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Got an online shop?

Posted by Cat How, November 28, 2017

Information is king! Give as much information as you can on the product you are selling online. Customers can’t touch, feel and inspect the product you are selling, so they have to feel confident that they know as much as possible about it before they buy. Dimensions, weight, materials used are always very helpful. Don’t be scared to put in as much information as you can.

Take realistic photographs. Always make sure the photograph of the product online looks exactly like the product in real life. Don’t play around with all sorts of wizardry on Photoshop to make it look lovely and glossy if it doesn’t look like that in reality. The customer will feel short-changed.

Use a model or lifestyle shots wherever you can. If you’re selling jewellery, always have a model wearing the piece as it really helps to give a sense of perspective on size and feel. Customers can visualise themselves wearing it a lot more than an abstract article on a white background.

Always be at the end of your email. If a customer emails you about a product, always reply to queries and questions as soon as you can. It helps to make them feel safe and secure about buying online — something a lot of people still feel nervous about. There is nothing more frustrating, and unnerving, than trying to get hold of a shop about something (a misspelt name, wanting to change to delivery address) and not hearing anything back for days… sometimes weeks!

Package your orders well. Always package orders well, taking care with how you do so. Bubble wrap to your hearts content — it always helps to be paranoid! There is nothing worse than a customer receiving something broken, which they then have to take the time out to send back. It does not look good!

Add a human touch. Try to personalise your orders, so that you are not just another faceless internet shop. A hand-written card or message is always nice, and gives a human feel to your service which people will remember.

Post hastily! Always post things as soon as you can, and let the customer know this also. Keep them up to date with how the order is progressing (but don’t badger them). If you’ve sent it Recorded or Special Delivery you can get extra brownie points by providing them with their unique tracking number.

Be flexible. Make returns and refunds as easy as possible for your customers. If you are flexible, they are likely to be more up for buying

The customer is king. No matter how difficult / rude / uncompromising a customer can be, you should always try to help resolve the situation. More often than not, after a customer has been upset by something, once you treat them well then they often have a dramatic change of heart. They are also much more likely to tell their friends if you are rude and don’t help them out.

Never lose your cool. Be flexible, courteous and polite. Sometimes you may not agree with what a customer is saying, but it is essential to maintain a high level of customer services for every customer.

Reply speedily. There is nothing more frustrating for a disgruntled customer than to be left hanging, with questions they want resolved not being answered.

No quibble refunds / returns. Even when you think the customer is at fault, if you don’t question their thought process they will come out with a positive experience of buying with you and are much more likely to come back again.

Cat How is a Creative Director and Co-Founder of Pollen Place — a unique workspace and event space based in central Bristol designed to nurture creativity and spark productivity. She is also Creative Director of branding and graphic design agency, Polleni. Cat studied at the University of Bristol and Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design. She has worked as a journalist and graphic designer for newspapers such as MetroThe Guardian and The Observer. Most recently, she was creative director of the e-commerce design business, Howkapow, she founded and ran with her husband Rog How. Howkapow was sold in February 2017. In that time Cat and Rog were running it, Howkapow was given accolades such as the “Best Online Shop for Stylish Homewares” (The Guardian); one of the “Top Ten Online Design Shops” (The Sunday Times) and their pop-up “The Best Shop To Visit In Bristol” (The Guardian).

(Illustration credit: Eda Akaltun)

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Polleni is a Bristol-based creative agency specialising in branding, graphic design, web design and apps.

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