Store of the Month: January 2017

13 Jan

Our latest store of the month is one of our longest serving stores – the good, the bad and the robots, specialising in collectable toys. We caught up with the store-owner, Lee, to find out a bit more about his business.

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1.Please tell us a bit about yourself

It’s really hard to explain yourself LOL. I love the movies, TV shows, gaming and music. I like walking my dog and I like good food and the occasional beer (ahem!).  I used to be a semi-pro magician but just don’t have the time anymore…! I live by the motto “ treat others how you would expect to be treated”, that goes for my friends, family and my customers.

2. Please tell us about your business and where it all started

My business sells niche toys/collectables. The bulk of my line is 1/6 scale figures with incredible detail of the body, face and tailoring. It all started way back in the 80’s really when I was just a kid…. I collected Star Wars, He-Man. I then had to grow up, get a job, get married etc but it was on my honeymoon, I stumbled across a comic book shop in the US selling the most awesome products. From there it just escalated!

3. You’ve got some pretty cool products – what kind of marketing do you?

The best marketing in the world is your own passion around your own products. If yoscreen-shot-2017-01-05-at-11-02-58u find what you are selling is in any way negative, you are selling the wrong stuff. Don’t pour money into bad advertising, use free channels like Facebook, twitter and such like. Don’t
just post an item, join the community groups set up for your products, chat to people, get involved. I don’t have a physical shop so I have to compensate for not meeting people face to face….

4. Do you have any advice for new store owners?

Stand out, be different, it’s a tough world out there. Do not think it’s as easy as setting up a shop front and watching the sales come in…. Be passionate, do your homework,  and love what you do.

5. Is there a specific reason you chose to use freewebstore as your eCommerce platform?

Yes, without a doubt the most user-friendly interface out there! Great customer support and I love the way you are striving for new ideas and add-ons….Perfect!

6. Please, sum up your freewebstore experience.

Relaxed, simple, innovative….( do I get the £20 you promised me now? haha)

7. And finally, tell us your best joke

I met a girl the other day, she said her name was “ Matarka”

I said, “ that is an unusual name, you don’t hear that every day!”

She said “ Actually, I do”

Guest Blog: Let’s Take a Closer Look at Stock Photos

30 Dec

Stock photos, not really a normal or common subject but more important than you think. Hi, I am Laura, also called Myu by people and I am the owner of the online store Collect and Play.  I hope this article will be helpful or at least contain useful tips for you to use for your own store. Now let’s get on with the main subject.

Stock photos

For those who don’t know, stock photos are the pictures you make of the products you sell so customers can see what they are buying. So, obviously, they are very important for your store. There are also two different types of stock photos. One is a very common used photo and is always used before the actual product becomes available or for folders but some stores stick to these standard photos as can be seen on sites like Amazon, eBay, Game Mania, Bart Smit and many others. The second type is the photo you make yourself once you received your new products. Now it should be noted that you should stick to the type that works best for your store and I highly recommend making your own because a product will stand out more in photos made by someone who can add a style to them. And so the next point is:

Experiment while making photos

Lighting and the background matter a lot. I recommend a white background but any neutral background works so if you have a table or anything to put your product on that’s neutral, you got one step covered. As for the lighting, that’s something you have to explore. I combine the room’s light with a standing table light to make sure the products are visible enough but also get highlighted enough. For example, I sell Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh! cards and just like any other TCG out there, they contain rare holofoil cards in their sets. That’s when regular lighting won’t do because such a card needs to sell itself to the viewer so the shinier they are in the photo, the better.

