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This is our tenth season for My Christmas. The initial concept was just an online store, but I decided I wanted a seasonal bricks and mortar store to get more feedback from customers and a better sense of what the top sellers were and what was popular.
The online store is an integral part of our business and our website, including the fact that the online store is our number one promotional tool to get people into the store. The vast majority of our sales comes from the bricks and mortar store; however, we see our customers come in armed with loads of information and questions based on the research they have done online.
We have completely rebuilt the website, with new eCommerce platforms, three or four times over the past 10 years. All design work is outsourced and I’m delighted to be working with a company that has a handle on design as well as the importance of testing and researching changes to the site. We will be undertaking a mini makeover in the next few weeks just to freshen the site up again in the lead-up to Christmas.
It is essential to keep pace with changing trends in design. Our website design was much busier and less streamlined only a couple of years ago, but now our design is much more simple.
The blog has always been a tool we use to draw people to our site, but also to help the customers who already know of us. We want to inspire our customers and we want to give them the skills to create the Christmas display they’ve dreamt of with the minimum amount of stress and fuss, and the blog allows us to share these tools.
We have a couple of blog posts with images that have been posted thousands of times on Pinterest. These posts are particularly useful at drawing people onto our website.
The key to a website is to try and make the shopping process easy for a customer by understanding what they are looking for. By creating themes or colour coding decorations for customers you are helping them find the total solution. So hopefully their shopping cart purchase is higher and they are happy that they have a complete look. The categories are the same as entering a retail store and finding products grouped by colour or style. It is so much easier to navigate through the actual store and find what you want, and that’s what the categories do.
I’ve been with SecurePay for many years. It’s a great platform because it automatically provides secure eCommerce payments, but we also have the ability to manually set up sales services for our clients. For example, while our webstore can’t manage lay-by payments, we can create payment plans for our customers on SecurePay to take advantage of pre-season promotions or a convenient lay-by payment service.
This year we’ve taken on a warehouse for the first time. Prior to this we were filling all the orders from the retail store and it was messy and cramped. We see the online side of our business as having good growth potential, so the warehouse gives us more physical space to allow this growth. The stock is therefore separated, although there is a lot of movement between the two locations. As the warehouse is a new “tool”, we are learning how the two components will work together.
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