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
    You have all helped me so much over the last few days. I have already received some interest in a possible commission so things must be giong right somewhere!

    I can't thank you all enough, if theres ever anything I can do for you guys (special offer on my clothing maybe? :p ) just let me know. Would be good for you blokes whose missus' birthdays are coming up!

    Thanks again all. I am going to work really hard on getting thigns on my site looking fantastic! HYou have all raised my spirits so much that I have a new found energy for it :)
     
    Posted: Jun 10, 2008 By: Eleanor Member since: Mar 3, 2008
    #21
  2. Page

    Page UKBF Big Shot Free Member

    3,561 266
    Going back a long way - well to the start. I do not think that your ecommerce store is the right approach. It cheapens the product and yourself by making it to accessible. It is just another web site that sells some stuff.

    I would consider dropping the shopping cart :eek: and going back to having a site that promotes yourself and gains business in a different way. Play on the made to order. Have pictures of yourself working away and with close ups of your hands and work etc etc. Have samples of stuff with prices and ask people to email if they would like a quote and and estimate of delivery time and then "open the realtionship" with the customer.

    If you want mix the two but I would not. Have a couple of off the peg items for instant delivery but then the rest as above. If you can have a few cheapo add ons again as a way of opening the relationship with someone.

    (That is why kitchen designers and installers sell chopping boards and doors stops etc.)
     
    Posted: Jun 17, 2008 By: Page Member since: Jul 28, 2007
    #22
  3. PinkiesBoutique

    PinkiesBoutique UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    6 1
    I recently placed an ad on Gumtree for a wedding photographer to come and photograph my wedding for free - I got about 25 replies from students, graduates and people looking for pictures for their portfolios all willing to work for free and all i would pay for is the processing or disks at cost price.. Ask the local art college too... A model could also be found in the same way - on Gumtree, how many models need jobs to build up a portfolio?? Its amazing what you can get for free..!
    The items on your site look absolutely beautifull, the only thing that would put me off as a buyer are: (No offence)

    I wouldnt pay that much for a corset on your site..
    Look at cassiopia corsets, I would on their site as it looks more suitable for the products (note how the models dont look like professional ones though.. (I she got em off gumtree heheh!!)

    You have cup size options, I am a G cup. Your corsets dont fit me. Or so I assume..
    On Cassiopia the model is clearly plus size by industry standards, therefore Im more likely to think they can provide my size..

    Hope this helps..! Good Luck...
     
    Posted: Jun 17, 2008 By: PinkiesBoutique Member since: May 20, 2008
    #23
  4. ItsARiot

    ItsARiot UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    18 3
    I think by making your site pop more than you could draw more people in. I think pictures are always key in promoting clothing. You could try to put your portfolio on your site and then could send it out to boutiques or go in person to get them interested. Your work looks good so shouldn't have any issues getting people interested!
     
    Posted: Jun 18, 2008 By: ItsARiot Member since: Jun 18, 2008
    #24
  5. Eleanor

    Eleanor UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    390 48
    Page, Thank you for your reply.

    I see what you mean...
    My previous site (which was just a portfolio of work and information on what I do) received only one interested customer, and while it was a large commission I never received any more interested customers, my feedback about it was that it was too difficult or time consuming a process and customers were put off by having to build a relationship with me...
    I don't make standard sizes because the average woman in the UK doesn't actually know what their real size is, due to the fast fashion industry creating their own sizing methods... For this reason I do not make "off the peg" clothing.

    Pinkies, Thanks for the reply :)

    After speaking to an old friend from college whop is now a photographer, I have managed to get an interested model and a phtographer for free... so hopefully in the next few weeks we will be having a photoshoot. I just have a million more samples to make super fast.
     
