PROGRESS UPDATE: My new rustic furniture eCommerce store. Fine tuning and growing traffic.

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Hi Everyone,

Thanks to warrior forum, I finally got the courage to open an ecommerce store. So here's the story.

My dad started a small woodshop as a hobby in mid Missouri Mennonite country (they're kinda like Amish) about 6 years ago. He employs 3 people and the make custom furniture. They make nice quality stuff and are doing decent business.

He has been looking for ways to expand the business and he started asking me about an ecommerce store. So we got to talking, I did some research and settled on woocommerce. I know people have some strong opinions on shopping carts. It seemed easiest at the time and I'm not really looking to change.


www.nianguafurniture.com


They didn't really have a good place for pictures, so I handed my dad my DSLR and told him to take the furniture outside and do some shots. That's how we came up with the idea for an outdoor catalog.



Here is what I have accomplished so far:

1. A modest catalog for people to browse. It will be growing weekly as they make more stuff and take pictures.

2. Payment Gateway up and running. Credit Cards and paypal.

3. We found a shipper that will ship any of our large items anywhere in the continental US for $200. Great deal!

So now we just need to get more products up and start getting some orders. But I need some brainstorming from you guys.




Here are my plans for generating traffic.

1. My dad will be making videos of the individual products and we will post them on youtube and our product pages.

2. Craigslist ads. I believe there is a good person on WF for this, right?

3. PPC on google and bing.

4. I've also set up a blog for them to feature some of their custom work and various things.

5. I will be hiring someone shortly to write 300-400 word SEO optimized product descriptions.

6. MAYBE synchronize the store with an ebay store using one of the woocommerce plugins. Does anyone have any experience with this? How effective is it in driving traffic??




I would love to hear suggestions about driving traffic and any other comments about the site. I know the items are expensive so any advice on increasing conversions would be helpful.

I could use some creative ideas on how to use the front page slideshow most effectively.

Thanks,

Ben

p.s. - I was also kicking around the idea of doing a small affiliate program, so if anyone on WF is dying to get into the furniture selling niche, let me know. Haha,
#ecommerce #fine #furniture #growing #rustic #store #traffic #tuning
  • Profile picture of the author OnlineStoreHelp
    Hey,

    Looks real nice. It's amazing what you can do with wordpress. I personally use shopping cart systems for online stores but your catalog is small enough. Just be careful with PCI compliance on a wordpress site, especially give how expensive your items are.

    First thing, go get the google product search module that goes with Woocommerce so you can upload to google product search. They might have an affiliate module as well but given the price point, I would look at a professional network. Getting started on Shareasale is 500 bucks and a minimum of 25 a month. I am assuming with your margins you could get affiliates interested quite quickly.

    One nitpicky thing, and this may be me, your photographs are all different sizes it seems. I would choose a standard size so that all your lines are clean across the board. Love the video of your quality with the horse, stuff like that is fun!

    Add in your menu under shopping or as another option item the account and login buttons for woocommerce and remove the meta elements out of your sidebar.

    Look at Amazon product ads. It is a little easier with the shopping cart systems due to them being designed for commerce but you did a great job.
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    • Profile picture of the author cypres0099
      Thanks for the kind words and the advice! I just set up an amazon ads account. I didn't even know they did that.

      As for the google shopper, I thought that was only useful for items that are available from multiple stores.

      I'll figure out how to add another login option. And yes, I need to go back and update the pictures. When my dad took the first ones, he didn't leave appropriate room for cropping.
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  • Profile picture of the author Pusateri
    Hey Ben,

    I actually stood up and applauded.

    Outdoor catalog is brilliant. Sets you apart.

    The biggest deficiency I see is in your copy. Not that it's bad, there just isn't enough of it to do the job.

    When you sell high-end products you are in the romance business. People fall in love because they see a reflection of themselves and their values in what you sell.

    You also need a more extensive ABOUT US page. What you have is a good start, but it needs fleshing out. Get that text above the fold!

    Here are three sites selling high-end products. Take a look and see how they speak to their customers:

    Confederate Motorcycles

    Vintage Women's and Men's Clothing, Accessories and Luggage, and One-of-a-Kind Merchandise | The J. Peterman Company

    Saddleback Leather Co.

