There was a time in the not-too-distant past when I enjoyed shopping, especially bargain shopping. I would keep up with sales, clip coupons and carefully plan shopping excursions around those exhaustively researched sales dates and organized clippings. I would frequent all of the discount stores and thrill at each amazing deal I found. But now, I am so over that. I still love to find incredible bargains; but I no longer painstakingly hunt for them. I let them come to me, serendipity fashion, i.e., entice me. Entice me, either with irresistible products, unbeatable pricing or, preferably, both. There are so many shops out there. I have a multitude of choices. In fact, my choices are staggeringly overwhelming. So when I do find a place where I enjoy my shopping experience, I will go there repeatedly. There are a number of reasons for this: 1) I love the merchandise on offer and the products are of high quality. This is a must. 2) The pricing is acceptable to me. It doesn't have to be the least expensive, just reasonably priced. 3) The shop is orderly. I love a tidy shop. Disorder will turn me right around and out the door. 4) The shop is attractive. If I like the window dressing, I tend to linger. All of these factors play a role in persuading me to become a regular customer.
In my own business, I strive to remember what I enjoy and expect as a customer and apply these points to my own shops. Naturally, I want the beads and jewelry that I offer to appeal to customers. But I also want my customers to feel like they have been treated fairly, that they are purchasing quality, that the pricing is reasonable- in short, that they have been duly pampered as my customers.
Running a business on the Internet is incredibly time-consuming. I just completed a two shop overhaul: new banner, new photos, new products, clear organization, etc. I am not a photographer, though digital cameras do raise my competence level. Still, it takes a lot of practice to make your photos clear and detailed. It is not so easy to take a photo of a bead or bracelet and make it interesting. You have to consider the lighting and the background color. Then there is the time spent editing those photos- sizing them, making minor adjustments to them, labeling them- making certain that, in the end, the pictures are a fair representation of the offered product.
I think often of the phrase "starving artist". I'm not literally starving, but I see how challenging it is for an artist to support himself by selling his work. An artist needs to be somewhat business-savvy to achieve a measure of success. Speaking for myself, I am much more drawn to the creative side of art rather than the business side. That is a "no-brainer", as they say. The result is, I have to discipline myself to promote my business regularly. I'm still working on this. Though I now put new products in my bead store on Etsy every day and I put new jewelry in my Artfire store every couple of days. My goal is to stock new products every day, once or twice a day, at least.
I take very seriously how necessary it is for an Internet vendor to be very clear and prompt in communicating with customers, to be lightning-quick in shipping packages, to be eager to work out any problem that may arise in such a way as to make the customer feel true satisfaction. Mistakes will be made at times. This is part of the learning process. Occasionally we may encounter a challenging customer, particularly if we do custom work. But overall, if a vendor keeps her cool and treats others kindly, thoughtfully and compassionately (as she herself would want to be treated), a strong customer base can be built up. People will want to shop in that type of store. Suddenly, I want to visit my virtual mall and see what's out there. The beauty of Internet shopping is: NO LINES. Happy shopping!
"The quickest way to know a woman is to go shopping with her."- Marcelene Cox
"We always hold hands. If I let go, she shops."- Henny Youngman
(Necklace featured in this post is for sale in my Artfire shop.)