Feb 13, 2007, 8:32 AM
Post #1 of 2
Advise on starting an Internet business
I and a group of artists started an online marketplace for artists to sell their handcrafted goods three years ago. Of course we were told how easy it was and it would be such an easy path to instant riches.
The Internet I am sure you have heard is the wave of the future. Everyone shops online. Perhaps they do, however there is a lot to know before you just run out there and spend money on an online store.
1. Paying professionals to do the work is good but you must know something about the web in order to know if they are doing their jobs correctly and efficiently.
2. Key words for running an Internet site "Search Engine Optimization i.e. SEO" and Meta tags. Both very important in order to get "ranked" with search engines. You may pay someone to build your site but many times they do not include do the SEO's and Meta tags you must learn to do them yourself or hire a company to do them for you on a monthly basis. This can be very costly. Our biggest expense is having our SEO's done on a regular basis.
3. A working site that doesn't have broken links and is easy to maneuver in. You want people to stick around. If people have a pleasant "shopping" experience they will come back.
4. Photography. If you are using pictures on your website and most of us are, remember buying an item that is considered art whether its jewelry, paintings, sculpture, clothing; these items are considered an emotional type purchase and difficult to sell online because the customer cannot touch them. Therefore you must supply them with very clear and enticing pictures. The more clear and detailed the better.
5. Describing your items is just as important. A good solid description that is lively yet informative is a must. Tell the customer what your product is made of, how long it is and does it come in sets or individually.
6. Although many web designers will tell you that you can do all your business online, in the beginning you will need to beat the street a little so to speak in order to get your name out to supply stores depending on what you do, beads, wood, clay, paints, etc. most supply stores will allow you to put postcards or flyers at their location this can be a powerful tool to help you get noticed.
7. Customer service. We struggled through some difficult times but were able to keep our core base because we treated our clientele like kings and queens. Remember without your clients you have no website. Each of the owners took turns the first year being on call for customer service 7 days a week 24 hours a day. There was a lot of appreciation expressed to us by our artists and customers for this service.
Anyway, I just wanted to share this information. Hopefully anyone out there that is thinking of opening an e-commerce store will benefit from our experience.