Getting the most from CPS|
.. and helping CPS get the most from you :)
Cloth Pad Shop needs the help of every single store here to succeed, and in return, CPS can bring more customers to you. Its a cycle thing - the more effort you put in, the more you can get as a result.
we need to give the people what they want..... Its the key thing in business - to supply what people want, when they want it. If people are coming to the store and they aren't buying..... it means that we're simply are not providing what they want.
We have a blog (http://www.clothpadshop.wordpress.com) which admittedly I forget to use too.... but this is for ALL stores to use. Sign up for a wordpress account (its free), and let me know your e-mail address and I can add you as an author and you can post about your store there to your heart's content! The more the blog is used, the more people may read it, and the better traffic it can bring.
Blog about your newest fabric purchases, about your favourite music to listen to when you sew - whatever you like... it doesn't just have to be "here, I have these for sale" type posts - those are good too though! Some customers like to know about the person behind the business. It's a great spot to use for competitions and giveaways - post with the item you're giving away and have people comment on the blog post to enter. It has something like 3gb of hosting space for photos too, so feel free to upload pictures of your stuff and show them off to people!
We have a yahoogroup mailing list http://www.yahoogroups.com/group/clothpadshop that is for the customers to find out about CPS happenings - not many people have subscribed to it .... but that's also because nobody uses it.
Any store can post messages to it - tell people about your stocking dates, when you have something new - give exclusive discounts to the mailing list members (send them a code, so only they will know it and fee they have got something special) - AND tell people you're doing so on the blog or your website so that people know to sign up!!! The more people who use this, the more those people on the list will be pestered about CPS, and the more likely they are to continually come in to have a look at stuff.
We have a Cloth Pad Shop facebook page. Please use it :D Add some photos of your nicest pads to the photo page... start up a discussion - the more the CPS name is splashed about, the more people will remember it and come.
Just 2 things to remember...
A lot of people don't realise that it's against facebook TOS to run competitions and most promotions on facebook. They can (and will) remove your account if they find you doing it, so it's not worth the risk. You need to read their TOS if you plan to do anything, but as a basic guide you aren't allowed to run the competition at all on facebook, you can't make something on facebook be a form of entering the competition... You:
I *think* something like having a "once I hit 200 fans I'll give away this" type thing is ok, if you've posted it on a blog and are actually running the comp there rather than on FB.... but that's treading dangerous ground I think, depending on how you do it..
If posting to the CPS page from the actual page - please make sure you start off by saying what store you are - because it will post as just "Cloth Pad Shop" otherwise, like this... which confuses people as to who has posted... and to be perfectly honest, it looks like it's a CPS endorsement rather than a post by an actual store - and I'd rather keep all CPS posts to more "official" things that I post...
If posting to the page from your personal page or your own business page, you can "tag" cloth pad shop by starting to type in "@cloth pad" and you should see a pulldown menu - select the Cloth Pad Shop page... like this:
Your post will then appear on the CPS page wall, but instead of saying "cloth pad shop" posted it, it will say you posted it. This is the preferred way of posting to our facebook page! If you don't already have your own business facebook page, you should start one.... a lot of customers are on facebook and a lot of your competitors will be twittering and facebooking, so even if you're not really a fan yourself, it's an important form of FREE advertising!
We even have a twitter page - http://twitter.com/clothpadshop. If you twitter, let me know who you are on there, and I can add you to the stores feed we have. I confess, I don't know much about twitter, but I believe you can do a linked post by doing a @clothpadshop or something... We can set up a twitter widget to display tweets from all CPS sellers. I took it down because it was mostly filled with just one or two sellers tweets, but if we get enough stores twittering to make it worth it, we can add it - http://twitter.com/#!/ClothPadShop/lists/stores
Getting yourself known....
While we do have banner ads and I promote the site wherever I can, a lot of our traffic comes in from stores signature files in forums, links from their blogs/websites etc. and word of mouth (people talking about a brand, or someone asking where to buy a pad and someone saying "Cloth Pad Shop".. (and from google searches) So it's in your best interest to blab on about CPS and your store whenever and wherever you can! That's one of the reasons I've set each store up with their own domain, so it can be used easily to direct people to your store. also, google ratings work by the links to and from sites have. So the more places linking to CPS, the higher our ranking goes up. The more the CPS name is dropped, the more people think about it when they want to buy pads. Now in saying that, please don't spam (I have a hatred of spam myself, and any store caught spamming will be warned and then banned if it continues - we don't want to have CPS associated with annoying spam! that's counter-productive).... don't be annoying about it, Check forum/group rules relating to advertising before you post.... but where the situation arises - please advertise yourself and CPS.
