Need your opinion and advice

Jason5yuanJason5yuan Posts: 3subscriber
edited November 2006 in Marketing
Hi guys,I am new here.  I have recently started a website selling handmade artifacts and handicrafts.  The site is  for high quality handicrafts. I think the products are very well made and unique.  I was originally going to warehouse the items in the US and ship them domestically.  But I ran into some export problems.  So the first shipment will have to be shipped to the customers from China.  To offset this, I sacrificed  a part of the profit to subsidize the shipping cost.  Customers only pay 50% of the shipping cost.  But so far, there have been over 500 visits to my site (adwords, yahoo search marketing, msn adcenter), and yet to get an order.  What did I do wrong? How can I improve?  Are the products too expensive?  or not appealing?  I really want to hear your opinion.  Jason
Jason5yuan2006-11-26 21:58:53

Comments

  • Jimmy17Jimmy17 Posts: 0subscriber
    An Ad-to-sale rate of 1 out of 400 is pretty typical for a mainstream product line.  Your products are somewhat upper class - a little expensive - and are mostly Asian.  So, you are in a very narrow niche.  Because of this I predict you will get a hit ratio of more likely 1 out of 1200.  You need to focus your advertising to upper class asians, would be my guess.  Upper class Asians that are buying new homes would be even better.
  • Jason5yuanJason5yuan Posts: 3subscriber
    Hi Jimmy, thanks for the reply. I was thinking to promote the products to a more general demographic.  I prepared a lot of the background information hoping people will be interested in the culture behind the product itself.  Any ideas to make the marketing to more appealing to a wide audience?  Currently, I have adwords campaigns focusing on 1. handicraft, handmade artwork ect.  2. home decor accessory 3. specific items. 
  • Jimmy17Jimmy17 Posts: 0subscriber
    So, you are selling more than just a product.  You are selling your customers on the people that handcrafted the product and their customs.  Do the products come with such an information card and photo of the actual craftsman?
  • Jason5yuanJason5yuan Posts: 3subscriber
    currently we only have artist information.  In the near future, our products will come with one page of information or story and a photo of the craftsman.  
  • Jimmy17Jimmy17 Posts: 0subscriber
    Jason,
    after looking at your site briefly, most products have an Asian appeal.  You are not going to able to force people to buy something that they don`t want.  Many Americans don`t care for the Asian look - doesnt matter who is making it.  However, you could go and get some Handmade Cowboy or Western US products and expand your product base.  The trouble with that is that you now double your advertising efforts.  So, I would try to learn how to generate cash flow, first, by targetting the Asian communities then expand later.
    Best of Luck
     
  • Jason5yuanJason5yuan Posts: 3subscriber
    Hi Cartess,Thank you for your advice.  I think I am going to try something along the Asian Heritage route.  Currently I have two campaigns, one for general terms and one for specific items on google adwords.  I tested with 8 dollars a day budget for about 3 weeks now.  Now I need to fine tune according to the data.  (I do direct the traffic to specific pages according to the campaign.)  I did have a few people putting products in their shopping carts, but some how none of them went through with the checking out process.  Maybe it is the shipping price.  I will look into the DM method.  Do you have any recommendations for where I can get the list?Jason
  • Jimmy17Jimmy17 Posts: 0subscriber
    It may be worth noting here, that once you have the Direct marketing list loaded into Excel or a Access database, you can upload the database to the US Post Office online!  You can fill out the forms for your flyer or postcard campaign, and direct the post office to print, stamp, and mail for you, and to get the address and names out of the database automatically.  Once you set it up, you can just push a button, and pay with a credit card.  For the following days, everything is automatically produced and mailed out.
    Six months later, you upload a new color graphic for the postcard, and then push the button again.  A lot of times, the potential customers remember your first postcard, and the second time they buy.
     
