HBW - How to create a well-organised online store

So far on our Handmade Business Weekend, we’ve talked about how to turn your hobby into a business, and the importance of branding and marketing. Today I’d like to share some of my personal tips for setting up a well-organised website or online store.

Handmade Business Weekend - Marketing Tips, Ideas and Giveaways

Working in a community where the majority of sales are made online, it’s very important to put your best ‘virtual foot forward’. In this article you’ll find ten helpful tips for organising your website/Etsy or Madeit store. The golden rule? Keep it simple, keep it organised.

1. First impressions last

Most often your potential customers will make an assessment of your website within the first 10 seconds of landing on your page {or less!}, during which time you need to convince them to stick around. Your landing page should be clearly set out with a simple structure; briefly describe who you are and what you do. You may choose to add in a special offer as an attention grabber.

Make sure that you choose quality images, and have an easy navigation menu so people know where to go next. Don’t include too much text at the top of the page. It may be off-putting to shoppers if they have to scroll right down the page through a bunch of jargon before they reach the products. Save this text for your profile or shop policies page.

2. Have well defined categories

When planning your categories, take some time to think about what your customers might be looking for. Try to avoid having all your items in one big list. Instead, break them up into self explanatory categories. For example, rather than having “girls clothes” and “boys clothes”, make subcategories such as skirts, t-shirts, pants etc.

The exception to this rule is if you only sell one style of item. For example if you only sell fabric, you may choose to split your categories up by colour, style or theme. The aim is to make it easy for your customers to find what they are looking for, without having to scroll through dozens of irrelevant items.

3. Naming your categories

While it is tempting to come up with amusing or cute names for your categories, it is most effective to stick with simple and clear names that describe the product. Avoid grouping into themes like “bunnies” or “pink stuff” and instead choose product names such as “baby booties” or “handmade dolls”.

Neat Shop Front Layout

4. Listing style

When it comes to listing your products, choose a uniform font and keep your text concise, informative and descriptive. Bright random colours and wild font sizes do not make your listing appear more interesting, instead, rely on quality photography to grab your user’s attention and keep your text purely for informational purposes. Consistency is key; fonts, styles, sizes and colours should be consistent throughout your site.

5. Tagging

Tagging your items, particularly on Etsy or madeit is a very important exercise.  It’s how customers will find your products in a search. Tags are also used to organize items in Categories and Subcategories. After all, it doesn’t matter how awesome your products are if people can’t find them.

My top tip here is to step back and look at the product and think of all the words you could use to describe it. Keep your tags relevant and choose words that describe what the item actually is. For example, rather than “Handmade Jumper by The Bunny Den” you might choose “Boys Blue Pure Merino Wool Jumper with Bunny Applique”. For more information on tagging, check out this article on Etsy.

6. Customer service details

This is a simple yet important exercise in building consumer trust, particularly on stand alone websites. Make it easy for your customers to locate your contact details. Have clear links to your shipping and ordering information and clearly list your terms and conditions. Answer customer enquiries in a friendly, helpful and prompt manner.

7. Anticipate questions

What do you think your customers might want to know about your products or services? What kind of fabric do you use? How much are your shipping costs? Do you ship internationally? Anticipate questions in advance and have easy to find answers.

8. Scannable text

It doesn’t matter how creative your listing text is, you will find that the majority of readers want quick info that is relevant to their personal needs. Keep your text easy scannable by using short paragraphs, subheadings, bullet points, highlighted keywords and simple language {i.e. not a hard sales pitch}.

Focus on selling points that are tangible “we use 100% organic cotton in all of our garments” rather than using marketing spin, i.e. “this is the cutest jumpsuit you’ll ever see!”

9. Proof read + spell check

This is a simple exercise that takes a few minutes but goes a long way in promoting a professional image.

10. Imagery

Last up today is a quick note on images. The indie / handmade industry is based on artistic creativity, which is one of the major reasons people choose to shop handmade. Therefore, photography should be thought of in these terms too.

Put quality images at the top of your priority list. In competitive markets like Etsy where shoppers scroll through lists and lists of products, it’s the image that grabs their attention and inspires them to click on the listing. Take an artistic approach to your images, and make your listing stand out from the crowd!

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