Made a decision on e-commerce

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Cat&Oak

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So everything is ready. Got insurance from the soap guild this morning.

Originally and all through making my YouTube videos (which I still haven't released just yet) I was planning on going with Etsy but I have changed my mind. I've decided to go with Shopify. I think in the long term it will be better and I have more control over my brand. I do realize marketing is entirely on me. It's a long haul game.

Do any of you sell with Shopify? Do you like it?? I know many of the major YouTubers use Shopify.

Have any of you had success on Etsy? I would love to hear your experiences and stories with either.
 

amd

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Good for you! I'm excited - please let me know when you have the YT up and going, I want to be your first subscriber lol.

I still have not checked out Shopify (ugh, started to type Spotify and I was like, no, I use that daily lol). It's still on the list to do. I'm really comfortable with Square Online so I'll hang on to that until my online sales grow - it's still a crap shoot month to month. Some months I have 20 orders online, and some months I might have one order online if I'm lucky. But based on all of the feedback I've seen, Shopify is a great way to go for soapmakers.

I'm waiting to hear of anyone (soapmakers) who has success with Etsy. I know lots of other crafty sellers who do, but I haven't heard from soapmakers for a long time.
 

Cat&Oak

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Good for you! I'm excited - please let me know when you have the YT up and going, I want to be your first subscriber lol.

I still have not checked out Shopify (ugh, started to type Spotify and I was like, no, I use that daily lol). It's still on the list to do. I'm really comfortable with Square Online so I'll hang on to that until my online sales grow - it's still a crap shoot month to month. Some months I have 20 orders online, and some months I might have one order online if I'm lucky. But based on all of the feedback I've seen, Shopify is a great way to go for soapmakers.

I'm waiting to hear of anyone (soapmakers) who has success with Etsy. I know lots of other crafty sellers who do, but I haven't heard from soapmakers for a long time.
Thanks amd! I do the same thing with Spotify 🤣 There definitely is a learning curve with Shopify but the have a web class I am going through (it's free) that takes you literally step by step through the process.
Actually you helped me make my decision with your input so thank you.

Apparently tomorrow Etsy is putting in package tracking into their system which from what I understand from the etsy forum on orders $10 or more

I would be thrilled with 20 sales a month ❤ it's tough selling soap! You are really smart about it with all you do to increase your sales.

Thank you about the videos I will let you know as soon as I post them. They are all from Spring lol
 
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Zany_in_CO

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I hate to be a "Debbie Downer" here... it's really not me... but I have to say, in all my years of making soap for wholesale customers, the only reason they had for an online presence is so their customers could purchase their products in the off-season. They all had a long-time established customer base selling at high-end markets and seasonal events first.

I know 2 soapmakers here in CO who, after 4 years of markets, started selling to wholesale customers all over the USA. It's the closest thing I've seen to actually making a living selling soap. Hopefully, @Cat&Oak establishing a presence on YouTube will do that for you.

Wishing you the best of luck. ☺
 

TheGecko

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Do any of you sell with Shopify? Do you like it?? I know many of the major YouTubers use Shopify.

Have any of you had success on Etsy? I would love to hear your experiences and stories with either.
I have a degree in Website Design and was going to design my own website, but soon realized that I didn’t need a “website”, I just needed a place where folks could place orders so I started looking around. I looked at Etsy, didn’t like all the fees…listing fee, transaction fee, commission, off-site advertising fee. And your customer base is limited to folks who have Etsy accounts.

I head good things about Shopify so I gave it a try. I just couldn’t get the hang of it. I read, I watch videos…nada. I was considering paying a company to set everything for me, but it pissed me off that I couldn’t make it work when I should and so I cancelled.

I recently checked out Squarespace…I found it easy to work with, it does what I want (a place for folks to place orders) and the terms are easy on the pocketbook.
 

Zany_in_CO

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I looked at Etsy, didn’t like all the fees…listing fee, transaction fee, commission, off-site advertising fee. And your customer base is limited to folks who have Etsy accounts.
This is what I was trying to get at. It seems to me that going this direction is pouring a whole lotta dough into a marketing tool that has little return on investment. PLUS when starting a business, you should be sufficiently capitalized to see it through for the first four years until it's established. (May be different for e-commerce. Not sure).
I recently checked out Squarespace…I found it easy to work with, it does what I want (a place for folks to place orders) and the terms are easy on the pocketbook.
Good thinking! Well done!
Got insurance from the soap guild this morning.
This is another expense I don't understand. Please tell me why you need insurance to sell soap? Where's the danger? And even if there's a good reason for it, I would think you'd need a large volume of sales before "whatever" happened that you would need to be covered. ???
 
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Tara_H

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Please tell me why you need insurance to sell soap?
I'm not in the business myself, but I presume this is in case you're sued by a customer for one reason or another. Even if it's unfounded, the cost of defending it could put a very small operation out of business, I'd imagine.
 

amd

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I hate to be a "Debbie Downer" here... it's really not me... but I have to say, in all my years of making soap for wholesale customers, the only reason they had for an online presence is so their customers could purchase their products in the off-season.
This day and age, many people are doing online shopping, especially as the pandemic continues. Do I make a living off my online sales? Nope, but it does provide 25% of my soap sales. My regular customers like it because they know I get their order, they can see when it's ready to be picked up or have it shipped to them... and it's paid for in one easy step. I also sell at our local peddlers market, which gets a lot of tourist traffic. I pick up a handful of customers every year because once they get home, they like the product and want more. If I didn't have a website, they wouldn't be able to get it and I would be losing out on a regular customer. Last weekend I was at a show and a local retailer checked me out. She came by on Saturday, saw my website on my banner, and went home and checked it out. When she came to talk to me on Sunday, she had all my information, understood my product availability, and was ready to discuss wholesale with me. She wouldn't have had that if I didn't have a website and was upfront with me that she wouldn't be buying from me if I hadn't had the website. Why? Because it tells her that I'm invested in making product and it isn't a passing hobby. You need a website to support your sales. It doesn't (and probably won't) be 100% of your sales, and it probably won't be great sales when you're first starting, but it will bring people back if they know that if they like your product they can get it when it's convenient for them.

Please tell me why you need insurance to sell soap? Where's the danger?
As Tara mentioned, if a customer sues you is one reason. Another reason is that it protects your investment. Most home insurances / car insurances do not cover in-home business losses. Imagine if I had a fire in home and lost everything. I'd have almost $5k in materials and packaging that I would lose, $1k in product inventory, and $5k in assets (molds etc) - over $10k in my total business that I would lose, and my home insurance would not cover it. If I go to a show and a storm comes up and I lose everything - my tent, my product, etc. - my insurance covers that. If I'm at a two day show and my vehicle gets broken into and everything stolen, my car insurance wouldn't cover it, but my business insurance would. It's not just in case of getting sued, but to protect your assets and product. If I lost all this, I would have to go out of business. I would not be able to afford to continue my business as it is now if I had to start over from scratch. I also do shows that will not let me be a vendor unless I have insurance. I have wholesale accounts that will not work with me unless I have insurance. Insurance is cheap (I pay less than $25/mo and I'm protected up to $1 million.) so not having insurance is just idiocy or laziness, imo.

These things may not make sense to you, but they make sense to many who take their businesses seriously. Advising people that they don't need these things is just bad advice.
 

Zany_in_CO

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My regular customers like it because they know I get their order, they can see when it's ready to be picked up or have it shipped to them... and it's paid for in one easy step.
That was my point exactly. And thank you. I'm sure a lot of members will not only benefit from your explanation but be inspired too. :nodding:
Another reason is that it protects your investment.
I never thought of that! I assumed homeowners insurance would have that covered. Now I get it. Thanks!
 
