Over a decade ago, Krisztian and Maria Panczel used Terapeak and entrepreneurial ingenuity to turn a bad garden shed experience into Cheap Sheds, a rapidly growing global business that delivers top quality sheds to satisfied customers. Part One of the Cheap Sheds story focused on how Cheap Sheds began. In this post, Krisztian talks about Cheap Sheds today, how it continues to rely on Terapeak, where it is going next, and how its purpose has grown.
In my last article, I wrote about how we got started, and about how our business has grown. But there's more to our business than backstory. We wake up every day ready to execute, and to continue to do what is necessary to satisfy our customers—and doing this has helped us to make a difference in ways that we couldn't have imagined when Cheap Sheds was founded. Here's a bit of insight into what our operation looks like today, and the part that Terapeak continues to play in helping us to make good things happen.
The Cheap Sheds business model has grown to include charitable giving. Here the Panczels pause for a photo with with Buy1GIVE1 founder Masami Sato.
Cheap Sheds Today
In our last financial year we did over AU$4 million in business working with seven suppliers around the world. We have several manufacturing partners in Australia, but we also have partners in North America and in Israel. We make it our business to always be on the lookout for more. We've recently retooled our online operation and website to use the Magento platform. It's a busy time and business is booming. Though it was just my wife and I when we started, we now have a team of nearly twenty people, many of whom are able to work from home, which is great for us and great for them.
We run and manage our own website so that we have maximum control over the online part of our business, and we try to maintain a highly vertical business model that allows us to compete well on price, quality, and customer service all at the same time. We have our own Design and Development Team, which enables us to work on fun projects—things like our Cheap Sheds Game and Shed-a-Gram, both of which we created in order to engage in fun and meaningful ways with our customers. Our product line currently includes close to 1,000 distinct products. We deliver to customers in Australia and New Zealand and are expanding to Canada to build North America momentum before moving into the US market. We sell on eBay, but we also sell direct through our website and through other channels. We've come a long way since chucking away the bad shed that gave us our inspiration, and since the early Terapeak research that launched our business.
How We Use Terapeak Today
Some might imagine that getting established means we don't need Terapeak as much any longer, but the opposite is actually true—we continue to rely on Terapeak to help us to operate and grow. The most important ways that we use Terapeak today are for product and market research, intelligence to help us make decisions about new market segments, finding new partnerships and building out our supply chain, and for monitoring our own sales performance. Terapeak does these things well for us, meaning that as Terapeak subscribers we're free to focus on making the core of our business work, rather than having to develop this kind of data on our own. Here are some of the techniques we use.
- Product and Market Research—We often search Terapeak by keyword, simply looking for products to make. We experiment with terms related to our ideas and existing products, or even to things we've recently purchased. The listing volume, average pricing, and sell-through data let us see what products are in channels and where opportunities lie, whether in garden structures, outdoor accessories, fencing materials, or whatever else we might be thinking about. Terapeak really makes eBay an open book, enabling us to test ideas quickly. We ask ourselves questions like: What items in search results could we grow with or improve on? What do the top performing products right now have in common? What other keywords relate to the ones we've searched for? What extra or differing features are shoppers paying a premium for?
- New Market Segments—We study product categories related to ours and use the category search and keyword search tools to monitor long term trends. This helps us to make informed decisions about market segments that might represent opportunities for us. Recently, for example, we became interested in several lines of Chinese imports that started to hit the market. After researching these goods on Terapeak, we decided that it wasn’t the right time to import them after all—but by using Terapeak we can also continue to monitor the opportunity closely. We use the trends views to graph listing volume, sell-through rates, average selling prices, and other eBay data going back a year or more. We ask ourselves: What big-picture opportunities do we see? What are the prospects for market segments we're considering? What concepts or untapped markets are suggested by the charts that Terapeak gives us? Is today the right day to act in any particular case, or does it make more sense to wait and see?
- Identifying Partners—We generally don't obsess about what our competitors are doing in order to try to outsell them; instead, we use competitor research to identify or learn more about sellers and manufacturers we might be interested in working with. We want to know what competitors' eBay sales are like because we want to know whether opportunities exist for new partnerships. We ask ourselves: Which companies in our industry are already selling on eBay? Can we partner with competitors and work together, rather than against one another? What kinds of relationships do the data suggest? Might some of them be interested in being part of our supply chain, leaving the marketing, selling, research, and product development parts of the business to us?
Amongst other things, Cheap Sheds uses Terapeak to monitor its own sales performance and strategy.
- Monitoring Our Own Performance—We use the competitor research tool to see the data on our own sales performance. The high-level view helps us to shape strategy and to understand where we can improve. We switch to the trends view to monitor our long-term listing volume, average selling price, sell-through rates, and other metrics. This intelligence helps us to identify and focus on making choices that earn us money and serve our customers, and to move away from choices that don't turn out to be good for either group. This part of Terapeak really helps us to monitor the health of our business and to move ahead based on facts, rather than just on intuition.
On any given day we use Terapeak data both at the operations level and at the strategic level to help us to continue to perform. What we've learned over the years is that Terapeak isn't just a little tool—it can help startups and new businesses in serious, substantive, and ongoing ways.
Enabling Good Things
We've come a long way since we first arrived in Australia, but the story doesn't end with our own good fortune or the livelihoods we've been able to provide for our team.
Today's Cheap Sheds website, which carries nearly 1,000 distinct products, also helps the Panczels to help others.
Cheap Sheds has helped countless customers to enrich their homes and workplaces, avoiding the bad shed experience that gave us our start. That in itself is amazing. But even more importantly, we've been able to expand the circle of good that we do in the world, partnering with Singapore-based Buy1GIVE1 to donate to charity each time we make a sale. For years now, each time a customer has bought a structure from us, we've been able to help a child in India to have access to clean water for a month. In areas where access to clean, potable water is limited or even absent, this can make a huge difference in the life of a schoolchild. We're the first company in our industry to do this, and we're proud to be leading the way. With the help of our customers, our staff, our partners, and Terapeak, Cheap Sheds offers us a way to give something back to the world. It's a very satisfying feeling—one that provides Maria and I with a new sense of what our business success and the Cheap Sheds story have been all about.
We'd like to thank Krisztian and Maria for being willing to share their story with Terapeak's readers, and for detailing some of the research strategies that they use on Terapeak. At Terapeak, we're proud of success stories like the one that Cheap Sheds represents, and we're proud to have had a small part in enabling the kinds of work that they're doing. We're eager to see how Cheap Sheds will continue to evolve and grow in the future!
To see how Terapeak can help you to start and grow your business, take advantage of Terapeak’s free trial membership today.