by Nick Knight .

violence.project blog. selling online

Dear Dorian, Ross, Paul, Alex and Greta,¬
As you know I would like to sell this Violence scent directly from our site. Can you indicate to me what the possibilities are. It might be just one bottle or 10 or thousands, there is just no way of telling.¬
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.¬


I think a big point of the fragrance is to develop, market and sell it online - this is the unique aspect.
However, the difficulty that immediately arises is that no-one can smell the fragrance online. Very basic, but fundamental. We should consider how we will go about getting samples of the fragrance out to potential customers or maybe if we are planning to feature it¬
I like the idea of the perfume being in a limited edition - maybe we could number each one individually with an initial run of 100? This would also give us the opportunity to send some out as gifts - we can gauge the response and see if the numbers should be increased with a second run, third run etc.¬
This is not my forte but that's my initial view on the matter of the 'hard sell'.  

Hello Nick et al

Please excuse my 'dragon's den' knowledge of commerce and my over-simplified 'plan'.
I think if this is being done correctly then there should be a way of telling how many you would sell. You would not make 10,000 bottles of perfume if your research had shown you were only going to sell 10 because it was a very niche market.

So I think the first step is to speak to someone who knows the market, work out where the product will be advertised (I would suggest it needs to go further than SHOWstudio) and then we could look at some rough figures of projected sales/units.

Then we can decide how rigourous our e-commerce strategy needs to be.

For instance if there are only 100 bottles we could just set up a paypal account (or an ebay shop says paul) and handle the whole thing fairly stress free ourselves . However, if we have a lot of product stored in warehouses that need to be shipped globally then clearly we will have to involve outside agencies

My feeling is that a limited run of 100 is the way to go. It gets the scent out there and works as an easy way of getting press for SHOW. Then, if there is a demand, we look into mass production


Hi Nick,

That's quite a big question really. From my point of view we can skip the details of presenting the product on the website - we'll be doing that anyway as part of the project, though the branding and positioning of the product are of course a very important and complex thing, some of which I'm sure you have in hand, and some of which I'm sure is in process.

The technicalities of selling products online strongly depends on whether you are selling one item, or 1000, or however many. The complexity and cost of the system set up really depends on the amount that's going through, there is no point in using a sledgehammer to crack a walnut. Setting up an ecommerce system for one product is likely to loose money, not make it, but if it's something that's going to have more products added to it then you may recoup the investment later.

The process of taking an order/transaction is quite straightforward, and there are lots of well laid out models and best practises for this 

1) The Basket: We find out the quantity of the product a person wants.
2) The Checkout: We find out where they want to ship it to & take payment for the product.
3) The Processing: We receive the order, label, put postage on it and ship it.

The devil, as ever, is in the detail, and more importantly the scalability.

For one item it wouldn't be worth setting up on-line credit card processing facilities, for instance, and we may just have one large price for the item which takes into account packing and shipping costs to the rest of the world. The item could even be auctioned to the highest bidder. The payment could be taken via a method agreed with the purchaser, such as bank transfer/cheque/paypal. 

For between one an 100 items it would be worth considering a simple payment system, such as PayPal, where overheads on each transaction are higher than some methods, but cheaper than setting up a Merchant account with a bank, and on-line clearing, and a checkout process on our site. However PayPal would not necessarily present the image for the product you want to have, it depends how you want to position it's brand. A customised checkout process and in-line credit card clearing would be a nice experience for the end user, and keep the whole thing more 'on brand'

For 100+ it is more likely worth investing in a customised checkout process. If we are shipping lots of items then we would need set this up, and to consider how ordered are processed and dispatched, global shipping costs and hanlding charges, how to handle fraudulent transactions, how monies are accounted, how items are packaged for shipping ( that could also reflect back to the actual product design for the container for the scent ), how to manage customer queries and missing/broken items, who takes the items to the post office (or if we get them picked up, or shipped via courier etc.). Working all these details out to be optimal is worthwhile to maximise profit on the product, and to simplify the handling of the orders. 

A final choice is that you can pass handling the sales of the item entirely off to a third party, who will sell it on your behalf. This way we don't have as much control over the presentation and brand of the product, and a lot of the process becomes on of managing the relationship with the third party, and trying to get the appropriate presentation for your product in their context. This would be much like putting the item exclusively into any shop, like Dover Street or Liberties. You have the advantage (and disadvantage) of having the product amongst other items, in an environment where people are looking to purchase, but you will see return per unit, and won't have the presence within that shop. Generally new brands don't succeed very well on large product sites with many items on them, unless you put them across a number of different retailers : think Dover Street, Liberties and Selfridges, not just Dover Street. 

