Menu Close

Tag: ecommerce (page 1 of 2)

Be patient in the beginning – advice for selling online

I am working with different sellers daily, one of those sellers is Sylvain Willenz. Sylvain shares some awesome encouragement below.  If you are selling on Big Cartel or anywhere online for that matter please take a moment to read his thoughts.

sws shop

Tell us about SWS. How did you get started selling online? What do you sell? How many people in your business?

I am an industrial designer. I run an office for design in Brussels, called SYLVAIN WILLENZ DESIGN OFFICE – SWDO. We are a team of 4-5 people. We design furniture, lighting, textiles, accessories amongst others. We design for companies around the world which produce the products, market and distribute them. A couple of years ago, when the phone started ringing non-stop with customers calling us directly wanting to buy the products we design, I decided I should have an shop. My clients and I agreed that it was a good idea that I would become part of their retailer list, just as a normal shop. The perfect name for the shop was SYLVAIN WILLENZ SHOP – SWS. So basically, I have become a retailer of my own designs, produced by various international companies. We also have a few additional items, like bags and mirrors which we produce ourselves and which are exclusively available from SWS.

How are you attracting customers to your blog and Big Cartel hosted store?

Mainly with Newsletters, Facebook and the press, which luckily follows my work with enthusiasm and regularly publishes it through printed and online features. We have individuals purchasing our products, either for themselves or as gifts. But what is interesting is that we noticed that many architects started to be interested in our retailing services as we deliver worldwide. End of 2013 we provided products, mainly lighting for some architectural projects in Turkey, the US, various places in Europe and also in Australia. The shop has literally brought us a whole new audience.

sws shop

What’s the biggest thing you have learned selling online?

First of all, that you need to be patient in the beginning. In my case I was getting a little discouraged the first year as the sales were random and low but my partner Johanna (who also has an online shop for textile accessories, told me to persevere at least for 1 year and see what would happen. I did that, whilst I carried on with some basic promo through social media, and I can say it was worth the efforts and patience. SWS now represents more than 50% of our office turnover after it’s second year of existence. The online shop is not only good in terms of business, it has brought up many other opportunities, we’ve made new connections and relationships with people that are now happy to buy our products so easily. It’s also informed the way we work and think about products. And overall, it is great fun and very rewarding to run our shop.

sws shop

In closing…

Thank you to Sylvain for sharing. If you want to connect with other sellers consider signing up to be notified of our seller’s community starting out soon.

Creating buyer personas to find your customers

As you are trying to grow your ecommerce sales on Big Cartel or even a marketplace like Storenvy you need to review your target market and your approach of marketing to them. So let’s define your buyer personas and confirm your content marketing is speaking to the right people.

Creating a buyer persona is about the who, what, when, where and why of your potential customers. I believe the goal is to help you understand the buying behavior of a customer before they ever show up. Then you can tailor your content efforts towards a few different types of customers. In the end I hope your marketing and messaging will be more purposeful and attract people ready to buy from your shop.

Ask yourself the following questions to get started with personas for your ecommerce site.

Who are your buyers?

Consider age ranges, male or female, and maybe some core beliefs. If you sell a product made of recycled material you might consider selling to someone with the core belief of recycling. But you still might want to develop a persona for someone who doesn’t base buying decisions on that since they still might like a quality product that you offer.


Why are they making a buying decision?

Time to understand the problems, goals or interests the buyer might have in making a purchase. Perhaps your product provides a specific solution to their problem. Maybe your product can offer them a glimpse of a different lifestyle or perhaps it simply makes them feel good/pretty/strong, you get the point.

When do they buy?

Timing is key. Figure out seasonality or a specific timeframe people are buying your products. If you sell seasonal products make sure to understand when someone is buying Valentine’s cards. You need to market these early in December and January or you might miss out once February rolls around.

Where do they buy?

Finding your target customers is obviously important. You have an online store so of course you want them to be online. But perhaps your customers prefer mobile, in store, social networks, trade shows, concerts or other venues when making their purchasing decisions. Big Cartel and Shopify now offer iPhone apps for in person sales and Big Cartel , Storenvy, Shopify and others all offer Facebook stores for your products.

Putting it all together

You should ideally be able to create multiple personas of potential buyers. I recommend jotting these personas down on an index card so you can reference them later. 