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If you aren’t sure about the lighting you can use and combine then make test photos and compare them to see which highlights your product the best. Then when you have the basic steps covered, you can decide whether or not you want to add personal touches to the photos to make your products stand out even more. In the end trying out and making test photos will lead to your store’s own unique stock photos. Next is:

Make your stock photos your own little assistants

Now I bet someone is going to say “hold on! how can a stock photo be an assistant” while also scratching their head? Just let me explain, as a seller, you seek popular products right? And what do popular products need? That’s right a stock quantity which means duplicates of a card, toy or any product you sell well. With all that stock, you have a little time-consuming job called counting. After all, we need to put in a stock number so we have to open our stock boxes and start counting all those products unless you use my nifty little trick and that’s where our little assisting stock photos come in. For example, I have 20 Pikachu cards that are the same so I put them all or just half of them together on the table and make the photo, voila! A stock photo that tells me exactly how many I have without having to open the box again to count.

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And customers also don’t mind these photos because then they see that they can take multiple and make their kids happy or complete their theme deck. Just like our trusty control panel makes work related to our stores easier so can stock photos. And you can make both a total amount stock photo and a detailed stock photo on which you show a single product so that you still have 1 highlighting photo.

That is all I can share for now so I really hope it was somewhat helpful. I hope to share more useful information soon.

Store of the Month: December

5 Dec

Huge congratulations to our store of the month for December, Hip-Pose. We grabbed a few words with the store owner, Sam, to discuss her award-winning business, any tips she may have for new business owners and to find out what she wants for Christmas!

1. Please tell us about your business and where it all started

My daughter was diagnosed with hip dysplasia (DDH) when she was just 6 weeks old and put into a restrictive harness as treatment. When this didn’t work, she had major hip surgery and had to wear a full cast for three months. This was a difficult time, to put it mildly, but one of my pet peeves was that no clothes fit her and we’d get disapproving looks when out at about people jumped to conclusions when seeing a baby in the cast. So I designed and made some trousers to go with the cast and the nasty looks were banished! People didn’t notice the cast, the trousers kept it clean and dry and I enjoyed dressing my girl again. The idea of Hip-Pose was then born!

2. How did you get into it?

me-and-lucyMy daughter was also born with a rare genetic condition that caused severe disability. I made the decision to give up my career to become her carer but I had always wanted to run my own business, so took the opportunity in between hospital appointments and baby clubs to set one up! My Mum was a professional dressmaker, so sewing, designing and creating are in my DNA. This definitely helped in developing a range of clothes that can be worn through all stages of DDH treatment. If I had to pay for those design skills I wouldn’t have been able to afford it!

3. You’re clearly very successful, what kind of marketing do you do for your store?

Thanks!! At the start, I just relied on word of mouth. DDH only affects 1-3 babies in every 1,000 born so my market is definitely niche! I find that social media is a quick and effective marketing tool, I use facebook, facebook forums and love the pace of Twitter although it can sap your time if you’re not careful! I am now working with others who are marketing to the same audience for different reasons. Teaming up with others is helpful when I don’t have a big budget or much time. This year I also collaborated with a major baby brand to create a new product that I designed. Working with a big company really showed me how many plates I spin running my own!

4. You’ve won numerous awards, can you tell us about them?

picHip-Pose has won the Prima Baby award for Innovation two years running (winning Gold in 2015!) Competing against top high street brands was a real buzz! I was also a finalist in 2015 Mumpreneur UK and this year I won the Most Inspiring Business Parent award 2016 voted by Mum and Working.
I was truly humbled by that, as raising a child with special needs and starting a business with my unique brand hasn’t always been easy, so it was lovely for that to be acknowledged. I think winning awards goes beyond pride and marketing, though, it helps to establish that a brand can stand on its own. It is an entity in itself.

5. Do you have any advice for new store owners?

Start off with fewer products then you’d love to put out there and see what sells best then build from there. I listen to customers and have created products in response to demand but only when this also ties in with my brand and is not copying someone else. Lastly, keep true to yourself and trust your gut!

6. Is there a specific reason you chose to use freewebstore as your eCommerce platform?

I needed an eCommerce platform that I could create and most importantly adapt at any time of the day or night myself. Having a limited budget, I have to be able to add products and content, change stock count and interact with my customers without going through a web designer every time. Plus as a working mum, I am often doing this in the evening! I’m not an IT person at all, so I was surprised and delighted that I was able to follow the instructions and develop a website that now sells worldwide. Hip-Pose clothes are being worn globally from the US to Oz and even in Greenland!

