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stepping down from ecommerce 3333 Responses

Last post: 1 year, 3 months ago | Thread started: Jan 4, 13, 10:33 a.m.

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  • fourth

    So I have a client who runs a small clothing boutique store. A year ago I built her an ecommerce shop. She carries a small # of stock on hand to keep things fresh. So what was happening is by the time she got everything entered online she'd be sold out of the product.

    Basically the ecommerce store flopped. It took too much time and besides: women like to shop for clothing in real life. Not online.

    So we are back to the drawing board. I was wondering if any of you had any ideas. She's able to drum up business via instagram, fb, twitter (in that order). Basically I'd like to push her blog up front, and have a system were her top customers can see the latest product and have it held for them at the store. Any ideas, examples, thoughts?

    Jan 4, 13, 10:33 a.m. – Permalink
  • detritus

    Sounds like the problem's not at your end.

    What steps is she taking to ramp up production and decrease turnaround times?

    • reads like she's a middle man and the store sells it before the site gets a chance.albums1/2
      ok, then she needs to get her stocktaking shit sorted out. Either way, it's not the worst problem to have...detritus2/2
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    Dog-earJan 4, 13, 10:38 a.m. – Permalink
  • trooperbill

    id suggest having limited run of online only stock... or buy to order

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    Dog-earJan 4, 13, 10:44 a.m. – Permalink
  • yurimon

    Prob best to analyze the traffic to her site and what people are doing. also how many people are clicking on to buy when items are sold out.. Also good to consider the numbers on the amount that are sent away from being sold out. and estimate those sales clicks as potential sales. gives you a $ amount of what business people consider a loss from inability of for filling a demand. As a web strategy also good to think about her niche market and needs of that demographic and her vision for future growth.

    It might not be a bad thing. just shes not able to predict web sales or numbers on websales. seems like from what your saying

    • these are all good points I will look through her analytics. the only thing I've looked at is # of salesfourth
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    Dog-earJan 4, 13, 10:46 a.m. – Permalink
  • yurimon

    Prob best to analyze the traffic to her site and what people are doing. also how many people are clicking on to buy when items are sold out.. Also good to consider the numbers on the amount that are sent away from being sold out. and estimate those sales clicks as potential sales. gives you a $ amount of what business people consider a loss from inability of for filling a demand. As a web strategy also good to think about her niche market and needs of that demographic and her vision for future growth.

    It might not be a bad thing. just shes not able to predict web sales or numbers on websales. seems like from what your saying

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    Dog-earJan 4, 13, 10:46 a.m. – Permalink
  • omg

    make it sexier!

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    Dog-earJan 4, 13, 12:03 p.m. – Permalink
  • fourth

    No the problem isn't at my end. Truth is that I can count how many times she's sold something online on one hand. It's that bad. I can analyze traffic but there isn't much to analyze- and it's not accurate because she became lackadaisical when it came time to picture, inventory, and describe items. Considering she pays me to take the pictures of items, and has to pay a monthly fee for the cms she's been losing money.

    We agreed it was either pay someone to do all and focus on ecommerce. She does not want to delve completely into ecommerce. It sounded romantic and easy at first but her bread and butter is selling in the store. So we decided a switch to something more easily up-dateable and less time consuming. A solution that can get more people into the store buying. I just don't know what the clear solution is.

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    Dog-earJan 4, 13, 12:11 p.m. – Permalink
  • vaxorcist

    hmmm... how was your client promoting the site? or were you doing some SEO? Did it get much traffic? It sounds like your client is giving up based on very little info, in part because they're more used to selling in person and may not like computers much....

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    Dog-earJan 4, 13, 12:12 p.m. – Permalink
  • fourth

    vax, no online advertising anywhere. a little promotion through local newspapers, online articles, giveaways, etc. I am not a SEO guy but I did the best I could. She did gain a bigger web presence, and her page does get traffic, but dips when it comes to the ecommerce side.

    Her main way of promoting the product was through social media, fb and instagram mainly. She'd link to the store and her customers would simply bypass it and come in to buy. so I've been looking at ways to increase this occurrence.

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    Dog-earJan 4, 13, 12:21 p.m. – Permalink
  • ETM

    Did you ever try to capture her customers on-line with something like a newsletter that would provide weekly or monthly exclusive, on-line only discounts or offers? Encourages the online purchase and it helps built a more dedicated customer base (if they really like the products. It may be a small audience, but repeat customers are often more valuable.

    • Or separate / exclusive FB, Instagram discount codes for online only?ETM1/2
      did discounts, did newsletters, did free shipping for locals. overall it was just easier for them to walk in and buyfourth2/2
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    Dog-earJan 4, 13, 12:44 p.m. – Permalink
  • zarkonite

    It doesn't sound like the online store is part of her business model.

    Keep pushing the FB/Instagram thing if it's working, they're both great ways to stay in touch with your customers for low traffic boutiques... maybe she can sell end of lines at discounted rates online but it needs to be differentiated in some way... Personally I would drop it, it's been a year and it hasn't worked, time to adapt or die.

    • exactly, but we're also looking for a way to get more people to her site to increase her web presence.fourth
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    Dog-earJan 4, 13, 12:56 p.m. – Permalink
  • stoplying

    I had a very similar situation where I set up an ecom site using Volusion that she could manage. She never really got the hang of it, and it essentially flopped as well. But what she did do a couple of times was have in-store parties in the evening to promote new stuff, and the girls that friended her on Facebook got invited.
    She did really well with sales once the women were in her shop, and had a glass or two of wine.
    Maybe just promote the in-store parties through her site, then take photos of the event and post em.

