Q4 Results & December Disaster 😭 – Free Case Study Part 11

Q4 Results & December Disaster

This blog post will cover our Q4 results from 2022 plus what we’re calling ‘December Disaster’.

The matching YouTube to this blog post was recorded on 02/01/23.

As you know from the previous post, November went brilliantly.

Over half a million pounds ($600k+) in turnover:

December Disaster - November Full Shopify Stats 2022

Pretty special, nice to crack that half mill in a month, and not bad at all for a store that only opened in April!

The warehouse had been buzzing for weeks, we were shipping out crazy amounts of orders:

December Disaster - Parcels 1

December Disaster

However, December did really not go as planned 😞

Two massive problems completely messed us up :

Firstly – Royal Mail were striking on and off all month.

To anyone reading this who isn’t from the UK, Royal Mail is the main, national postal service here.

They were our couriers, we’d been using them all year, and despite the odd lost parcel they had mostly been fine.

A van would come and pick up our orders every day Monday-Friday.

This ensured we could quote, and fulfil, 2 working days delivery on everything we sell.

As we got into December they decided to go on strike seven times.

December Disaster - Royal Mail Strikes

Postal workers were cross due to disagreements over contracts, pay and working conditions.

At the time the whole country was ‘for’ them doing what they did, but boy did it mess us up.

The first strike happened on Black Friday at the end of November, then you can see ‘December Disaster’ dates from the calendar above.

Strikes were strategically planned to cause maximum disruption which is exactly what happened.

We suffered backlogs piled on top of other backlogs with customers (not) getting their deliveries.

The whole country was going crazy as this is the time of year when everyone is posting cards and presents to each other.

Everything was late and/or super delayed – even if you’d posted things early.

Customer support went BANANAS.

Our inbox was melting with emails was coming in like a flood: hundreds of (angry) messages a day.

2 of us were on customer support and could barely cope.

You’d answer 20 enquiries during which time another 20 or 30 had come in to the inbox.

December Disaster - Customer Support

Due to Christmas coming up and deliveries being delayed people were very angry!

They were screaming and shouting and as people tend to do when they get frustrated, they were being super rude as well.

Their parcels were just stuck in huge Royal Mail depots, sat there while workers did nothing due to being on strike.

Doing customer support at this point was unpleasant.

On top of this….

Our Facebook Ads Manager got disabled twice

As you can see from December Shopify stats:

  1. We did a measly £204k 😭 – less than half of November’s income.
  2. There are some holes.

December Disaster - December Full Shopify Stats 2022

Yep, our Facebook ads manager, the engine that drives our whole business, was disabled right at the start of December.

If any of you reading this have suffered the same thing I’m sure you can relate to how frustrating it is.

What makes it worse is that Facebook are just SHIT at responding, or even giving reasons as to why it happened in the first place.

The note on our account when we logged in said ‘disabled due to security reasons’.

Gee thanks guys. That tells us absolutely nothing.

We spent nigh on £250k ($300k+) on ads in November alone, and you’d think that might count for something.

Nope. They could care less.

Their level of support throughout the month was beyond a joke.

We were at peak buying time for the whole year!

Bear in mind that right now, is the apex of Q4.

Customers are in a buying frenzy and there is a lot of money to be made.

If they aren’t being served our ads, everything goes down the pan.

We had so much lined up at this point.

Stock had arrived from China, we had extra staff onboard, winning ads were running hard, and we were spending thousands a day on them.

Sales were flooding in, we had been on a massive high all through November as the business exploded.

At this point we were prepared to crank everything up to the max.

Unfortunately the one thing we really needed got closed off.

Four horrible days later we got it re-enabled.

Numbers jumped straight back up to about £18k a day….

Then it got turned off again! 😭😭

It felt even worse the second time around.

Luckily we managed to get it turned back on again pretty quickly, but by this point it was almost too late.

We’d missed big chunks of the first 2 weeks of the month.

Plus – Royal Mail were still striking hard and we could no longer assure customers of delivery in time for Christmas.

These two things combined meant we no longer had the confidence to scale ads up again.

We even rush-added Fed-Ex as a courier option but due to everyone else doing the same, this took a week to get installed…

And by this time, as I’ve already said, it was just too late for everything.

Tempers were frayed in the office and warehouse believe me.

Plenty of stomping around and doors being slammed.

Compared to November when things were buzzing and everyone was happy…

It really was a December disaster.

You’ve only got the first 3 weeks of the month

December is a bit different from other months of the year when you’re doing ecom.

Christmas day is on the 25th.

You have your delivery times – in our case 2-3 business days.

So last orders have to be fulfilled and sent by the 22nd – and this is also dependent on it being a weekend or not.

We were almost out of time at this point for the last minute rush leading up to Christmas.

All this resulted in super low morale in the office and warehouse.

We had so many plans to smash it in December but all we could do was sit and watch our low numbers…

… and continue responding to distressed customers who had not yet received their deliveries.

The 22nd came about – our last day for sending out product, then everyone went home for 2 weeks over Christmas.

Everyone trudged off with their tails between their legs.

Talk about a non event. Wow.

New Warehouse/Offices

Even though in the YouTube for this blog post I said we were not going to move into these premises, we actually did in the end.

Couple of photos of us looking round when it came available:

December Disaster - New Warehouse 1

Above is where the stock ended up being housed.

December Disaster - New Warehouse 2

The yellow door in the middle of this photo goes through into the office which is behind that wall. Toilets and kitchen are on the right.

Other Misc December Stuff

– Since starting the business on April 12th, 2022 we have spent over £500k on  Facebook ads.

Mad to think about really, that this much of our turnover goes straight into Facebook’s pocket.

Plus there’s Google ads, stock costs, rent, wages, videographers, people making ads, and a hundred other things to pay out for.

– We worked out why our ads manager got disabled earlier in the month

We were being naughty and “borrowing” ads from other businesses on Facebook.

This was a pretty widespread thing with hundreds of other people doing it from what we could see.

Plus, our main winner – the ad for that we also “borrowed” and it has been running all year with zero problems.

However, the people who’s ad we borrowed over December then reported us, which got our ads manager disabled.

Lesson learned

We need 100% original ads from now on moving into 2023.

– Klaviyo income for 2022 went over £60k

A decent annual wage on it’s own in anyone’s books – made entirely from autopilot email flows.

December Disaster - Klaviyo £60k Sales

I set all these up and am super happy to see Klaviyo ticking along pretty much all on its own, making the company over £60k in less than 8 months!

– We have gone back to pushing our original winner hard as Christmas is out of the way.

Back to business as usual with an easy £8-9k a day just from one ad, duplicated a few times, pushing one product.

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

December Disaster - Jan Shopify Stats 2023

– Still excited as hell for 2023!!

Despite losing out on over half a million pounds last month alone…

And all the stress that came with it…

We are still super excited about what 2023 is going to bring.

I’ll finish off this blog post with a screenshot of our Q4 Shopify sales totals.

December Disaster - Q4 Shopify Stats 2022

It would have been nice to crack 7 figures but oh well.

You can’t win ’em all.

Don’t steal other people’s ads!!

You’ll get into trouble. 👹

We do have about £700k worth of stock now sat in the warehouse waiting for us to sell it so there is that.

Anyway – onwards and upwards into 2023 guys!

Alright that’s it for this blog post, back for more very soon.

Other parts from this series are available here:
part 1part 2part 3part 4part 5
part 6 – part 7 – part 8 – part 9part 10

The corresponding YouTube to this blog post can be found here.

I put all the YouTubes about this store in a playlist. Click here to watch it.

Part 12 is coming – so watch out for that 😎

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