Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Talkin' Shop Tuesday - Checklist for Success - Your Shop

Today, in this Talkin' Shop Tuesday post, I'm sharing something I had written up when I was the captain of the BESTeam to help my teammates address some of the possible areas of focus for increasing their chances for success on Etsy. These are just some of the things I've learned in my almost 3 years on Etsy - and I think that it may spur some important things to evaluate when you're looking at how to better your shop!  If you have anything you'd like to add to the list, please comment!  I'd love to hear all of your ideas and I'm sure everyone else reading this would too!  :)

Checklist For Success - Your shop:
  • Do you have an announcement that invites people to browse around?
  • Is your profile filled out? It’s your chance to emotionally connect with potential customers. You don’t have to divulge personal information, but it’s nice to give them an idea of what motivates you and moves your spirit!
  • Do you have well written policies? Don’t wait for a situation to arise before you know how you’ll handle it. Be prepared. Do you have a return policy? Store credit or refund? What if an item is damaged in shipping? Bulk discounts? This is where you can tell them everything they need to know and CYA in the process.
  • Do you update your announcement on a somewhat regular basis – stagnation is not great for SEO! Mention an upcoming holiday, even if it is Arbor Day!
  • Is your location filled out? Important for buyers when it comes to shipping transit times.
  • Do you have enough stock and variety (or a really smoking hot idea) that will bring people in to look around and keep them there?
  • Do you add things or renew them on a regular basis to keep your shop up higher in the searches?
  • Are your titles "search" friendly?  Think like a buyer - are you more likely to search for "Earrings, black" or "Black Earrings?" If you have somewhat similar items, try a variety of ways of saying the same things in different orders or words to catch the search habits of a wide variety of shoppers.
  • Have you considered your listing descriptions with the understanding that people may be arriving on that page with no idea of what Etsy is or how to get to your shop homepage?
  • How are your item photos and descriptions? Good, clean, bright photos from all angles and well thought out, grammatically correct descriptions with no typos? (There’s a reason why there’s a review page before your listing is finalized) Ask yourself if you would buy your item without actually being able to see it – if not, assume that others might feel the same way! Details like measurements, color, fabric, etc., are more important online than you can imagine. 
  • Make a photo editing tool like Picasa, or any of the other free photo editing tools, your best friend. You would be amazed at how good your pictures can be with just one or two clicks of auto fixes in some cases.
  • Can your item be seen in your main photo? I'm amazed at the number of items I run across where, because of the way the photo is set up, the item or focal point of the item being sold isn't visible. Stage your photos to be rectangular with a 4:3 ratio of width to height, or crop them to that ratio. 
  • Your photo backgrounds should be appropriate, immaculate, and I personally believe that items like vintage clothing should be neatly shown (yes, that means no wrinkles for me!) Displaying jewelry or other small items against a linty, wrinkled, or pet hair covered backdrop can be a turn off, as can worn tabletops, dirty or discolored plastic, and distracting photo bombs.
  • If you sell internationally, are your listings set up for people who may not use the same descriptors your home country uses?
  • If you don’t sell internationally, ask yourself why not!
  • Do you have a brand for your business? If not, develop one and carry it through all of your promotional  and business forms. It will imprint your business in your customers’ minds if they seem similarities between your shop banner, your business cards, your packaging, your avatar and anywhere else your business appears. If you’re always changing them, people will be more likely to forget your shop.
  • Do you tuck two business cards in with your orders when you ship them? One for the recipient and one for them to give to a friend when that person asks where they got that (necklace, scarf, journal, etc.)
  • Carry a supply of business cards with you wherever you go and drop them in those “free meal” fishbowls… Most restaurants post the name of the business that is picked… and I’ve even see people pick interesting business cards out of those fishbowls!
  • Do you include a coupon for free shipping or a discount for a return customer? If not, consider doing so!
  • Avoid putting people in a position of having to “ask before they buy” – they’ll head to somewhere where they can just "buy."
  • Can you customize? Don’t assume people will ask you if you do! Are your items one of a kind – let potential buyers know that they are the only ones who will ever have that particular item! If you're able to produce more of the same item, it's wise to let them know that too!
  • Are your prices realistic as opposed to dirt cheap? You’re not doing anyone any favors by underselling yourself on a regular basis.
  • If you’re on a team, are you tagging with a team tag? How else will your teammates find your shop when they’re looking for items for treasuries or to post on a blog or mention on FB or twitter?
  • Do you pay attention to those SEO updates and discussions? Learn as much as possible about it, and put those tips to good use.
  • Does your shop comply with Google's merchant/marketplace guidelines? If not, your items will not be making their way into Google shopping. If and when Etsy makes the rejected listing information available to sellers, you'll be able to see exactly why an item is being rejected.  Until then, you have to be proactive. Duplicate items will generally not show up in Google shopping, even if the item is listed on two separate sites. Make sure your attributes are being used - they are not all optional at this point, no matter what you may have heard otherwise.
  • Do you use words like SALE or FREE SHIPPING in your product titles? Did you know that using these words in a title or adding even a series of exclamation points or question marks to your descriptions can keep your listing from being picked up by Etsy syndication for Google?  Google dislikes anything that is meant to obviously draw attention or anything they consider inappropriate. So before you call that next golden brown scarf “Whiskey Rows”, reconsider and call it something more family friendly like “Pecan pie”.  Kind of silly, but it makes a difference.
  • Are your tags descriptive? Always include colors and as much other information as you can. A good way to find keywords that other people are using (if you don’t work with Google Analytics) is to simply type in a search for that item. If Etsy isn’t “suggesting” search terms, don’t use those words – or at least use a more common word in addition to your original word. Acquaint yourself with a variety of terms (e.g. cerulean is also blue; a jumper in the US is a sleeveless dress, in the UK, it’s a sweater;  the US uses jewelry – almost everyone else uses jewellery) Do you repurpose or recycle? Let them know!
  • Just because it’s summer where you live, remember that it’s winter on the other side of the world. There’s really no such thing as “out of season”, so remember to include items that are useful all year long.
  • Are you active in the forums? Treasuries Making? There are a lot of buyers frequenting the forums looking for YOUR items… and if you’re not posting them in forum posts, they may never see them. Promote, promote, promote!
  • Discretion IS the better part of valor. Watch what you say in that forum post – it’s often available for the world to see, and sometimes it’s better to remember that if you don’t have anything good to say, it’s best to say nothing. And if you DO have something to say, say it tactfully! Many a sale has been lost due to a rude or inappropriate or profane forum comment!
Happy Sales to you, until we meet again!


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