Adventures of an On-Line Seller
Continued: On-Line Shopping Malls
Find my previous posts in this series here, here, here, here, and here.
There are two ways of approaching the task of selling your art and craft on-line. Most crafters are dealing with both of them.
The first one is when you already have a group of royal customers – people who bought from you in person, usually at craft shows. These people already know your product. All you need to do is to let them know where they can find it in between your shows. Almost any on-line selling space (whether it is your own web site or a place at some on-line shop) would work for this group, as long as this place has a convenient check-out process and you provide a good customer service. This one is easy to master – just make sure to pass on your business card with your web site address at every opportunity and remind your customers about yourself every so often.
The second way is a so-called “cold turkey approach”. This is when you are using your on-line selling place to find new customers. This one is much more difficult. This is when you need to think about such things as SEO (search engine optimization), advertising, key words, transfer ratio (number of visitors to number of actual sales), traffic sources, bounce rate (how soon a visitor leaves your shop), and many other highly-educational topics, each of which brings you pages of information when searched for in Google.
It is the task of finding the new customers that makes me looking for better on-line selling spaces. I do have my own web site, and I spend lots of time and effort refining it both for SEO purposes and for my visitor's viewing pleasure, but it is not enough. Trying to bring new people to your own web site is like mailing your advertising postcard to everybody in your town. Most people are simply not interested.
When you join some on-line mall with an established traffic, the task becomes a bit easier. You are now working with a better-targeted group (provided, you joined the right mall, and people who came there to buy something are in fact may be interested in your particular product).
Here are a few things to think about when considering an on-line place to sell other than your own web site (not necessarily in this order):
- Does it target the right group of potential customers?
- Does this site have enough traffic?
- Is it user-friendly (both for your customers and you)?
- How much time will your new shop require (learning the rules, shop set-up, approval (if any), and time for every listing)?
- How much is it going to cost you (look for shop-opening fees, listing fees, and fees per sale)?
- How visible will your product be within this site?
- How good is the technical support at this site?
And before this post gets too long, here is a list of possible on-line selling places for hand-made goods. I've tried and left some of them, I have shops in various stages of maturity at others, and some I have not even visited yet. I think I will share my personal experience with these sites next Thursday.