    Elbert Hubbard made a fortune a century ago selling handcrafted furniture made in his Roycroft shop at East Aurora, New York. Hubbard understood he was selling a romantic dream. You could learn a lot by reading up on him.

    OK, now I'm gonna pick on you now in a couple small ways.

    1) The logo is wrong. Very cold and you are in a warmth business. If I cover up the word furniture, your logo could belong to a chemical company or a paper mill. Remember, your logo is the first thing new visitors notice when they land. It needs to assure them they are in the right place, and set the tone for the rest of the experience.

    2) Drop the dollar sign if possible. The Cornell Center for Hospitality Management conducted a study which showed diners spent 10-15% more when menu prices omitted the dollar sign. I have found it to hold true on the web for high-end consumer goods. Psychologically, the dollar sign seems make people more risk averse.

    3) Forget the discounting. You are selling a premium product and discounting undermines it. Besides, a discount has to be 40-50% to get people's attention these days.

    Really outstanding start. I hope you go far.

    Mark
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  • Profile picture of the author nyjayla
    Your products are beautiful! I am no expert but I think if you go with an ecommerce solution like shopify and pay the $29/month in advance for a year you will not have any transaction fee. They have every add on or app you could ever hope for to make your marketing, seo, managing...etc... life easier. I wouldn't be surprised if they had an affiliate app or a drop-ship app.


    I would be very interested in hearing about your affiliate program or my preference would be for you to offer a wholesale program with drop-shipping. Please let me know what you think about that?
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  • Profile picture of the author kurtbai
    I've read all above posts and there are really lots of useful info.

    As for traffic, I suggest to try Google Shopping, TheFind, and Amazon Product Ads, the 1st one is paid, but you can get traffic for $0.01, the 2nd is free and effective, the last is paid but you can get a $75 coupon to try it out, if it brings quality leads, then invest more...

    hope this helps and good luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author sweetcrabhoney18
    Such a lovely website. I agree with the logo point. It looks like a logo for anything but a furniture store. Make sure that once you build a blog that you update it often and you use social media to show off those amazing pictures. I also recommend you write a few press releases and send them with a picture to local newspapers. The images really are that great.
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    • Profile picture of the author infoway
      Originally Posted by sweetcrabhoney18 View Post

      Such a lovely website. I agree with the logo point. It looks like a logo for anything but a furniture store. Make sure that once you build a blog that you update it often and you use social media to show off those amazing pictures. I also recommend you write a few press releases and send them with a picture to local newspapers. The images really are that great.
      I too agree with your point. Its a fantastic website. And use of social media can really pull a huge traffic to your site and will help you to promote those outstanding pictures. Use Pinterest to display those amazing pictures.
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  • Profile picture of the author rugman
    My $.02 - Love the furniture! I have some similar stuff in my house. Made from old barnwood - really cool. I love the pics also - however - add some pics of the furniture in place in a house so people can also get a feel what they look like in a house.
    Drop any discounts and go high end. Maybe use a "on clearance" section to "make room for new pieces"
    Great idea - good luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author adsmantis
    I feel that you should remove the flat rate shipping. Anyone who is going to pay for high ticket items will pay more for shipping and insurance and they do not mind waiting for their furniture. From my own view, I will recommend that you go with bigcommerce rather than using a wordpress then get a ssl and it should be ok. Organize your support ticket via zendesk and you got a really professional site.
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    • Profile picture of the author cypres0099
      Originally Posted by Pusateri View Post


      The biggest deficiency I see is in your copy. Not that it's bad, there just isn't enough of it to do the job.

      When you sell high-end products you are in the romance business. People fall in love because they see a reflection of themselves and their values in what you sell.
      I see your point. I hate writing copy, so I usually pawn it off on someone else. Do you think the home page needs more, or is it the product and about us pages?


      Originally Posted by Pusateri View Post

      You also need a more extensive ABOUT US page. What you have is a good start, but it needs fleshing out. Get that text above the fold!

      Saddleback Leather Co.
      I really like this one. I guess we could separate our about us and contact us page.


