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24

Curating Catalogs: Episode 5 of The Complete Beginner’s Guide to eCommerce 🎁

Have you ever been to Saks or Harrod’s during the holidays to see their magnificent displays? 

That’s what we’re trying to build here, people. 

Sadly, this isn’t going to be a post about nutmeg and niceties. The holidays are my number one shot at making some extra money.

So, today I’m going to talk you through how I:

  • Set up a beautiful storefront for CrewCase
  • Maintain my inventory and catalog
  • Picked the perfect eCommerce platform
  • Ship CrewCase goodies around the globe

How to dress for success 🎀

This section might as well be called ‘how to program for profit.’

But since I’m using a website builder to do all the heavy lifting, this seemed more appropriate.

If I’ve learned anything about taking CrewCase online, it’s this: in eCommerce, you need to make your customers look (because they cannot touch).

If you’ve read chapters 1-4 of our Complete Beginners Guide to eCommerce, then you will know that my experience in creating Crew Case falls decidedly on the techy startups’ Human Resources side of things.

Still, I know that user experience is a vital part of driving sales, and given that my target market is corporate, I wanted my store to look the part.

I needed to create an eCommerce website with Zyro with three essential pages.

1. Home page

I just wanted to get my product and my personality out there straight away.

The drag-and-drop editor made it super easy to get this all laid out, and there were literally millions of images from Unsplash that I could use for free. 

And this one with the wiener dog is kind of perfect, right?

2. Product page

Next, I needed to get down to business and show the world what I’ve got.

As you can see, I was just getting started here, but the buttons let me just drop different elements onto the page. 

I’ll get into how you actually edit those products in a second, but right at that point, I was really pleased with the smooth transaction from the home page to the product page.

3. About us / Contact us

Last but not least – and we’re talking about bare essentials here – I needed to know that my customers could get in touch with me any time they needed.

Customer service is something that doesn’t come so naturally with eCommerce, so I wanted to make the effort to let my customers know that I am there for them.

When you consider my business niche is bespoke corporate gifting, I’d have to be some sort of a wizard to be successful without providing my clients with excellent service.

And with that, I was good to go. Well, except for actually picking my plan.

Which subscription?

Every website builder will have different subscription plans and Zyro is no different.

I needed to figure out which one will be the most suitable for my business.

Clearly, I couldn’t go for a simple builder plan, as my website had eCommerce functionality to support. Plus, knowing that this business could scale, I decided to go for the eCommerce+ plan.

So, welcome to the back end of eCommerce!

Don’t worry, it’s really not that scary at all.

This is the store manager dashboard at Zyro. Straight-away, you can tell that things just make sense. 

If they don’t, then there’s always handy tutorials to guide the way (honestly, I don’t think you’ll need it).

I knew I wanted to sell on Instagram and list my products on Amazon too.

What I didn’t know was that in 2020, 9 million businesses were advertising on Facebook alone.

As soon as that came up in my research… Well, let’s just say that I didn’t mind at all paying that extra five bucks for an additional sales channel.

The handy thing was definitely the fact that I could track all of my numbers on the store management menu.

Sales, marketing, and reporting about how customers are interacting with my site were all there on the dashboard, so I had to spend no setting up difficult integrations here.

Perfect product pages ✨

Since I only had a limited number of products up my sleeve, I needed an online store template that was easy to display and easy to edit.

Obviously, I was never going to find the 100% perfect template, but that’s not what this whole thing was about. 

With bespoke gifting, I needed to include some instantly recognizable elements and some unique elements on my product pages too.

I wanted to provide my clients something that made them feel special and nostalgic – that’s what you’re really trying to curate in this game.

So, when I saw this template, I could tell that this thing was not exactly what I was looking for, but in my head, I could tell that it wasn’t so far away either.

I went for the Hobart theme on Zyro. I could just picture combining that homeware aesthetic with my office freebies – after all, that’s precisely what CrewCase is.

Perfect.

I just needed to edit my product pages and I did that really quickly in my online store manager. It really couldn’t have been more straight forward.

It all turned out perfect: just look at how the store manager displays sample products:

The best part – you could change them however you like, and it was very intuitive.

A couple of clicks later and just look at the difference: 

There it was: my first product page, ready to go.

Now that I had a product up on the website, it was time to start thinking about just how I could keep track of everything.

Inventory management 💻

I was pretty sure that I had the knack for keeping track of my inventory when my business was still in my own home, but what about when it would get bigger?

I needed to pick an eCommerce platform that would keep track of my stock and remind me when I needed to reorder.

I needed this:

I was able to give each product, and box, a Stock Keeping Unit (SKU). 

Since my TGIF Box and my oH oH oH Boxes had some products in common, I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t just overall boxes being tracked.

I also needed to keep count of the products inside them, so I wouldn’t run into any awkward stock shortages.

The online store manager let me set my product availability automatically, and kept track of the numbers of every SKU each time I made a sale.

Honestly,  the only thing I needed to do myself was to put the products in the boxes. 

Well, that and run every other aspect of a business, but we’ll get to that, and those AI features were a nice weight off my shoulders.

The friendly eCommerce website robot would even notify me when products were close to selling out so that I could get a new order in.

Dispatch and delivery 📬

You simply will never forget your first sale. It’s a magic feeling and a feeling that a new business that you’ve just launched is actually working.

But before that happens and before the dread gets a chance to set in, I had to set up my shipping options.

I wanted to get that box out of my house as soon as possible and for that. So, I went to my online store manager and selected “add shipping.”

Okay, so this came as a shock to me too, but every courier expects a different label. 

You can’t just write John Johnson, 555 Alphabet Avenue, Ohio on an envelope and expect FedEx to pick it up.

With Zyro, as soon as you clicked which courier(s) you wanted to get set up with the whole process was handled by the courier. 

Collection at your store and delivery to the client’s door – it’s all done by the courier. 

That sure thing didn’t mean my job was done though, because there was plenty of customer interaction before, during, and after.

And that little thing called marketing was on my radar next.

Next week: time to dance the marketing tango 💃

Building brand awareness, getting my clients to reorder their favorite boxes, and drawing new corporate clients were all going to be crucial to grow my business.

And I could achieve all those things with marketing.

The only problem? I didn’t have a budget to spend, really.

Tune in next week to see me come up with some creative marketing campaigns without spending much money at all.

Till then!

Written by

Author avatar

Damien

Damien is a self-professed, semi-obsessed, word-freak that wants nothing more than to tell small-business stories in a big way. Always scouring the market to find the right tools for the job, he is focused on finding creative ways to bring them to the people. When not writing, Damien is known to be a massive music bore, amateur-radio enthusiast, and woodland wanderer.

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