It’s the end of March and it’s the first decent frost we’ve had all year! It always seems to happen when the lambs come along, but they seem to cope with it.
It’s been a long dark torrentially wet but mild winter here in the UK. The same weather pattern has caused unprecedented cold weather in the US. We have received a number of enquiries from individuals in the US and Canada asking if there were any stockists there, and have posted out a lot of sheep directly.
Contact was made with an individual who was enthusiastic about being a US distributor, but despite a number of meetings and communications, nothing got off the ground. Meanwhile the cold weather raged and American citizens shivered.
We sell on Amazon UK and every so often Amazon sends out emails encouraging vendors to expand their business. Obviously it’s good for Amazon, but it’s an opportunity for sellers to test out new markets without having to set up an entire supply chain of distributors and retailers. That’s the theory although in practice of course it was a little more complicated than just posting a few boxes of chimney draft stoppers to an Amazon warehouse!
There was a lot to learn. Did you know there is a type of pallet called “Gaylord”? or that a standard pallet is 1.2m x 1m but they vary considerably? Did you know how much fun it is to shrink-wrap things? You have to run around the pallet unrolling it for best effect. It also took a lot of effort to keep my son and the shrink wrap apart, he had all kinds of imaginative ideas for other things that could be shrink-wrapped…
At least doing it the Amazon way using an Amazon recommended shipping company, it meant that everything was done correctly in terms of itemizing the consignment and getting all the details right for the US customs authorities. Some nay-sayers were advising that they wouldn’t even let the pallet in if it was the wrong kind of wood, never mind wool products, but the whole process was remarkably smooth and from collection in Maryport to delivery at the Amazon fulfilment center in Chatanooga it was less than two weeks.
Although the chimney balloon is sold in the US, chimney draft stoppers are pretty much an unfamiliar product and a new concept for the US market, as they have been in the UK. SEO has been remarkably successful in the UK, so to support the launch of Chimney Sheep™ in the US, a new website has been designed. www.chimneysheep.com is an information site so people can find the product, find out more about it and what size they need, then link through to Amazon to purchase it.
When I first started the process it was early January and the middle of winter on both continents. Now that I’ve finally got the product shipped it’s spring, so we’ll see how sales go. However although it is a seasonal product sales continue throughout the year so it is an excellent opportunity for a soft-launch, to gauge demand and get an idea of which sizes are most popular. It sounds odd to be planning for next winter now that spring has just started, but September is only 5 months away and fall is the time to start draft-proofing ready for the next onslaught…