Product Selling Online with Harjit Sohotey-Khan

 

“Jewelled Buddha partners with social enterprises to bring beautiful accessories to market and empower marginalised artisans.”

 

In business since: May 2015

 

Top 3 Online Selling Tips

1. Choose an ecommerce platform that will allow you to build, customize and run an online store quickly and easily. Ensure your website looks professional and provides a positive user experience for the customer.

2. Make sure your product images look beautiful. Anything less and customers will simply lose trust and go elsewhere. Capture crisp, clear images with detailed angles for customers to really get a sense of what they are buying.

3. Nurture your customers. This is a big one! From excellent service to clear and helpful communication, it’s so important to look after your customers as if they were physically in front of you. Keep them interested and share the unique story of you and your product, make them part of your journey. Engage through creative content such as regular, consistent blogging and look after them with targeted promotions.

How and why did you get started with selling products online?

At the beginning I didn’t have a clue about how to set up an ecommerce website. Why would I? I’d never done it before. In fact it scared me! I spent weeks researching the pros and cons of various platforms, deciphering the jargon and trying to figure out how my requirements fitted in with what was being offered. In the end, I opted for one that offered a complete solution, that walked me through the entire process of customizing design templates, adding and editing images, creating content and one that had great 24/7 customer care. It really was a lot of work that took up an enormous amount of time. Looking back it would have been great to hand over the job to a web designer and save myself a ton of stress and time. But for a complete techno-phobe, I’m pretty proud of my website. It’s not perfect and I’ve discovered over time, there can be limitations using template based platforms. It could do with a touch of magic from you Anureet, but all in all, for a first go, it’s pretty cool!

Having an online presence for me was and still is crucial. With more and more people shopping online it’s important for me as a small business to have somewhere for my customers to go if they physically can’t visit me. Although I sell at markets, fairs and exhibitions where I can personally engage with my customers, an online store allows customers to see the whole picture of my business. They can browse through the whole range of products, read a blog post detailing our upcycling process, check out what we’ve been up to on social media or read a testimonial of a product. They can buy, having made an informed choice and know they’ll get a quality product from someone they trust. All that without even getting out of their pyjamas!

 

What is your favourite social media strategy to promote your items?

I’m head over heels in love with Instagram and find the engagement and experience works better for me than say twitter. As for strategy around social media, it’s the advice we all hear over and over. Stick to one or two social media channels and do them well. Be consistent with posting images everyday and post engaging content that provokes comments. Always reply to comments! It’s a work in progress and there’s always room for improvement.

 

How do you differentiate yourself from other sellers of similar products?

Our values and partnerships are what make us different to other businesses. You may find similar products on the market, but our partnership with House of Wandering Silk – a social enterprise based in India, means our products are fair trade, of exceptional quality and beauty and have authentic artisan stories running though them. Each purchase goes towards empowering women from marginalised communities, earn a dignified and sustainable income. That’s a lot to compete with and there’s a lot to be said about the stories we tell of the artisans. I think you have to be prepared that online someone, somewhere will have a similar product, but only you can tell your story and that’s what makes you unique. Just don’t be afraid to tell it! Our customers know there are similar products out there, they may even have them. However after seeing our products they can never resist. In fact, a customer was so enamoured by the scarf I was wearing, she sent her husband back to buy it off me!

 

What has been your biggest challenge about running your business and what have you done to overcome it?

There are so many challenges when you’re a solopreneur. You’re basically doing everything yourself. From selling to customers to marketing, PR, creating content, accounts and website management. However it’s a great learning experience. You pick up a lot of skills and discover new interests and strengths along the way. I guess time is the biggest challenge and focussing on each task to completion is important. One of the biggest ways to overcome the inevitable overwhelm is to ask for help. Outsource tasks to others if you can and focus on the things you’re great at. Also it’s important to take time out and recharge. That may mean a walk in the park, a catch up with friends or a couple of days away. Whatever you do, step away from the computer for a while – inspiration usually kicks in when you’re not over thinking things.

 

What advice would you give to people thinking about starting a micro/small business?

Research everything thoroughly about your product or service. From competitors, pricing to customers. Have a goal and a direction of how to get there. This includes the dreaded business plan! Think long-term about what you want your business to be. How you want it to evolve. Test the market and constantly get feedback from customers. Don’t spend money you haven’t got and be prepared to make changes as your business evolves. Most of all get a business coach and network with other like-minded entrepreneurs. You’ll be surprised about how much advice and support you can get from people on the same journey as you!

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Learn More: jewelledbuddha.com

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