Local firms gaining sales from the Web

<p>Wild Carrot Herbals' owner Jody Berry plans to launch an improved website designed to boost online retail sales of her homemade lotions, creams, and salves. Her manufacturing facility is located on the north side of the old hospital, along Garfield Street.</p>

Effectively utilizing websites to promote the sale of business products is evolving into an art.

Many local businesses are tapping into the Internet as a tool to gain an advantage against competitors.

Jack and Judy Burgoyne, of Enterprise, have two active Internet businesses: flyingcloudgifts.com and enterprisehousebnb.com. The former is an online gift shop the Burgoynes have operated since 1994, and the latter a bed and breakfast operation they run at 508 First South Street, in Enterprise.

Jack Burgoyne says 99 percent of all sales made by flyingcloudgifts.com are funneled through their website.

The percentages are far different for the bed and breakfast, says Burgoyne. He says about 40 percent of guests are attracted to the B&B by that website. The remainder come to the B&B through Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce advertising and by word of mouth.

Will Roundy, owner of beecrowbee, in Joseph, says about 20 percent of his business comes via online sales, and the other 80 percent through traffic entering his Main Street storefront.

Roundy’s Internet maintenance costs are low because an uncle, Steve Roundy, performs the work at little or no charge. Once the website is designed correctly, says Will Roundy, many changes are automated. He says his core products of soaps, handmade bath and body lotions, and lip balm remain relatively constant, but adds that periodic changes are important.

“Definitely, I am contacted daily (via his website) by someone wanting to place an order or ask me about my products,” says Will Roundy.

A 13-year-old business that moved to Wallowa County in August 2012 from Rickreall plans to launch an improved website this week for the express purpose of selling product at retail prices off that site. Wild Carrot Herbal, owned by Jody Berry, currently hires brokers to sell its home-produced facial and body creams, lotions, and salves, plus medicinal rubs. Those brokers sell about 80 percent of Wild Carrot’s annual volume, but at wholesale prices.

Until now, Berry has paid about $300 per month to keep her website current.

Berry specified a site design that would meet all her goals, was given a $13,000 quote, and decided to purchase a Web template for $175 and build the site herself.

Improvements she’s incorporating to drive retail sales her way include making wildcarrotherbals.com more accessible to users of smart phones and tablets, who constitute one-third of her customers, and making her new shopping cart more user-friendly.

Wild Carrot Herbals, like another local online business – Sei Mee Tea LLC, of Enterprise – pushes customers to its website by regularly publishing newsletters distributed by email. Both companies have about 1,000 subscribers to their newsletters.

Kiyomi Oliver, who along with husband Bill owns Sei Mee Tea, says about 30 percent of the LLC’s total product sales are generated through Sei Mee’s website. In addition, the home-based importing, wholesaling, online retailing, and tea manufacturing business has product placed in about 230 stores nationwide.

Six months ago the Olivers hired a search engine optimization company to direct additional retail clients to Sei Mee’s website. The jury on that investment, says Kiyomi Oliver, is still out.

The owner of Wallowa’s Mingo Motel, Chase Ence, employs his website on a smaller scale that suits his needs.

Working with Second Chance Productions, of Enterprise, Ence estimates that 30-40 percent of his business is generated through the site designed and maintained by that company. He figures that possibly 15 percent of his guests are sent his way by the Wallowa County Chamber of Commerce, whom he advertises with, and the remaining guests are walk-in customers.

For $300 a year, says Ence, Second Chance Productions upgrades the Mingo Motel website twice annually, often adjusting photos and prices.

Ence doesn’t take reservations online, instead choosing to have potential guests contact him by telephone.

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