      Originally Posted by Pusateri View Post

      OK, now I'm gonna pick on you now in a couple small ways.

      1) The logo is wrong. Very cold and you are in a warmth business. If I cover up the word furniture, your logo could belong to a chemical company or a paper mill. Remember, your logo is the first thing new visitors notice when they land. It needs to assure them they are in the right place, and set the tone for the rest of the experience.
      Yeah, I think you're right. I commissioned it on fiverr so I could have something to put up. Any ideas on were to get a better logo?


      Originally Posted by Pusateri View Post

      2) Drop the dollar sign if possible. The Cornell Center for Hospitality Management conducted a study which showed diners spent 10-15% more when menu prices omitted the dollar sign. I have found it to hold true on the web for high-end consumer goods. Psychologically, the dollar sign seems make people more risk averse.
      Interesting idea! I'll see how it looks on my site. I hope I can figure out how to modify the templates.


      Originally Posted by Pusateri View Post

      3) Forget the discounting. You are selling a premium product and discounting undermines it. Besides, a discount has to be 40-50% to get people's attention these days.
      I think that's a good idea. I'll change it. Have to find the best price point though.


      Originally Posted by nyjayla View Post

      I would be very interested in hearing about your affiliate program or my preference would be for you to offer a wholesale program with drop-shipping. Please let me know what you think about that?
      Hmmm, I'm not sure we have the capacity to support a drop shipping business at this point. But maybe a small affiliate program. I'll keep you in mind if we do.


      Originally Posted by kurtbai View Post

      As for traffic, I suggest to try Google Shopping, TheFind, and Amazon Product Ads, the 1st one is paid, but you can get traffic for $0.01, the 2nd is free and effective, the last is paid but you can get a $75 coupon to try it out, if it brings quality leads, then invest more...
      Got setup on Amazon, will check out the other two. Thanks!


      Originally Posted by sweetcrabhoney18 View Post

      I also recommend you write a few press releases and send them with a picture to local newspapers. The images really are that great.
      How would one go about doing that exactly?


      Originally Posted by infoway View Post

      And use of social media can really pull a huge traffic to your site and will help you to promote those outstanding pictures. Use Pinterest to display those amazing pictures.
      I thought about using Pintrest before, but I don't know the best way to do it. Do I just create an account and start pinning the pics? Any services for that?


      Originally Posted by rugman View Post

      add some pics of the furniture in place in a house so people can also get a feel what they look like in a house.
      Drop any discounts and go high end. Maybe use a "on clearance" section to "make room for new pieces"
      Both good ideas. We have a few pictures from customers that we might be able to put up.


      Originally Posted by adsmantis View Post

      I feel that you should remove the flat rate shipping. Anyone who is going to pay for high ticket items will pay more for shipping and insurance and they do not mind waiting for their furniture.
      I'm on the fence about this. I feel like everyone hates shipping no matter how high end. I was even thinking about doing free shipping. Are there any more thoughts on how to handle shipping? I did $99 so we would be able to do promotions for free shipping.
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      • Profile picture of the author sweetcrabhoney18
        Originally Posted by cypres0099 View Post



        How would one go about doing that exactly?



        You can contact your local paper (s) directly and ask them where to send them to. Sometimes they might discuss things over the phone instead. Most prefer things via mail. Also well, online press releases work great. For the first month submit 2 to 3 press releases a week all on different elements of your store. This will build a name and some rep as well as get consistent visitors to your website. Good luck and keep up the nice store.
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      • Profile picture of the author Pusateri
        Originally Posted by cypres0099 View Post

        Do you think the home page needs more, or is it the product and about us pages?
        I like your home page. Think of it as the stage curtain that is lifted to reveal the players. It's the player's that need fleshing out.

        Whoever you get to write your copy, make sure they know how to tell a story and are able to match words to what you have represented visually


        Any ideas on were to get a better logo?
        We do our design work in-house. (We're a publishing company.) Have used elance for those things outside of our skill set and been pleased with the people we've found. Don't go cheap on this. Your logo represents you and you are going to have to look at it for a long time.




        I think that's a good idea. I'll change it. Have to find the best price point though.
        I think your prices are low. You can't walk into a furniture store and find a quality table for less than $2k.

