The two most frequently asked questions that we receive on the Storenvy Community Team are consistently “Why am I not making any sales?” or “how do I make more sales?” Unfortunately this is not an easy question to answer as a million different factors can play into why your brand is or is not selling. After all if there was an easy answer to this question everyone would be opening up businesses and retiring early to a small tropical island.
After seeing tens of thousands of stores open up on Storenvy, patterns among brands that will be successful and those who may never make that first sale become pretty clear. Have a unique brand and story, products that are just as unique, photos that help make both your products and brand shine and a price point that makes sense for your customer. Unfortunately I’ve seen several brands think they have all of these boxes checked when in reality they haven’t.
For brands that are continuing to struggle I’ve put together a list of 5 honest questions that every new brand should be asking themselves when they are struggling to make those first few sales. These are questions that if answered honestly and thoughtfully should help get your brand on the right path.
Is what I’m doing unique?
What is your brand or store doing that is different than your competition? There are an endless number of handmade jewelers, t-shirt brands, crocheters, artists, fashion upstarts, crafters, etc. out there. It simply is not enough to just open up a store and sell something that customers can find in hundreds of other stores as well. Before you open your doors to the world be sure you can answer this question with confidence. This doesn’t have to be anything substantial but pick a differentiator and go with it.
Are your products:
- limited edition
- made from unorthodox materials
- supporting a cause
- for a great purpose
- aimed at a specific niche
- priced at an amazing price point
This list could go on forever and there is no correct answer to what your products need to be other than something that you believe in and think people can resonate with. Think about what your perfect customer looks like and make sure your product fits their needs.
Is the market over-saturated?
This ties pretty closely to the first question about being unique. The bottom line is that it’s easier than ever for people to start brands and stores. With that ease there are now hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of stores making and selling the same product. For example, a search of “Minion Hats” on Storenvy results in over 3 pages of hats, all of which are almost identical. As awesome as minion hats are it’s tough to standout when there is so much competition for the same item. If you’re doing something in a over-saturated market you better make sure it’s really unique. The flip side would be start from the other perspective: identify areas where you see a hole in the market and make products to fill that hole.
Could someone else do this cheaper than I can?
Pricing can be one of the most difficult things to get right when building your brand and business. One rule of thumb is to make sure your are not pricing yourself out of a customer. If a customer can make the same product for cheaper than what you are selling it for, chances are they are going to do so. That said, time and convenience is worth $ as well which leaves you some wiggle room in your price. The other way to play defense against this is by building a killer brand around your product so customers perceive it as a luxury brand that is worth spending more on.
How do I stack up against the competition / Would I buy from this brand?
These are two of the toughest things to answer objectively as a brand owner but you have to do it. Look at brands that are similar to yours and assess how your product stacks up.
Here are a few key points to look at when measuring yourself against the competition:
- Product photography — I can’t stress enough how important product photography is. A beautifully taken picture can be the difference between your product selling or your competitor’s product selling. You truly can’t spend enough time and effort making sure you have this locked down. For inspiration, make sure to look at how major brands use product photography.
- Price — You don’t want to get into a price war with your competition but make sure to take a look and see where your competitors are selling at and build a plan around that. If you are going to have products that are the same price, think through what you can you do to make sure the customer picks your product. This can be an extra gift, coupon code for a future purchase, handwritten note, etc. There is also something said for having the highest price point as people can associate a higher price point with higher quality. Experiment to see what works best for your brand.
- Overall branding — How does your store design stack up? Does it feel inviting, does it paint a picture of your brand, does it feel trustworthy and professional? I recommend checking out services such as fiverr.com, 99designs.com and crowdspring.com. Each of these sites offer graphic design services, ranging from logo creation to help with designing your store, and typically are more affordable than other options.
- Product description — The rule of thumb here is the more expensive your product the more product description is allowed and expected. Make sure you are giving your customer enough information to feel confident in making a purchase from you. If the product wont ship for 3-4 weeks. let them know. It is extremely important that you set expectations for your customer, doing so in advance will result in much happier customers and far fewer angry emails. Also, be sure to add products variants properly to your products. At no point should a customer have to email you to let you know what size product they want to buy. Any e-commerce platform worth their salt has an option to add variants to your product so make sure to research how to set them up and use them.
- Product titles — While including a million keywords in your product title may help you show up in a marketplace, it unfortunately looks very spammy. Keep your product titles descriptive and creative without including random keywords for the sake of showing up in search. The cream will rise to the top and if you are following all of the above advice people will find your products, share them and talk about you.
In closing, the best thing you can do is truly be honest with yourself and your business. Find the weak spots in your business and bust your rear-end to make them strengths. Selling online is not an easy business and it takes a lot of time and continued effort but if you stay strong, look for ways to constantly improve, learn as much as you can, and ask questions, I promise you that first sale is right around the corner.