The Creative Side of Running an E-Commerce Business
When people think of starting and running their own small business they don’t think of it as being very creative. That’s what I thought initially when I started my online shoe shop ‘Hayworths’. Named after the style icon Rita Hayworth, a prominent 1940’s Hollywood actress, the online e-commerce shop sold vintage inspired shoes for women.
Being an online store without a ‘shop front’, the need to have a strong online presence is vital, as there are so many other businesses competing for shopper’s attention. Two things I had to get right were my website and my branding. Before becoming an employee of Digital Technology Labs (DTL) I was actually a client. That’s how I got to know Kev (the Founder of DTL) really well and we collaborated on the design, build and launch of my website and also developing a logo for my business.
One of the things I did early on when developing my business was to create a Pinterest mood board to help explore design ideas and how I wanted Hayworths to be perceived. The board helped me refine my thinking related to the typography/fonts I liked, the layout/design of the website and the colour scheme for my branding and logo. I really enjoyed pulling together this board and it helped the design team at DTL get a feel for what I was after.
Logo Design Process
Developing my company logo was one of the things I looked in to before actually launching my e-commerce shop.
Working through the design of the Hayworths’ logo was a very collaborative and creative process with the DTL team. After sharing my initial thoughts/ideas with the designer at DTL a number of proofs were developed, which were initial design variations of what the logo could look like. The typography used in the logo needed to be spot on. As well as having a timeless feel, I also wanted a ‘nod’ to the Bauhaus art/design movement as I’m a big fan. The typography that was chosen in the end was Strum Blond.
The final result of the logo is below, and it encompasses everything I was aiming for. What I’ve learnt when dealing with designers is that this can be a very fluid and organic process and to get things right it can take a little while. Having visual references really helps in this process as well as trying to express your brands values and how you would like your business to be perceived (e.g. unique, fun, accessible, creative).
Read our blog about different ways you can create a new logo.
Website Design and Development – It’s a Marathon Not a Sprint
Alongside developing the company logo, I worked with DTL to design, build and launch my e-commerce store. What I learnt from this experience is that designing, developing and launching a website can take longer than you anticipate. As much as we want to get things done asap, when it comes to building and launching a company website this should be thought through carefully and time should be taken to explore and work through the design and functionality of a website. The other factor is that life can get in the way. By running a small business you get pulled in different directions (from sorting out day to day operational stuff, managing your social media accounts and going to networking events, among other things). So, it’s important to manage expectations when going through this process.
What Are Your End Goals?
Early on in the design and development of your website it’s important to think about your ‘end goals’ and what you need/want your customers to do on your website. Running an online fashion store, I had to ensure that customers had as much information as possible about each of my products so they could feel confident about buying from me. I also wanted to be accessible if people had any questions, so I had a variety of contact methods, including ‘live chat’ on my website and also linking through to my social media channels.
On-line Selling Platforms
When it comes to selling online and the platform you use, there are a variety of options. In the end I went for Shopify which is a subscription-based platform where you pay a monthly fee for hosting and you get a variety of themes/templates to choose from when building your website. I wanted some custom things on my website, like allowing customers to choose from different currencies as I was selling my shoes in the UK and internationally.
Get Your Product Imagery Right
A key component of any online retail store is having great product photography. Because a customer can’t touch or feel your products (unless of course you have a shop front), you need to give them as much information as possible. Being an online fashion shop, I also needed lifestyle pictures (which are basically your products being modelled, so customers can see what they look like on). I had a number of fashion photoshoots, which were great fun and also showcased the products on my website.
Going back to product photos, you should be able to get photos from your supplier (if you don’t manufacture yourself), but if this isn’t an option, make sure you get a professional photographer to take your product photos, unless you’re a dab hand with photography. It really does pay to invest in good product imagery as customers will be reluctant to buy online if they aren’t able to see the product in detail and from various angles.
Seeing Things from Both Sides
Although I no longer run Hayworths, I’m in a really unique position to see things from the perspective of the client and also as an Account Manager at DTL. Having gone through the process of launching and running my own business for a number of years, I can talk with clients about the various stages of designing and developing a logo and a business website.
To explore your ideas, Digital Technology Labs offer a free initial consultation and we can talk through your requirements in regard to either logo design or website development. Get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.