I can see from the Statcounter site stats that some stores do well at promoting themselves - links to their CPS store on their website/blog whatever - but not every store does. You need to promote yourself, get your name out there and known...... This is for your benefit, not just for CPS (though obviously when people come to CPS to see your store, they are on CPS and that's good for everyone else too) If you are on any forums or mailing lists - look at getting a link to your store in your signature (some places require you to pay for advertising to do this, or don't allow it, so please check). Leave business cards in places you feel you might attract customers. I have professionally printed CPS business cards that you can have - just ask.
People will only buy if there is something to buy that they want. Its as simple as that. If you don't have anything they want, they won't buy (and may leave and go elsewhere for their purchases)
The most successful stores on CPS tend to be the ones that have a large amount of stock, and stock that is constantly changing. Having a lot of stock helps greater the chance that you'll sell something.... and when you sell, you replace it, so there are new things for customers to see. Its an obvious thing, but I think it needs pointing out. If you've got 2 things then you might only appeal to a limited range of people. If you have 20 different things, then your chances of someone wanting one are greater simply because you have more variety. Since we don't take commissions or have listing fees, make the most of it and list as much as your heart desires!! Customers like browsing through a well stocked store, but they hate looking through a store full of sold out things.
I don't have over 250 pads because I need them :) I have that many partly because I had a mission to try lots of brands so I was more knowledgeable about the topic, but also because there have been MANY pads I have "just had to have" (I have more than one pad from several brands - because I wanted to buy another because I liked that pad) - despite the fact I can just make my own. I'm not alone in wanting to buy something that appeals to me, even though I don't need it. As business owners, we need to attract those people! :)
Amount of Stock
A lot of our stores need to carry a lot more stock.... and need to keep adding new stock. If you've had the same pads in there for months and they aren't selling - it's the internet equivalent of having only old, faded, dusty stock sitting on the shelves of a store. Its not appealing - particularly to those who keep coming in and seeing it.
If your stock doesn't look like it's turning over, then people assume you aren't selling..... if people assume you aren't selling then they assume there is a reason why - and they form an opinion that your product isn't good. I know this because I've seen it being discussed before.....(to do with nappies/diapers, but the same principle applies) Its just like if you walked into a shop and saw the same old stock sitting there - you'd think there must be a reason it's not selling yes? The general consensus in that thread (of the sellers) was that if something doesn't sell, either discount it to get rid of it quickly, or take it down and bring it out again later so it looks new :) - but don't just leave it there.
We get a lot of traffic from people in forums going "ohh look
When your store is selling things, customers see the stock is changing constantly, so not only does this send the message to them that your products must be highly sought after, but its also going to draw them back again so they can come and see what new stock you have. If they come back and see your store still has the same 3 things in stock it did last month, then they may take the opinion that your products aren't selling well and that there is no point checking back because there doesn't seem to be anything new being added. I realise that you need people to buy things in order to have them disappear from stock, but along with the level of stock, the more successful CPS stores are the ones who have a lot of changing stock. So if you don't have a lot of items in stock (like if you're spreading it between 2 online stores you have), then you might be best switching the stock from one store to another, to keep things looking a bit newer and more interesting. Or if needed, remove it from stock (set it to "disabled") and bring it back once it's had a holiday and see if it sells better :)
Singles Vs Sets
It seems customers mostly prefer to buy single pads - not pads in sets.... and they want to pick the exact item they are getting.... I don't know what percentage of customers buy pads for functionality alone or who buys for look.... but I imagine it is as with most things, we buy the product for the function but we like to select from that, the item we find most attractive. eg. I don't imagine there are many customers who just want "a pad" and who don't consider it's look...... so that means we need to have pads (and other items) that appeal to their desire for something they find aesthetically pleasing (which is different to everyone, so a variety is a great thing)
While not a universal thing, it's worth mentioning that I asked a group of people which they prefer, buying pads in singles or in sets, and 13 out of 15 said singles. Reasons for this were given as:
Like to choose the prints themselves
Don't always like to have more than one pad in the same print
Don't always like the group of prints a seller has a set in (eg likes one or two of the prints but not all)
Don't like to buy multiples of an untried brand in case they don't like them
(The 2 who prefer sets said they buy in sets because it's cheaper.)