  • Jason5yuanJason5yuan Posts: 3subscriber



    Do you have a business plan?  Have you done any market research on this business?  Who are your customers?  What are your projected financials?  Who are your online competitors?I know a little bit about your area of business.  I was involved in
  • Jason5yuanJason5yuan Posts: 3subscriber
    Cartess, thank you so much for your input!!  I am aware of these two problems.  The web development company put in something for the shopping cart.  It suppose to flash twice on the right corner when you put stuff in.  I agree that after add to cart the customer goes to a shopping cart page with the option of keep shopping or check out is much better.  I am going to change that.  I have noticed that quite a few people started the check out process and abandoned when they need to sign up.  I talked to the IT people trying to change this.  But for our database to process the order, we have to have an user account and shipping address.  My other option is to add Paypal check out and Google Check out.  So customers could check out directly.  Do you think this would help?  Has these become the standard for new sites?Once again, I really appreciate your kind help!
    Jason5yuan2006-11-21 23:3:40
  • TheGreeneMachineTheGreeneMachine Posts: 0subscriber
    My other option is to add Paypal check out and Google Check out.  So customers could check out directly.  Do you think this would help?  Has these become the standard for new sites?
    You should always make it as easy as possible for your customers to purchase your product.  You should add those options to your site.I went to your site and tested the purchasing experience like the previous poster did and felt the same.  If you put something in your cart a new window should come up and say `Your cart has 1 item - check out now? - continue shopping?`  TheGreeneMachine2006-11-21 23:8:5
  • Jason5yuanJason5yuan Posts: 3subscriber
    Thank you for the advice on the shopping cart.  I already emailed my it guy to have a meeting about the changes.  I totally agree that the IT guys are a  different breed.  My site is developed by iogo.com (formerly BMCinternet.com)  The owner of Iogo was my college roommate.  After my successful pitch about my business, I dragged him to be one of the investors too!  So I saved a whole bunch of money for the site.  He is doing a lot of the changes for free or at cost for me.  I am going to integrate Paypal checkout and Google Checkout before Christmas.  As for buying without registering, could any of you post or email me a link of such store?  I want to investigate further, see it and try it.  From my past online shopping experience, I have always registered.  
  • Jason5yuanJason5yuan Posts: 3subscriber
    Hi NetuserThe website has been live for about 28 days now.  I experimented with google adwords for about 2 weeks, just to test out some key words and the PPC system, as I had no previous experience with PPC advertising.  From the visitors behavior I gathered, I can do some changes to the site (i.e. shopping cart) before I advertise again.  From my research, the two industry leaders are novica.com and tenthousandvillages.com  (Ten thousand villages have a non-profit focus and they mainly sell through physical retail stores.) Neither of them have anything from China.  Other competitors include all the websites selling Chinese or other regional crafts.  The smaller websites mostly have low quality products and most of the sites look below average.  I think I have two main advantages:1. My products.  I take pride in my products.  We spent over 6 months traveling in China.  (I can speak Chinese.)  We found the best artisans for a given type of the craft.  We met all of our artisans.  Every piece is genuinely  handmade.  You can also watch videos of how the product is made.  2. The background information.  I provide as much story or info as possible for the artworks.  The customers can buy a wooden mask anywhere, but will he know what the mask means?  Or how the ritual is performed?  I want to give the customer a cultural experience than just a product.  I agree with you on the target customers.  The Asian demographic was not my original target.  But  I am willing to test and see.  The target in mind is home owner, enjoys travel, history, foreign culture, upper middle class.  I spent too much time gathering and preparing the supply, and didn`t prepare the marketing plan as much as I wanted.  That`s one of the lessons I learned for starting my first business.   
  • DIDODIDO Posts: 1subscriber
    Went to your site Jason and I have to say, your product is great.  I think it`s reasonable in price. What I did notice is you could do a little bit with your categories.  Under "wedding" you have all kinds of gifts listed and not all of them were obvious.  Like the tablecloths, those should be listed as such rather than "Tie Dye Blooming Sunflower".  Shoppers have a very limited attention span, therefore having to click on each item to determine what it is (if it`s not obvious by the picture) might have an effect on how long people stay and if they buy.  Maybe just keep the categories you have an add others like jewelry or paintings etc.
  • Jason5yuanJason5yuan Posts: 3subscriber
    Thank you DIDO I am changing the names now. 
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