August 2021 Retro

My avatar
Jason Wallace
Sep 14, 2021 ยท 4 min read

Following on from last month's retro, I made some real progress with my eComm store and I was almost ready to launch, or so I thought (more about that below).

This retro was the one I was avoiding to write. Mainly because I really wanted to launch my eComm store before the month ended, but it just didn't work out that way. Despite given a whole month, I couldn't get it over the line. I felt embarrassed.

Setting up an eComm business requires a lot of planning. I would classify this as Production Management. Most of the stress comes from putting certain processes into motion that don't have a clear end-date.

Like signing up to a courier company. The courier company have their own sales cycle that I need fall into, but it's not clear when I will be able to dispatch my first order. I find these unknowns difficult to manage.

Main events

I turned 29 ๐Ÿฅณ

My girlfriend, Sheena, surprised me with a 3-night AirBnB stay in Cape Town (city). This was something I always wanted to try, but never actually did because it was "just nearby".

We explored the local coffee shops, happily ate way too much middle-eastern food, and visited the museum at the Castle of Good Hope.

Celebrating a birthday like this felt quite strange because it was during a normal work-week. Normally, it would be business as usual and I'd be at work doing work related things. However, this change of pace made me feel anxious.

I hate that it felt weird not being productive. On paper, I planned for this. Why can't I just relax and enjoy the freedoms I've created? Old habits die hard, I guess.

Figure out how the clothes would be packaged ๐ŸŽ

This was another task of unknown dimensions. So we had the clothes, but how do we present it to the customer?

If this was a retail store: they would pick the clothing item off the rail, take it to the checkout counter, pay, and then leave with a shopping bag full of clothes.

I can't just ship a retail shopping bag to them. I wanted to provide a better "unboxing" experience.

Using the material my mother had lying around, we put together this proof-of-concept:

eComm Packaging Prototype This is the result of us brainstorming ways of packaging the clothes. The pink you see is the pink tissue paper shining through. The final product will be wrapped in a white tissue paper and placed into a envelope style material bag. The black rectangle is where the clothing label will be.

I felt quite relieved to tick this unknown off my list. The packaging still had to be made, but at least I knew what it was going to look like and who was going to make it. My task, as production manager, of scheduling the work was complete.

Find a courier company

Finding a courier company is like finding a internet service provider: results may vary. All the reviews are a mixture of love and hate. I guess it's hard to maintain a quality of service when everything is urgent.

Luckily Sheena works with a bunch of eComm brands already, so I just cheated and used whatever courier others were using (i.e., Fastway). Other brands also seem to have a backup courier for when the shit hits the fan, but I didn't bother with that for now.

At this point I really just wanted to get going, but now I had to fall into their sales cycle. It took a little over a week of emails & WhatsApps to get setup. Only on the last day, when I received my "customer portal training", did I finally understand how I would get my product to the customer. In hindsight, the process seems simple:

  1. Generate a label
  2. Print the label
  3. Stick the label on the package
  4. WhatsApp some dude to pick it up

But, up until that point it was just a black box.

Last month's goals

  1. Start running ads to my eComm store and make 1 sale.

    Unfortunately, this didn't happen. However, I did get the deliveries sorted and I got more clarity on how the packaging would look.

    Final grade: ๐Ÿคฅ

  2. Track more of my time.

    It felt strange to track "all" my time. Usually, I only track the time I spend freelancing. I found it surprisingly difficult to decide what I'm going to work on now, and commit to it.

    My "personal" time bucket ended up being bargain bin of random tasks that I didn't know how to label.

    I didn't track lunch, exercise, and sometimes I would simply just forget to track my time.

    August Time Allocation

    Looking at the results, I'm surprised at how little time I actually spent on my eComm brand. I think it's something to do with the nature of the work. I'm not particularly good at any of the parts that go into making an eComm brand thrive. So I hardly feel productive or confident in what I'm doing every day. That also makes me want to do it less.

    Final grade: ๐Ÿ˜ฒ

Next month's goals

  1. Start running ads to my eComm store and make 1 sale.

    Because this retro is so late, I already know the partial outcome to this (which made this retro even more difficult to write).

    However, I'll dig into the details in the next one.

Thanks for making it this far. If you're interested in what happens next, I'll email it to you next month ๐Ÿ‘‡