Online selling tips from an eCommerce entrepreneur
Are you a small business, crafter or designer looking to sell your products online and in need of good advice? Ecommerce expert Lawrence Parnis shared his online selling tips with Elish Bull. Lawrence owns an umbrella portal, offering buyers around the world and makers of Irish handmade products, an easy one stop e-commerce solution for sourcing Irish products.
So what is Craftbay Marketplace?
Craftbay Marketplace is a fully functional e-commerce and m-commerce portal registered as a marketplace on the Craft Council of Ireland website. It allows people to buy and sell handmade, crafted, vintage or recycled ethnic products from Ireland. When launched, it will be the largest online portal for Irish handmade goods. We will also have fully functional IOS, Android and iPad apps for buyer and sellers. I developed it with my associate Julie and our Technological Partners based in the Synergy Centre, ITT College, in Dublin. We are also Client Company of the South County Dublin Enterprise Board.
Why did you think Craftbay had to exist?
I regularly work at various outdoor events like farmers markets, outdoor festivals and in the exhibition industry. I immediately recognised a gap in the market for exhibiting craftspeople to replicate this trading experience online. Our surveys revealed Irish craft producers and designers were screaming out for an umbrella portal like Craftbay Marketplace, so I set up this ecommerce platform for crafts businesses to sell their products collectively whilst creating a global online audience of buyers for the community.
We have done extensive research and concluded that over 90 % of all online sales from Ireland are through sites that are based outside of Ireland; hence all the money spent is being sent out of the country. We really need to take note of this and start getting consumers to buy Irish more on line.
Have You advice for small businesses thinking about improving their online presence and selling online?
Here are the first essential steps when creating a platform:
- Have a good development team to develop a functional website
- You need a good e-commerce site so buyers can buy directly from your site. My research shows that less than 25% of Irish Business have a fully functional e commerce site.
- Be mobile compatible. Your website must be mobile enabled for use on smartphones and tablets. Times are changing, from all the research I have done it shows m commerce is the new trend and way forward for people purchasing. M commerce is where people are buying from mobile devices e.g. smartphones and tablets. In fact, we are entering the age of Phablets where we will have our phone and tablets on one device.
- Once you have the platform, my Top Tips for selling online would be:
- Get good quality high resolution images – there is lots of help you can get on line with this, just Google the subject or go on You Tube.
- A minimum of 3 – 5 pictures of each product. Buyers online cannot feel, smell or touch your product so the more pictures you have the better.
- A good description, both for SEO purposes and to sell. (Including your picture descriptions.) Give as much detail about the product as you can – what it is made from, how it is made and the inspiration that you got to create that item.
- Tell The Story. Buyers of handmade products like to know about the person that has created the items; if possible give a good description about yourself, where you come from, your inspiration, what materials you like to work with.
- Be up front from the start pricewise. Have the total price of the product landed at their door at first glance. There is nothing more annoying for a buyer to go through the sales process and looking at a product for £20 and when they go to the end of the cart it is nearly £40. This will deter potential buyers from completing the sale. Once lost, they may not come back.
- Be up front with your return policy and terms and conditions. Let your buyers know what their rights are from purchasing from your shop.
- Use secure payment methods such as PayPal as buyers feel secure in a reputable brand and have no hesitations in purchasing. I told our developers I wanted to create a very secure site right through from the back end and when the payment was completed. It was one of my main briefs and we have done that. We do not handle any funds as we have teamed up with Paypal to provide us with a secure service for both buyers and sellers.
- Loading speed should not take more than 5 seconds to upload or you will lose the buyer. At Craftbay we are aiming to reduce ours to below 0.9 of a second
- Be app equipped. If you can afford it, Ios, Android and iPad app, but these can be quite expensive.
- A good digital marketing plan that changes as your business grows. Use different methods to drive traffic to your website, which should be incorporated in your overall marketing plan.
To find out more about Craftbay, visit