    Posted: Jun 18, 2008 By: Eleanor Member since: Mar 3, 2008
    #25
  6. PinkiesBoutique

    PinkiesBoutique UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    6 1
    Exactly, thats what Im saying... When i found a design I liked I saw the cup size options and that would have put me off from buying.. If there were no options then i would have continued, but by having the options you are giving the impression you only make them for cup sizes a - d.. If its not off the peg and can be made to measure then Id say it would be better to make it clear to customers.
     
    Posted: Jun 18, 2008 By: PinkiesBoutique Member since: May 20, 2008
    #26
  7. Eleanor

    Eleanor UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    390 48
    Ok, I will remove the cup size options and work just with the bust,waist, hip measurements...

    It involves more maths but may not put women off as much?
     
    Posted: Jun 18, 2008 By: Eleanor Member since: Mar 3, 2008
    #27
  8. Page

    Page UKBF Big Shot Free Member

    3,561 266
    You can always have in the text any size of cup - hip - waist blah blah. We make for you to order.
     
    Posted: Jun 18, 2008 By: Page Member since: Jul 28, 2007
    #28
  9. Blush

    Blush UKBF Newcomer Full Member

    1,135 78
    First of all your corsets look beautiful.But that is al you have on your site .Why not specialise in corsets and really target his for adwords campaign and optimisation.upload them on google base too as its free and still offer other clothing but get some images of them, even past garments you have made if you have any pictures?
    As for the corsets why stick with bridal corsets? Be bold and adventurous and do some more unusual ones in different colours patterns etc.I can see you have some maybe add some more.Not sure how much corsets should cost though, but I must admit I did get shock at the price:eek: But in all fairness as I have never shopped for one I wouldn't a clue what the average price should be but could you possibly add abudget range too?Not sure if that is possible as I can appreciate the work that must go into one
     
    Posted: Jun 18, 2008 By: Blush Member since: Mar 22, 2007
    #29
  10. Eleanor

    Eleanor UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    390 48
    It is very hard to explain the sheer amount of work that does actually go into the corset. Not to mention that I make my own patterns for the majority of them.

    There are lots of componants in them too, the busk, bones (which all need cutting and tipping-you should see how ugly my hands are, like a Rhinos behind), two part eyelets which I have managed to back plenty of fingers with whilst putting them in... the hand sewing, the binding, and all of it to fit particular, unique, individual measurements...

    They are expensive, but they are something special...

    I am going to make more samples over the next couple of week with a small loan from my Father. I have also got hold of a model and photographer, so watch this space :p
     
    Posted: Jun 18, 2008 By: Eleanor Member since: Mar 3, 2008
    #30
  11. PeterCarruthers

    PeterCarruthers UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    20 7
    Eleanor, loved the site and the product. A suggestion, if I may?

    It seems to me that are a few groups of people will buy your corsets:

    • women who want to wear one;
    • men who want their women to wear one;
    • shops who want to retail them (and make money);
    • (I blush) professionals who use them to enhance the fantasy (and subsequent income);
    • other specialist niches.
    For each group, have a look at the ten best clients:

    • who are they (age, size, race, religion, culture, ...)?;
    • what did they buy?;
    • how did they find you?;
    • what was the occasion (if any)?;
    • how did they pay?;
    • ...
    The better the mental picture you form of the ideal client in each niche, the easier it is to picture more of them, picture where you might find them, picture what else they might want, ... In other words, the more you know about your best clients, the easier it is to find more. (And the more you know about your worst clients, the easier it is to make sure you do not find any more of them!)

    Use that to guide you in whatever your final approach might be.
     
    Posted: Jun 18, 2008 By: PeterCarruthers Member since: Jun 16, 2008
    #31
  12. Cornish Steve

    Cornish Steve UKBF Newcomer Full Member

    14,859 2,116
    I have a completely take on this. I've never bought a corset (honest!), and I have little experience in the clothing industry (except in the one case mentioned below). Nonetheless, some basic questions jump out at me.