        The better your margins, the more you can afford to pay to acquire a customer. Done right it means fewer sales, but more money. Also makes for a much more pleasant business life. Customers who aren't discount desperadoes are so much nicer to deal with.




        I'm on the fence about this. I feel like everyone hates shipping no matter how high end. I was even thinking about doing free shipping. Are there any more thoughts on how to handle shipping? I did $99 so we would be able to do promotions for free shipping.
        Affluent buyers are strange about this. They don't bat an eyelash at the price of the product, but they will grouse about the shipping. Bump up your prices and promote the hell out of the fact that you never charge for shipping.

        Free Shipping has a higher perceived value than you might think. I would expect to pay about $300 to have a table delivered to me from another state. I once bought an armoire at an estate sale and paid a mover $150 to deliver it across town, then tipped him and his helper on top of that.
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        • Profile picture of the author cypres0099
          Originally Posted by sweetcrabhoney18 View Post

          You can contact your local paper (s) directly and ask them where to send them to. Sometimes they might discuss things over the phone instead. Most prefer things via mail. Also well, online press releases work great. For the first month submit 2 to 3 press releases a week all on different elements of your store. This will build a name and some rep as well as get consistent visitors to your website. Good luck and keep up the nice store.
          Thanks for that. I'll be looking into it!

          Originally Posted by redlegrich View Post

          You are using your blog to talk about policies and so forth. That's not really its purpose. Put that stuff elsewhere. High end stuff you make, excellent! That's the way to make money.

          Not sure what you want to use CL for, it's really just a local sales tool. Could drive some local leads but I think with AdWords, FB and other traffic sources you guys will do very well.
          I taught my Dad how to make a blog post and told him to make posts about those policies to start with so I could link from the home page to those. Perhaps I should make new pages.

          The craigslist ads would basically be geographically target ads for the website. People in the Denver area are more likely to be in this market than those in say Florida. I've been reading a bit about it and it seems like you can drive some good traffic. But I'm not sure how it would work for high end products.

          Originally Posted by rugman View Post

          Just thought of this also - take some videos of you delivering the furniture to your local customers and there faces as you unwrap them and place them in their homes.
          Also maybe some interviews with some local interior designers that promote your furniture.
          That's a great idea. We could do some blog posts about that.


          Originally Posted by Ken_Caudill View Post

          How do you deal with shipping costs?
          We kind of got lucky there. There is a small shipping company that has their headquarters very close to our shop. They said they could ship anything under 500lbs (most of our stuff) to anywhere in the continental us for under $200! And get it there in 3-5 days!!!!! How's that for a deal?

          Originally Posted by Pusateri View Post

          I think your prices are low. You can't walk into a furniture store and find a quality table for less than $2k.

          Affluent buyers are strange about this. They don't bat an eyelash at the price of the product, but they will grouse about the shipping. Bump up your prices and promote the hell out of the fact that you never charge for shipping.

          Free Shipping has a higher perceived value than you might think. I would expect to pay about $300 to have a table delivered to me from another state. I once bought an armoire at an estate sale and paid a mover $150 to deliver it across town, then tipped him and his helper on top of that.
          Thanks for all the advice.

          Anyone else have thoughts on the prices? Do you think we are too high? Too low? My Dad originally had everything priced super low. I basically convinced him to double the price to go after more high end people.

          As for the shipping, perhaps we could do free shipping on all the furniture. Later we will be selling smaller items like mirrors, cutting boards and coasters. So, I'm not sure we can do free shipping on those. But maybe...
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  • Profile picture of the author redlegrich
    You are using your blog to talk about policies and so forth. That's not really its purpose. Put that stuff elsewhere. High end stuff you make, excellent! That's the way to make money.

    Not sure what you want to use CL for, it's really just a local sales tool. Could drive some local leads but I think with AdWords, FB and other traffic sources you guys will do very well.
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  • Profile picture of the author rugman
    Just thought of this also - take some videos of you delivering the furniture to your local customers and there faces as you unwrap them and place them in their homes.
    Also maybe some interviews with some local interior designers that promote your furniture.
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  • Profile picture of the author nyjayla
    I really like your funiture and think your prices are spot on. I googled Amish Furniture and looked at the first 3 sites. Clearly their sites are using variouse ecommerce solution providers and they load faster are look a bit more professional. Also, I wouldn't be suprised if they ended up with a better result after having done less work then you have. I am goinng to be using shopify but their are a million others... I am sure you can find reviews on the forum.

