If we asked you to go find your phonebook, where would you look?

Rachael Staples from Web Made Easy points out that these days, most people use their phonebooks to hold up their computer monitors! It’s a reality all businesses face – everything is increasingly going online, and consumers are all too happy about that. Rachael is an expert when it comes to ecommerce. She’s had a hand in everything from store set-up to ongoing maintenance, to training and advisory roles for small business owners selling online. We talked to her about the services she provides, and what she believes small businesses need to take on board in order to effectively sell online.

What do small businesses struggle with when thinking about setting up an online store?

Often, the small businesses we work with are a single owner-operator. They’re really good at what they do, but find it daunting when they start to think about going online – where to start, who to go to, what to pay, what’s involved in the long-run? They think “Oh, it’s too difficult, I won’t do it”. We want to remove that difficulty by helping them get set up, doing the hard work for them, so they can focus on their business – providing products for their customers, not sitting at the back-end maintaining a website.


SPOTLIGHT: Soapcraft Aromatics

Rachael worked with Gina from Soapcraft Aromatics to get her Storbie store up and running and seen hugely positive results. Rachael describes how going online has worked wonders for Gina and her business.

We went live with her Storbie store and in three weeks she had 49 orders – more business than she was ever doing before. A clean-looking, easy to use website made all the difference for Gina and has seen a huge number of orders come through.

Gina, the owner of Soapcraft, is really passionate about what she does. She knows everything about fragrances, essences, soaps, lotions and potions. She had paid someone in the UK to set up her online store, but it was not working very well and she couldn’t update anything herself. Even worse, she was getting numerous emails from customers who couldn’t complete their orders online because the checkout system appeared faulty! It was a huge barrier to making sales, and no business owner likes thinking about lost sales due to technical faults.

We went live with her Storbie store three weeks ago, and in that time she has had 49 orders – more business than she was ever doing before. She had planned to set up the store and send out a newsletter to inform customers, but she’s been so busy managing orders that she hasn’t had the time! A clean-looking, easy to use website has made all the difference for Gina and has seen a huge number of orders come through.

Product images from Soapcraft online storeWorking with Gina has been very rewarding – she’s great to work with and her results have been staggering. Gina can’t believe how positive it’s been – she didn’t expect these kind of results! I feel very proud knowing I’ve put the right amount of effort in, and knowing I’ve had a huge impact on the growth of her business.


Top 3 Must-Haves Before Going Live

We asked Rachael what she believes are the three key considerations for small businesses before they go live with an online store. Here’s what she had to say:

  1. High quality product images
    Invest in a good camera if you’re planning to take product photos yourself. If photography isn’t your forte, generic photos provided by suppliers are often of a high quality. When people shop online, they can’t touch and feel the products, so you have to visually sell your products through images.
  2. Domain name
    Do you already have a domain name? If not, is your desired domain name available? It pays to think about this well before setting up your online store as there are many benefits to having your own domain name.
  3. Payment options
    How do you want to receive online payments from customers? There are many options available and you must choose those most suited to your business. Do you need to set up a PayPal account? Will you offer direct debit or credit card options as well? Remember, you want the process to be as easy and enjoyable as possible for your customers.

How can small businesses effectively attract visitors to their site?

For small businesses, it’s about using affordable tools that work for your company. I strongly believe in using Facebook as a business tool and I think that’s the direction Facebook is heading. Small businesses can do regular posts and updates to engage with current and potential customers. Choosing the right social media tools and using them well is key.

It’s about using customer experiences to show your product in use, not about trying to sell your products. This interaction converts into sales anyway, as people are interested in your product and can see how it relates to them and their lifestyle.

My own Storbie store, Pet Nation, sells jerseys, jackets and merino t-shirts for dogs. I photograph my own dogs in the gear, and customers send me photos of their dogs too. I post these on Facebook and Instagram – these tools work really well for my type of business. It’s about using customer experiences to show your product in use, not about trying to sell your products. This interaction converts into sales anyway, as people are interested in your product and can see how it relates to them and their lifestyle.

Product images from Pet Nation online storePromotion is another key way to attract customers. I find promotions that result in an increase in sales volume per transaction are effective. For example, a “buy two get $10 off” promotion generates larger volume per transaction than simply, “10% off everything”. Alternatively, free shipping may work as a promotional tool – “spend $50 and get free shipping”. With the right product mix, this is likely to ensure each sale reaches a base value of $50. It’s a mental thing – people are spending more, but don’t mind because they are getting free shipping.

For other types of businesses, these promotions may not work, and Google Ads may be the best option. When people are searching for higher priced items, you want your business to be found with ease. This is where we can help with search-engine optimisation, to get your website at the forefront of customer search, and generate visitors to your site. People are busy and they want instant results – so they search on Google, and if your business can’t be found then the customer will find someone else. Google is the number one tool for search – let’s be honest, outside of holding up your computer monitor, who uses a phonebook anymore?

What are the main benefits of using Storbie for setting up an online store?

Storbie is affordable. People can try it out for six months and it’s not going to break the bank. Then they’ll see just how easy it is to use the platform – another huge benefit.

Storbie store owners know that it is easy to use – they can upload and update products as they wish. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist.

We manage some customers that use other online store tools because they fulfill particular requirements, but they are a lot more complex to use. Storbie store owners know that it is easy to use – they can upload and update products as they wish. It’s also really easy to do a promotion through Storbie, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist. If people do need help, the Storbie online support is really good. Or if they want more guidance, we provide specific task lists and training sheets relevant to their store.Product images from Vintage Love online storeThe ability to integrate your ecommerce store with Xero and Vend is another big tick in our books. Vintage Love, who now have two bricks-and-mortar stores and their online store, have just set up the Vend integration. They can manage their stock levels and they don’t have to worry about putting items aside in-store because they’re selling online. Plus with the Xero integration, everything runs smoothly throughout the full life cycle of the product. We also love knowing that Storbie is a product developed in New Zealand. It’s really nice to support local businesses, and all of our customers feel the same way.

What does the future hold for Web Made Easy and Storbie stores?

Working with Storbie has grown our business immensely. We started out helping some people with websites, evolved to online stores and now with the Vend integration, we’re doing point-of-sale software too. These integrations are key – it’s enabling us to grow the products we have on offer. Above all, we want to keep our services affordable. There are plenty of tools and services out there, but for small businesses who don’t have several thousands of dollars to spend, we keep it simple and affordable, with Storbie by our side!