Selling online

As part of our Maker’s day I thought I would do a wee blog post on selling online as so many people have asked me about this. I know that, within the community of 52 Stitched Stories, there are a number of people thinking about starting to sell their work online. I have also had questions from people who have an online store but very few sales. In putting this piece together I reflected on two successful online stores I have had in my career but I also asked Claire, from Hope Jacare Designs, for her tips. Claire has an Etsy store and has sold over 11,000 products since 2011. I think we can say that is a success! I have had a shop with shopify and also with Etsy and both have sold very well.
Here are our top tips –

  1. Know your customer base.
    Understand who is interested in your work and what the demographics tell you. That way you can bear that in mind when designing but you can also target your marketing.
  2. Look for gaps in the market. I know lots of makers who make beautiful things but find themselves in a very crowded market. Look for an edge, something different you can bring to the market.
  3. Keep ahead of trends. Don’t be blinded by trends. The creative community are always looking to stand out and buyers look for products that stand out. Don’t follow the crowd.
  4. Set up an appealing online store with a good variety of products and range of price points. Refresh your store regularly with new products and be prepared to have wee sales for stock that is sitting too long.
  5. Having a good marketing plan is essential. Target your buyers and get to know them well. Their feedback is vital. Be creative with your marketing plans. Buyers are, in part, buying into you and your story so keep it real, authentic and honest.
  6. Present well. Good product presentation is so important. It demonstrates the value you place on the sale and little touches can go along way.
  7. Communicate with your customers. If things go wrong at the point of despatch apologise quickly and put it right. We are all human and humans make mistakes.
  8. Excellent images. It is worth taking your time with images to make your products look attractive but also ensure the customer knows what they can expect from their purchase.
  9. Lively product descriptions. Customers should feel excited about your products and so should you. Don’t skimp on details but also don’t get too fussy over unnecessary details that end up making your descriptions a bit dry.
  10. Connect up your store with your social network sites. Think of a spider’s web with the store at the centre. The spider feels the slightest twitch on the web. Your social networks should be driving customers to your store. If they are not you need a new plan.
  11. Lastly and most importantly, you must dedicate sufficient time to the non creative aspects of your business. You can not just make products, list them and sit back and wait. The customers won’t come. You must spend considerable time building your brand and getting it translated. Too many makers neglect this side of the business then wonder why they don’t have any sales.
    Even taking account of all these tips you have to offer the very best you can. The best products, at a good price with excellent customer service. It always matters more to me that people are pleased with what they receive than any amount of money spent. From start to finish offer your customers the best version of yourself, consistently and happily. This will lead to considerable brand loyalty and make you new friends along the way. I would call that a win-win. I wish you every success. ****Announcement – 52 Stitched Stories has pledged to support makers of micro businesses. One strategy for doing this is to set up a Facebook group, ‘selling handmade online’ which will run off our main project page. Pop over to find it and join in if you feel you would like more support in selling online. A second initiative will be announced there soon. ****

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