I couldn’t have reached all of these parents without freewebstore and from the positive feedback I get from them, freewebstore has helped me to help them.

7. Please, sum up your freewebstore experience

Great fun! I love the independence freewebstore has given me to launch and sell my unique brand globally. It’s helped me to create a successful business that’s really helping people and allowed me to develop Hip-Pose on my own without huge overheads. I love that the friendly support team are there at the click of a button to answer any techie questions I have and always help me.

8. And finally, what’s on your Christmas list, this year?

A clone of myself to do the washing up, answer emails and pack up orders!

Check out their amazing range of clothing and accessories for suffers from DDH here

Business to business transactions made simpler with freewebstore’s new checkout

24 Nov

Did you know that EU businesses with a VAT number only pay VAT on purchases within their own country?

If an EU business makes a purchase from a different EU country, the business does not pay VAT on the transaction and instead delays VAT payment to their own tax filing, in their own country.

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With freewebstore’s latest checkout, VAT registered companies based in the EU can now provide their VAT number to remove the VAT from their order. All EU VAT details are checked in real-time prior to the transaction being completed, ensuring that you’re always given an accurate EU VAT number.

Accounting for EU transactions is also made simple. Store owners are given the VAT number once the transaction is complete and EU VAT numbers are now available on all invoices.

Log into your control panel to enable freewebstore’s latest side-by-side checkout now.

Get started with freewebstore.com.

New Design Launched – ToyStore

16 Nov

New Design Launched – Introducing ToyStore

Introducing our latest design, ToyStore; the key to unlocking your youthful imagination.

Using the mobile first technique, incorporating a slideshow display and supporting multiple language packs, ToyStore is sure to woo your customers, all over the globe.

Key Features

  • Mobile Optimized
  • Social Media Icons Supported
  • Multiple Language Packs
  • Graphical Logo
  • Soft Add To Cart
  • Popular Products Widget
  • Advanced Search
  • Featured Products
  • Offers & Promotions

Check out the design

 

Store of the Month: November 2016

7 Nov

A big congratulations (Herzlich glückwünsche) to our GREAT store of the month for November, tshirt4you.

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We spoke to the owner, Rebecca, to find out a bit more about the business.

1. Please tell us about your business and where it all started

I started my t-shirt business in Los Angeles 2007. I moved to Switzerland almost 7 years ago and started t-shirts4you online, with my partner Dustin Peter. We sell printed t-shirts for all occasions.

2. How did you get into it?

My mother owns a printing company and taught me how to print t-shirts, my graphic design college course revealed my creative side, so I combined it! 

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3. Do you have any advice for new store owners?

Take high quality, appealing photos of your products. Find your niche product and make it your passion. Be patient!

4. Is there a specific reason you chose to use freewebstore as your eCommerce platform?

It was completely free to test it out and I found it really easy to set up. I like the fact that freewebstore stays up to date with the latest trends and always launch new features.

5. Please, sum up your freewebstore experience

I started 3 websites; tshirt4you.ch, dress4you.ch, and einladungskarten4you.ch. We tested the market with different platforms. We now stick to the best running store tshirt4you.ch. I double my income each year.

6. Finally, tells us your best joke

What dress can’t be worn? Address (thankfully, your business acumen is better than your jokes 😉 )

Do you think you deserve to be our store of the month for December? Get in touch with us and tell us why

Introducing our side-by-side checkout

2 Nov

The day has arrived… The freewebstore team is proud to announce the launch of the FANTASTIC side-by-side checkout!

Our team has been working day and night, gathering feedback from our users and engaging with experts in the field. We believe we’ve developed a checkout that we’re sure will improve YOUR sales.

 

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Our new streamlined side-by-side checkout

 

I’ll be discussing the reason as to why we’ve created it and talking about the fantastic benefits.

So, why have we created it?

