Struggling to get customers

Discussion in 'Ecommerce Forum' started by Eleanor, Jun 9, 2008.

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  1. Eleanor

    Eleanor UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    390 48
    There is some great advice on these boards, and I have looked, I just need some more specific answers, if anyone could help I would be really grateful :)

    I have a website (launched on June 1st) selling my wares. I make clothing. I work by myself and literally do the research/designing/pattern making and manufacture of each item. I have had plenty of clients in the past, when I only kept an online portfolio and asked potential customers to contact me via email if they were interested in commissioning me.

    Now I have a shopping cart, so they can order a design and it all gets done much quicker and far more simply.

    But I have had zero interest and zero clients. I rely heavily on word of mouth, which has been great, and luckily I have a couple of commissions this month that should hopefully keep me going.

    I have no money to put into advertising, so what is my option. I'd be so appreciative of any advice.

    Thank you :)

    ps: I am also looking for potential shops (small boutiques) to stock some samples of my clothing. How do I go about doing that, do I just go round with my portfolio??

    And there will be much more clothing soon, but as I said, I'm the only person working for me.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2008
    Posted: Jun 9, 2008 By: Eleanor Member since: Mar 3, 2008
    #1
  2. CatG

    CatG UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    51 9
    Hi Eleanor,
    What lovely corsets! I had a look at your site and thought your work is lovely. But may I offer what I hope will be constructive criticism? I believe that the site is letting you down at present as there are no images or stock of anything but the corsets. I would say that it would be better to be a specialist in this area than offer other garments but not represent them properly on the site. Obviously you need to drive traffic to your site to increase your sales, but it would be a shame to go to great lengths to make that happen, only to turn off customers by having many sections of the site looking quite empty. I'm not an expert in your area of business but I would say that you need to do some PR. If you don't have money to invest in this, then try writing a press release yourself (focusing on the corsets) -- a short release and a lovely photo is all you need. Then you need to contact fashion journalists in the women's magazines and national/regional papers. You might want to make the release topical somehow -- has a celebrity been sporting a corset recently for instance? I know Posh did fairly recently but there may be someone more current. I know you are looking at shops but have you considered markets -- I know that Spitalfields market in London has some really great designers there. You could enquire about a pitch or how to get your corsets and other garments on one of the stands. Markets like these have quite a bit of fashion kudos. Boutique wise, I think you are probably going to have to draw up a hit-list and arrange some meetings with owners, taking some great samples with you. My other question is -- when you get commissions, can you fulfil them? If you had some great PR for instance would you find yourself unable to cope with lots of orders? Do you have any colleagues in the business that could help deliver the orders? I'm sure you've thought of all this... I do hope at least some of what I've said has been of use. Good luck!
     
    Posted: Jun 9, 2008 By: CatG Member since: Jan 31, 2008
    #2
  3. duongo

    duongo UKBF Regular Free Member

    123 6
    Hi Eleanor

    First thing i noticed and i am using IE, that on the home page, images and text overlap...perhaps that's putting people off?

    Also, the fact that your only section that is filled with products is for corsets and i think corsets is quite a specific want, hence the lack of sales/enquiries currently. Maybe you should try adwords specifically for 'corsets'...it will be targetted traffic so you may get some conversion out of it. You can spend as much or as little as you want.

    Hope that helps
     
    Posted: Jun 9, 2008 By: duongo Member since: Jan 14, 2008
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  4. Eleanor

    Eleanor UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    390 48
    Thank you both for this advice.

    CatG. I love Constructive Criticism and I am very grateful for what you have said. I have been making corsets for the majority of my sewing life so had some to put up instantly. With other items though I have to design and pattern produce and then make a toile before I can even order the fabric so I am not wasting money on something that could end up being rubbish. The good news is I'll be starting a summer dress on wednesday.

    I have got to the stage now where I can comfortable accomodate 7 orders a week (just corsets) and more if it is corsets mixed with clothing as clothing takes a lot less time. Luckily I am surrounded with seamstresses in my family so they can pitch in if things ever get too overwhelming. I currently spend 50 hours a week sewing or doing sewing related things.

    In the mean time I will shut the empty catagories and work on more patterns/designs :)

    I am going to start making a hit list of coutiques and magazines right now! Thank you so much for this advice... but I have never written a press release before, any ideas on where I should start?

    Duongo, I am a bit skeptical about adwords as I know it takes a lot of trial and error and I don't want to throw money I don't have at it :( but thanks for the advice, I will definately try it after I have sold some clothing.
     
    Posted: Jun 9, 2008 By: Eleanor Member since: Mar 3, 2008
    #4
  5. duongo

    duongo UKBF Regular Free Member

    123 6
    I think you'll do really well by selling your corsets to boutiques and even independent wedding shops..they would look beautiful on display
    Yes, adwords can be expensive, which i also found out when i started, but if you can get a few good sales from it, i think it would be worth it. Your items are of high value, and as you say because of word of mouth, 1 sale could lead to a referral. Good luck with it all!
     
