Where, What, and How Does It Look?
Last week we looked at the virtual front door to your shop, as well as at the information about yourself you wanted to share with your buyers. Now it’s time to take a look at what’s INSIDE the shop, and how to present it in the best way to maximize your sales and traffic.
There are three main things to be concerned with in your shop:
Appearance, Item Descriptions, and Item Pictures
There are other things we will be looking at, but most of them fall under one of the categories above. And when you think about it, most nuts-and-bolts stores have similar concerns.
Appearance (WHERE) – Once you get past your shop announcement, what do you see? Could you find whatever you were looking for if you weren’t sure where it would be? Are your categories clear? Are there enough of them, without so many that the buyer is confused? Think of retail stores like Macy’s, Target, Walmart. They spend a great deal of money and time making sure people know WHERE to find what they are looking for, and that sections of their store are labeled clearly without being overwhelming. Too many is as bad as too few. I have been playing with this in my own shop, and it may take you a few tries to get it right, as how many categories you end up with depends on what you are selling.
Item Descriptions – This is the virtual Sales Sign you have hanging over your work. If you have ever tried to figure out whether something in a retail store was on sale, or whether it came in different colors, etc, you understand just how important a CLEAR sign is, and the same applies for an Item Description.
Two lines usually do not cut it, and forty may not either- be concise but don’t leave out details buyers want to know. Here are some to think about (no special order):
Dimensions – Clothing size, measurements, height, width, whatever applies to your item. How big is it?
Color, Materials, Ingredients - This is basic, but there’s plenty of room for selling here- if your materials are jewelry components from the 40s, say that. If they’re rare, unique, high quality, special to you, organic- all of those are selling points. They also provide a more accurate description as long as they actually apply. I don’t need to say that your descriptions should not mislead anyone.
Uses - Give customers suggestions about how to use what you sell, where it would be useful or decorative, how they could wear it. Doesn’t need to be obvious- putting “keeps your coffee warm AND really helps you keep a grip on it while driving!” is all that needs to be said about a hand-crocheted drink cozy (thank you, Wayside Violet! :D) The customer now knows just where it fits in their lives. My husband LOVES his cozy.
Story – This is where you decide what else you need to tell the customer, and it can be the most important part of the description. Think of people who buy shirts based on whether they can be WASHED vs DRY CLEANED and you have the whole idea. This is where you talk about the softness or warmth of the yarn you use, the eco-friendly nature of the product, the fact that the children’s clothes you make can’t even be destroyed by your own tree-climbing kids, whatever the special story is about your pieces. If you aren’t sure, have a friend, neighbor, or teammate take a look and tell you what they think- this is always a good idea anyway. Think of it as low-tech market research.
Details on Shipping, Special Offers, Wrap Up and Purchase – Tell the buyer how to purchase it, how to get a discount or sale price you are offering, how you will ship it (i.e. eco-friendly packaging, etc) whether there will be a delay in shipping because the item is made-to-order. While these are usually also in your shop announcement, it is always good to remind customers of anything they should be aware of. Reinforcing expectations will help you have satisfied customers and keep your sanity.
Pictures - This is your Virtual Display. In a retail store, clothes, house wares, electronics- all are displayed in ways designed to make them look attractive and desirable. Often items are put out with related products, such as when you see a mannequin wearing a suit, scarf, earrings, necklace, bag and shoes. This is called Component or Related Item Selling, and it used to be taught in retail. It’s a great skill to have, easy to learn, and it can be done in the Virtual World through pictures. Here are some tips for using pictures to create your display:
The 3 “C”s - CLEAR, CLOSE, CORE - Your pictures should always be as clear (sharp) as you can get them, should always feature at least one close up, and should ALWAYS show the most important thing about your work (CORE). So if you are selling yarn, a sweater made from it is nice, but a completely frame filled shot of the exquisite color and texture of the yarn is your CORE shot and should be first, because it’s the YARN you are selling. On Etsy you get 5 pictures- use them all if you can.
Watch Your Angles – Creative pictures are great, but the best product shots show the piece to its best advantage, and that might not be upside down, even though it makes a great artistic shot. Ask yourself if your pictures show the piece best to a potential buyer.
Setting the Stage – This is related to Component Selling. Use props that reinforce your message, such as using old pictures or old books to display vintage jewelry pieces when you take the pictures, or putting a cup of tea or coffee near a shawl, sweater or warm knitted scarf. You are giving the buyer a clearer idea of what your item is, developing associations in their mind with warmth (the tea) or history (the vintage pictures). This is the exact same principle used by stage set designers and you can do it too. It takes just a little effort but it is easy and will help you sell more effectively.
Displaying on a Person or Mannequin - This can be very helpful for some buyers particularly if you are selling handmade garments such as wedding veils, evening dresses, shawls, scarves, and it can also help show off the piece to its best advantage (as in the case of hand-painted silk which catches light wonderfully on a person). When possible, try to include a shot on a mannequin or person, but don’t make it your main shot unless it is very professional. Get close enough to get the product as the main focus, not the person. Ask yourself what you notice in the picture and adjust it accordingly. If you notice the person and not the product, you need to retake the picture.
Now it’s your turn to do a little analysis of your shop - What works? Are the categories clear and easy to navigate? What about your pictures? Ask for advice. Enlist a team member or friend. Don’t be afraid to make changes and experiment a little.
Now that we have looked at some basics, next week I am going to talk about selling and marketing in a Recession, and how to make any economy work for you and not against you.