Every year, I like to set a focus for my business. Something that keeps me, well, focused, and gives me a goal to work towards.
For 2014, that goal is growing my online retail business.
I’ve always had some level of online sales, but that level has been small compared to the main component of my business – wholesale.
I’ve been happy with the growth of my wholesale business, but I know that increasing my online sales is a big growth opportunity that can really help improve my profit margins.
For the first few months of this year, I started implementing a few strategies (mostly via Pinterest) to generate online sales, but I couldn’t really focus my energy on my online shop until I had made it through my three trade shows and some travel plans.
But now that all of that is behind me, I’m turning more of my energy towards growing my online shop.
And as I put more energy into my online shop, one thing became painfully obvious. It was time to make the switch to Shopify.
I’ve been a long time Big Cartel user, and for the most part, have been happy with the service. (In case you’ve never heard of them, Shopfiy and Big Cartel are both e-commerce platforms that let you create a fully custom, secure shop at your own domain name.)
So if I’d been happy with Big Cartel, why did I make the switch to Shopify? A few reasons:
Analytics. If there’s one area that Big Cartel is lacking, it’s in stats and analytics. And if I’m serious about growing my online shop, I need to know where traffic is coming from, how many people are visiting my site, and what they’re doing once they get there. Shopify lets you (easily) connect with Google Analytics so I know exactly what’s going on with my traffic and I can do more of what’s working.
Better navigation. This is actually a two-fold reason. When I say better navigation, I mean for my customers and on the back end for me. Now that I’ve expanded my product offerings, one of my main concerns is making sure browsers can clearly navigate my online shop. I tried several Big Cartel themes (both free and paid) and couldn’t find one that really made my shop’s navigation clear to customers and aesthetically pleasing. In Shopify, I was able to find a free theme that did exactly what I want, navigation wise. On the back end, I’m also finding Shopify easier to navigate, especially since I now have so many products and product categories to wade through.
Apps. Because Shopify has an API, other developers can design apps that plug into your Shopify store. This gives the platform so much flexibility and power. One of the apps I’m most excited about is this one that lets you create bulk redirects for individual pages. One of my biggest hesitations in making the shop switch was losing all my individual links I’d worked so hard to build. This app took away that problem with a few minutes of work. And as I continue to build my online shop, I’ll be testing out other apps to help with my marketing.
Rich pin integration. Because Pinterest is such a big part of my marketing strategy, I want to be sure that my pins are driving as much traffic as possible back to my online shop. One of the clearest ways to do that is with rich pins, which give product details and pricing right in Pinterest. Shopify is already set up to easily enable rich pins, so I’m able to take advantage of it.
The big guys (ahem, girls) are using it. One of my primary learning tools when it comes to growing my business is to pay attention to what other businesses are doing. Particularly, businesses that have achieved success in the areas where I want to grow. And when I look around, many of the online shop success stories I love (like Tattly) are using Shopify. But perhaps the most compelling example is Susan of Freshly Picked, who made the switch from Big Cartel to Shopify to manage her (rapidly) growing baby moc business.
There’s more potential for growth. At the end of the day, I just see Shopify giving me more potential to grow my online business in the best and most efficient way possible. I love Big Cartel, but at the end of the day, I’m running a business, and a big part of my job is understanding when I’ve outgrown a tool or platform.
It can be painful to acknowledge that it’s time to leave your roots behind, especially when somethings been good to you in the past. But ultimately, the goal is always to do what’s best for your business. And for me, that meant making the switch to Shopify.
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