The online retailer has faced and conquered the perils of Google. Here’s its story.
It’s not every day that you come across a retailer that sells a personal killer whale submarine that’s worth a whopping $228,000.
Yet, this is just one of some 4000 unique gifts, toys and gadgets that online retailer Yellow Octopus stocks on its site.
Founded in 2013 by Derek Sheen, the retailer focuses on out-of-the box products that have a personal touch. Think adult party games, wacky socks, prank products and novelty items.
There’s also a comprehensive toy offering, a ‘geek’ section complete with licensed products from Doctor Who, Harry Potter and Star Wars, as well as a homewares and kitchen gadgets section.
With its vast range of quirky products, Yellow Octopus marketing manager Matt Lawry says that creating the marketing campaigns is always entertaining.
"Producing the marketing is always fun.
"We’ve done a range of crazy videos that we produce in-house and get all of the staff involved in various capacities.
"Shooting these is always heaps of fun and it’s great to work together to create something outside the norm and gives everyone a break from their standard day-to-day," he explains.
But while the marketing campaigns had the team running on a high, in 2015 the business hit arguably it’s biggest low.
"In 2015 our website was completely de-indexed from Google, which for an online business, is kind of a big deal," Lawry explains.
"Only a couple of months out from Christmas, we had no presence organically on Google and our customers couldn’t find us.
"We’d employed an unscrupulous SEO company that had landed us in hot water with Google’s algorithm and we had to work swiftly to get the issue resolved," he says.
Killer Whale submarine in action
Scouring through the thousands of dodgy referral links the SEO company had set up, the team had to request the links be removed by the owners of the websites and then make the case to Google to reconsider it’s decision and re-index them.
They were successful and since then, the company has been striving to become a better business in more ways than one.
"Where possible we always try and give back to the community, and that is always really fulfilling," Lawry says.
"We’ve done gift drives for the Children’s Hospital and campaigns for Breast Cancer. At the end of the day, business is business but it’s these things that really stick in your memory.
"We also strive to do as much as possible to reduce our impact on the environment," he continues.
"Our environmental sustainability plan was developed to ensure we have a structured outline of the ways in which we will reduce our footprint. Our warehouse is 100 per cent paperless and we are in the process of transforming our office into a paper-free environment as well.
"When we started out, we were really fixated on mastering processes and learning.
"As the business gets older, we’re trying to think, ‘how can we become a better business?’ Not only from a strategic and profitability perspective, but also from a community perspective.
"We want to be a business that contributes," he says.
Aside from its charitable contributions, Lawry says Yellow Octopus hopes to eventually begin manufacturing its own private line of quirky products.
"We’ve always prided ourselves on providing products that are really out there and different. But there’s only so many in existence!
"That’s why our long-term ambition is to move into manufacturing so that we can continue to push the boundaries and produce quirky products that will make people laugh, cry or both.
"We’ve started testing a few ideas on the market and hopefully in five years’ time we’ll have a full Yellow Octopus range," he says.
In the meantime a website revamp and further investment into technology is on the cards for the business.
"We’re looking at rolling out a complete website re-design and re-structure," Lawry explains.
"The digital landscape moves so quickly and as a business you need to keep your finger on the pulse. Site speed is such an important factor nowadays and people have become accustomed to using ultra-fast platforms like Google and Facebook, which set the standard.
"We’ll also be looking at new ways we can inspire and delight our customers.
"People are expecting more from businesses and looking for guidance in their purchase journey. We’ve just rolled out an AI product recommendation engine to help customers make informed decisions.
"We’ll be looking at other similar uses of technology that can assist customers," he says.