*NEWS*UK INK CO,COMES UP SMELLING ROSES

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*NEWS*UK INK CO,COMES UP SMELLING ROSES

 user 2005-12-14 at 11:29:00 am Views: 95
  • #13559

    Stinky Ink Comes Up Smelling of Roses
    Defrauded, burgled but not beaten (UK)
    Most
    people who are swindled out of £32,000 and have had their stock worth
    £50,000 stolen in a raid might decide to give up and go back to PAYE
    employment. But John Sollars is one of life’s optimists and made of
    sterner stuff. His may be one of the unluckiest online startups ever,
    but he decided to persevere, putting his experience to good use, and
    quickly learned how to protect his web business from scamsters. Now
    with a turnover of £800,000 and projected target of £1.2 million for
    next year, it would seem he made a good choice.
    Back in early 2002,
    John decided on a life changing move when he was in his late forties.
    He gave up a well paid salary as a sales director of an independent
    electronic components company, sold the family caravan, and put all his
    savings and energy into his own online business – http://www.stinkyink.co.uk.
    This sells every known make and model of printer cartridge – both
    recycled and originals.
    Emerging after weeks of brainstorming, the
    domain name was designed to make people smile and be memorable, given
    that customers may only need to return once a year. He chose printer
    consumables after having huge difficulty tracking down the right
    cartridge for his son’s old printer. To power the web shop John picked
    Actinic software and has upgraded with each new release – “Actinic is
    the bedrock of my business and will be for the foreseeable future,” he
    declares
    But the road to riches has been stony. Only weeks after
    launching in June 2002, the fraudsters homed in. Initially the site
    started getting small orders to different addresses all around the
    country with larger repeat orders each week. Before he realised his
    error he was servicing 7-8 orders a day and over six weeks had shipped
    £32,000-worth of goods that he never saw a penny for. Worse, the local
    police were uninterested in the crime because under our present system
    a crime is only judged to have happened at the source of the point of
    sale, i.e. at the fraudster’s location. As the sales had come from a
    ring of criminals all over the UK, it was too big a task to file
    reports at every local police authority and nothing would have happened
    anyway as the transactions were of low value.
    Furthermore, the
    stolen products had all been paid for on John’s own credit cards as he
    had no track record with his suppliers and therefore couldn’t open an
    account with them. In fact he couldn’t even get a business bank account
    till he’d been trading a while. And because the sales were Cardholder
    Not Present (CNP), he as the merchant was 100% liable so could get no
    redress that way (unlike the customer who can get a full refund if he
    claims the goods did not arrive – another popular fraud tactic).
    So
    on the verge of bankruptcy, John remembers that, “Early in September
    2002 I was sitting with my dog in the office at home when the full
    enormity of what had happened sunk in. I had to make a decision whether
    to bother going on, or to get out and go back to a ‘proper’ job. But I
    picked myself up, dusted myself down, resolved not to trust anything or
    anyone in future and got on with it.”
    He fought back by focussing on
    the business, using email marketing and search engine optimisation to
    generate extra traffic and within two years (2004) the debts were
    cleared and Stinky Ink was in profit. He even avoided another fraud
    scam that fooled his bank manager. A week before Christmas 2002 he had
    an enquiry from a London company to ship a £12,000 order to Nigeria.
    The company checked out and a courier turned up with the cheque. But
    John heard alarm bells and asked his bank to verify the cheque. They
    thought it looked kosher as the company existed, so it went in for
    clearing. Meantime John was receiving emails from an increasingly
    demanding customer but wisely he replied that the cartridges would be
    sent once the cheque had been processed. On New Year’s Eve he heard
    that it had bounced……..
    Actinic’s software incorporates several
    features to help protect against fraud. For example, payment methods
    can be restricted by geographic region, enabling merchants to refuse
    credit card payments from high-risk areas. And shoppers can be required
    to accept the site’s terms and conditions before ordering.
    When processing web sales, John looks out for:
        * Orders for three HP original inkjet cartridges as these are easily sold in the pub or a car boot.
        * The customer is using a free email address, often from Yahoo.
        * The delivery and card addresses are not even close geographically.
    Now
    he always checks dubious card details with his payment provider (Protx)
    to see if the address, security code (on the back of the card) and
    postcode match. If not, he emails to cancel the order and refunds the
    amount immediately.
    The run of misfortune didn’t stop however. In
    March 2005 the alarmed and barred warehouse he’d just moved to was
    burgled and his whole stock removed overnight. As a ‘commercial’
    incident the police were again not interested despite the value of the
    products totalling £50,000, and it was fortunate that everything was
    fully insured.
    In comparison, the website built on Actinic Developer
    (which allows you to create multiple stores from one licence) has
    always worked smoothly and delivers the orders from all parts of
    Europe, every day of the year – up to 100 per day in fact with an
    average value of £60 and a visitor : customer conversion rate at an
    impressive 8%.
    The StinkyInk catalogue holds nearly 800 different
    lines with about 5,000 options yet cost only £1,250 to set up in 2002.
    The site, designed by John’s teenage son, has been geared to make it
    incredibly easy for visitors to find what they need, as quickly as
    possible. “Customer service is the crux of our business and having
    ISO9001:2001 we make sure that whenever we can we will implement any
    customer feedback to improve the site or our processes,” says John.
    “Having
    implemented various Actinic add-ons from Mole End Software to improve
    our efficiency we are now able to pick, pack and despatch an order in a
    minute. I want to provide, or exceed the sort of service that I expect
    when I shop online and believe that we provide an exceptional service,
    so if an order is hanging around after 24 hours I get really cross.”
    As
    for the next step, John has launched http://www.mega-office.co.uk to appeal to
    a more corporate audience, and plans several other new sites over the
    next year.
    Finally, John has this to say to anyone thinking of setting up online:
     *
    You have to go for it, but you need patience, commitment and hard work.
    Running an ecommerce business is the same as any other business, to be
    successful you have to give it 100% commitment and dedication.
    * If
    it seems to good to be true, then it is and don’t believe all the
    rubbish about being able to make millions without doing any work – it
    doesn’t happen in any other business and it certainly doesn’t happen
    within ecommerce.
     * Always value your stock every month and ensure your insurance policy has sufficient cover