Simply put, to improve YOUR conversion rates and reduce YOUR abandoned carts. Our shared values mean that if you’re happy, we’re happy. Increasing your sales and conversions will go a long way to achieving our shared goal.

Ok, what are the key benefits?

After many months of rigorous planning, development, and testing – we believe we’ve developed a checkout that is not only visually pleasing but will result in an increase in conversions.

Mobile First

Mobile shopping has increased year-on-year – over 62% of smartphone owners have made a purchase using their smartphone in the past 6 months (Justin Smith, 2016).

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Mobile view of the new side-by-side checkout.

  • The new side-by-side checkout has been designed using the ‘mobile first’ technique – resulting in a solid and fully responsive checkout, the pinnacle of mobile perfection.
  • Shopper’s payment and shipping input fields have been optimized for use on a mobile – using touch not click.
  • Buttons are reachable by thumb. We’ve kept the number of fields to an absolute minimum too and have reduced the length to 16 pixels wide on so that the page fits beautifully on a mobile.
  • We’ve used HTML 5 set correct input tries, which means that whether a text, number or email is required, the correct keyboard appears on mobiles.
  • Autocomplete tags for inputs have been introduced, meaning that shoppers can use autocomplete if they have typed their address in previously – saving time.

Security

The new side-by-side checkout is secured using 256-bit SSL encryption. This is clearly displayed with the aim of improving shopper confidence and reducing anxiety, with the aim of getting you that all important sale!  

Slick & streamlined design

The new checkout looks equally as good on the desktop as it does on mobiles!

27% of people abandoned their cart if the checkout was too long/complicated. The free flowing and smooth design will make sure even the laziest customer won’t have any complaints – increasing the chance of a sale!

  • Tab index on all HTML elements that the user can easily tab through the input fields
  • One colored button per section on the most important action means the user can easily identify what is next.
  • Customizable color and skins – to help fit in your with corporate colors and encourage creative freedom!
  • Displaying the costing at each stage of the checkout process – so to avoid the unwanted surprise at the end. 

 

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Cost breakdown, to avoid the unwanted surprises!

 

  • Additional Instructions (optional feature). Store owners can enable this input field to allow customers to input additional instructions and comments.
  • The ‘Add Coupon’ section is collapsed to prevent coupon harvesting. Thus increasing your profit margin.
  • Registered companies based in the EU can now provide their VAT number at checkout to remove the VAT from their order. VAT numbers are validated in real time and are made available to the store owner for accounting purposes, once the transaction is completed. 

Works great with Stripe

The new checkout is the perfect chance to make the most of the payment merchant Stripe.

Stripe allows for card payments to be made directly on your storefront, without the need to be transferred to a third party site. Embedding the Stripe platform into the new checkout adds to the fast and smooth checkout experience that will leave your customers wanting to order more and more!

 

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Stripe has been built into the checkout for even more convenience

 

Best of all – it’s completely FREE!

Yes, really! Our fantastic new side-by-side checkout is available to ALL of our freewebstore store owners at no additional cost!

How do I activate?

The freewebstore developers have done a fantastic job creating it – now they want you using it, we don’t want to upset them, do we?!

You can enable the fast, reliable and secure checkout in one click, by visiting your freewebstore control panel here.

Happy selling! 

Freewebstore Pumpkin Carving

24 Oct

The scariest time of the year is nearly upon us (what’s really scary is how fast it’s come along!) The freewebstore team decided to get into the ghostly spirit of things and carve out some pumpkins.

Glowing ‘jack-o-lanterns’ were traditionally put outside porches and windows to welcome deceased loved ones and to protect against nasty spirits. We’ve placed ours outside of the offices to protect freewebstore from the nasty internet demons.

We thought we’d share a few of the team’s ghastly efforts.

What have you done for Halloween this year? We’d love it if you shared some of your spooky creations.

A Guide: Getting Ready for Black Friday

19 Oct

According to Fortune, online shoppers spent a staggering $4.45 billion on Black Friday in 2015. This is predicted to increase further this year. All the savings encourages big spending and it’s important to recognize the impact that Black Friday and Cyber Monday can have on your online business.