Not only can having "I'll chose the prints" or "set of various" type listings lose you sales because a lot of people are too picky about their pads to buy things they don't see.... but also the same listing tends to be up for ages (because there is no product to sell out of), looking like it's not selling..... you may have had 50 listed as in stock, but customers may not see that the numbers are changing - they may just see the same picture there for a long time, and draw their conclusions.
So it boils down to most women like to be able to hand pick each pad so they get what they want.
I suppose the ideal for sets, to offer a lower price, and cater to the fussy people - is to make up a whole batch of pads.... photograph them together.... then make the listing "Set of 3 pads" or whatever, then as a product customization enter in the prints you have and how many of them you have, and let the customer choose 3 when they checkout - so they choose the prints, and get the set... everyone's happy.
Its all well and good to have your trusty usual way of doing things.... (Tried and tested things are much preferred to new experimental things that may not work) but if you want to be more successful, it may be time to try something new... or add to your range.
If you only make 10inch, flannel topped non waterproofed pads...for example..... then you'll only appeal to customers wanting a 10 inch flannel topped pad. If you expand your product range to 10 inch pads and 7 inch pads, then you'll appeal to both customers wanting 10 inch pads and ones wanting 7 inch pads - so you double your potential customer base! Throw in a PUL/fleece backed option in those 2 sizes and you're now appealing to 4 times the amount of customers!
Remember that different people want different things in a pad. Some people buy for price/function alone, but most people buy a particular pad because they like the look of that particular pad. There are hundreds (probably thousands) of cloth pads out there for people to buy - you need to make it so that customers want to buy from YOU. That can be done by setting your brand apart with quality products, a good value price and simply by look. If you've got some spectacular pads, people are going to be more likely to talk about you, to link to your store, and ultimately to buy those spectacular pads.
Don't be afraid to offer a more budget line of plainer pads, to cater to those who want function and affordability.... and some more "boutique" pads, using velours or fancy cottons that are something more special and higher priced - to cater for those customers who want something really special to use and who don't want to buy just everyday budget pads.
So if you make synthetic topped pads for example, it might be time to pop in a few non-synth ones to try and grab that part of the market. If you don't normally use PUL, maybe you should pop in a few PUL'ed pads to appeal to a larger range of customers... or vice versa or maybe fleece backed..... If you deal mainly in flannels, maybe try some fancy quilter's cottons or some velour to go for a more boutique customer (or if you're normally at that more exclusive end, maybe try a few bargains)...... maybe try longer or shorter pads, perhaps a narrower version for those who like slim pads......That isn't to say you should completely change what you do, but open yourself up for expanding your range to reach a wider audience..... the more variety you have, the more potential you have for customers to want what you have.
Another example - There are a couple of pantyliners I've had my eye on, but they have PUL in them and I don't want PUL pantyliners (I could wear them, but I'd rather not), but since I don't *need* them, I cannot be bothered e-mailing the seller asking for a custom.... So since I'm undecided and it's extra effort to contact the seller - I don't buy. Yet if there was no PUL, I'd have bought them instantly. You don't want to give customers an excuse to find reasons not to buy.... You want to work on impulse. "Ohh I like that - I'll buy it". Its a proven fact in retail that the more time people have to think about a purchase, the more chance there is that they will decide not to buy.
You can't please everyone....and that's part of the great thing about having several sellers in the one place - the diversity of what everyone offers means there is always something different.... but you never know what trade you can be missing out on.... if nothing else, having something like a non-PUL pad if you're usually doing PUL ones, might make customers realise you are able to do that option, and you may be able to get a custom out of it.
If you're happy to accept customs (a "custom order" - where you make a pad specifically for the customer, to whatever specifications they want), don't be afraid to put up a custom product. If you need help with adding the customised options (which can allow customers to give you details like if they want PUL or not, how many core layers, snap settings and whatever you like) - just ask (though it's covered here http://www.clothpadshop.com/pages/sellerhelp#custom)
If you only want to offer customs every now and then (Often called a "custom slot"), you can use the auction or Lottery functions to help you select who you will give the custom to. You can Auction one off to the highest bidder (they get whatever $$ worth of pads from you)... or a lottery (People put their name down and the one person who wins gets the custom)... or you could put up a custom slot and use the automatics feature to make it go live at a certain time, so people are all waiting eagerly to see who can snap it up first!
Make your store work for you....
