Friday, July 17, 2009

Sprucing up your Online Shop - Part 4

In previous columns in this series, we looked at avatars and banners, location, sections, profiles, currency of shop updates, featured items, titles and descriptions, and photography. In this final installment of Sprucing up your Online Shop, we'll wrap up with some thoughts on random concerns that have come up in team chats, as well as, on site forums.

Does the quality of the work in your shop appear to be professional? Are your photos clear and crisp with at least one closeup of the piece? Are both sides shown so you can see that the craftsmanship on the back equals that on the front? Objectively, can you get a sense that you as a seller love your work and take pride in the finished product? If you feel that you need some help with a critique of your shop, ask in the forums and if you're a member of a team or guild, don't be shy in asking for feedback on your shop! People love to give it!

Regarding feedback - what does the person's feedback say? Are there glowing reviews and not just positive marks (plus signs)? Do you get a sense that the artist or craftsperson does a stellar job, has a passion for and takes pride in their work from the comments left for them? Feedback is your reputation online, so make sure you provide excellent customer service as well as a great product.A lot of concern comes from newbies to selling online when they have no feedback. Remember that we all started with 0 feedback at one time and don't stress too much about it!

There have been many suggestions for starting to build feedback by making a few small purchases from other sellers just to get you going. In real life while shopping you have the advantage of seeing merchandise first-hand and being able to pick it up and feel it. Do your best to give potential customers that same confidence and remember that your online shop is open 24/7 and there's always someone shopping, so why not from you? Put a lot of effort into making your shop the best it can be and promote, promote, promote and your feedback from buyers will come!

Are your shop's policies clearly defined as far as shipping, payments, returns and other information? Try and keep your tone upbeat and positive in writing this dry stuff, but also be clear and thorough. If you're shipping internationally (and I strongly suggest that you do) make sure your mailing costs are realistic and accurate. Don't expect your buyer to pay additional funds if you've made the mistake of adding too little for mailing costs. On the other hand, if the cost of mailing is significantly less than your buyer has paid, it's very wise to refund the difference to that buyer as good customer service and they will be more likely to purchase from you again. Good customer service is a cornerstone of your business!

Selling online can be nerve-wracking, exciting, financially rewarding and give you a tremendous sense of pride in your work. The most important point I can leave you with in this series is that you must promote your shop and bring buyers to it. Work each day at honing your craft and making your online shop visually appealing. If you're newer to this vast e-commerce marketplace, consider joining a team or guild for both support, encouragement and camaradie from veteran members. Good luck and if you have comments or questions, please feel free to contact me!

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