So some of you might know that until a few weeks ago I ran a store called Pastel Faery, which later was changed to Curious Crescent. I closed it a few weeks ago, and now reopened it, only now I'm selling handmade stuff instead of reselling items. Now this post won't be of much use for those who are planning of making a living off an online store, but I know that there are many people my age who would love to run their own store in their spare time.
I've made some mistakes when I ran my store, and instead of regretting them I'm going to use them to warn others and tell you what you should and shouldn't do. After all, we're here to learn right?
So first of all you'll have to choose a platform. For my store I used Storenvy, which works great. It's all free and fairly easy. Only problem is that if you want things like discount codes you'll have to pay $5 a month. Another thing is that you can list your items in the Storenvy marketplace to get more attention. However you should know that if something is sold through the marketplace instead of your storefront (your website) they'll take a 10% fee off of the money you'll get.
A thing I didn't like about Storenvy is that they work with Stripe and Paypal. Paypal is great, but Stripe isn't. If you want to give someone a refund you'll have to pay a large fee over it, which is an incredible loss. Also it can take up to 10 days for your money to get transferred to your bank account. I really dislike Stripe.
You can also go for Tictail or Bigcartel. I have little experience with those, but they are both free as well. I do however not know about fees with those two.
Another option is Etsy, a platform which I am using at the moment. Creating a store is free, and having things such as stats and discounts is free as well. However, Etsy asks $0.20 for every listing and asks a small fee for every sale you make. It's not much though, but it could be annoying.
I recommend Etsy for handmade stuff, because people who don't know your store can easily find your items.
Alright, that's some info about different platforms. Now I'm gonna tell you what I did wrong.
I was a reseller. You can resell items by buying them and stocking them, or by using dropshipping services. Dropshipping means that you buy an item from a supplier and they'll ship the item to your costumer for you. That way you only pay when you sell and won't risk having stock leftovers. It saves you a lot of hassle and money, or at least that's what I thought. It did in fact save me money, but it was a big hassle.
Basically what happened was that my suppliers didn't really communicate with me that well. They're from Asia and their English isn't that great, but that's not the problem. The problem was that if a costumer was missing an order I would have to ask my supplier where it was. And sometimes they didn't respond, or responded a week later. It's very frustrating for a costumer to be in the dark about something, but it's even more frustrating for the seller.
I didn't know where my costumer's items where, when they would arrive, in what shape they would arrive, and if they would even arrive. Being in the dark like that really sucks, because after all you want your store to do good.
If you do choose dropshipping for your store, make sure to have a good communication with your supplier(s). It's the key to success.
Another thing that I did wrong was calculating profit. Whenever I listed an item I sort of guessed how much profit I would get. What I forgot to think about was that I needed some back-up money in case of a refund, and that if people would apply discount codes my profit would drop.
Sometimes I would have a profit of less than a dollar, and one time I even lost two dollars..
It's important that you calculate your profit carefully and create room for things like fees and discounts.
My store was mainly known on instagram, and most of my costumers knew me there. I often had giveaways and I also had some promoters to whom I gave free stuff. However I again didn't think about profit, Sometimes I hadn't made that much profit and I would do a giveaway regardless. I don't know why I did it, but I didn't think about it. Looking back at it I feel pretty naïve, and I realised that I should've put more thought in it.
There were a few things I was good at though, or at least my costumers told me I was.
One thing that I heard a lot was that the costumers liked the way I interacted with them. I always took my time to respond to them, even when it was on a weekend or late at night. If someone sent me an email regarding their order I would respond no matter what. I was, and still am, dedicated to my costumer and refuse to leave them in the dark about something. I respect all of them, even if they are rude. And it turns out that people really appreciate that. So if you're starting a store, make sure to have a good costumer service. Be polite and respectful. I've seen stores insult their costumers after they were rude, and it just makes the store look bad.
Another thing people said is that they liked how active I was. Even if I wasn't posting to instagram I would get online and see what was going on. I want to know who my audience is, and I think that's a very important thing to know. As a store owner you have to reach out to the people, and social media is great for that if you use it the right way.
I've also heard people say that they liked how different I was. Even though I sold products many others sold as well, I tried to be unique. And I wanted to let my costumers know that they are welcome. I support all kinds of people, and everyone should feel safe on my store account. When I listed clothes with small sizes I would write a little note underneath saying that "your size doesn't define your beauty", because I know many people struggle with their self-worth. People actually liked that and it made them happy.
So having good connections with your costumers and knowing them well is essential.
I think that was about all I have to share. I've started over and I'm now selling handmade stuff on my Etsy store called Curious Crescent. I'm using the knowledge I have gained and hopefully my store will be a success. If you wish to create your own store and you have questions don't hesitate to comment or if you have instagram you can find me (@peculiarplanets) and ask me anything.
Have a nice day!