Brief report and August numbers for Candy Japan

As you may already know, Candy Japan is a subscription service for random Japanese sweets that we run from our living room in Tokushima, Japan. This is a brief report and numbers for August 2011.



The real growth line is the middle one, it shows the number of subscriptions that were active each day during the month. The top blue line is how many subscriptions had been started and the red line is the number of cancelled subscriptions.


Although it makes this chart a bit harder to look at, I decided to include the cancellations here to make sure that I have an eye on members churning out. If the red and blue lines ever meet, it would mean I had lost all of my subscribers. So far things are looking OK, as the majority of cancellations are because people just wanted to try the service for a month, not because they were disappointed with it.

Unlike Kreci's reports, I'm not mentioning straight revenue numbers here. I feel that would be quite misleading, as it would look much higher than reality because many members have already paid for things that I haven't sent them yet. But my estimated profit per subscriber is 3 euro / month, so you can figure it out from there.

Now onto stuff I learned this month.

Canadians are super nice, but their customs are strict

When you ship a package and there is something wrong with the address or labeling, how serious is it? That package will need to be re-shipped. If your margin is say 20%, that means you need to sell 4 items to get back to where you were supposed to be in terms of profit, just because you made one mistake.

And that brings me to another thing I learned, that when you ship things to Canada, the return address cannot be only in Japanese or they just send them back. There are now members from all around the world, including Saudi Arabia, but no other country has been this strict about the sender address. Positively, another thing I learned is that Canadians are incredibly forgiving and understanding. Everyone I emailed about it forgave me for my mistake.

To make sure everyone got what they paid for, I reshipped the past two shipments to all 18 Canadian members.

Paperwork can be automated

But only if you live in a big city. Every single package needs a customs declaration sticker attached to it, along with my signature, date and description of contents. It gets a bit dull after you have written the same thing 300 times. I applied for permission to print the form directly on the envelope. Denied. Apparently they can only accept such pre-printed forms in Osaka or Tokyo.

Editing videos is easy

But doing voiceovers is hard when you are not a native speaker. We shipped candy which resembled the Japanese food "takoyaki", so we made a video to explain what takoyaki is.

Making the linked video only took about 3 hours to shoot and edit, which is a bit more work but comparable to writing a blog post like this. Still these videos are a nice way to explain to the members what the shipped candy is about. Since some assembly is required in many of them, without a video it would just be too hard to explain.

Although the videos are getting some views, those do not seem to be bringing new converting traffic to the website yet.

Advertising is hard

Getting mentioned on blogs is the best source of traffic I know of, but not very dependable. In order to find more predictable sources of traffic, I looked into advertising. Currently I am trying StumbleUpon, Reddit Self-Serve Ads, AdWords, Facebook Ads and Project Wonderful. So far none of them are turning visitors into customers well enough to make it clear that they would be worth continuing. 

Reddit looks promising and will be the topic of my next post. See you then and as always I welcome all comments.