    Posted: Jun 9, 2008 By: duongo Member since: Jan 14, 2008
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  6. Eleanor

    Eleanor UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    390 48
    I must admit. Word of Mouth has kept me going over the last few months. I would just love to have a few more orders coming in for peace of mind.

    Has anyone who reads this done a press release, if so, any pointers?
     
    Posted: Jun 9, 2008 By: Eleanor Member since: Mar 3, 2008
    #6
  7. Pelenna

    Pelenna UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    152 10
    Hi Eleanor!

    I just had a look at your site, and the corsets do look fabulous as always, but I'm also getting the error on the front page with writing overlapping the product pictures.

    I was thinking, I couldn't see anywhere on the front page that the corsets are made to measure (unless I'm being a bit blind) - would it be an idea to really promote this? I wouldn't buy something like this ready made, but if it was immediately obvious they were made to measure I'd be more inclined to look further. Also a little personal niggle, although not everyone would necessarily feel the same, I'd want to know postage costs (or a rough idea of them) before going through and adding to basket.

    just a couple of ideas :)

    Edit - just looked again, it does say made to measure (said I was being blind!), but I still think it could be made more of a feature?
     
    Posted: Jun 9, 2008 By: Pelenna Member since: Nov 8, 2006
    #7
  8. deniser

    deniser UKBF Legend Free Member

    8,100 1,702
    I second everything that has already been said but it might be worth you leaving your website just to deal with corsets and doing couture clothing by more personal means; the whole essence of couture is the personal fitting etc so it doesn't really lend itself to a website business although you can use the site to showcase your products . But then you really need to get the word "corset" into your business name and website title.
     
    Posted: Jun 9, 2008 By: deniser Member since: Jun 3, 2008
    #8
  9. new2bus

    new2bus UKBF Regular Free Member

    330 32
    It also overlaps in Firefox as well as IE.
     
    Posted: Jun 9, 2008 By: new2bus Member since: Mar 21, 2008
    #9
  10. murdoch

    murdoch UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    413 50
    yeah i agree with all that is written.
    I agree highlight if they are handmade etc.
    Also i dont like the fact that you have to scroll down so much to view things, esp on the home page...

    and on eg the 'most popular' page i have to scroll down so far, just to see 3 or 4 products.. you could consider change size/layout of images and text on a couple of the pages.

    And I want to know 'what to do/how to order' and I type on the 'shopping guide hoping this will tell me, and it kind of if just a long FAQ page

    anyway it sounds like a fantastic item so good luck with your sales
     
    Posted: Jun 10, 2008 By: murdoch Member since: May 11, 2008
    #10
  11. Eleanor

    Eleanor UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    390 48
    The site is actually an internetretailer ecommerce store, so I will get in touch with David (quickshops on this forum) and see if there is a problem with the coding.

    Thank you all for your input. I will be working on your advice and see if it draws any more attention :)

    Thanks again.
     
    Posted: Jun 10, 2008 By: Eleanor Member since: Mar 3, 2008
    #11
  12. Steve2507

    Steve2507 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    1,555 222
    Here are my points:

    1 - There is a problem on the homepage, I've tested it in 6 different browsers/resolutions and it overlaps in them all. BUT I don't think it's a big issue.

    2 - Images - clothing on dummies just doesn't work on the net. When a user is visiting your site they want to imagine themselves in the garment. In a shop they can try it on, but on the internet they have to use their imagination. It is very difficult to do this when the only reference you've got is a plastic dummy. If you can get some photos with models done, do it. If you contact a local college or photographer they may know a model and/or a photographer that wants to build up their portfolio. So will do it at a cheap (or even free) rate. You could even offer for the model to keep a couple of corsets to sweeten the deal.

    You may not like this idea, but think about it:

    Have you looked at the adult market for customers?

    The fetish community love corsets and paying £100+ for a good one is no problem for them. The fetish community is not all about tying each other up and smacking the hell out of each other. If you can, go to one of the fetish markets that are held all around the country and have a look. The Birmingham Bizarre Bazaar (http://www.brumbazaar.co.uk) is the Birmingham one.

    There is an adult industry trade show on at the NEC, Birmingham in July, I would recommend going and having a look at what other clothing companies do there (http://www.etoshow.com). If you have never looked at the adult market before you will be surprised (it's not all naked flesh - in fact there isn't that much naked flesh at the trade shows:().

    I would definitely be interested in stocking them or selling them on as a specially made item, however the images break the deal for me (sorry). If you can get the images sorted out I would reconsider and I bet loads of my competitors would as well.

    Looking at your site I think you have a good product with loads of potential, but I think looking at small boutiques may be what is holding you back.

    Hope this helps.
     
