Learnings from starting a new E-Commerce store from scratch – Part 1

For quite some time my wife has been thinking of converting her art and craft hobby into an online business. The pandemic has accelerated the need as her traditional hostel business is staring at a closure.

She is quite an artist and has been creating and gifting beautiful handmade home d├ęcor items for her friends and family members. Here are some samples of the designs created by her.

Now, creating such beautiful pieces is one thing and selling them online is a completely new skill which she does not have. I had no prior experience of setting up an online store, still decided to take a plunge and since I recently enrolled in a CXL conversion optimization scholarship, I saw this as a chance to implement my learning as I go.

The first Hurdle – Deciding where to sell

She had two choices –

  1. Sell online on a store like Etsy or Amazon
  2. Create her own small e-commerce store

After some deliberations she decided to go with the second option and here are some arguments in favor of this decision.

  1. She needs to create a long term brand of her own
  2. Having her own site gives her better control of the business. ( NO unplanned or sudden expansion)
  3. She wants to keep it small ( the focus is more of a artistic expression and recognition rather than building a big business)

There could be for or against argument on her choice, but as a obedient husband, I do not question her choice, Just follow the order ( Pun intended)

We booked a domain and started building an online store, since I am non-technical marketer, setting up a wordpress store with woocommerce was the easy first choice.

The first version of our store was a complete disaster. Here is some screenshots to help you understand what I mean.

See so many issues here?

  1. The picture quality is bad
  2. The product images are poorly aligned and same is true for the add to cart button.
  3. The category page filter is not set up properly.

The same is true for individual product pages as well. The picture quality sucks and there is so much content on the page.

To be honest, I never thought setting up an online store takes so much time. I thought it would be a job that I can finish over a weekend. but setting up an online store has so many small pieces that you need to connect together.

The second iteration

Now I am working on the second iteration of this store and here are few learning that I intend to implement.

I have hired the services of a professional photographer for clicking some beautiful pictures. I am trying to find a sweet spot between image quality and load time, also exploring few plugins which can speed up the website without compromising the quality of product images.

Also enrolled in an online program for building the woocommerce store end to end, till now it looks promising, and hopefully I will be able to come up with a great online store.

I have made a list of few pages which has to be done well in order for the store to succeed.

  1. Product category page – The goal I have in mind for this page is – It should help people narrow down the choices and decide what to buy.
  2. Product pages – Maximize the conversion, optimize above the fold content, optimize images, configure upsell, cross-sell, and product variations.
  3. Cart and checkout pages – I am setting up stripe on her store and need to optimize both cart and checkout pages on the store.
  4. Set up and automate customer interaction – This includes both pre and post transaction engagement with the customer. I need to set up order configuration, cart abandonment, order cancellation, and delivery confirmation communication. Also need to build an email list for future communication and building a fan following for her store.
  5. Setting up a blog – For the long term success of her personal brand as an artist, she needs to build her thought leadership, I am thinking of setting up a blog and teach her how to regularly share content on all mediums of communication.

Since it’s a weekend-only project, I am still deliberating if I can outsource the entire development and design of the store or do it by spending 3-4 hours every weekend. It’s a choice between time and money. But, In both scenarios, it’s going to be fun and learning.

I will keep sharing my learning as I move forward in building this store and implementing my learning from the CXL program. Do you have some suggestions on how to move forward quickly.

Leave a comment