    1) Before you started your business, did you uncover a need in the market? Given that the costs of offshore manufacturing are a fraction of your costs, you can't compete on price for sure. That means you must be chasing a niche market. What is that market? How big is that market? How much are they willing to spend? Are you sure of your answers? (Again, I've never bought a corset, but prices at your site seem very high.)

    2) In Georgia, where I've lived now for several years, the clothing manufacturing market has been almost wiped out. There used to be hundreds of small companies across the state; today, only a handful of struggling survivors remain. A few years ago, I worked with one of them as part of a turn-around management activity. Six months later, the owner shut the company down (a sad but not unexpected turn of events). In his public statement, he wrote that his overheads (labour costs given the minimum wage, employee benefits including healthcare, holidays, and sick pay, building and work safety costs, etc.) meant that his costs were higher than overseas competitors before he even considered the costs of manufacturing. In other words, there was no future for his 100-year-old company in the new world order. Given that costs are even higher in Britain, why do you not face the same problem?

    3) In your original business plan, what was your strategy for reaching your target market? What did you estimate marketing costs to be? What sales models did you consider? Again, thinking back to that clothing manufacturer in Georgia, they worked extensively with independent sales people who sold products from several companies. In other words, these consultants visited buyers from many of the big stores on behalf of several suppliers. While they had no incentive to sell one company's products over another's, it was a reasonably effective way for small companies to get their product in front of big companies.

    4) That company also worked with a larger brand name, which resold their products. This meant a little different manufacturing process to be sure the reseller's brand name, labels, and packaging were used instead of the local company's, but they did quite well through this arrangement. In addition, they worked with a very large discount store. While their margins were very low from this channel, it did buy them volume.

    5) Finally, how strong are your contacts in the industry? The owner of the Georgia company was the great-grandson of the company's founder, and he was very well known. He could pick up the phone and speak with CEOs of many big retail stores, and he appeared to rely heavily on these relationships. If you don't have the contacts, consider hiring someone who does.

    I hope these comments don't come across as unduly negative. Good luck moving forward.
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2008
    Posted: Jun 19, 2008 By: Cornish Steve Member since: Jul 4, 2005
    #32
  13. Eleanor

    Eleanor UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    390 48
    This is amazing advice for someone like me who seems to have no clue! Thank you so much! *bows down in worship*
     
    Posted: Jun 19, 2008 By: Eleanor Member since: Mar 3, 2008
    #33
  14. sootshu

    sootshu UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    10 1
    Hi , please forgive my lack of business knowledge, I know that your products are really "high-end" but have you ever considered selling on ebay? You could just do one listing with a buy it now price for a made to order corset, you could list it under underwear, wedding, vintage and other categories too. You wouldn't have to link it to your main store but see it just as a way of getting a few extra orders. I don't know how you view ebay but it wouldn't cost you much and you would have a worldwide market at your feet. I know that there is a big burlesque and goth market on there. You mailed me recently as I have the "bra idea" and your help was really useful so hopefully my advice is useful to you (I only discovered this site this week and I am addicted to it!). I would be happy to list something for you in my shop just to see if you get any interest Let me know what you think. If you want we could talk more about it x x I can't post URLS yet but checkout my ebay shop SOOTSHU ps I sell vintage formalwear and suits on ebay
     
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2008
    Posted: Jun 19, 2008 By: sootshu Member since: Jun 12, 2008
    #34
  15. Steve2507

    Steve2507 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    1,555 222
    I like the advice PeterCarruthers has given you and I have also sent you a pm previously about it.

    In addition you could look at the tv market (transvestite) market. I know of two or three shops that cater for this market (not from personal experience) and their owners have told me they are always on the lookout for good quality clothing for the their tv customers.

    One of them told me that they set up as a lingerie store originally and when they started getting quite a few tv customers through the door they started stocking more for them. After a short while they turned the basement of the shop into a dedicated tv showroom and quite quickly the sales from there overtook the traditional lingerie sales. Tv customers are very very select in what they purchase and are willing to pay more for a good quality product.

    just a thought, I know it may not appeal, but it is something to think about.
     
