Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Business Chat - 12 ways to holiday up your online shop

I have just seen my first Christmas decorations in a store. It’s official, the holiday shopping has begun. As Halloween hasn’t even happened we’re not yet into panic stages yet. This is the time of year when customers are starting to think seriously of shopping, it’s the research time of year. And where are most people looking right now? You got it, online. 

Now is the time to spiffy up your online site before the crazy shopping begins. People are looking, and bookmarking, but many won’t purchase until the holidays get closer. It’s time to go over your site and make it as inviting and easy to use as possible.

Here are 12 steps to help you build up your online business for the holidays.
  1. If you make any holiday specific items now would be the time to list them. Even though people aren’t buying the Santa sweaters in October, they will bookmark it and come back in November when they do want to buy. 
  2. Make it easy for a customer to find your online shop. Your website address, email address and phone number should be listed EVERYWHERE. Put these on your business card, all over your website, on your facebook profile and in your email signature. If they can’t find you they can’t give you money
  3. Check the useability of your shop. A really good exercise is to ask someone who’s not very computer literate to try and buy something from your shop. Ask them to document problems they have. If someone can’t figure out how to use your Buy Now buttons then they can’t buy your work. 
  4. Let the customer know about shipping deadlines. This is critical for the holiday season! Have the cut off date for shipping on the front page, especially as that date gets closer. The post office gets slower as they get busier so err on the side of caution. Make sure you list deadlines for both local and international.
  5. Post your shipping information somewhere accessible. Make sure you list your shipping options and give them a choice. Last minute shoppers are usually willing to pay extra for express shipping as long as they know how much it will cost.
  6. Have a picture of your shipping packaging. Do you gift wrap? (an excellent option to offer at Christmas). Let them know. If you don’t have a picture of your packaging, describe it well.
  7. Take a good look at your shop policies. If they aren’t clear now is the time to rewrite them. Can they be easily found?
  8. What is your refund policy? At this time of year people are buying gifts and one thing on their mind is “what if my sister doesn’t like it? Or if it doesn’t fit?” So what are you going to do if the recipient doesn’t like it? How will you exchange it? In what time frame? Decide now and let your customers know. Post this information somewhere prominent.
  9. Add new work on a regular basis. (Ideally you’ll do this all year). If a regular customer wants to buy someone a gift, make sure there is something new for them to choose. If you have the same work all the time it starts to look tired. Keep your site fresh and interesting. Give them a reason to come back weekly for the next couple of months. If they’re excited about what’s new in your shop, they’re not spending their time looking at other shops. 
  10. Let’s talk photos, how do yours look? Photos can always be improved, if you have some time, try shooting different angles or putting them on a different background. If you are making wearables it’s always a good idea to have one photo of the item on a model. Round up a good-looking friend and see if they’ll model for you.
  11. While you’re looking at improving your photos, read through your product descriptions. Are they all that they could be? A good description provides all the necessary materials, dimension and size information. A good description includes an interesting story or quirky detail. It’s always good to suggest who this item would make a great gift for.
  12. Communicate your payment methods. They like it, is it clear to them how they can give you money?

In my little business, 60% of my annual income happens in the last 2 months of the year. In the feast and famine world of making a living with our hands, this is full on feast time. Doing the prep work well in advance will lead to excellent feasting. So come on everyone, it’s time to get ready. 

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