    • yes, her parties do well. we want to bring the blog and other aspects forwardfourth
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    Dog-earJan 4, 13, 12:56 p.m. – Permalink
  • ETM

    I am a little confused though why local, walk-in traffic cannabalized all the online sales. Was there no effort to take advantage of the online ability to target customers outside the store's geographic area?

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    Dog-earJan 4, 13, 12:59 p.m. – Permalink
  • doesnotexist

    keeping an ecommerce store up and running is the job for a group of people, if she's trying to do this on her own maybe that's the issue here?

    coming up with new content, constantly putting new items up for sale, it's all part of this day to day thing. does she realize it?

    agencies exist for the sole reason to solve problems like this.

    maybe she needs a good ol' benchmarking and some trend research.

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    Dog-earJan 4, 13, 1 p.m. – Permalink
  • Continuity

    A couple of things about this struck me.

    'small clothing boutique store'
    This is pretty much the core of the problem, I'd say, and she probably shouldn't have got into having an eShop to begin with. If she has a small boutique, then chances are she simply doesn't have the access to the kind of stock volume needed to run both a physical shop _and_ an eShop, and still be able to deliver the products to customers in both channels.

    For the small boutique, really there are only two choices: physical or Web. That is, unless they've got the amount of stock — or at least the buying power to get more — in order to fulfill all orders from all sales channels.

    'It took too much time'
    Well ... I hope this is isn't indicative of her overall business ethic. Running a business is hard graft, and takes a LOT of time, especially if it's a sole proprietorship with no extra staff. Her moving her online activities to social will also take a lot of time, so I hope she's prepared to put that hard graft in and make it work.

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    Dog-earJan 4, 13, 1:05 p.m. – Permalink
  • Continuity

    Also:

    'besides: women like to shop for clothing in real life. Not online.'

    This is basically not true. Over the course of last year, I worked on the re-design of a retail fashion chain's site, and to all of our amazement, we discovered in the research phase that the overwhelming majority of this company's online customers were women. Not only that, but the same was true of their competitors.

    In actual fact, it's men who are much less likely to buy clothing online.

    • not me. I know my sizes and don't shop where i live. I dispose of anything i own I see someone else wearing.albums1/5
      so far, hats, shoes, shirts,,, right to goodwill.albums2/5
      I alternate. Jeans, I always order online, cos I know the style and size I need. Otherwise, I like to try the stuff on.Continuity3/5
      i'm a brandwhore. I wear one style of jeans in one brand so i'm good and "medium" works for shirtsalbums4/5
      and as far as shoes, I've learned I'm a UK43, not a US9.5 or 10, so more options online for mealbums5/5
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    Dog-earJan 4, 13, 1:09 p.m. – Permalink
  • fourth

    guys this is great and all the input is getting my brain going, thanks.

    couple of other details:

    • she just relocated. She was in a smaller town and business was getting really slow. ecommerce was one idea, and the one that ultimately helped was relocated to a college town

    • with moving the store she's become a lot more busier. She has hired a couple of people, also just had a kid as well so time to dedicate to the online store has become very limited. but her business is growing

    • ideally would like to come back to ecommerce but right now it just doesn't fit.

    • her store prides itself on selling a low qty so people don't feel like others are wearing the same thing. this is what took the most time with ecommerce. If she were planning on carrying a style all season then it would be much easier

    • with her existing customer base it's just a lot more easier to walk into the store, try it on, gossip, and buy than it is to fill out all billing info and order it.

    • if she's now in a college town, she might try to get graduating alumni on an email list, get them to order online after they move away...vaxorcist
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    Dog-earJan 4, 13, 1:36 p.m. – Permalink
  • albums

    Not sure if it's in your scope of options but being able to save my billing info is awesome. I love that feature. I know MyFonts has received more of my money because I can use the account on file instead of filling out my info each time.

    It really helps nurture impulse buying.

    Amazon has this as well as several others as I'm sure you know.

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    Dog-earJan 4, 13, 1:47 p.m. – Permalink
  • Continuity

    '• ideally would like to come back to ecommerce but right now it just doesn't fit.

    • her store prides itself on selling a low qty so people don't feel like others are wearing the same thing. this is what took the most time with ecommerce. If she were planning on carrying a style all season then it would be much easier'

    These two statements are contradictory. She can't pride herself on low quantity and plan to go back to eComm eventually. It doesn't work this way.

    The fundamental concept of eComm is to sell shitloads, to an audience outside your local area. You can't be a small boutique with limited amounts of goods, and hope to rake in the eShop cash. It just doesn't work that way. Basically:

    Repeated '0 items in stock' = permanent loss of eShop traffic

    Sounds to me like she simply doesn't know what she wants. She's one of these clients who somehow reckons she's got to be online, and wants to have the whole thing, without realising that unless she changes her business model (small shop, low quantities, niche customers), selling on the Web isn't for her.

    And if she finally does decide that she's going to go for eShopping seriously, then she's got to go all in: lots of stock, budget for media buys to take out banner ads for driving traffic to the site, social media blitz, SEO consultancy, the whole thing. And that will change the fundamental character of her business — which sounds to me contrary to what she wants.

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    Dog-earJan 4, 13, 1:48 p.m. – Permalink
  • ohhhhhsnap

    Look up Klub Kid Vintage, she uses FB, twitter, etsy to get the word out. She also has a sales rack at her home for locals to come through and check it out.

    • thanksfourth1/3
      i moved from brooklyn where she's located... and i'm glad she STILL has an online option for herohhhhhsnap2/3
      fansohhhhhsnap3/3
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    Dog-earJan 4, 13, 2:32 p.m. – Permalink
  • dbloc

    make the logo bigger

    • < Right fucking there! Problem solved. ;)ETM
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    Dog-earJan 4, 13, 2:34 p.m. – Permalink

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