    Posted: Jun 10, 2008 By: Steve2507 Member since: Jun 9, 2006
    #12
  13. Eleanor

    Eleanor UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    390 48
    Steve, finding models with such a low budget has always been a problem of mine. I will definately get this sorted before the end of June. I am extremely grateful for your advice, and although I have looked at the fetish market before, I feel I would need to grow into it, so to speak.

    Would you only be interested in fetish corsets/lingerie or would you stock my none fetish - but sexy designs??

    I must get more samples made up.

    Thanks again Steve.
     
    Posted: Jun 10, 2008 By: Eleanor Member since: Mar 3, 2008
    #13
  14. Steve2507

    Steve2507 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    1,555 222
    Hi Eleanor,

    We'd be interested in both fetish and non fetish. We sell leather corsets and traditional corsets like the Edecouer range (http://www.temptationsdirect.co.uk/p/5877/Erotic-Lingerie/Edencoeur-Lingerie.html).

    The thing about looking at the adult market is many people think there is only one style that they can sell. You know the sorts of thing, everything on show and very little coverage. these styles are popular, but many of our customers want something sexy without being too revealing. The same is true of the fetish market.

    I take your point about the fetish side as it can be a little daunting. But I would recommend going to the ETO show as that will give you an idea about the adult industry in general without being intimidated.
     
    Posted: Jun 10, 2008 By: Steve2507 Member since: Jun 9, 2006
    #14
  15. Eleanor

    Eleanor UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    390 48
    ok, I have my list and I am slowly working my way through it. I would be eternally grateful if anyone else could give some more feedback/advice! Hopefully it will be sooner rather than later that I can get some adwords running, I'm just so eager to be inundated with work... I'm odd.
     
    Posted: Jun 10, 2008 By: Eleanor Member since: Mar 3, 2008
    #15
  16. Fergus

    Fergus UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    245 25
    I have a free £30 adword voucher I got today (cant use it as It has to be for a new account) So I,ll PM you the details - you can at least give it a go then - with googles money.
     
    Posted: Jun 10, 2008 By: Fergus Member since: Dec 31, 2007
    #16
  17. CatG

    CatG UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    51 9
    Hi Eleanor,
    Just getting back to you about writing a press release. There's lots of good advice on this forum already about how to structure a release, but here's some ideas on content from me. I would find a topical hook for this story. How about piggy backing that Charlize Theron was spotted wearing a corset style top on the red carpet at the MTV Movie Awards which took place last weekend? I would focus on how she is the latest in a long line of celebs that love the ultra sexy, feminine appeal of wearing a corset -- and that the latest "on trend" ways to wear a corset include with skin tight cigarette pants (as with Theron) and hot pants (a la Victoria Beckham last year). Other celebs that famously don corsets (you might want to do a bit of Internet research) include Sarah Jessica Parker, Scarlet Johanssen and The Sugababes (see their "Denial" video). Once you've introduced the story in the first para that corsets are hot property in the fashion world, then you can go on to talk about your own corsets, focusing on the bespoke, handmade quality etc... You need to say where and how they can be purchased and provide a price range. The final element is your contact details -- give your email and tel number at the foot of the page in a "Press information" section. If possible, offer high res images. Hope this helps, C
     
    Posted: Jun 10, 2008 By: CatG Member since: Jan 31, 2008
    #17
  18. Eleanor

    Eleanor UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    390 48
    Youre a gem!

    <3
     
    Posted: Jun 10, 2008 By: Eleanor Member since: Mar 3, 2008
    #18
  19. dp0848

    dp0848 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    2,630 1,018
    Text and graphics also overlap using Safari on a Mac.

    Lovely product though.
     
    Posted: Jun 10, 2008 By: dp0848 Member since: May 14, 2008
    #19
  20. Poppy Design

    Poppy Design UKBF Enthusiast Full Member

    857 81
    Hello there

    I know you have similar previous comments but just to post what I see when I visit your website ....

    I post from the point of not only an ecommerce designer but more importantly as a potential customer ( I do use the web for online shopping) ...

    The web is a very visual experience for most (though not all) and when I view your home page on my laptop I see:

    a) lots of text

    and

    b) a picture of some flowers

    I see no product images of your corsets, which are by the way extremely beautiful. I know there are some images below but not everyone will bother scrolling down.

    I think just by rejigging your home page and using either one really strong image or a collage of product images would really help - try having these near the top and make sure these are accessible for most browsers (boring but true make them no wider than 800 pixels in width or perhaps 1024 pixels) - your products are unique and should be the first visual thing that hits people!

    PR - I have done my own PR for my canvas art business with varying success - I did get in House beautiful, House & Garden etc and got quite a lot of online orders through this + it was all free! However if you can afford it a specialist PR company would probably be a lot better.

    Good luck
    Joanne
     
    Posted: Jun 10, 2008 By: Poppy Design Member since: Mar 30, 2006
    #20
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