When I started my jewelry business I was an experienced goldsmith, but had never run an online store before. I had to learn on my feet and workout everything from the best e-commerce platform, to how to market my brand. All the while making sure I was keeping up with the day-to-day work of designing and making jewelry.
Today, my website looks exactly how I’d always imagined and while I don’t have a physical shop, I really feel when visitors browse my online store, they take a step into my world. It’s taken a while to get here, with a lot of lessons along the way.
Here are a few things I wish I’d known when I first started my online jewelry business.
1. Be super responsive
An obvious one, but replying to enquiries, as soon as you receive them is key, whether they are email, web-based or on the telephone. Customers don’t have the option of asking a shop assistant burning questions they may have about their purchase. If your response is slow, they can easily go to a competitor website, and you miss out on a sale.
It’s always tricky juggling the demands of your own business, but the needs of the customer always need to come first in the queue. Even if it’s a quick note to say I’ll respond in depth later on (when I have more time), I try to respond to all enquiries within 5 minutes.
2. Chat with customers in real-time
Adding a live chat feature to your website is really important. A 2013 study on online versus traditional shopping conducted by retail strategy firm WD Partners, showed nearly 75 percent of respondents said the experience of human connection was the reason they bought in-store rather than the internet.
Adding a chat function to your site gives it a more human touch. If a customer needs to talk with you, they can do so immediately and you can build a rapport. It’s also a great option for those customers who don’t like using the phone, something becoming increasingly common in our digital age. There are a huge range of live chat add-ons available, so do some research and take advantage of the free trials that most companies offer to find the one that fits with your website.
3. Keep it personal
I want all of my customers to feel they matter to me. Jewelry is such a personal thing and I feel privileged that shoppers are choosing one of my designs to wear every day or mark something special in their lives. With an online shop you can’t tell a customer this person, so I like to convey this by adding a personalized touch to each order, like including a handwritten note.
We’ve got some beautiful branded boxes and wrap every item fastidiously, so that it looks as inviting and pretty as possible. Taking the extra time to make each order individual, means customers often return to me the next time they want to buy a piece of jewelry.
4. Add a review feature
This is a really important feature that helps customers feel secure when they are buying something. I can talk about how great I think our products are until the cows come home! But there’s nothing like an independent, unbiased review from one of our past customers, to help someone make that all important to buy, or not to buy decision.
I’ve always had reviews on-site and found the feedback really valuable. We very rarely have returns, but reviews aim to minimize goods sent back, by answering some questions shoppers might wonder about. For example, if someone has written “just the right size, looks really elegant and subtle” about one of our pendants, it might reassure a customer wondering about the scale of a piece. Plus, it’s another way for customers to interact and keep the shopping transaction personal.
5. Select a scalable online shopping platform
Having used various platforms, I found using a bigger brand like Shopify or ECWID worked better for me. It ensures your website is constantly updated, so any bug fixes that may have been required in one of the millions of stores they operate, will also be applied to yours. They have thousands of different apps that you can use to solve the majority of the problems you might come up against.
Using a bigger online shopping platform also simplifies things if you want to expand your business and sell across other platforms like Amazon and other worldwide websites. The data from your website can easily be migrated across to these new sites with a minimum of fuss.
Finally, I have found using a large company gives you more security. There’s more of a risk that smaller companies could fold, meaning you can potentially lose your website for a time – not ideal.
Jana Reinhardt is the founder and managing director of JanaReinhardt.com and online jewellery boutique specialising in handmade fine jewellery and bespoke commissions. Connect with @janareinhardt on Twitter.