes solely from repeat customers and the shop wizard. When I run a shop, I put up some noticeboard ads as well. I don't spend a whole bunch on noticeboard ads, but I put up a bunch for 2,000NP, 5,000NP, etc, that way your shop is splattered over every page. The price to get on the first page is significantly lower than it used to be aswell. But if your planning on placing yourself into a market, just wait until you can go main market, or atleast top 10 in one of the other ones. Those markets used to be so much more lively, and being in the main market actually meant something. Now, unless your in the top 10 shops your really not going to find much of a difference. I'm pretty sure to be in top 10 you need to be at least size 1,000. From size 1 to 1,000 that will cost you 99,900,150 NP. If you have the money to blow, then go for it. It's pretty fun to have a huge shop. But think about it. How long is it going to take you to make your money back just from upgrading? 100M NP in profits, from your shop!? Let's be realistic peoples. Focus on keeping your shop stocked. Always! Focus on having good customer service. Focus on having good placements in the shop wizard. These are the things that bring in customers. After a while of running your own shop, joining someones mall can't hurt. Just wait until you can actually join a good mall that is really going to bring in customers.
Well, that's all! Hope you enjoyed reading. If you guys liked this one, or have any questions, comments etc. I would love to hear it! Just make a post. I will also consider making a second guide going more into running a shop, more in-depth than this guide.
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Last edited by Ebil; 06-17-2013 at 11:49 PM.