If you're selling a product online, choosing the right e-commerce platform is essential - but which approach is the right one for your startup?
Karina Fagras is the co-founder of Blush and Bashful, a new jewellery brand, and is also an experienced e-commerce manager. Here's how she decided upon the right e-commerce platform for her business.
Tell us a little about your business
Blush & Bashful is a stylish, contemporary jewellery brand that combines the simple lines of modern jewellery with nostalgic detailing inspired by antique jewellery. The idea for the business has been a work in progress for many years, and we finally took the leap this year with the help of a Start Up Loan from Virgin Start Up.
The initial concept collection is a signet style ring with interchangeable signets held via a spring pin in the centre. We will expand to include other settings such as earrings, pendants, bracelets, and cufflinks that hold the same size signet. Silver will be the primary metal used in production, but gold and platinum lines may be offered if demand is high enough to support the added cost. Our designs have an inherently English feel, drawing inspiration from the flora and fauna of the English countryside. Our products are made exclusively in the UK, and it's very important to us to build a sustainable and ethical business.
We are currently engaged in completing the website, completing the first production run of the launch designs, arranging a photoshoot, and reaching out to influential jewellery bloggers for some coverage. Visitors to www.blushbashful.com can sign up to receive news of our launch.
What was your approach to setting up an eCommerce platform?
We are using Shopify. We also explored WooCommerce (powered by WordPress) and Magento. We are launching our website with just 9 products, so using a system as a complicated and extensive as Magento seemed like overkill for this moment in time. It offers far more flexibility and customization than Shopify but it comes at the cost of a lot more technical overhead we didn’t want to deal with this early in the business. We were worried about security issues using WooCommerce just because the underlying WordPress CMS is frequently attacked as it’s so widely used.
Shopify could be customized enough to make our website feel unique and it has the required out-of-the-box features we needed to get up and running quickly. We would probably branch out to a more robust platform like Magento in a year or two if the business is expanding according to plans. With Shopify we also don’t have to worry about managing our own web hosting, our own SSL certificates, etc.
What were the key features you wanted and why?
Our business is very reliant on using high-quality product photography to sell. We wanted an e-Commerce system that had simple, image rich templates available to use out of the box. We also needed strong integrations with other common systems (Xero, MailChimp, Google Analytics, advertising platforms, etc).
What tools have been helpful to you during this process?
G-Suite has been very useful for coordinating all of our e-mail, calendars, and Google services. Xero for easy cloud based accounting. MailChimp for managing all of our newsletters and subscriber lists because of strong third party integration, plus the fact that it’s free for a small business maintaining a small subscriber list.
What has your experience as an eCommerce manager taught you about what makes an amazing online shopping experience?
User experience is critical. Things should work as expected and not be cryptic to find out. It’s important to help customers place their orders, not hinder them. The use of tools like PCA Predict to help customers fill out their billing/shipping addresses quicker may seem like minor assistance, but all these little things help to make checkout more fluid and less likely to be abandoned.
Automating as much as possible is also very important, not only in reducing your day to day workload, but also in optimising conversion rates. Tools like abandoned cart programs can re-engage visitors with minimum effort, and setting up a welcome email program will help convey your brand message, and convert browsers to buyers.
How important is it to have great photography for your ecommerce site?
High quality photography is crucial for the success of our business, as we will be selling primarily online to begin with.
Etsy sellers can get away with DIY photographs, but our product line is being marketed as more developed and high end, so we will be working with professionals to create the imagery we need.
We are in the process of arranging a photoshoot for lifestyle imagery, with a photographer and models already selected. We have also selected a photographer who specialises in jewellery photography to produce the product cut out shots. We found that finding one photographer that was experienced in both lifestyle and product shots was difficult, so have sourced one for each specialism.
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