    I found this WSO on here a few weeks back it seems to be about dominating google while geo-targeting. You can finding by searching the forum for CitationRadar. It was cheap and as you have a physical address it should help you get noticed...
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  • Profile picture of the author george b
    Is your site down? Cant seem to get on it. Im in the process in setting up a site for my own father who trades in similar goods as yours, and would love to get some inspiration, and share a few tips.

    George b
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    • Profile picture of the author cypres0099
      So we've decided to try out the "Free Shipping on Everything" for a while. I've updated the site accordingly. Thanks to all who made suggestions and if you have any more, please tell me!

      Ben


      Originally Posted by george b View Post

      Is your site down? Cant seem to get on it. Im in the process in setting up a site for my own father who trades in similar goods as yours, and would love to get some inspiration, and share a few tips.
      I never noticed any down time. Should be working now.



      Originally Posted by nyjayla View Post

      I found this WSO on here a few weeks back it seems to be about dominating google while geo-targeting. You can finding by searching the forum for CitationRadar. It was cheap and as you have a physical address it should help you get noticed...
      That sounds great. I'll check it out. Thanks!
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  • Profile picture of the author Audarah
    Beautiful site!
    Can I offer two suggestions though?
    One is your cart. You need to find a way to make that more findable and attractive. Some people that use the internet arent too internet savvy and wont know to look way up in the right hand corner. Get that out there. Even if they are savvy, it is small.

    Get a custom logo.

    Ok, third suggestion.

    You are selling rustic furniture. I would use a rustic background to use. The white isnt doing much for me. Get some warmth in there.
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    • Profile picture of the author cypres0099
      Originally Posted by Audarah View Post

      Beautiful site!
      Can I offer two suggestions though?
      One is your cart. You need to find a way to make that more findable and attractive. Some people that use the internet arent too internet savvy and wont know to look way up in the right hand corner. Get that out there. Even if they are savvy, it is small.
      That's what my Dad said too! I think there are some woocommerce plugins that can remedy that.

      Originally Posted by Audarah View Post

      Get a custom logo.

      You are selling rustic furniture. I would use a rustic background to use. The white isnt doing much for me. Get some warmth in there.
      Will do on both. Thanks for the suggestions!

      Ben
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  • Profile picture of the author jugnu
    Hmm, nice ecommerce site. I like it.
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  • Profile picture of the author jangelo
    also look at adding remarketing into the mix as well. Furniture and other high-ticket items will have a longer sales cycle and 1st time visitors won't likely convert on their 1st visit. It would be good if you can bring back previous visitors to your site to try and get them to convert.

    just remember to test, test, and test; as is S.O.P with any paid channels.

    Goodluck!
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  • Profile picture of the author co13
    great shop and design there, congrats -
    i would like to ask if you know some US company that can make dropshipping furniture. i own a furniture shop also Volpe - Buy Modern Furniture Online - Branded Designer Furniture for Sale (not such good design as you have here ), but my supplier closed his biz. sorry if its a offtopic question and so ...
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  • Profile picture of the author kettlecorn
    Hey dude, nice website. Just a few things from a design perspective. i would change the font to something a little more modern. The typeface is somewhat like a newspaper, you can find something that matches by looking in a big box furniture store, like Ikea.

    The slideshow can use arrows or navigation cause I wanted to go back and see a previous slide and had to wait until it cycled through.

    I would recommend NOT italicizing the font in the slideshow and not using background highlights. It looks a bit weird and novice from a design standpoint. Other than that, colors are nice and websites look nice based on the pictures, and your pictures are very good quality. Could use a little bit of alignment and grid and photoshop but overall good stuff.
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  • Profile picture of the author fakhrulparvez
    Hi its really nice to know that you have started. You site looks nice for its simplicity in color and design. But it takes really a good time to be fully loaded. You can have a look at Dooleysfurniture or Ikea shop for better ideas.
    Yes you should have a custom logo.
    Best of luck!
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  • Profile picture of the author AlwaysAwa
    Firstly, i like to say your site is so warm and cozy. Other then going for craigslist, post on other popular classified ads. Expand your ppc don't stop at adword and bing, use facebook ads. Your site is also good for instantgram. Is your site mobile friendly? If not better take make one.

