Tag Archives: Entrepreneur

Getting your online store ready for Christmas

15 Nov

With Christmas just around the corner it’s important to get your online store ready for the holiday rush.

Internet shopping continues to rise year on year, so here are my top tips for getting your store ready for what could be your most lucrative quarter.

Check your store. Is it ready?

Start by looking at the products on your store. Optimize images and give your site a festive feel. Images will play a big part in capturing the attention and hearts of shoppers. If your product photos are low resolution or have poor lighting, maybe it’s time to re-shoot them ready for the holidays. You might not want to upload them yet, but careful planning will take the stress out of what is going to be a busy time.

Get festive

If you use an eCommerce website builder or platform, why not choose a festive store design to entice your customers.  Freewebstore has some great designs to choose from – and they’re all free. Best of all you can easily switch between your Christmas design and your January Sale design at the click of a button using the Saved Designs Feature. A word of warning though – if you have a high customer base, don’t make drastic changes to the navigation or layout right now. This can cause disruption to customers’ shopping flow. If the site has drastically changes from what customers are used to, it could cause confusion, frustration and lead to abandonment.

shopping mall.jpeg

Check what your users see

Check your website. Does it load well? Is your url or domain memorable? Are all the links working? Does your site work on all devices?  Make sure all your images load and check your stock levels. You don’t want any ‘out of stock’ products appearing on your store as it may look as though your store has been abandoned or out of date.

Are your product descriptions accurate and of a good length? If they aren’t, online shoppers may be wary of buying from you. Do you use custom urls for your categories? All of this careful planning helps build up your SEO which will boost your Google rankings making it easier for shoppers to find you.

Fake websites

In response to Google’s decision to mark HTTP pages as unsafe starting October 2017, websites which do not have SSL encryption enabled will be marked as “Not secure” in Google Chrome. This could have a damaging effect on your sales if you don’t have an eCommerce website that is fully SSL secure.

Here’s an example of what your customers will see without you having an SSL enabled:

unprotected

This is an example of what your customers will see if your website is SSL protected.

secure

Freewebstore now offers ALL customers a free SSL. Find out more here.

Make checking out easy

Your customers are going to be busy leading up to Christmas. Don’t have them abandoning the checkout process out of frustration. After succeeding in the hard work of getting them there, losing conversions due to a complicated or lengthy form is far from ideal. Use a checkout that allows you to take payments directly on your store.

Monitor your stock carefully

christmas-atmosphere-santa-claus-advent-63598

Choosing the amount of stock you need over Christmas can often be difficult, especially if you are investing in seasonal products. On the one hand, you don’t want to miss out on a share of the market, but on the other you don’t want to be left with surplus stock in January that you can’t sell.  Look at what sold well last year. Finding a pattern could make ordering your stock each year much easier, so make sure you keep a note of everything…good luck!

Get started with freewebstore.com

Article originally published: 21/09/16, Modified and Updated: 14/11/17

Store of the Month: November

10 Nov

Freewebstore are delighted to award the very hip ‘Team Dogz‘ store of the month for November. 👏

store of the month blue

Team Dogz live and breathe scooters and they’ve built up a solid following. We managed to speak to Steven from Team Dogz HQ, who took a break from the busy Christmas preparation to talk to us about the business.

Please tell us a bit about your business and where it all started

My scooter business, Team Dogz, started in a little alcove under my parents’ stairs in the 1990s after I returned from university. I had a dedicated phone line put in, bought some stock, and started programming my website. I was selling different products then but the internet was very early days so you had to find your niche and then grow our product base as new opportunities arose. My parents were wondering for a while when I was going to take my education and get a proper job, but they stuck by me and in the end, both came to work for me!

What made you get into this line of work?

I have always wanted to work for myself, and after my Bachelor’s degree I went straight on and did an MSc in Entrepreneurship at Stirling University in the 1990’s. This was as much about not knowing what I wanted to ‘do-for-myself’ as it was in wanting to learn more about business. While I was there, however, I started learning HTML on-the-side and this gave me an insight into a new industry. I started my business in December 1997 so am celebrating 20 years! (woop, congrats!)

What do you see as the most important marketing tool for your business?

I sell products which children and early teens are interested in, so PPC doesn’t work for me because all the Children can click away but not purchase. However social media works well and YouTube videos of products are essentially free marketing once the video is created.

If you could have ANYONE to come and work for you, who would it be and why?

I mentioned earlier that both my parents came to work for Team Dogz, my mum for 4 years and my dad for 6. As you spend most your living life at work, it was great to spend this time with those you love the most. Unfortunately, in the past 20 years, both have died but I would dearly love to have either of them back.

Do you have any advice for new store owners?

Be prepared for hard work. You don’t need A grades from school but you do need commitment and a big work ethic. Some of us might make it look easy but I was often putting in 12-16 hour days in the early years and re-investing everything I could back into the business.

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

I started off hand coding my website, however technology got ahead of my skillset and I could not learn all there is to know in the world of programming as well as running a business. I have since used several shopping cart solutions but freewebstore is easy enough for any staff member to update these days and gives a lot of the flexibility we wanted. Freewebstore has also made behind the scenes tweaks for us so we have stuck with them for a number of years now.

If you could choose one magic power, what would you go for?

To know which product is going to be most in demand. It takes several months for Team Dogz scooters to be made in factories far away and every Christmas I seem to sell out of something way too early!

Speaking of Christmas, how’s the preparation going? 🎅

We start planning for Christmas in July at the latest, our products are then manufactured in August and spend September on a boat arriving with us early October. Only a few people purchase this early but it is certainly when the kids start putting their Christmas lists together so we need to have our products advertised for sale to get their attention at this point. If we have got it wrong, which we always do with the quantities on various colors, it is too late come mid-October to get anything more manufactured and delivered in time.

Why is eCommerce important for your business?

A national or global reach from a single outlet, what more could someone want. We don’t have the financial capital to put stock into shops all over the country and their margins would make us more expensive. eCommerce offers us national reach and the ability to offer the customer a more competitive price, it’s a win-win.

And finally, do you have any celebrity customers or famous skaters buying from your store?

We have come across a few famous customers over the years. Data Protection and our own concern for our customer’s privacy would stop us from naming them. However, our scooter wheels were glimpsed on BBCs One Show the other week. Unusually they were being used as part of a walking frame for a dachshund with poorly back legs but it’s great to know they helped and a sale is a sale.

team dogz
Would you like to be considered for the Store of the Month series? Email the freewebstore customer success team at successteam@freewebstore.com.