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How do I go about selling 100% totally unique items online

Getting some traffic but no feedback and no questions

5:16 pm on Jul 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Hello to All,

I have a new website up a little over a month now, and I am seriously problems with feedback and response.

I sell a unique line of womens and kids clothing the emphasis on the design work, the designs are patterns of flowers, butterflies, birds done using sequins, rhinestones, paints, and some with sparkling dust.

I have a wide variety infact the widest I have ever seen in my area of expertise. All items are individual produced by hand, so the prices are expensive, but I am accustomed to selling them offline and still getting some sales but I wanted a way to reach more people and have a larger clientel.

The work I do require a certain level of experience so although some persons do these things on their own, these with a good eye know my work is superior by far. I also give persons the option of colour and varying styles of garments, they can even have something done totally custom made.

I bought a course to help me get the site up which I did. I have my product pages, with detailed pictures, and several pictures of each item, I have my contact page with my personal information, I have a guarantee, I have information about all the services available, testimonials, and one from someone distinguished I have everything I need I was using a cart but switched to paypal and I'll retain a cart to use for persons having problems with paypal,I found the first draft wasn't getting any results so I got two copywriters to look at it and they both felt I need a totally job redone.

They were asking for too much money so I opted to make changes on the feedback I got from them. I got a webpage template and moved the content over and broke down some pages I have 30 some product pages so I have only done over half the rest I would do this week.

I don't have a set of money to spend on a copywriter/marketing person to redo my site. So I am looking for some good advice, on what I can do differently. As the site layout wasn't orderly and the ordering process convulted and my coloring scheme.

I am up to 100 - 146 page views a day and I am working on getting more traffic from the various search engines,I was on Kanoodle when the site was first up so that is how I know something was wrong and I had some visitors yesterday as I bought traffic to test the site out. Maybe it is too soon to tell as I only sent the revised site up Saturday morning but I am still not getting any feedback I know I have received several bookmarks to my site so I know it can't be what I have doesn't interest people.

Is there anyone who has experience selling high priced items who can give me some good advice on what I need to convert sales.

I have been giving special offers of an e-book series related to the clothing, and how to keep them looking like new, another one entitled goldmine in your closet because it gives ideas on how forgotten or ruined clothing that persons already how they can be transformed into "new clothing". And some other books depending on how much they spend. I also did the sales structure up so that its like I am discounting the items. Is that bad as the item is unique should I just instead give one price and not say get x amount of and what the price actually is if they don't buy in time.

How do I go about selling 100% totally unique items online in terms of the content I use?

Any help I receive I am extremely grateful for.
Thank you

10:46 pm on July 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Georgina, your questions are too broad. You seem to be asking for a summary of Webmaster World, and it looks like no-one is prepared to rise to that challenge.

All the answers you seek are already in the archive, read as much as you can of the sections that are relevant to you. When you have specific questions that can be addressed quickly by busy people they certainly will be answered.

8:53 am on July 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Hi Georgina

I also sell unique items, made to customer specification. I've been selling online since 1996 and had a customer base before that. Even though I agree that your questions are very broad, I probably provide some basic tips.

First and foremost, make your site as understandable and easy as possible from the customer point of view. That goes for everything from the navigation to actually placing an order. It's especially easy to overwhelm people when you make items to customer specifications because many don't want to specify all that much. It may help to offer some items with very limited options or point out some bestselling combinations.

I realize you are looking for new customers, but be certain to market your website to your current customers as well. They are probably the very best people to spread the word about it and give you the feedback you need. Make sure your site is listed on business cards, flyers, ads and any other business materials. Encourage your customers to give you feedback, maybe a survey worth a discount or contest entry?
The website should offer added value to those customers as well, perhaps in the form of order status, additional support, ease of ordering...

Be sure to point out to new potential customers how your products are better than businesses which sell the same type of merchandise. Even if the difference between mass produced and custom made is clear to you, it won't be to many of the people who see your site for the first time.