    Just my $00.02
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  • Profile picture of the author timpears
    I had been thinking I would like to open a furniture store of some kind. Was looking around to find a furniture wholesaler that would drop ship. Haven't looked too hard though or I probably would have found one.
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    • Profile picture of the author cypres0099
      Originally Posted by jangelo View Post

      also look at adding remarketing into the mix as well. Furniture and other high-ticket items will have a longer sales cycle and 1st time visitors won't likely convert on their 1st visit. It would be good if you can bring back previous visitors to your site to try and get them to convert.

      just remember to test, test, and test; as is S.O.P with any paid channels.

      Goodluck!
      I don't know much about remarketting, but it looks pretty cool. I'll give it some thought. What's S.O.P.?


      Originally Posted by co13 View Post

      great shop and design there, congrats -
      i would like to ask if you know some US company that can make dropshipping furniture. i own a furniture shop also Volpe - Buy Modern Furniture Online - Branded Designer Furniture for Sale (not such good design as you have here ), but my supplier closed his biz. sorry if its a offtopic question and so ...
      Beautiful site! I don't know of any drop shippers for furniture. I've had a few people asking me about drop shipping our furniture. What kind of margins do you guys need to make it work? I'd be interested to know if it would be a viable option for my Dad's store.


      Originally Posted by kettlecorn View Post

      The slideshow can use arrows or navigation cause I wanted to go back and see a previous slide and had to wait until it cycled through.

      I would recommend NOT italicizing the font in the slideshow and not using background highlights. It looks a bit weird and novice from a design standpoint.
      Good thought about the arrows. I'll add those in. I was thinking about hiring someone to create a more professional looking slideshow. I agree it doesn't look the best.



      Originally Posted by fakhrulparvez View Post

      Hi its really nice to know that you have started. You site looks nice for its simplicity in color and design. But it takes really a good time to be fully loaded. You can have a look at Dooleysfurniture or Ikea shop for better ideas.
      Yes you should have a custom logo.
      Best of luck!
      Any advice on how to speed up load times? Should I invest in a CDN? I could try removing some plugins.


      Originally Posted by AlwaysAwa View Post

      Expand your ppc don't stop at adword and bing, use facebook ads. Your site is also good for instantgram.

      Just my $00.02
      How do I advertise with instagram?
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  • Profile picture of the author OnPagePro
    I have sold high end product via CL and it does work but the return is minimal. I do however suggest you think about video. Closeups and romancing the product why you show the function and craftsmanship. As well you can optimize each video for each product. A written document can not beat a decent video. I myself have done this in the furniture arena. Many of my videos sit on the first page for the particular term I was targeting. Seriously, you can really create interest in your product. I suggest you look into it as a way to generate sales.

    Best Regards
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    • Profile picture of the author cypres0099
      Originally Posted by OnPagePro View Post

      I have sold high end product via CL and it does work but the return is minimal. I do however suggest you think about video. Closeups and romancing the product why you show the function and craftsmanship. As well you can optimize each video for each product. A written document can not beat a decent video. I myself have done this in the furniture arena. Many of my videos sit on the first page for the particular term I was targeting. Seriously, you can really create interest in your product. I suggest you look into it as a way to generate sales.

      Best Regards
      I think video is a great idea. We are going to try to use that more and more as we get things set up.
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  • Profile picture of the author RMC
    Have you tried social traffic- facebook, twitter, pinterest etc.?
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    • Profile picture of the author cypres0099
      Not too much yet. I think pinterest has a lot of potential, but I'm not sure how to get that started exactly. I'm also not sure I have time to baby a pinterest account.

      I'd like to hear some thoughts though.

