Making the most of your online shop

Written by Amy Monaghan

March 21st, 2021
Making the most of your online shop

Increasing our ‘shop' profile is what we’ve been working on recently, so here’s the benefit of some of our learnings and how you can use some of that knowledge to help build your own profile.

We've built Small Market to be of most benefit to makers, so if you can get people to view your products they'll then only be shown more of your makes rather than lots of cheaper things from other people. We believe in the value of handmade and won't be advocating a race to the bottom - comparing people's work is never what it seems, so be confident in your own makes, your own price points and the value that you bring to your customers.

We also think that if you're putting in the effort to drive your own marketing that should be rewarded, rather than you doing the work to further Small Market in general. Of course by pushing people to the site you're increasing the chances of someone also finding a fab new maker whilst they're here having a look around, but for the purposes of this I'm going to assume that you're trying to build your own following rather than ours!

Each sales platform works differently but many of the principles are the same, so starting with your Small Market shop, here are a few quick wins:

  • Have a shop logo. A logo is a key driver in recognition, so if you're pushing people to your shop from social they can check that it's you, but also it's used in a lot of marketing drives by the platform so it makes sense to have a recognisable mark that people know is yours. It's the start of building a brand, and a small business.
  • Add your shop location and make this as specific as you're comfortable with. You clearly don't want to use your house address, but using the village, town or nearest city that is relevant to you helps people to identify with your business, especially for those that are keen to shop local.
  • Make your banner image to a picture of you. This is something we were so reluctant to do when we first started marketing Small Market, it feels very uncomfortable to put yourself front and centre because you want to have a shop front. But people really respond to a human touch, and it doesn’t have to be a portrait, it can be a shot of you making, or you selling at a stall. It’s the personal connection people are looking for and the understanding that this is made by a person not by a factory.
  • Product listings. These are so important and something that many people neglect. When you've lots of products to upload you just want to get through them and make all of the descriptions very short, or even worse, all the same. Not only is that bad for your SEO it's also not great for your customers. People could be seeing your products for the first time. They want to know what's special about them, how are they made, what is their story? And then make sure you include the key ‘sales’ data that people look for (which you could put in the additional information). This is the detail such as size, materials, weight or anything else that a customer would ask you if they were buying in person. The images can also do some of this work for you.
  • Product images. Try to make your customer understand the product. Some detail shots are always great, but also include images that give your product scale, as well as any great quality images of people wearing or using your lovely things. And if you’ve got any pictures of you making the product you could include these too. The handmade element of your products could be key to a sales decision for your customer.
  • Product range. One way to increase your shop views is to try and entice people in with some of your key items and focus your marketing on those best sellers. The benefit of Small Market is that once you’re on a product page it only shows the customer other products of yours, so the suggestions will all be your makes. Use this knowledge to your advantage and take the time to choose which related items you want people to see next.
  • Improve your SEO scores. We provide a feature within the product listings that scans your product for details and presents an SEO score. The higher the percentage the better reach you're going to get with that product. It’s dull but it works and will help your organic traffic from search engines.

And then there's the small matter of getting people to your shop.

This is the tricky bit, but it starts with your social profiles. If you're regularly posting your makes on social media you're probably doing a pretty good job of this already, but I’ve been picking up some tips to improve our engagement so here are some suggestions for social:

  • Include your shop links. People who are looking at your social profiles are interested in your makes. They love the way that you’re creating them and want to find out more. The best way to do this is to fill in all of your bio information. Facebook allows you to include multiple website links and add your Instagram link, so use all of the fields you can. Instagram only allows one, so be careful where this sends people to as they want to find what they’re looking for quickly when leaving a social site. You can use the shop URL for your Small Market shop, or a direct link to the product page of a key item.
  • Include text in your social posts. Give people the info about your makes within the post where you can. Add in the name, the story, and then if it’s listed for sale include reference to being able to buy it in your shop. People are used to hunting out the link in the bio if they know there’s something to look for. Tag us in if it’s on Small Market so we can share it for you, and we’ll include your tag in the response as social media likes you to share and values back-linked tags too.
  • Include videos/posts about you. Back to the human touch, but don’t be afraid to introduce yourself, include details of your makes and talk about the products. There’s a balance here to not making hard sales videos, but instead trying to give people a sneak peak, exclusive content, and a driver to visit your shop.
  • Try to establish a regular posting pattern. It doesn’t matter whether this is once a day, once a week or even less, as long as you’re consistent. The social gods like that and boost your posts accordingly. And use all of the features, so on Instagram a split of posts, stories and videos etc. Don’t panic about this initially, but it’s a good way to attract more people as everyone uses these sites in different ways. 
  • Follow fellow makers. The quickest way to a larger audience is to get people to share your stuff, and the way to do that is to engage with theirs. Comment on people’s posts, like their images and add stuff to your stories. Your grids/feeds should be full of your products, but stories are fleeting so share people's content that way to build engagement without confusing people that visit your links. Of course you should be interested in the stuff that you're sharing and be able to make your own comment on it - you're not just there to buy social currency!

There are plenty more ways to build engagement which come as you start to sell at markets, in local shops, or even through word of mouth of your friends and family. Don't forget that people close to you can become your biggest advocates, so tell everyone what you're up to, share your work with the people that love you most - and even if they don't become your customers, with that much enthusiasm they're sure to recommend you to someone that might be!