Now review your store, your blog, social networks, all your content. Is it speaking to the people you just described as your potential and best customers? If not make a plan to start changing one or two things a week. Start sharing posts or updates on topics your buyer personas would be interested in.

Be consistent and methodical for a few weeks with these strategies. Report back. I would love to find out how understanding your buyers helped increase sales on your Big Cartel shop.

Using Tweetdeck and Buffer to schedule retweets

I have been using Tweetdeck and Buffer the past few weeks to try and be more involved in the small business ecommerce community. One of the benefits of using Buffer is that you can find your content and then post it on a schedule so you spread out your updates.

In my research and testing I found that retweeting at least one good post a day is good. But at first I had no idea how to schedule a retweet so I would just use Tweetdeck and click retweet and send it off right away. This was not ideal because it might be right before or after another scheduled tweet from Buffer. I am sure you know this from your own lists and feed but if you send all your tweets at one time then most people will miss them.

So let me share how I use tweetdeck and buffer to schedule retweets since it is different than other scheduling.

First in tweetdeck I have several columns for different lists. If I see something good that I want to retweet I click the time link in the top right corner. In this case the 2h.

Tweet in Tweetdeck

This will open the tweet on the page. If you are using the Buffer browser extension you will see the Buffer icon and link next to the Favorite link under the post. See the image below.

Tweet on

Clicking this link will open the Buffer modal window and it automatically recognizes this as a retweet that you can schedule.

Buffer retweet

Isn’t that awesome? Now you can fill out your Buffer schedule with more interesting content.

Do you have any tips on how to use Buffer or Tweetdeck? Let me know in the comments.

Tools for Storenvy and Big Cartel Sellers

Just a reminder of all the great apps I have built over the last year or 2.

BoxTruck – sell ebooks, music, and other digital files on Storenvy

Storenvy Importer – import product titles, descriptions and images from Etsy or CSV to Storenvy.

Envylytics – get an email every morning about Storenvy orders.

Parkestry – put a store widget for Storenvy or Big Cartel products on any site.

Big Cartel WordPress Plugin – free plugin to display products on your self-hosted wordpress site.

TaxJar – state sales tax reporting for PayPal, Amazon and Shopify sellers

Big Cartel Themes – inexpensive themes for your Big Cartel shop


Sell in the right place

How many places are you offering your product for sale? Today you could list your t-shirt in about 1000 different marketplaces and have your own online shop with a custom domain. With all these choices which one is right?

As a small seller online you need to understand the pros and cons of each venue. At some point you might want to become multi-channel but when you are starting out let’s just stick with one marketplace/storefront until you see what adding a second channel would take.

If you could only sell in one place, which storefront or marketplace do you choose?

With a marketplace, think Etsy or Storenvy, you get a built in audience, traffic and search and selling tools. Each marketplace draws people looking for unique products. Storenvy gets a mix of handmade and lifestyle brands. Etsy is vintage and handmade. 

A storefront, like Big Cartel or Shopify, will provide you with a custom domain, control of the design of your shop, unique branding, and no competing with similar products in the same category views. But you will have to generate your own traffic and audience.

Once you pick the place you want to sell you have to be ready to work to make sales regardless of your choice.

I only choose hosted carts in my setups because who wants to worry about upgrading software every month. Pay a small monthly fee for those features that let you focus on growing your business.



Join a community of sellers?

I am looking into building a community of online sellers in 2014 that have their own brands and run small shops on Shopify, Storenvy, Big Cartel, Etsy, Big Commerce or other platforms. Signup below to be part of the email list so I can let you know when we start something new.

Fill out my online form.

Sales Tax Bootcamp for Online Sellers

Wednesday January 8, 2014
1:00 – 2:00 PM Eastern

Learn the basics of sales tax collection and remittance no matter where you sell online from industry expert Mark Faggiano of TaxJar. This webinar will take the mystery out of a complex topic with serious financial implications for your business.

Mark will cover when sellers must collect sales tax, how to determine how much sales tax to collect, and what changes if the current federal sales tax legislation passes. Sign up

After “Sales Tax Bootcamp,” you will be armed with the tools and resources to take charge of this complicated part of your business.

Register for the FREE Online Webinar