BEAM - Setting up an online shop

Updated: Jun 16

Have you ever wanted to create your own online shop? Whether you're new to selling lampshades or are already selling via other online retail platforms, today's BEAM post explores three online eCommerce platforms and what they offer and includes pricing, domain names and what you’ll need to consider and prepare to show your lampshades at their best, before entering the world of being your own online shopkeeper!



Choosing a Platform

There are dozens of eCommerce platforms to choose from which make setting up an online shop a breeze, but here are our top picks and pricing information for each:


Wix

  • Easiest web design features, with drag and drop tools and 100’s of free templates

  • No transaction fees

  • Useful sales tools such as Newsletter Design and Management, Forum & Blog features, Abandoned Cart Recovery and Google Shopping and Facebook Shopping Integration

Click here for more details


Shopify

  • Best for businesses that intend to scale up fast

  • Easy multi-channel sales setup and management – if you sell on various platforms such as Amazon, Facebook and Pinterest, you can manage everything in Shopify.

  • Great inventory-keeping model

Click here for more details


Squarespace

  • High-quality templates

  • Best for Portfolio style websites

  • If you are only offering bespoke/commissioned services as opposed to ready-made products, this is the best option

Click here for more details


EKM

  • Great Order Management

  • Once a year the EKM Team will review your shop with free recommendations on how to improve your website and boost sales.

  • Free Domain Registration

Click here for more details



Choosing a Domain

The domain is what shows after www. on your website. All three platforms, Wix, Shopify and Squarespace can help you check the availability of the domain you want and register it. The registration usually has a yearly cost, but these platforms also make free offers or include them in their monthly subscriptions.


If you already have a domain, you can easily transfer to any of the e-commerce platforms by following their guides or contacting customer service.


Creating Pages

Once you have chosen the platform and domain, it’s time to start editing and adding your pages. Below are the essential pages all websites should have:


Homepage

The equivalent to your shop front, this is where you need a your business name, your branding and a showcase of your best lampshades and services, such as bespoke shades. Good images are crucial, therefore need to be high quality and tell your customer immediately what kind of lampshades you make and sell. The better the images, the better your website will look. Remember though not every visitor will enter via the main entrance (e.g. because of search results or ads), for most people this is the first page they will see.


About page

This page introduces your customers to you, your business and your brand, which in turn builds trust. When a customer buys handmade, they are often keen to ‘meet the maker’ and telling the story behind the business on your 'About page' helps to humanise your brand and connect with your customers. Everyone had the human urge to peek behind the curtain and your customers will too!


Share why you started making lampshades, what made you set up your own business, and what you love about being creative – there are plenty of question ideas in our Meet the Maker posts. And remember you're looking to make customers buy from you so include a photo, to help them picture you making their lampshade!


Shop pages

These should be automatically set up once you start adding products to your store in the next stage.


Service page

This ideal place for mentioning other services you can offer the customer, for example, bespoke shade making services or personalised shades. Taking some time to think about how your services differ from your ‘off the shelf’ lampshades making, can help to formulate what you want to include It needs to communicate to the customer what you can do, how you price your services and how to make contact.


Ideally, the structure needs to be clear, without huge amounts of information and again images can be really useful in expressing your services, so images of previous commissions may be good to showcase your talents.


Contact Us

This is where customers can contact you and should include whatever is relevant from the list below:

  • Contact email address

  • Telephone number

  • Mailing address

  • Social media links,

  • Map location

  • Business hours


Privacy Policies and Terms & Conditions

Legally required on all websites, it’s good to do some research, look at other online shops similar to yours and generate your own. There are also plenty of free Generators online such as that can help you create the content for these pages. Examples are:

Other pages

Although these aren’t essential you may want to consider:


Testimonials or Reviews Page

Testimonials are great for building credibility and including previous customer comments. These can be great way of encouraging sales from new customers.


FAQ Page

A Q&A page with Frequently Asked Questions can provide answers before people contact you so you have less queries to respond to.


Returns/refunds page

It's important that you let customers how they can get a refund and what your terms are - read our BEAM - Offering Returns and Refunds if you're unsure of consumer laws and stating your own position.


Shipping Information Page

Useful for customers, both at home and abroad, shipping can be a key factor in deciding whether to buy or not. State your prices clearly along with the expected delivery times so the customer has clear expectations.


Blog

We highly recommend having a blog page - both for creative and marketing purposes. It also allows your customer a sneak peek behind your business and to get to know you better.


Adding Products


Now that your pages are setup, all that is left is adding your products. Similar to the advice in our posts on selling on online platforms the following is essential:

  • Take clear photos of your products that are high resolution. A smartphone more than capble of taking images, so there is no need to invest in expensive equipment.

  • Photograph the details of your lampshade - a variety of angles, showing the inside, the fittings and a close up of the fabrics used

  • Customers want to imagine your lampshades in their home, so as well as taking images of the lampshade as a product, consider styling an image of it ‘in situ on a neutral lamp base in a well-lit space

  • Try to maintain the same aspect ratio (i.e., the ratio between the width and height) across your product photos so that all your photos appear the same size. This is particularly important if your offer a range of lampshade sizes as it will show the difference between each. This is a good example from www.harbourlane.com.


Product descriptions

Images will do the visual work, but a good description will sell your lampshades!


When writing a product description, is a good idea to have a structure, that once you’ve completed you can then weave together to ensure you cover everything you can possibly say about your product, to make it more appealing to the customer.

  • Size

  • Shape

  • Style

  • Light Fitting

  • Uses – Pendant or table lamp

  • Dimensions

  • Description of the fabric

  • Description of the inner

  • Materials used

  • Safety

Other things to include in your description are:

  • From the customer's point of view, what might they need to know to help them click buy?

  • What are the benefits of your lampshades – handmade, bespoke, one of a kind, customisable, limited edition, size, shape

  • What are your terms of buying – estimated shipping time, made to order, bespoke sizes, free P&P, free returns

  • How can you help the customer visualise the purchase? Size charts of the lampshades you offer, why you choose the fabric and what you like about the lampshade, or where you think it will fit into someone’s home


FREE Business Advice

Our Business Expertise and Advice for Makers - BEAM - blog posts cover everything from selling your lampshades to large retailers to offering customer refunds and everything in between! Including posts on lampshade safety advice and selling at craft markets, they're a wealth of information, specially written with lampshade makers in mind. Take a look at our information-packed and advice filled posts using the button below.


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