    Posted: Jun 19, 2008 By: Steve2507 Member since: Jun 9, 2006
    #35
  16. Eleanor

    Eleanor UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    390 48
    Thank you Steve, I have previously made corsets for a lovely TV in the US. He was willing to pay for what he wanted without question, and as a result of our lengthy conversations we were both delighted with the final product and built up a great client relationship.

    Sadly, money seems to have dried up with most people and I honestly feel that is the main reason I am not selling as much atm.

    I am currently working on a line of cheaper garments (still gorgeous fabric and great quality, just takes less time to make)... hopefully these will appeal to many.

    I can't wait to meet with the photographer tomorow to discuss what I would like and what I need photo wise.. the model is great, not one of these skinny minnies but got curves in all the right places and looks great in a corset... before long I should have a portfolio ready to send out to boutiques, next problem, how to I work out wholesale costs for boutiques to buy at that is fair to both them and me... ?
     
    Posted: Jun 19, 2008 By: Eleanor Member since: Mar 3, 2008
    #36
  17. Steve2507

    Steve2507 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    1,555 222
    That's good, we see loads of images where the model is too thin and doesn't fill the lingerie they are modelling. The best images have a "girl next door" model who is pretty with curves and so your average lady can associate with them.

    I don't know if anyone saw it but last week on Mary Queen of Shops they had a model for lingerie that looked just right for the real world. She was probably a size 14 and looked pretty, the images they took were fantastic.
     
    Posted: Jun 19, 2008 By: Steve2507 Member since: Jun 9, 2006
    #37
  18. Eleanor

    Eleanor UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    390 48
    I saw it, and she looked fabulous! I love to see women that are fuller and rounder... She was really well balanced proportionally too, but a little bigger than a 14, I would put her at 16 easily and possibly a little bigger... But it just goes to show that size doesn't matter in the clothes you wear, as long as you are confident you will look great...
     
    Posted: Jun 19, 2008 By: Eleanor Member since: Mar 3, 2008
    #38
  19. TheHorse

    TheHorse UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    13 2
    Hi Eleanor.

    Firstly, I was amazed to see that you are from Charnwood Street in Sunny Sutton! I live about half a mile from you (nr Sutton Hosiery Mills).

    I think you have a great product but I have concerns over the style and layout of the website. I think you should take a look at (www) eternalspirits.com who make Burlesque clothing / corsets + more and are slap bang in the middle of Nottingham. Their site is littered with fantastic images, information, press releases and more. Use that as a source of inspiration as they are in a similar line of work.

    I know you are in a 'chicken & the egg' situation but I would really spend a little bit of money (or just time if you have the knowledge) on redesigning the website. I only say this because you are trying to deliver a luxury item and as such, the website should reflect this. If you really can't afford to do this then at the very least you should add your website to free business directories, change the title tag on your website to something along the lines of "Corsets - Bespoke Hand-Made Underbust & Overbust Corsetry and various other small bits and pieces of SEO.

    Oh and perhaps change the apricot coloured text to black that's throughout the site.

    Hope that's of some use to you.

    Liam!
     
    Posted: Jun 19, 2008 By: TheHorse Member since: Jun 19, 2008
    #39
  20. Eleanor

    Eleanor UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    390 48
    Lol, good to see someone whose local!

    Thanks for the reply Liam, I will change the text now.

    On the site front I am hoping to have enough money soon to have a unique website with internetretailer. But I personally cannot change the site layout. I have seen EternalSpirits website and see what you mean about their look... I just don't want to be similar... I hope to have a studio inside nottingham sooner rather than later as it is easier for people to get to for some reason...

    Thanks again :)
     
    Posted: Jun 19, 2008 By: Eleanor Member since: Mar 3, 2008
    #40
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