So, what exactly is Black Friday…

Black Friday is the day after Thanksgiving and is historically seen as the first day of the Christmas shopping period. Many retailers offer huge discounts for one day only. Black Friday is followed by ‘Cyber Monday‘.

You’ve probably seen the videos of Black Friday in the brick and mortar stores. Well, shoppers are increasingly shopping online to avoid the chaos that ensues.Black Friday has become a largely online event and this year will be all about the mobile. Freewebstore stores are all fully optimized on mobiles, so you can breathe easily.

Black Friday is a great chance for online retailers, like you, to increase your customer base!

Here are some useful tips  to help get your store ready for the two biggest sale events of the year.

Firstly, plan ahead!

Start promoting your Black Friday discounts early – lot’s of people will begin to scope out potential bargains well before the actual day itself. Communicate with your customers and let them know that there are some awesome deals to be had. Build the hype and get your customers excited!

Make a plan of which products you’re discounting IN ADVANCE, instead of waiting until the last minute. Create a list of the products you’re discounting and at what time you’re planning the discount. Bear in mind that your promotion will only last a day, or perhaps the weekend, so keep it simple.  

It’s likely your store will be busier than usual if you’re offering discounted products. Do you have enough stock to deal with the mass influx? Are you available to respond quickly to customers if any problems occur?

Tips to get your store ready…

When it comes to the Black Friday sales, it’s a perfect way to show your customers that your store is current and that you’re doing well. It’s also the perfect chance to get rid of old stock. Avoid discounting products that you have no problem selling at full price.

Set up special offers, showcasing the savings available to the consumer. For current freewebstore users, this can easily be done by following [Control Panel] > [Manage] > [Product] > [Price Details] > [Offer Price].

Make sure you have appropriate stock levels! If you’ve informed your customers that you’re discounting a product and got them excited, only to have limited products – it won’t look great for your business! 

Freewebstore users, you should enable stock management on your store by [Control Panel] > [Settings] > [Stock Settings] > [Stock Management Status: Enabled]. This can then be controlled through [Control Panel] > [Manage] > [Stock].

A lot of new customers may choose to purchase from your shop for the first time. Make a good impression. Make an effort with packaging, make sure you communicate efficiently at each stage of the buying process. This is your chance to retain new customers! 

Get Creative! 

Run a marketing campaign before the sale itself. Get the shoppers excited. You can give away little snippets of what you’re offering – without giving too much away.Promote your sale with banners that can be easily shared across the social media platforms and via email. This would entice the curious folk out there to visit your site on sale day!

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If you’re not keen on reducing any of your product prices, consider offering free delivery for one day only.

Customers see the word ‘free’ and are drawn to this. You can advertise this on social media and via email to get people excited!

Post Black Friday Strategy…

Track your progress, see how successful your sale has been – set up Google analytics. This can be done [Control Panel] > [Google Tools] > [Google Analytics].

Google analytics allows you, amongst a lot of other things, to see how your customers found your site, the keywords that worked best.

You can monitor how successful your marketing campaign has been, by analyzing how many users have been directed to your store via social media, for example. You’ll be able to see what worked and what didn’t work – and learn for the next time.

Additionally, you can see how many of your customers are returning customers and how many new customers you’ve gained. Collecting email address of Allowing you to follow up with the new users by a targeted email campaign.

This is a great feature to utilize, the best part about it – it’s free! 

Happy selling! 

New Design Launched – Timeline

17 Oct

New Design Launched – Introducing Timeline

Sophisticated and most definitely ahead of its time – our new template, Timeline, will provide your customers with an exceptional shopping experience.

Designed using the mobile first technique for optimal mobile experience – Timeline offers a stunning yet simple eCommerce design.

Key Features

  • Mobile Optimized
  • Social Media Icons Supported
  • Multiple Language Packs
  • Graphical Logo
  • Soft Add To Cart
  • Advanced Search
  • Featured Products
  • Offers & Promotions

Check out the design