Over the coming year we will be sharing a series of local business stories. This first in the series takes a look at Executive Accessories from the eyes of the owner Wendy Gomersall. Wendy, who is a regular at our Digital Enterprise Program workshops and a recent graduate of our Coaching for Success program, recently moved her online retail store and began using Shopify as her service provider. I asked her to put together this blog post and explain what was involved in her online website move.
Please add your experiences in the comment section below.
Online retail story, by Wendy Gomersall of Executive Accessories
Like many people affected by a serious health issue my hubby Neil and I reassessed our lifestyle and decided that we would like to enjoy life more and have less stress. So we started our own e-commerce business!!!
And that’s when the fun began. Having the website built, finding suppliers who were willing to sell to an online business, sourcing quality products, working out the logistics involved.
www.executiveaccessories.com.au was launched in September 2009 specialising in executive fashion accessories and leather goods. It was November before we got our first order – for a black bow tie – and we both did a happy dance around the house. It was another month before the second order came!
Unfortunately the saying from the Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams “if you build it he will come” does not apply to websites. We quickly become obsessed with SEO, crawl rates, backlinks and more – all things that we hadn’t heard of just a short time ago. Thankfully our efforts paid off and sales began to build, we were happy to have repeat customers and also some nice corporate orders.
However e-commerce businesses stand and fall by their position (or lack of) in the search engine results. And when Google changes its rules (algorithms) your website can disappear from sight. And when your website is your “store front” that is a disaster.
Earlier this year Google did just that and our visitor numbers and subsequent sales fell by over 50% overnight.
This was made worse by the fact that while we had control of our content management system – we could upload products and information and photos – we had no control or access to the ‘bones’ of our website. What had been more than adequate when we launched was now out-dated and every little change came at a cost.
So after several frustrating communications with our web developer we decided to stop pouring money in to the site and to part company. We made the decision to completely rebuild the site ourselves using what is basically a pay as you go e‑commerce platform. And once again the fun began!
Once we had made the decision – which was not taken lightly as we knew the situation would get worse before it got better – we jumped right in and within 3 weeks we had launched the new look www.executiveaccessories.com.au
What it took:
- Choosing an e-commerce platform that gave us the features we needed (and which savvy online shoppers expect) but which was easy to use.
- Selecting a theme for the site that would look great on a desktop but would also be mobile friendly and responsive.
- Migrating all our products to the new site.
- Re-focusing our SEO efforts and re-writing much of the content.
- Re-photographing many of our products to achieve a consistent feel across what was a very different looking site.
- Setting up new payment gateways and systems.
- No set up cost (our original site cost approximately $11k and we have spent at least that amount again since it was launched).
- 24/7 support.
- Easy to use.
- Complete control over every part of our site – with the added benefit of access to a pool of experts if we don’t want to (or can’t) do the work ourselves.
- A site that will not be left behind as technology changes – the platform will keep up with new technology.
- Built in SEO.
- Lots of mobile friendly themes to select from.
- The ability to add whatever features we like to the store, by either writing the code ourselves, installing apps or a having a developer do the work for us (we have more features we are planning on adding, such as customer reviews, live chat etc)
- Integration with Mailchimp. Google Shopping etc.
- Easy to manage redirects from the old site.
- Downloadable customer/order information, reports and stats.
- An ongoing monthly fee which includes webhosting (but depending on how you look at it, this could also be a “pro”)
- Fluctuating exchange rates – most e-commerce platforms of this type are North American.
We had a seamless relaunch on 6 September – with no down time – and so far so good. We are more than happy with the new site and although there is a still lot to do we know we can do most of it ourselves.
And happily Google and Bing seem to like it too!