My list was huge when I setup my online shop. But there are a few key things that are really important for the success of your shop.
Get these right and you are well on your way to having a thriving shop.
This may sound really obvious but actually you really need to spend some time thinking about what you will be selling.
The more specific the better. Niche it down. How niche can you go before you have no market? For instance you could decide to set up a shop selling winter sports gear. To niche that down further you may decide to focus just on ice skating. To niche it further you could say just for figure skating. Then you could say just the skates. But is that now going too far.
So be specific and niche it until you have a market you can compete in and until there is a market worth competing in.
I struggled with this when I was first setting up my online shop. I used to think everyone who likes my products is my customer.
And potentially they are.
But of those how can you narrow it down to get the most sales out of your marketing efforts?
So for instance I could be selling wedding hair accessories. They may appeal to most brides to be but who can I target to get the most sales. So it could be brides in their 30’s, getting married abroad and follow a particular wedding blog.
That way you can have your range of products to suit them, setup your website with them in mind and target your marketing towards where they hangout.
I looked at lots of others websites and decided what I liked and what I didn’t. I considered whether what I did like would appeal to my customer and suit my products.
I asked myself how did I want my customers to perceive my products? How do I want them to feel when they visit my website?
From all that you can then decide what colours, fonts, design, images etc. create the right look and feel.
A designer can help you do this but a good place to start is to create a mood board. Either on paper or I like to do it in Pinterest.
You can either give this to your designer or use it to create your brand yourself.
One final tip on branding. Keep it simple, make it obvious. The more obvious and simple the better.
Visitors to your website do not want to read about you. They don’t care about you, they care about themselves. Harsh but true.
They want to read about what you have for them. What can they get out of being on your website and shopping with you? Do they relate to your website and what you have to offer?
You may like pretty and pink but your ideal customer may not. You may like to swear lots but does your ideal customer? Put yourself in their shoes. What does your customer want to see and read. How can you put your customer first? Not you!
Your about us page is one of the most visited pages on any website. But your visitor does not care about you! Sad but true. They care about themselves (initially at least).
So starting your about us page with how you had an amazing career as a buyer for Harrods and decided to setup an online shop when you had your children is not going to win over your customers. However, if you started with how you can help your customer or what you have for your customer you will win them over pretty quickly. Once you talked about them you can then move on to the interesting parts of your life.
Once they like what you offer you can then move onto adding a bit of you in. But initially it is about them.
Adding a bit of your personality and a bit about you is purely for KLT (Know Like Trust).
But that is a whole other topic!
A tricky one.
This is especially important for independent online shops. This is how you stand out from the crowd.
This is also much easier for the independent shopkeeper to do. So this is where we are hands down way better than the big corporate shops of this world. So go for it!
Talk about what you love (if it is relevant). Do some behind the scenes images and write ups.
Write some friendly descriptions. What words do you use a lot that will resonate with your customer? What does your customer like to see?
Don’t be afraid to add some stuff from your personal life just be careful not to go too far. Remember it is about the customer so only do things that resonate with them and don’t expose your personal life too much.
Do this and your shop will have the edge and personality online shoppers will love.
This is so tricky to get right at first. But once you get it sussed, it is then pretty easy and quick to replicate.
Spend some time seeing what others do.
What do you like about them? Which sits right with your brand and products? Do the products need to be in situ? Do they need to be cut out? How detailed do they need to be? How many images do you need for each product?
How will you edit the images and get them to the right size? I use Photoshop but there are some free online tools you can use. But I do love Photoshop. It is pretty complicated at first but your local college can probably help with a quick course (that’s what I did).
Don’t forget the product descriptions.
Ask yourself if you were my customer how much information would I want before hitting the buy button? What are the key details your customer needs to know?
Then add some personality and don’t forget to include your keywords for SEO (Search Engine Optimisation).
This is another area where you can shine way above the big boys. Add some personality in both the images and words not many shops online do.
An easy way to do this is to put yourself in your customers shoes. Then make a list of everything you would expect from a good online retailer.
Start with when you first arrive on a website. Then go right through the whole process of browsing, buying and eventually opening the parcel.
Now go through that list and add in where you can exceed their expectations. Think big.
Now go through your lists. Ensure everything on your good list is done.
Go through your exceeding expectations lists.You may not be able to exceed it in every way right now but you should be able to do some of them.
For instance friendly confirmation emails, a little postcard with a great quote on in the parcel, something special about the wrapping, stamp each parcel with a lovely message, spray the tissue paper with a beautiful scent before closing the box etc. Make a list and decide what you can do right now. Your customer will love you for it!
Online marketing is a minefield. It can be unbelievably overwhelming.
You need to be here, you need to do this, etc. The list can be huge.
The best advice I can give you is this.
Work out where your ideal customer is. List all the potential places you can get to them. Both online and in real life (or whatever you call non online person to person!). Now go through the list and choose a couple of things off your list and focus on them first.
So it could be you sell wild flower plants and most people are likely to find your store via Google. Your ideal customer loves Instagram and reads Country Living. They may also use Facebook, read the Independent , use Pinterest and Twitter, go to Country Living Fair etc etc. Try to focus on it all and you will be rubbish at it and soon overwhelmed.
So what 3 things from this list can you focus on first. You may decide it is getting to the first page of Google (SEO, Adwords), post lots on Instagram and look at their promoted options and get some PR with Country Living. That list is doable – focused and simple. Once you are doing these consistently and you are getting somewhere with it you may then decide to do something else from your list.
Look at a website that looks neglected and unloved. Now look at one that is loved. You will spot the difference a mile off.
Good images, thought out descriptions, social media feeds that are regularly updated, regular blog posts (if you have a blog), testimonials / reviews (an absolute must), new products etc. All these make a site look loved.
You don’t need lots of products for your online shop. But you do need to keep improving and updating your offering.
It will give you something to talk about. But more importantly it is something new to offer returning customers.
You have to move with the times and trends.
Standing still is not an option.
I hope you have found this list of my top 10 things to do when setting up an online shop. Would you like me to let you know when there is more shop talk?
Running an online shop is fun and very rewarding. There is nothing more pleasing than seeing the sales coming in and having testimonials from happy customers.
Except maybe when new ranges arrive….that is definitely exciting too!!
Oh and seeing a well ordered store room, or packing up some lovely items. Then there is when a customer calls. I love it all!!
Let me know how you are getting on with setting up your shop. I would love to know.
Always remember, you create your own success.