You started selling handmade or vintage goods via an online marketplace. Now you've found your stride and you want to take your burgeoning business to a whole new level. Break out of the pack by building a unique eCommerce website for your work. While it may seem like a daunting concept, it'll be one of the best decisions you've ever made.
Here's why you should have your own website — and a few tips on how to make the transition.
Establish Your Brand
Whether you are as well known as Coca-Cola or a niche product like Culture Sock, a brand name and identity are the keys to connecting with customers. It's your brand that sets your business apart, and helps users find you.
A custom website is the starting point for creating a brand identity. Combine this with a few design elements, such as a logo and product imagery and you are well on the way to creating a presence for your handmade products.
Do It Yourself: Start with a custom domain. Grab one that matches your shop name and product type, so users can easily find you via search. Culture Sock is a winning example —the name is memorable and the domain, www.culturesock.com, is a perfect brand match.
Communicate with Customers
An integrated email and communication toolkit helps build relationships with customers and is one of the best ways to encourage sales. With direct communication, you can impact your bottom line by reminding users to purchase items left in their carts, promoting a great sale or showcasing new items.
Targeted messaging gives you the ability to influence who comes to your website and it is not left to chance or pay-in campaigns offered by mass craft retail websites.
Do It Yourself: Add a contact form to your website so you can collect emails and communicate with potential customers. Alibi Interiors includes a simple signup on their homepage to entice users as they browse products.
Gain Control of Website's Visuals
The first thing you see when you visit an online shop is the product for sale. This product imagery should be large, engaging and featured front and center. This level of control can only be achieved when you design your own website.
Sites such as Etsy, Ebay and Amazon's Handmade dictate the look and feel of shops and can change that design at any time. With your own site, you choose what design changes to make and when. You can also ensure that your visuals match your brand identity.
Do It Yourself: Create a slideshow gallery or shop storefront on your homepage to showcase the best items you have to offer. Bad Pickle Tees highlights a series of designs from shirts for women and men to options for toddlers. The images are large, visually appealing and encourage clicks to the individual items for sale.
Create a Customer Loop
One of the biggest disadvantages of an mass online craft store is that related items from other shops easily distract users. This can take away from your sales. You want to create a customer loop that starts and stops with your products.
Do It Yourself: Give users plenty of things to look at and click on using internal site links. Create a “Products You Might Like Section" for an added level of personalization. This tool gives users the same experience as seeing related products on a marketplace, but instead of clicking to a new shop, all products are from your shop, encouraging more sales.
Increase Storefront Credibility
Your storefront is your outward face to the world. Even a tiny craft shop can look and feel like a big-time business with a custom website. Your site can tell potential shoppers exactly what you want them to know and portray your business exactly as you wish.
Increase your credibility by looking like a “real" business with a modern stand-alone website. (You wouldn't expect to see Coca-Cola on a third-party seller site, would you?)
Do it Yourself: Use security elements such as a secure checkout that accepts major credit cards and PayPal. Create a modern navigation that reminds users who you are with a logo, and provide easy access to the cart and payment on every page, much like Artisan Bath & Body.
Once you put all of these tips together, you'll see that you already have most of the design elements you need to create a custom website for your online craft store. From images to product descriptions to a style, now you just need to take that next step and start building. It's easier than you might think with Weebly, which even includes a tool that will help you import your current inventory from sites such as Etsy, Amazon Handmade or Ebay right into your own online store.
Interested in learning more about creating a website for your handmade business? Start here.