How to 'pivot' your business to selling online quick smart!
Images from our Better Friends, Noel & Gladys'beautiful store in Thirroul, Australia which thankfully remains open.
Once upon a time there was beautiful store filled with lovingly curated things, a centrepiece of fresh flowers, a carefully selected soundtrack and a candle burning which always made people ask, “What is that gorgeous smell?” Then along came COVID19 and the beautiful store had to close its beautiful doors. Its owners had never particularly wanted to sell online, but suddenly they really had no choice.
Coronavirus is changing the way we shop. Whether the changes are temporary or here for the longer term is hard to know, but for now, it is certainly accelerating the move to online shopping. Pre lockdown, a courier arriving was something to look forward to, in lockdown it’s become the absolute highlight of the week.
If this story sounds less to you like a fairytale and more like your store’s reality, here’s a quick guide to getting up and selling online. It may never match the experience of your ‘bricks and mortar’ store, but can come close.
It has never been easier to start selling online, and emarketplaces like eBay, Amazon and Etsy are a low risk, low cost, speedy way to make your products available. However, if you’d definitely like your own online store, then there are a number of services that let you build one super-easily; just sign-up, choose a template, upload your products, handover your credit card details (as they – apart from WooCommerce - will charge a monthly fee) and away you go! There are numerous articles online evaluating the pros and cons of Squarespace, Wix, Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Magento etc. Search them out and do your research first to make sure the service you choose is going to meet both your current and future.
Whichever selling platform you choose, you’re going to need images of your products. There's no doubt, beautiful images sell products. The camera on a modern smartphone will be able to take great shots if you add a bit of know how. Here’s a useful tutorial on how to take high quality shots at home. You may also want to think about purchasing a light box to get as clean a background as possible. If you’d like a totally white background to your shots, it’s now possible to email your photos to somewhere like MccRetouch and they will remove the background for you from less than $0.50 per photo or you can do it yourself on Clipping Magic.
Postage costs need to be factored into either the selling price of your products (so that you can offer ‘free’ shipping) or added at checkout. Will you offer flat-rate shipping or will it depend on how much the customer purchases? Will you offer an express shipping option? In Australia in particular, interstate shipping can cost A LOT, so make sure you are aware of this and potentially build it into your online shipping rates.
You might want to consider adding fulfillment software like StarShipit to your store. This will help you calculate postage rates at checkout, automatically print courier labels, and professionally automate post-sale communications through delivery notifications, custom tracking pages and easy returns. Speaking of Returns, you will need a Returns policy before you even make your first sale.