I've set the site up so that when people click on your store name, they come to a page that lists all your products and has a blurb about you at the top. There are buttons for a gallery, blog, past items and all kinds of things. Make use of these. Make your store blurb talk about what you do....promote yourself. You can put pictures and links in there..... The past items shows all the goodies you have had, that are now sold - so when you sell something you think is a good representation of your work - change its status to "past item" then archive it. Then it will show in the "past items" page.
Make sure your "about" page part looks the way you want it too..... having a picture on the right/left and a lot of text may look weird.... so you may be better off uploading the pictures to your files section and using html to embed the images in the text where you want them (the page here has info on html). You can even use backgrounds and stuff (http://au.clothpadshop.com/about_store/1 - I've made mine look like my website). Don't forget I also offer 3 additional pages you can have.... for care info or whatever you like. You could make your own gallery if you wanted to....(The default one is kinda ugly)
Make sure your product listings look as you want them to. And that they look ok in the "all products" view.... if the title is too long and splits and looks funny - make it shorter.... Don't forget the listing box thing says your business name, so you don't need it in the product title :) if the short description doesn't say enough, change it..... if your description text runs all together with no blank lines in, use html codes
to put blank lines in to break up text. Give customers the info they want..... What is in the pad? - what's its top made of?, the core, the backing.... what length, width and snapped crotch size is it?. If the listing is for more than one pad, make sure that is clear in the title or short description.
Lots of people buy without actually going into the details page - so be aware of that... the short description is there to give a summary of the basic details so they can buy straight away if they want... or they can click the details to find out more.
The photos are a VERY IMPORTANT part of your store - perhaps the most important part. People can't pick up and see the items like they would in a shop - all they have is the photos you take, and whatever description you write.... so make it count! The photos should be clear, light and show enough detail.... Think about what you would want the pictures to look like if you were buying it. They need to speak for the product - that is going to be what sells the product. Personally I like a white background (eg no background)..... which does take extra time (I photograph the products in as much light as possible (preferably outside), on a white piece of paper, then in a paint program I crop and remove the background (because it ends up not being white in the photo). If that's too much work, or you don't have the graphics programs to do it.... then think about what kind of backdrop you might like to use that will give your images a more professional look.... I've created a guide to product pictures, with links to better ones too http://www.clothpadshop.com/pages/article08. Turn off the datestamp if you can.... not only does it look less professional, but it can show how long a product has been there!
Customers like information....
Again, this is based on surveying customers... who said that they like information on the product itself... like:
That's one of the reasons I keen going on about keeping stock rotating..... same old stock and people glaze over... add something new and people will look - its like changing your shop window display - stores do that regularly to show off new things and look interesting - same applies to an Internet store. You don't want people to walk past and never notice you are there.
Go out and buy some fantastically fancy fabric (appropriate fabric... no sequins OUCH! haha Though I have seen someone do some sequinned embroidery on the underside of a pad that was auctioned off for a quite high price :)) - even if it's horrendously expensive and make something stunning! Then tell people you're going to have it available. Perhaps even make use of the "previewing" feature - put the listing up as previewing, tell people it's going live at a certain time, and then either use the automatics function to do that automatically, or just yourself go in and make it "purchasable" at that time..... This usually makes a whole bunch of people eagerly await the time it's going live and are ready to pounce on it the second it does. or offer it as a lottery, where only one person gets to be lucky enough to get the chance to buy it!
Don't forget to offer specials or deals every now and then - AND ADVERTISE THEM! Free postage is by far the most attractive of offers.... seconded by % off discounts.... Freebies are less affective but still probably better than nothing. When I've polled pad buyers in the past they said they prefer discounts to freebies, because they might not want the freebie, and a discount makes the item cheaper - which is ultimately the selling point for them. You could do a prize draw..... randomly pick a customer from the month to receive a pad or something...
I've also said it several times before, but don't forget that you can have non-pad things too.... So long as it's women/menstrually related......(no nappies, cars, toys and other "irrelevant" things - there are other stores for those)... Stuff that is appropriate is books, herbal teas, chocolate, essential oils, soaps, bags.... here's a list of things I think would go nicely - http://www.clothpadshop.com/pages/prodlistif you're not sure if it's ok, ask. The more variety of things you have, the more chance you have or making a sale.. they may want to buy some herbal tea and chocolate to go along with their pad..... or someone may tell them about a lovely soap you stock, and they decided to come and buy it and a pad too.