Q. I have been focused for the last six months on promoting my Etsy shop and trying to make some traction on growing that to a level when I can at least make a decent part-time income. However it isn’t performing like I had hoped (a few token sales here and there). What tips do you have to get noticed on Etsy? – Carla Gomez via e-mail
Success with a retail business takes attention and patience whether it’s a brick and mortar store or a digital shop. So let’s look at some of the important aspects of running a successful retail shop.
Relentless promotion is essential. I once asked a retailer which of his advertising choices were most effective. He didn’t know and just kept throwing the money out there hoping something worked. Not the best way to manage an advertising budget, but in this case it worked, he had and 20 years later still has a very successful business. The message here, get the word out using every available option. Be sure to use all the support tools Etsy provides to shop owners.
Then turn to the other venues where you can do online promotion of your shop. Fortunately most of these online promotion choices are free via social media sites. No doubt you know them. Did you know that Etsy allows you to link your shop to your Facebook page and Twitter feed? You do now, so do it.
Consider this, I recently watched a potter present his new line by releasing one item every few days on Facebook. This created more options for liking his work and bringing more visitors into his shop. It’s not enough to have visitors. Your goal is to turn visitors into customers.
The merchandise offered is the heart of any retail business. Customers prefer shops that offer a range of choices for the item they’re seeking, and when their search is successful they return to that shop. On one hand they are returning for similar items. On the other hand they are always looking for the new and unusual. Most buyers of the unique items you offer are looking for more than an object; they are looking for a buying experience with a story to tell their friends. The message here is to have focused merchandise that includes a regular stream of new offerings.
Customers can’t buy what they can’t see; a shop has to have great lighting and displays that lead them to making a purchase. Your online shop is dependent on carefully styled and expertly created images. The shopper can’t touch your items or view them from another angle, so it’s important to have images that tell the whole story. Compliment the images with short, well written product descriptions that answer any questions the images can’t. Be sure to use tags and keywords. It’s also smart to include signage on your site that lets the visitor know where they can find you on social media sites.
Brick and mortar retailers put a great deal of thought and money into creating a unique shopping environment for their customers. You’ll have to do the same with your website and Etsy shop. Remember, online shopping puts multiple shops just a click away from one another. Your customers will be checking out multiple shops, so it’s essential to stay ahead of the competition. Be sure your content is fresh, tells your story, and supports your brand.
Customer service is an area where too many brick and mortar stores fall short. Be sure you provide visitors with an easy way to get answers to questions and that the check out process is seamless. Your order forms have to be easy to understand and designed for simplicity. It’s important to accept the numerous payment choices consumers have today.
Patience is one of the key words in the first sentence of this answer. It’s essential to take your time get everything right and grow your business one sale at a time.