Andrew Hudson: Selling online - my experiences
At Hudson & General I sell my crates and products online using the Etsy online marketplace platform. There are a number of other online shops such as Folksy and eBay, but I chose Etsy as it is a marketplace specifically for creative entrepreneurs to sell what they make and for shoppers to buy unique goods. It has a global outreach to over 54 million (as of 2016) registered members worldwide, who are potential buyers of goods.
Using Etsy allows you to manage your listings, orders, payments and the dispatching of goods. Etsy charge a listing fee and a selling commission fee. You can learn more about opening an Etsy shop, fees and much more, in their online guide.
Using an online marketplace in conjunction with social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, also allows you to connect and promote your goods with an even greater audience and again potential buyers.
When selling online it is important to describe your goods accurately and with good visual imagery, as you are reliant on this information to inform and persuade shoppers to buy your goods (as opposed to a traditional shop where the shopper can physically see and touch the goods). Visual imagery with high quality photographs is very important, as it’s what takes the potential buyer’s ‘eye’ and also reflects on the quality of the actual product.
The descriptions and photographs also need to highlight the detailing, uniqueness and quality of the product in order to differentiate it from other similar products being sold in the marketplace.
From selling online, you can gain positive contributions for your own mental health wellbeing. For example when you receive positive review postings of your goods from buyers, it gives you a good buzz feeling. As these are documented reviews, you can refer back to the postings when you are in a low mood and obtain true written evidence that you are worthwhile and have a real talent.
When you are in an online conversation with a shopper on Etsy, discussing your products and possibly some further design requirements required by the shopper; again you gain further confidence and self-esteem in yourself. This is because you are talking about something you are passionate about and only you know the intricate details of your products.
I did have experience of a negative issue, which turned into a positive outcome. A customer in Oxfordshire had purchased a Wine Glass Holder Picnic Trug, which I made and was carefully packaged and then delivered by a courier. A couple of days after dispatch, I received an email from the customer to say that they had received the picnic trug in a damaged state, and asking what action was I going to take. My heart initially sank and with automatic negative thoughts, I thought the making and selling of products is not worth the aggro and I’d close the shop. After a while of thinking it through, I responded to the customer, that I would re-make and dispatch another picnic trug. The customer was highly delighted with the outcome, and stated that I had provided an excellent customer service. The customer also informed their friends of our excellent products and service. So in the end it turned into a positive, successful opportunity. And the courier company paid all compensation costs for the damages! I would suggest to all potential sellers that you work through all issues, and use as a learning opportunity.
Some feedback comments posted on Esty from my customers:
“Received on time, safely packaged and beautifully made. Thank you very much.”
“So pleased with the picnic trug that I ordered – can’t wait to put it to good use! Customer service from this seller was outstanding. Many thanks indeed.”
“Beautifully made picnic trug as per the image. Very excited about using it!.”