Small busi­ness ad­vice ON­LINE MAR­KET­PLACE SUC­CESS

Our guide to kick­start­ing your e-com­merce busi­ness

Country Homes & Interiors - - MY COUNTRY BUSINESS -

Sell­ing on­line is a must for many start-up busi­nesses and a mar­ket­place web­site can of­fer fan­tas­tic ex­po­sure as more cus­tomers turn to such sites for unique, in­de­pen­dently made gifts. Shops on on­line mar­ket­places are quick and easy to set up, but it’s im­por­tant to fac­tor in fees and com­mis­sion. Stand­ing out from the com­pe­ti­tion is cru­cial, so not only do you need to have a great prod­uct, but you need to stand out with great pho­tog­ra­phy and brand­ing.

Emily But­ter­ill started her busi­ness off by join­ing no­ton­the­high­street.com.

‘It’s been a great plat­form for Glow,’ she says. ‘They’re se­lec­tive about who they work with and love to sup­port small British busi­nesses.’ No­ton­the­high­street. com was set up to sup­port in­de­pen­dent creative UK busi­nesses, giv­ing them a plat­form to sell high-qual­ity goods on­line, and it sup­ports 5,000 small firms. With a join­ing fee of £199, plus VAT, com­mis­sion per sale is 25%. To suc­ceed with no­ton­the­high­street.com, Se­nior Cu­ra­tor Francesca Pit­t­away ad­vises:

Have an orig­i­nal prod­uct.

‘We look for orig­i­nal, in­spir­ing and beau­ti­fully crafted prod­ucts that are ahead of the curve with ma­te­ri­als and trends. We want to show our cus­tomers unique de­signs that they can’t find any­where else, so it’s im­por­tant the busi­nesses we ac­cept on our plat­form stand out.’

In­vest in good pho­tog­ra­phy.

‘Us­ing en­gag­ing im­agery has never been more im­por­tant and we en­cour­age a life­style ap­proach to pho­tog­ra­phy in or­der to bring prod­ucts to life. Our cus­tomers can’t touch or feel the prod­ucts, so show­ing move­ment and in­ter­ac­tion in prod­uct pho­tog­ra­phy is re­ally pow­er­ful.

‘There are many ways we pro­mote small busi­nesses that they wouldn’t be able to do them­selves. Each busi­ness has the op­por­tu­nity to be fea­tured on our so­cial chan­nels, in email mar­ket­ing, or in our sea­sonal cat­a­logues, which are sent to mil­lions of cus­tomers. We also of­fer busi­ness sup­port and de­vel­op­ment plans for those keen to grow their busi­ness with us.’

If you make your own prod­ucts, an­other great on­line mar­ket­place is Etsy.

It’s an open mar­ket­place, so any­one can open a shop on it to sell hand­made, vin­tage or craft sup­plies, and it has more than 33 mil­lion buy­ers world­wide. Fees in­clude a list­ings fee of around 15p for four months, or un­til you sell an item, com­mis­sion of 5% and pay­ment pro­cess­ing of 4%, plus 20p. To be suc­cess­ful on Etsy, UK Seller Growth Spe­cial­ist Ajeet Jug­nauth ad­vises:

Tag your prod­ucts us­ing key­words. ‘Think about the words cus­tomers will use to search for your item and put those words in your prod­uct ti­tle, de­scrip­tion and tags. If you are sell­ing a bracelet, use a de­scrip­tive ti­tle such as “Ster­ling sil­ver star bracelet”. Do­ing this helps search en­gines find your prod­uct.’

Price it right.

‘Pay your­self ad­e­quately and don’t un­der­charge for the items you use to make your prod­ucts or the time you spend cre­at­ing them. A pric­ing for­mula that a num­ber of Etsy sellers use is ma­te­ri­als + labour + ex­penses + profit = whole­sale x 2 = re­tail.’

Cre­ate a brand iden­tity and pro­mote your­self.

‘Think about who your tar­get au­di­ence is and what your brand is all about. Pick one or two so­cial me­dia plat­forms and start build­ing a com­mu­nity around your brand.’

Get in touch with blog­gers, jour­nal­ists and mag­a­zines.

‘Briefly in­tro­duce your­self, in­clude some eye-catch­ing prod­uct shots and in­vite them to get in touch with you if they would like more in­for­ma­tion.’

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