Update June 2015: Sobi closed their bricks and mortar store and went 100% online. Since then, Sobi’s owner has found a new career, and has scaled back the online shop!
SOBI Boutique is a well established local bricks and mortar fashion boutique at Lismore Shopping Square. Owner, Kim Winter, has been very proactive using Facebook for marketing and has a large and loyal following. Selling online has been done via Facebook as well, but Kim decided earlier this year that a full online store was the next step and contacted me to help her achieve this.
Because budget is always a factor, and realistically, an online store can be expensive for a small business – not only for website setup, but photography, order management and dispatch and secure payment processing – we discussed a number of options, and ultimately decided to opt for a BigCommerce store. This solved many of the real (and perceived) issues, and also allowed Kim to create the store without a big financial outlay, with the option of scaling it up or down depending on the outcome of the first six months online.
I worked with Kim on everything from registering the web domain, email, templates, store customisation, an initial landing page, branding, and the myriad other details that may seem quite logical to me, but for a business owner who hasn’t set up anything other than a Fb page, can be overwhelming. Essentially, Kim focussed on what she knows best – her store and customers – and I provided the knowledge and expertise to help her get online!
First though, a placeholder page was up quick smart which gave us some breathing space to setup the store.
SOBI customers are typically in the 16-25 age group, but all age groups are catered for. A simple design – after all, the fashion is the star of the site – with black & white with a splash of pink chosen. Big Commerce provide an extensive range of templates to choose from, but the final choice did however need some customisation. I often wonder how often template designers use their own templates! In this case, a text was largely dark grey on black and very small. Even younger visitors would have trouble with that, especially if using the site on a smart phone!
The end result needed to be easy to use, mobile friendly and easy for Kim to manage. In terms of setup, it was reasonably straight forward, but there were some areas where some plain english explanations would have been very useful! I was not alone with this and other developers expressed the same sentiment in some of the help forums. The biggest advantage was however, the ease of providing payment gateways – for SOBI, Paypal was the preferred option. SEO is also core, but there was further setup to be done in Google Analytics.
Using the custom domain (sobiboutique.com.au) rather than the Big Commerce default address was also straight forward, but there was an incredibly frustrating hours-long delay while the domain change was being propagated (my experience has been that this is usually quite quick). I could see the store but others could only see the original landing page. A very odd experience when a group of people in the same room were seeing two different things! It tool close to 6 hours for the site to be “live”.
Once live though, orders were quick to happen and Kim has shipped her first orders to Sydney!
Business cards and a custom Facebook banner were also done as part of the overall branding exercise.
This was an interesting exercise for me – I’ve not set up a BigCommerce store before and I do think it’s a great choice for small businesses who want to get online, but don’t want the expense of a custom online store (real or perceived!).
- Initial landing page
- Big Commerce store setup, theme selection, and subsequent customisation
- New logo
- Business Cards
- Image slideshow (and artwork for future use)
- Payment setup, SEO, Google analytics, etc.
- Search optimisation – this will definitely be a work in progress!
- Testing and QA
- Ongoing analytics monitoring particularly in the first 6-8 weeks
Released: 12 November 2013
Visit the site: sobiboutique.com.au