Monday, May 4, 2009

Shop Makeover--Part I

I have been very busy since the beginning of April for various reasons.After checking out the farmers market I thought for a very long time about whether to start selling at shows and markets myself.I even applied for one juried market and got accepted, but after talking to other full time Etsy sellers and thinking through the time and booth fees involved, I decided to keep my jewelry exclusively online for another year.
Instead of going to the markets and shows, I will be working on starting my own website by the end of this year(seriously!).And before that actually happens, I will give my Etsy shop a "makeover" first.

First Step -- New "Thematic" Sections

My sales has always been very steady, but I wanted more than that. From my past experience,I knew that something needed to be done, even though I wasn't sure what that something was, or I was not going to see my business grow at the pace I wanted to see.

I have been using the most old fashioned shop sections for my jewelry--rings, earrings, bracelets, necklaces..etc.Because I have a large shop and my main lines feature gemstones and pearls, I divide rings and earrings into four sections--pearl rings, gemstone rings, pearl earrings, gemstone earrings.For a very very long time I feel dissatisfied with this kind of arrangement and have been thinking about re-organizing my items based on their styles.However my own stubbornness and fear stopped me -- "what if people searching for earrings can't find them anymore?" I told myself, "what if they can't find what they want, and stop buying from me?"

These are the kind of thoughts that always creep in to stop you from making changes. I struggled to overcome them by telling myself "if this doesn't work, you can always change the sections back.But if you don't even try, how can you find out if it actually works better?"

So I started the experiment.

It took me almost two years to be unhappy about the looks of my shop, 1 minute to delete all the old sections, and then another 10 minutes to add new sections and put my jewelry into the current sections.Thankfully, as soon as I was done, my doubts disappeared completely.My shop instantly looked better when I browsed through different sections--I saw clear themes in the jewelry, and also knew right away how to improve my photos.Here are the sections that are at least 80~90% done..

I didn't have any customers complain about the section changes.I didn't know if they liked it, but I did seem to see some sales increase-- but that could also be a coincidence, you really never know.

Second Step--Redo Photos

After browsing through different sections a few times, I realized the weakest section in my shop was gemstone jewelry.I always tried to photograph gemstones on white background because it presents the colors of gemstones more truthfully. However, unless you have a great camera and/or use a light box, it's very difficult to shoot against white background. Since I don't have a SLR and also prefer shooting under daylight ,many of my gemstones looked washed out against the white background.Again, even though I sort of knew this a long time ago, my stubbornness prevented me from accepting the fact and improving myself. But after the section change and I could clearly see my mistakes, I decided to give my gemstone section a gray background.

My "Rainbow On My Neck" necklace was the first to get a photo update.It was first listed in January, and although it's been one of my favorite gemstone piece, I didn't sell as many as I expected.Now here's the stats: when I used the original photos, I sold one rainbow necklace each month.After the photo update, I sold three of them in less a month--now that doesn't look like a coincidence to me.

Below you can see my work in progress.Circled listings are the ones waiting for a photo update. Because I have so many designs and so many photos to update, it's a very slow process, and not so enjoyable.I can only tell myself-- if that's what it takes to succeed, then I will do it.

Here's another small section that will be redone--I will also use gray background for my custom birthstone jewelry.In addition, the two designs at the bottom will either be discontinued or re-worked because they haven't been selling as well as I expected.I have also been letting some old and less popular listings expire naturally and may relist them after I re-take the photos. A few designs that don't match my shop style will also be removed.

I realize I'm dragging this post too long so I'm going to stop for now. There'are too many things needed to be done and I just want to share a few of my experiences with Etsy sellers who read my blog first. I will be back in a few days to talk more about my other plans and discoveries. (Be sure to subscribe to my blog or become a follower so you can find your way back to my blog)

--Dream big, work hard and work wisely.
mollie xo


Meghann said...

Good for you for taking the leap! The new shots are great - really showing the colors of the stones, and she sections are very sleek :)
Good luck with the rest of the makeover!

Lenox Knits said...

Thanks for sharing your thought process and insight. I'm sure it will be helpful to many sellers. I don't sell jewelry much but I totally get the need to be constantly thinking about ways to improve your shop.

Anonymous said...

I just finished my makeover for my shop at the first step too and plan to share in blog.. Your decision about sections is AWESOME, I'm thinking about it and think the same as you that if they can't find what they want and go away.. but now I didn't have much order so I think I will change about my sections too.. I will follow what you will do on the next part..

Sweetwater Designs said...

It's such a process to sell online isn't it? your shop looks very organized and well thought out~ I'm sure the results will be success!

Sweet Pea said...

Great idea on the photo redo. I think you have to have contrast especially for the listing photos that fly by so quickly on the etsy main page. You could always use the white background for super closeups on the gemstones for clarity.
I need to do some new photos of some of my things and I will think about making different categories also. Thanks for such an nice blog and all the information you share.

Bonhomie Jewelry said...

I really like your new sections - the shop is looking great! Kudos!

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