Make your turnaround time clear and over estimate rather than take a chance of being late. I've found timeframe to be *much* more important to online customers. Not meeting such promises can seriously destroy a business's reputation.

I hope some of that helps. I'm sure you already know how important it is to make the customer feel secure, especially with high priced items. There should be plenty of information about that as well as similar considerations in the archives.

Best of luck. :)

9:26 am on July 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:Aug 27, 2002
votes: 1

Hi Georgina,
first of all, welcome to WebmasterWorld.

In addition to buying traffic from PPC engines, you should start to get links from other sites so that your site gets known to spidering Searchengines and gets listed there as well.
Submit to business directories, DMOZ and maybe even Yahoo.
How to do that the right way you will find in the respective forums here on WW.
Also make sure that you have content (in writng) on your site so that the spiders find some food. Pictures are not spiderable.

Use your offline media (business cards, letterhead, sign in shop) to make the site known to your existing customer base. You could even post the webaddress on your sign with the opening hours, so that prospects can revert to your site in case the shop is closed.

And as Longhaired_Genius already said, come up with more specific questions. they are much easier to handle.
And read and read and read and participate in Webmasterworld.

Good luck!

11:04 am on July 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

joined:June 6, 2001
votes: 2

Geogina, I've got some good news, and some bad news. The good news is that it IS possible to solve your problems, and get the site producing. The bad news is that its going to take quite a bit of work.

Right now your number 1 issue is a lack of incoming QUALITY links. I can see the "LinksToYou" flash at the bottom of your homepage, and its doing you no good whatsoever. ALL of the sites in that list seem to have a lower PageRank than they should (and in many cases that means that are zero'd out, like you). There are a few sites in the list with PR, and they are the ones that also have some good incoming links NOT from L2U.

I would be tempted to 1) dump LinksToYou. At best, the links are being ingnored. At worst you are being flagged as a spam domain for participting. 2) Review your <special links> page, and dump the references to other link farms (linking TO such domains definitely marks you as a "naughty" site). 3) Start a quality linking campaign. You dont seem to have an ODP listing (ODP = Open Directory Project, a very useful / worthwhile free listing from www.dmoz.org). Also contact the other sites in the <special links> and ask for links back from them, as these links would have MUCH more value.

I would guess that the site will convert visitors to sales quite well, it looks nice, seem to be tolerably well laid out, with some nice features etc. Longer term, looking at alternative payment methods to PayPal will be a good idea (espicially for non-US customers), and I also noticed that some of your images could do with properly optimising (there are free tools that will help you with this. 40k "thumbnails" that are actually full-size images squeezed using HTML height= / width= attributes slow your site down a lot, for no good reason)

You might consider PPC to get short term traffic. The problem you are going to have with that long term is that I think your sales cycle is going to be pretty long, the items you offer are not impulse buys, rather something that people are going to take a long time to muster the cash for (birthday gifts, XMas presents etc)

>> You seem to be asking for a summary of Webmaster World

LOL, yup. I would recommend you do some background reading. Running an effective web business is a complex, demanding task. We will help if you come across specific problems, but there isn't a 10 page "How-to" guide. As I said earlier, I would recommend that your first "challenge" should be getting some quality links, and therefore getting some traffic. It's amazing how much easier other things will become once that starts to happen

4:12 pm on July 14, 2003 (gmt 0)

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joined:July 13, 2003
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Hello Again,

Thank you very much to you all for being helpful.

I was beginning to wonder if I was still doing something severely wrong with the site.

Sorry for being so general but I tried to put as much information as is possible to make sure I covered some basic bases.

I have read up various sections on the site I did quite a bit of reading already, and I plan to do some more also.

I am on Google. And some other engines, infact most of links showing up are from Google and I am slowly getting traffic coming in it started coming in first from tye dye, then my name, then design and other words and of weekend under clothing, I think I will have to go back though and see how many more words can be added to make unique more common and maybe gifts too, I had to do this for womens clothing so hopefully soon womens will start showing up. And some of the links from Links to You have been added mainly the Shopping Links. I made certain and submitted the most relevant pages to them. One of which is the Shopping Page I don't mind canning the links to you but first I think I'll add more links first to my other areas. It wa so much to even add the few reciprocal links I already have infact I think I am going to check up on some and make sure I am added to them. Do people seriously look at the links pages and weigh them in.

