When I set out selling online I set up the original Lusciously Loopy site on Weebly myself. I worked many hours and sometimes spent days working on the layout/text/colour scheme until I found the one that worked for me. At that time I knew nothing about building a website. Really, nothing at all! I enjoyed learning throughout the process though.
I chose Weebly because of the drag and drop process. I had to learn from scratch and the look I ended up with was adequate but wasn't going to win any prizes. I didn't add overseas shipping initially. I didn't know about entering weights for shipping and by the time I realised I would need to add shipping zones and weights I had increased stock so much that it always seemed such an overwhelming task. As time went on adding more stock ranges without a knowledge of how to improve the structure of the site also made it harder and harder for customers to find products easily.
I needed a new layout and decided to set up one that had all the elements I wanted. I wanted to have a reward system. As a yarn shopper I knew the way I wanted the navigation of the site to work and how the I wanted the product pages to look.
The process started a number of years ago. I found a website designer I thought would provide the look I was after and approached her. She was very lovely and very patient but I found the whole process of the build quite stressful. I grew to love the look of the website but when I saw behind the scenes of the Wordpress site, where all the stock management etc happened, I had doubts that it was something I would enjoy working with each day.
Weebly had a very open and clean look and was obviously set up for ease of use. Wordpress is a very different proposition and it has masses of details and boxes of information with technical info and when you live with a foggy brain (due to M.E) that causes all sorts of problems. I felt it was a bit like going into a room full of people all shouting and trying to get my attention whilst I tried to do some work. In hindsight that was the point when I knew deep down that I had made a mistake and that I would never be happy using that every day.
Then, after initial layout had been sorted and the products had been transferred over, family events meant that I had to do some serious thinking about the business. There was a time, for a few months, I thought I would have to give the business up as I felt I was needed at home more. After discussing it with Alan we decided that would not be a good idea. Running the business gave me so much joy and had helped me to believe in myself again after many, many years of ill health. We decided it would be best to let things go and concentrate on the nuts and bolts day to day tasks that got orders out, got stock ordered and ideas that created income for the business. As much of that work as possible could be done at home. Alan took on all the cleaning to free up time for me to work and to be available to attend various meeting/appointments with Milly. I had to let go of many ideas I had for the business that required a lot of physical energy and even those that required brain power. Anything that caused exhaustion simply by having to learn new things. The website was one of those things.
That went on for over a year! It was just before Christmas last year when I finally felt strong enough to tackle the new website again. I got in touch with the designer and things had moved on for her so she put me in touch with two guys that could help me. Initially this all worked well. I was fired up and very excited to get the new site up and running. There was still the problem that I really found working on the site adding products etc really difficult and draining. Stephen (one of the guys) was fabulous. He was helping me transfer hundreds of products. He was so understanding about how long it might take me to get images to him etc and helped to explain processes for me. The other guy helping was less so.
I pushed on and over the next three months I was adding stock to both sites and liaising with two people to finish off the final details with the layout and shipping zones etc. It was exhausting. The final straw came when the shipping zones and price bands were set. I was told it all worked but when I did a number of test shops it never worked properly. I kept getting told that it all worked yet I had no evidence that it did. I couldn't imagine going live with a site under those circumstances. The stress of that made me stop again.
After many tears I finally decided that I simply couldn't continue pumping time and money into a site that I had no confidence in.
At that point, having made that decision, a huge weight lifted. Despite the significant investment involved I knew it was the right choice. It is actually a choice (had I listened to my instinct) I should have made right back when I first saw the behind the scenes of Wordpress and had doubts. It had been a long journey full of stops and starts but it had been my journey and, as always, it had been for a reason.
The big decision then was where to go from there!
I could have stayed with Weebly but I felt there were limitations. Technology had moved on since the start of the website building journey. I have always had plans to hold workshops and open days at the studio and I needed to have a system that enabled me to sell from the studio. One of the most important elements I needed was a point of sale system that automatically took stock off sale on the website when bought in person.
I talked to a tech friend who suggested that Shopify would fit the bill. I researched and sure enough it had the ability to do all the things I needed it to. It also made the integration of the website, facebook and instagram easy. Perfect!
Stephen was on hand to help and that has been priceless.I had learned a bit during my time setting up the Weebly site but he set things up on Shopify which then meant I could expend my energies titivating the design elements and of course the all important font choices and colours. We worked well together. All those products to move yet again! We used an app which did save time but didn't actually transfer everything over correctly. I spent many nights checking every single product and every single variant of each product to ensure the correct details were added.
I chose to use a paid theme and found one that would give me the navigation I wanted for the shop. The reality is that anything I wanted would have been possible but it would also cost so I chose a theme that had 90% of what I wanted and paid for a couple of tweaks. We found apps to do the jobs we needed. The reward system I had wanted for so many years was set up and finally I was able to test the shipping process so I was confident when I launched the site.
I have been blown away with the Shopify support team and the responses when I needed help were quick, super friendly and very efficient. Also, for a foggy brain that doesn't take in new info easily, they sent me videos of how to do things! Perfect. I can't recommend shopify highly enough. The only downside I have found so far is the 100 variant limit on products! As I have a few products with over 100 shades this required a lot of thought. There are apps that can be used but at great expense. I could pay a shopify expert to add code to rectify it but again that would be a significant cost. So, I found the best way round it for now. It seems to be working ok with out too much confusion for customers and I hope that in time they change the limit.
My lovely facebook friend Deb asked if I could have some kind of save facility to keep products so they could be easily found again. From that request I found a wishlist app and added that.
I have other things I want to do here in time but for now I am enjoying the process of using the site daily. The behind the scenes area is so clean and bright with nothing distracting or unnecessary. A total joy to use.
A long but worthwhile journey. It was also a long blog post. I promise they won't all be this long!
Squishes, Lynn x