Success Story: Belinda Bowman from Lilybels
Belinda Bowman from Lilybels sells handmade signs on eBay, Amazon, Etsy and Shopify. She shares advice about selling across multiple platforms and how to utilise social media to market your ecommerce business.
When did you start selling online and why?
We started the business at the end of 2015, selling on Etsy. I’ve always had a love for home decor, particularly unusual items. Our Etsy store became popular quite quickly so we branched out to our own website, using Shopify, and started selling on Amazon. From there it’s grown a lot, but most of our sales come from our own website. It’s important to sell on different platforms though because each one has a different audience and type of customer and we don’t want to put all our eggs in one basket.
What have been your biggest challenges selling online, and how have you overcome them?
Our biggest challenge is time - there’s never enough of it. I always have a daily priority list that I stick to and it keeps the day on track.
One of the main things that takes up a lot of time is queries regarding products - you can have the most detailed descriptions but still some people won’t read it. We make sure that our product information is presented in small, easily digestible chunks; we separate the description and shipping information into different tabs on our product pages.
We also have a frequently asked questions page, so we can divert any shoppers with common questions. We’re completely transparent about what we’re providing and how long it will take to arrive, which reduces the number of customers getting in touch.
What are your top recommendations for people starting out selling online?
I can’t emphasise the importance of good customer service enough. We pride ourselves on excellent customer service, the customer always comes first. We’ve only ever had two returns because we try to be really open about the product and delivery times.
If customers do complain, you need to avoid being defensive - they’re complaining because they want the issue resolved and you have to resolve it for them. Even problems with deliveries, aren’t the customer's problem; it’s your problem - and how you deal with that is how the customer will judge you. If you can keep calm and do everything possible to explain and resolve the issue then there’s a good chance that the customer will come back again.
Why do you use Zenstores?
We were introduced to Zenstores by another business, Manta Makes; she told me how much time Zenstores Dispatch saved her and so I gave it a try. We’re saving several hours a day, which is absolutely crucial for a small business - it’s indispensable to us now.
We also find Zenstores Insights really helpful, when you sell across several ecommerce platforms it’s really great to be able to see a snapshot of all our sales. It’s easy to click through and find out more detailed information about our sales on each platform and how our business is doing.
What marketing tips would you offer to other online sellers?
Social proof is really important for our business - customers like to check out who they’re buying from before they spend money. We tend to find that a lot of customers will say that they saw us on Facebook or Instagram, so it’s essential that you keep your social media channels current and updated to show that you take your business seriously. It also gives you some personality and an easy way for shoppers to interact with you. We have a messaging service that links to Facebook, so we’re constantly there to answer queries which really increases our conversion rates.
We’ve also been featured in several magazines, that we were picked up for via our social media channels. Mentions from influencers on Instagram are also important. Social media is a great marketing tool; it’s great to have a website but if you’re not marketing yourself you might as well have a brick and mortar shop that’s shut.