Talltroll to be more specific from what you have said, How many more links Should I be looking at more in the quality area. Should I be looking at a directory of sub sections which are about 200 or more links?

And seeing that my major issue would be making sure I have traffic and lots of it. How much traffic would be expected for a site like mine to turn at least some sales and make the bulk in the holidays and special occassions then?

I'll optimise the other pictures.

Thank You

5:05 pm on July 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I think one thing that has to be considered is the potential of the product itself. Some product lines are just great for online sales and have an extremely high potential for success even with a newbie at the helm. Others are just an uphill battle no matter what you do. IMO, your product IS a niche product and you have to look at it from that perspective.

Customization, in theory, is great. But a friend of mine once pointed out to me that sometimes by giving people too many choices, they don't make any at all. That's one thing to consider.

The other thing you may want to do is get some press. I'm sure there are some magazines that cater to your target market and getting editorial mention in a magazine or one a magazine type website, could really help you create a name for yourself and/or your product line. And it will also help you boost sales by being able to say "as seen in" " as featured in" or something similar.

Coming from experience with selling clothing, I don't think your problem is that your prices are on the higher end, because despite what people may think or tell you, many, many people drop a lot of money on expensive items on the internet. I think that your problem is more related to branding than the actual price. When people buy clothing online, where there is no touch/feel/try on to experience, they tend to steer towards brands they are familiar with, ESPECIALLY when it comes to higher end (more expensive) merchandise.

And so it seems that to really have longevity, at some point, you will need to focus on branding, on getting recognition, getting your product out there, so that people come to associate your product with certain positive qualities. Even though you offer a guarantee, most online shoppers try to avoid the likelihood of disappointment in the first place and don't like returning merchandise. Having third party validation that your product is just great (not testimonials) would help you get there.

Another thing to consider is the type of woman your clothes appeal to (even though you make children's clothing, it's the mother or grandmother that's mainly going to buy it) and figure out where they are online, what they do, what other stuff they are interested in. Because, perhaps, links from sites that target the same market could drive a lot of potential traffic.

11:58 pm on July 16, 2003 (gmt 0)

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You could put a few of your items up on eBay.
11:53 am on July 20, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I got two copywriters to look at it and they both felt I need a totally job redone.

ask 100 copywriters to look at your site and they will ALL say your site needs rewriting - it might do, it might not, but the copywriters will always say it does because they all want your money. same with web designers - every web designer will find something wrong with every web site, just because they want your money.

I was using a cart but switched to paypal ... I don't have a set of money to spend on a copywriter/marketing person to redo my site ... the site layout wasn't orderly and the ordering process convulted and my coloring scheme ...

this is something i've seen again and again in these forums - people saying they can't afford this or that and have done it themselves and are having problems. this part of the reply is to EVERYONE that says "can't afford" etc etc ...

if you are running an e-commerce site, you need to treat it like a business, not like a part time hobby. get it right first time and the money will come in - get it wrong and the money won't come in - you'll either be left with stock you can't sell or you'll have to pay a developer to build you a site that works.

if you can't build your own site, employ a professional developer to do it for you. if you can't write good copy, employ a coywriter. if you need to accept credit cards, get a merchant account - don't rely on PayPal just because it's free.

yes, developers and copywriters and merchant accounts cost money, but they will make you money by helping you set up your business for the long term.

write a business plan and ask the bank for some money - if you have faith in your business and you treat it like a business, and if you show that you have thought things through properly, it will show in your business plan and you stand a good chance of getting the money. if one bank refuses, reconsider your business plan and go back to them. there are lots of banks out there so keep trying.

if you show that you are cutting corners, trying to run it for free, treating it like a hobby, you will only ever earn pocket money from it.