      Originally Posted by RMC View Post

      Have you tried social traffic- facebook, twitter, pinterest etc.?
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  • Profile picture of the author gregdavidson727
    Pretty nice execution. I would recommend adding a toll-free number at the top. It makes your website look more legitimate. Also, get your products listed on some shopping websites and get your website rated by various services. Add the icons of those sites at the bottom. People are skeptical when buying from an e-commerce shop they never heard of and won't part with their hard-earned money unless they believe you're a legitimate online retailer.
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  • Profile picture of the author mogulmap
    Very nice site, I love the look and feel it gives. My suggestion would be to incorporate social media ex facebook and pinterest. Your designs are really nice and can go viral by posting pictures from your customers and new designs on a fanpage and pinterest. Maybe even JV with lodges or something like that who have like minded customers.

    Again, nice execution and photography.
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    Rus Sells says...
    Your signature is all that matters!
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    Cat's = PROFIT"S
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  • Profile picture of the author alksense
    Any updates on how your store is performing? I love to hear success stores
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    • Profile picture of the author cypres0099
      Progress Update:

      I wanted to thank everyone once again for all the advice and encouragement. I am still in the process of implementing some of the ideas from this thread. I don't know if I mentioned this before, but my day job (currently night job) is as a resident physician at a hospital (aka indentured servant) so it can be hard to find time to work on the site.

      As Alksense mentioned, I think it's time for a little update.

      We've had about 600 visitors to the site since we started about 2 months ago (not including warriors).

      No sales.

      We have had our payment gateway fully operational for about 1.5 months.

      Here is some stuff we are still working on:

      1. We are slowly adding more products as time allows. I'm trying to be a stickler for high quality images as to not dilute the quality that we already have. It makes it difficult sometimes.

      2. We have started seeing a modest increase in traffic coming from search. My Dad has hired a family friend to write some much needed product descriptions (kinda like th j peterman catalog). She will do a great job, but can't get started on it until the end of the month.

      3. We have implemented a workflow that will result in getting a lot of videos to go along with new products. We will post them on YouTube and each product page.

      4. I have an email list of about 70 people that signed up at a rustic furniture show.

      5. This week I started work on a Facebook page (about time I know). I've added a free version of StoreYa, which adds a "shop" tab to your fb page and allows people to like, share, and buy directly from Facebook. I'm planning on using some Facebook advertising to get some page likes and hopefully some likes and shares of some of our products. If anyone has social media contacts in an adjacent niche that might be interested in what we have, it'd be awesome if we could get a mention.

      6. I've added my info to "The Find" but have yet to see any results. Amazon advertising has been nonproductive. Same with bing.

      7. Craig's list ads brought a fair amount of traffic early on, but now I think I'm getting ghosted.

      8. I set up my toll free number last night. Just need to put it on the site.


      Stuff we are contemplating in the near future:

      1. Solo ads.

      2. Mailers in the local area.

      3. Twitter and pinterest. Though I'm not sure how best to use these. I've got a pretty good handle on twitter (currently using tweet adder on several accounts). I know I want our pics on pinterest, but do I just put them up and see what happens?

      4. We are in the process of creating a dresser with hidden gun storage (like a secret gun safe), which we plan on marketing directly to gun groups on Facebook.

      5. There is a woocommerce plugin that will synchronize your store with an Ebay store that I was thinking about using.


      My Dad and the employees at the shop have lost a little bit of their enthusiasm do to lack of web sales. I told them we need to keep pushing ahead.

      If anyone has more ideas, I'm all ears.

      Ben
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  • Profile picture of the author Shane Bellone
    I love the look.

    Where is your traffic coming from? If organic, what keywords? You might be targeting the wrong search phrases.
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  • Profile picture of the author Brad789
    Cypress 0099 - got to say - exceptional execution! Never seen a more professional presentation even by the "big boys". You got the stuff and are on your way. Congratulations!
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    • Profile picture of the author cypres0099
      Thanks Brad, that's nice to hear. It's my first attempt at an eccoomerce site and sometimes I wonder if I'm doing stuff right...

      I've got a few things on my list that I really need to do though.

      Ben
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  • Profile picture of the author maxamillion125
    Ben, any new updates?
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  • Profile picture of the author cypres0099
    Well the site has generated several email leads and probably a few phone calls, but it has not translated into any sales on the website. All in all it's been pretty lackluster. We are going to add another bunch of products soon.

