Jane Hawkes, Seashore No. 4, Coastal Living e-commerce websiteOur guest blog this week is from the lovely Jane Hawkes. Jane is the owner and founder of Seashore No. 4 Ltd, an online, e-commerce store selling beautiful nautical themed goods. A business set up for her son who has autism, so that he may have a job when he leaves school.

Here is Jane’s story of her journey developing a website and e-commerce store.

Seashore No. 4

About two years ago, my son, William was getting very anxious about what he was going to do when he left school. Conscious that his autism may not always be seen in a positive way by some employers we decided to take matters into our own hands and devise a business for him.

Having already run an established Electrical Contracting Business for many years, my business and computer knowledge was not basic, but I had never started an e-commerce store from scratch. How hard could it be?

This is the story of my highs and lows when developing an online store with Shopify, a popular and well known platform for e-commerce.

  1. The ‘I can do that’ attitude.

I think I’ve always had an ‘I can do that’ attitude and would hate to think of a day when I’m not learning. Shopify was not my first choice of platform, I had originally gone with a much smaller company, but I found it clunky and a bit unwieldy. The slow rural broadband we had at the time couldn’t cope with the download of image files either.

The arrival of superfast broadband and the discovery of Shopify happened more or less at the same time, Shopify being smoother, more customer friendly and with a better customer service backup.

It came with a higher price tag, but I guess you get what you pay for.

The learning curve was very steep and there were many mistakes along the way, but with more determination than knowledge of website building at the time, I battled on and learnt as I went.

  1. Getting Started – knowing the mechanics

I had an idea what I wanted and set about searching for suppliers of nautical goods to sell on my website. I took product photos using my phone and learnt how to edit them. Looking back now, it’s amazing how you improve on things the more time that you spend learning. But this is all part of a learning curve.

A learning curve where I had to establish not only the mechanics of selling, but also what and how to sell.

Shopify allows the adding of products and adjusting of pricing and varieties very easily. There are many templates to choose from, some of them free, others have a charge.

It allows you to easily add promotions and sales should you need to and to hide products from sale if they are unavailable or out of season.

  1. Marketing – knowing the basics.

So, a website was born, beautiful things for sale – what do you do now?! Where are the customers?

Things take time with the online world; organic growth requires patience and persistence. Consistency is also important and, so I was soon to learn, are words.

I teamed up with John Jelly for some training and each training I have undertaken a has been invaluable.

One of the things that goes through my head daily that Jan from John Jelly has taught me is ‘Google Loves Fresh Content’. That means daily attention to the content on my website such as new products, or weekly collection changes and blogging – and of course Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). Research is key to this and Jan taught me some great ways to research before promoting products.

Jan has also taught me to ‘Know your numbers’. Prior to my training with Jan my approach to marketing was very much try it and see. I didn’t have a systematic way of measuring the response. Having been trained in using Google Analytics I now know exactly what I need to do to achieve the sales target for that month, how much I need to spend and where!

Making the most of Shopify’s vast selection of apps has also helped. All designed to work with Shopify they can be easily added or cancelled if they are not suitable. Some are costly though, so be aware of any charges.

My store can be found at www.seashoreno4.co.uk   You can join us on the following social media too:

Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook!