Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Still working on my Shopify website - and I still have hair ...

I hadn't posted in a while about my Shopify website because I've been just too busy learning and figuring out all the ins and outs of having your own store.

I'll try to not let updates take so long - giving you too much information to read at one sitting. And none of this is to discourage you - it is only to give you a dose of reality.

All those blogs and webinars - start your website in 30-days! Yes, right. Be realistic - it helps to keep you from getting discouraged. Do not drop your POD sites. You need to continue making money and getting customers to recognize your brand. However, I would not spend a lot of time pushing the POD sites - instead use that time on your own site or for your work.

I'll summarize and give you some "cliff notes" (all you oldies will remember that). If you want details (and some whining), read on.

1. Pinterest rejects my store for "buyable" buttons.
2. I rearrange inventory back to a customer friendly format for downloads.
3. I shop (for 2 months now) for outsourcing t-shirts. Cannot find price, quality, and customer service with just one vendor.
4. Cannot find all products I want with one vendor. I'm using S6 for leggings and duvets. I will not get a big payout but I feel most confident with them.
5. Get reinstated for Pinterest "buyable" buttons. Here I go again with new products setup.

First, Pinterest - they declined my application for "buy" buttons. After changing my entire website to their requirements - no download options on the product, only size and color variants, only certain colors - and it seemed to never end.

I removed download options and made a new category for them alone. So now my note cards and prints did not have the option to purchase a download instead of the actual hard copy print or card. As you can well imagine, this took an immense amount of time.

I receive their decline. I immediately asked why. Good grief, I followed their instructions to the letter, spent so much time redistributing inventory - why on earth would I be declined?

The decline was back in the beginning of June. I still hadn't heard anything so I redid all my products AGAIN back to the much easier for the customer format. Now if you look at a note card you have the options of one card, box of cards, or download your image and print on your own.

I have also been "shopping" t-shirt third-party sources. Talk about another headache. Prices are all over the board and so is customer service. Reading through customer reviews, complaints - my own reviews and complaints. Vendors do not want to lose you and promise you the world. I'm still not finished. I'm still waiting on another shipment on another style t-shirt.

As it looks I'm going to end up using multiple suppliers for various products. For example, one for t-shirts, one for phone case, another for tote bags - and on and on. I don't like it. Too much to keep track of.

Then I learned through a wonderful friend who purchased my t-shirt about when someone purchases the wrong size. Your outsource vendors will not take a shirt back. It is you who has to buy a new shirt, in the correct size, unless you have told them up front that there are no returns.

So, again, going through all the screens and pages of products making sure I spell out - quite clearly - these are custom items and therefore no returns/exchanges permitted for the wrong size. I have detailed manufacturers information on every t-shirt sold. There is really no reason for someone to choose the wrong size but - as we all know - there will be someone who doesn't read the fine (even though my fine print is bold and blue) print.

I'm worried about what this might do when a customer reads it. But this is the way it's processed on Etsy so we will see how it goes. I have no choice. I'm not Macy's or Zazzle - I cannot afford to stack up a wrong size inventory.

Then today "surprise" Pinterest says, we're sorry - we approved you for "buy" buttons. Can you hear me scream? So now, tonight, I'm getting things ready for the "buy" buttons from Pinterest. I'm leaving products that were done before today as they are. I'm only setting up the new products per Pinterest's requirements. There must have been many people who Shopify lost on this buyable button campaign because they sent out a blog about how they worked with Pinterest to modify things.

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In between all this I'm trying to post at least a design a day, plus doing "real" (transcription) work, and trying to move around so I don't end up with another pulmonary embolism.

I envy anyone who says that they got their website up and running in days. They need to write a book on how they did it. I guess if I had start-up money where I could just buy t-shirts to check quality and single out a vendor - that may be a help. But there's still all the other behind the screen things not including MARKETING.

Good grief - don't get me started on marketing on this blog. We'll leave all that for next time. Thanks for listening. I hope that I do give you some insight on the massive "I've got my own website" world out there.