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TheGecko

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This is another expense I don't understand. Please tell me why you need insurance to sell soap? Where's the danger? And even if there's a good reason for it, I would think you'd need a large volume of sales before "whatever" happened that you would need to be covered. ???
It's the reason why the bleach bottle and ladders have so many warnings on them. There are a lot of stupid people out there. Even if the claim is determine to be due to customer misuse, abuse or plain stupidity, it costs a lot of money to defend yourself...money you're probably not going to get back and legal fees are expensive. Which is why companies 'settle', even if they are in the right. By having insurance, the claim get turned over to them and they get to deal with it, along with the costs (less your deductible of course).
 

LilianNoir

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This may or may not be helpful but I wanted to chime in that I've really liked Indiemade as a site provider. It's a website designed for small, independent craft sellers.

I pay $5 a month for a site with a shopping cart. I've only used it for friends who wanted to buy from me (they insisted on paying me, probably because nearly all of my friends are also crafters of some type) but it does have good features for selling online.
I found out from an artist friend of mine who now sells full time and that's the provider she uses.


$5 is the cheapest tier they have and for someone getting started it's a good way to see if it's a good fit. I don't even notice $5/month honestly.


The only thing I haven't liked is lack of features (or poorly implemented) on the backend for reports and such but last I talked to their support(last year) they were saying that they're developing a whole new admin experience with enhanced features like customized reports and such.

Might be worth looking into. It's just indiemade dot com
 

TheGecko

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The only thing I haven't liked is lack of features (or poorly implemented) on the backend for reports and such but last I talked to their support(last year) they were saying that they're developing a whole new admin experience with enhanced features like customized reports and such.
Not trying to be mean here, what did you expect for $5.00 a month? As someone with a Degree in Website Design & Development, the back end of a website is a lot of frigging work to begin with and then you have to maintain it.
 

Cat&Oak

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Not trying to be mean here, what did you expect for $5.00 a month? As someone with a Degree in Website Design & Development, the back end of a website is a lot of frigging work to begin with and then you have to maintain it.
Which is why I think Shopify is a bit of a bargain at $29 a month, lots of bang for your buck.
 

LilianNoir

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Not trying to be mean here, what did you expect for $5.00 a month? As someone with a Degree in Website Design & Development, the back end of a website is a lot of frigging work to begin with and then you have to maintain it.
It wasn't meant as a criticism, just information for anyone who might be looking. I'm an analyst for a product team of 6 people (including frontend and backend devs. We have one backend dev XD) working on a website for a major university, and we've just been tasked with creating a mobile app that thousands of students, instructors and applicants will use. I have a fair idea of how much work goes into these things. 😄
Those features that are missing may not be important, especially if someone is essentially just looking for a place to show images and text and a cart, but if I'm going to recommend a product to someone I want to mention the "good and bad". And those features are missing at ALL price point levels, not just the $5. On the other hand, as I said they're working on it.


Which is why I think Shopify is a bit of a bargain at $29 a month, lots of bang for your buck.
Yeah but if someone isn't looking for or interested in all of those features, it's nice to have other options, especially for someone just starting. I think Indiemade is great for that.
 

amd

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Square online is also great to for no frills just need a shopping cart. The downfall with Square Online/Wix/Weebly/Squarespace is that they're not really efficient across many devices/browsers/mobile data. I'll confess that I'm not techy enough to understand it, but if you follow Kenna at Modern Soapmaking (who used to be a web designer) she explains it. Shopify is her recommendation for soapmakers for a website builder that works efficiently not just for the seller but for the buyer as well. I trust her business advice.

That said... other than using Etsy as your online presence, I don't tend to give recommendations, nor do I criticize what other people use. Everyone is at a different budget and level of techiness, so they need to find what works for them and their customers. Personally, my customers did not use all the bells and whistles of my Weebly website so why should I pay $300/year to maintain that? I sell just as much on my $60/year Square Online site, and it's a lot less for me to maintain. Would I 100% recommend Square Online as THE ONLY WEBSITE BUILDER TO USE, nope. Your customers are different than mine, your abilities are probably different than mine.
 

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