    Early on, we started to see some good search traffic. About 2 months ago, the amount of search traffic and the number of impressions I saw in webmaster tools dropped off a cliff and hasn't recovered. I have no idea why.

    Kinda stumped as to what to do next. Thoughts?

    Ben
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    • Profile picture of the author alksense
      Originally Posted by cypres0099 View Post

      Well the site has generated several email leads and probably a few phone calls, but it has not translated into any sales on the website. All in all it's been pretty lackluster. We are going to add another bunch of products soon.

      Early on, we started to see some good search traffic. About 2 months ago, the amount of search traffic and the number of impressions I saw in webmaster tools dropped off a cliff and hasn't recovered. I have no idea why.

      Kinda stumped as to what to do next. Thoughts?

      Ben
      I'm just going to throw this out there...

      As you're learning it can be very tough to launch your own brand in an already competitive niche.

      If I was in your position I would do one of two things:

      Option 1:

      Establish a brand that does not sell directly to the public. Change your business model to being the manufacturer/supplier for other online retailers. Ones who are already established. I know you do a lot of offline business, I'm referring to online only. You can even change the brand name for your "online" company if need be.

      Here's what you would have to do:

      Create a price list for other online retailers. Create this file as a .csv (most common eCommerce store data file type) and create unique SKU#s for your products, add in the product descriptions that you have created, the dimensions, the specifics of each products and image links to each image file that you have created. Determine your wholesale cost to other retailers and be sure to have a MAP policy in place (you will get A LOT more retailers willing to sell for you).

      Create a list of online stores who sell in the same/similar niche(s) as you. I'm sure you will find plenty. Start calling them/emailing them and introduce yourself and introduce your business. You've done a great job of that here so you can definitely do it over the phone. Tell them you are launching this new brand and you would like their company to sell your products. Offer them 10% off on all POs for the first month that you do business together and try to get them to promote you products (on their site) to their email lists and on their homepage. As an incentive you can offer them a kickback % based on how much business they send you in a set amount of time.

      Offer great customer service to these retailers and they will send you orders for years to come. I started importing and companies in the same situation as you starting contacting me wanting to me to sell their products and this turned into VERY profitable relationships.

      Option 2:

      Start your own drop ship eCommerce store and get approved for accounts with the big manufacturers/brands in your niche. This will be good because you will make money and get traffic by selling for companies that already have a lot of search traffic.

      The key here is to also promote your own brand on this website AND promote it heavily! This will increase your direct sales as well as sales from drop ship suppliers and just lead to bigger margins for you.

      __

      If I was you I would 100% go with option 1 but that may be because I have seven years of experience in this business so everything is very clear to me regarding what steps to take. If you think it's over your head option 2 may be easier.

      If you really want to create and grow your own brand I would dive right into option 1.

      Good Luck!
      Anton
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  • Profile picture of the author hymangaines
    It would seem that a logo for anything besides a furniture store. Verify that once you assemble a blog that you redesign it regularly and you utilize online networking to show off those astounding pictures. I likewise propose you compose a couple of press release and send them with a picture to neighborhood daily papers. The pictures truly are that extraordinary.
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    http://www.nookandcranny.com.sg - My favorite Singapore based online furniture store
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  • Profile picture of the author Metacomet
    Originally Posted by cypres0099 View Post


    ...



    Here are my plans for generating traffic.

    1. My dad will be making videos of the individual products and we will post them on youtube and our product pages.

    2. Craigslist ads. I believe there is a good person on WF for this, right?

    3. PPC on google and bing.

    4. I've also set up a blog for them to feature some of their custom work and various things.

    5. I will be hiring someone shortly to write 300-400 word SEO optimized product descriptions.

    6. MAYBE synchronize the store with an ebay store using one of the woocommerce plugins. Does anyone have any experience with this? How effective is it in driving traffic??


    ...
    Nothing valuable to add just commenting - great thread, great business strategy, and great product concept here.

    I also live near Amish country and have considered approaching them to ask if they're willing to start selling things on the internet. No idea how that would fly with them though.
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