There are of course many points in between all of these, but mostly these are driven by the brand qualities of the product you are selling, and of course: where the audience you want to sell your product to are shopping. Because SHOWstudio isn't a shop, or may not have that audience, you double the work in trying to sell your product in also trying to drive the right traffic to SHOWstudio. Equally putting the scent on a generic shopping site may devalue it's brand, and still miss it's target audience. So the place, in my opinion, to start is to research into the customer for the product and how to access them. thereafter the choices will become clearer. 

I hope that's all of some help. 



  1. VikramKansara
    18:44 17 Oct 2008
    For scalable e-commerce solutions, have a look at Amazon's web services:
    Re: "SHOWstudio isn't a shop"
    Perhaps it should be. Shopping is one of the most important cultural activities of our age. A permanent "SHOPstudio" that puts project artefacts on sale might be a very interesting addition to the platform.
  2. GalileosUniverse
    07:21 18 Oct 2008
    Roman glass perfume bottle
    Here are some points that may help!
    Point # 1
    The first step in selling perfume successfully from a website it to establish your yourself as a credible merchant. The websites used by successful internet merchants differ radically from "corporate information" websites that may be built around beautiful images, music and animations, all of which delay navigation from one page to the next. To sell on the internet, your website has to function like Google or Yahoo. Navigation must be simple and rapid. Pages must pop up quickly -- with the information buyers are looking for. Ordering has to be functional -- simple -- straight forward -- crystal clear -- and easy to navigate.
    Point # 2
    The next step is building traffic -- traffic from potential buyers. Traffic from non-buyers only serves to help the search engines take an interest in your site. Your traffic mix must include a good percentage of qualified prospects for your perfume.
    How do you achieve this when your perfume is unknown? The search engines can't bring you traffic if nobody is looking for you. Shouting "My New Perfume" at your website won't help.
    Since your perfume -- and, probably, you -- are unknown, you will need some sort of CONTENT at your website that people ARE searching for, and, to be effective, it should relate to the possible internet searches of people who might be good prospects for your perfume.
    Articles, information, solutions to problems all offer you opportunities to build the right kind of traffic on your website. Don't fall for the line that these will make your website look ugly. The only people who tell you that are people who don't have to sell something from a website.
    Point # 3
    Let the customer sample your wares. Unless you are a VERY good advertising writer, or unless there is some VERY special association with your perfume, it is unlikely that you will generate sales without offering samples. Samples will not eliminate the need to "sell" your perfume -- as you now must "sell" the visitor on taking action to request your samples. BUT, if you price your sample order so that it appears "generous" (i.e., you don't appear to be trying to make money by selling your samples!), it will be far easier to sell a few samples for the cost of postage and handling than it will to sell a full size bottle.
    And remember, if they DO NOT like your samples, they are telling your something! Perfume is a VERY personal product and, if a person likes what you are selling, they will PAY. But if your perfume does NOT strike them as being special -- more special than anything they would buy at the mall, they will not order the full size bottle.
    Today consumers have many fragrances to choose from at the mall and, if you are simply trying to imitate a fragrance that is already a success, you have little chance of making a sale. To succeed in selling your perfume or cologne online, it had better be special! -- or your promotion for it had better be special! At least to your target buyer!
    Point # 4
    Once you have, through your samples, attracted a consumer for your fragrance, make it affordable. If you need to get $50 on ounce or more for your perfume, consider selling it in 1/2 ounce -- or even 1/4 ounce bottles, so that, at least for their first order, the customer don't have to shell out such a big chunk of money.
    In the early days of the Coty perfume business, the company prospered by offering its perfumes in a range of different size bottles. Those who had little money could still enjoy a Coty fragrance by purchasing a small (almost tiny!) bottle. Those who had more money could buy a larger bottle. How did rich woman distinguish themselves from their less fortunate cousins? Why they could use MORE perfume and perfume themselves more often!
  3. SAKIS
    00:26 19 Oct 2008
    I think the issue of online smelling is a whole other project in itself,where maybe a type of cmyk idea can be applied to scent where a basic gamut of scents can be contained within a cartridge and "printed" on a special scratch and sniff type of printing paper. essentially an online form of what we have in magazines today.
    as far as the current state of the VIOLENCE project and the issue of marketing, the SHOPstudio idea proposed by Vikram Kansara is a very good idea if you do continue to market/auction other SHOWstudio items.
    forgive me if i sound naive but why sell this product?