If you’re an artist or maker – anyone who creates physical products to sell, you may be wondering whether it’s time to set up your own online shop. Maybe you’re currently selling on a marketplace like Etsy or Folksy, or perhaps you’re doing craft fairs. Whatever your situation, setting up an online shop can be a great way to expand your sales reach and increase your efficiency.
Most people know when they’re ready for their own online shop, but the time may be right if:
- you’re on a marketplace site (eg, Etsy, Folksy) and you’re getting traffic, but losing sales to the competitors
- you are doing craft fairs and people are asking if you have a website where they can buy your work
- you have a commission based shop where you’re paying a fee on every transaction
- you have a lot of products and need to segregate them in a way that makes it easier for your customers to find what they’re looking for
- you have built up a good customer base through social media, but need to get more efficient and professional to serve their needs better
- you’re growing and need systems so you can delegate and get back to your genius work
The Benefits of Having Your Own Online Shop
Having your own online shop can be a more cost-effective solution than using online marketplaces, especially if you’re already paying fees for every transaction. While marketplaces like Etsy or Folksy can be a good way to get started, they usually charge a listing fee that you have to pay even if the item doesn’t sell, then they take a percentage of every sale you do make. It can quickly add up over time.
By having your own online shop, you will still have running costs (such as web hosting and payment transaction fees), but you can scale up without paying listing fees and commission on every sale you make. You will have a clearer idea of your regular overheads and can reinvest any savings back into your business.
You also have more control over the design, branding and overall customer experience of your own shop, which can help set you apart from your competitors. You can create a unique and memorable shopping experience that reflects your brand and values, and this can help you build a loyal customer base.
With your own online shop, you’re not just another seller on a crowded marketplace, but a distinctive and recognizable brand in your own right.
So what is involved in setting up an online shop?
If this is your first time selling your work online, congratulations, you’re about to run a mail order business. Many artists take this step in the hope they can grow sales to the point where they can bring in a member of staff to handle the admin and order processing, so they can get back doing the thing they love.
There are some things you need to think about, such as:
- Distance selling regulations
- Shipping and packaging
One of the most important aspects of your online shop is your product photography. We can build you a stunning website, but a lot of the beauty is going to come down to the imagery in your photographs.
You want to showcase your products in the best possible light, so that potential customers can really see the quality and beauty of what you’re offering. If you can afford it, hiring a professional photographer can be a great investment. Alternatively, you can learn some photography tips and tricks to improve your own product photos. I can recommend a book called The Crafter’s Guide to Taking Great Photos as a great starting point.
When taking photos, aim for a mix of plain and styled shots, as well as close-ups and work-in-progress shots. Styled photos are particularly effective at helping customers imagine your products in their own lives. For example, you might show a painting hanging on a wall, a ring being worn on a hand, or a candle creating a cozy atmosphere in a room.
Distance selling regulations
Here in the UK, there are consumer protection laws that you need to be aware of, in particular the Distance Selling Regulations.
It’s important to note that this is not limited to online shops, but to anyone selling remotely, so if you are a business making sales through messages on Facebook, you still need to be aware of consumers’ rights.
The Distance Selling Regulations apply to any business selling remotely. These regulations give consumers certain rights when buying goods or services from you, such as the right to cancel an order within a specified period. Make sure you understand your obligations under these regulations and clearly communicate them to your customers.
Find out more at: https://www.gov.uk/online-and-distance-selling-for-businesses
When writing product descriptions and other content for your online shop, it’s important to pay attention to copywriting. This involves using language that speaks to your target audience, highlights the benefits of your products, and inspires customers to take action (i.e. make a purchase).
To get ideas for how to describe your products, pay attention to the language used in product descriptions on websites you visit and buy from. Notice how these two descriptions for shoes emphasise comfort:
“The lightweight, flexible sole lets you step through the day with ease, whilst the memory foam insole supports your foot’s shape.”
“Complete with a memory foam insole and a sturdy traction sole that will help you feel comfortable and supported.”
One is for a slipper and one is for trainers, but both descriptions don’t just describe the features (flexible sole, sturdy traction sole), they spell out the comfort and support benefits very clearly. You need to look at your product and do the same. Are you selling a candle or are you setting the stage for a romantic dinner?
If writing isn’t your strong suit, you may want to consider hiring a copywriter to help you craft compelling product descriptions and other content for your shop.
Shipping and Packaging
Another important consideration when setting up an online shop is shipping and packaging. You’ll need to decide how you’re going to package your products to protect them during shipping, and whether you have enough space to store packaging materials (buying in bulk can help you save money). You’ll also need to decide on a shipping carrier and pricing strategy. Make sure you clearly communicate shipping options and pricing to your customers.
If your product is something that can be made by a third party, you could take advantage of print on demand and drop shipping so you don’t have to make an upfront investment in stock. This is where your designs are printed onto other merchandise (common examples are things like greeting cards, mugs, coasters, cushions, etc), and shipped direct from the printer to your customer. There are pros and cons to this approach and is only really financially viable if you are dealing with volume.
Can we help?
Starting your own online shop can be a game-changer for anyone who is looking to take their business to the next level. It is a big upfront cost, but in the long term it can provide a more professional and efficient way to serve your customers and help grow your sales. It also opens the door to growing your business and getting a team on board to let you focus on your genius work.
Before we started Glendrian Creative, we ran a shop and mail order business for 15 years selling art and craft materials, so we have a unique perspective compared to most web designers.
We can help guide you through the process of setting up your own online shop, from building a stunning website to providing consultancy on best practices. So if you’re ready to take the next step, contact us today to see how we can help you join the nation of online shopkeepers!