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How do you make your online business as successful as your shop on the ground? I have asked myself that question so many times over the last year and even though answers are starting to become more apparent, I am still facing daily challenges, which I outline below, on how to grow my online presence and achieve success on the worldwide web.
I opened DIGG Childrenswear in Dungannon Co Tyrone in 2008 and every year it has steadily grown. Now, approaching our tenth year in business, we are one of the leading kids wear retailers in Ireland. Wow, I feel so proud to make that statement and don't get me wrong, it has taken me a long time to be able to say it with confidence.
Over the years I have become increasingly aware of the growth of e-commerce and I have felt the constant pressure to move my shop in this direction. I toyed with the idea of opening another store in another town however as a mum to two little boys I knew that logistically I would be putting myself, my family and my existing business under a lot of pressure. "DIGG needs to be online" was what I was hearing from family members and other people in the industry and so I made the huge leap and launched my website at the beginning of 2017.
Challenges I have faced
Anyone who has shopped in DIGG will know how we pride ourselves on our fabulous shop window displays (for which we have won many awards), our in store displays and our constant merchandising on a weekly basis to make our shop always appear fresh and appealing to the eye. This was somewhat more demanding when it came to the website. I was plunged into a world of web banners, product images requiring resizing, themes and coding all of which was totally new to me.
2. Getting Found
Anyone looking for DIGG Childrenswear will be able to find out quite quickly that we are based on Irish Street Dungannon. They also may find it due to word of mouth, or from our fabulous shop window display catching their eye as they drive past. None of these things apply when trying to get people to find DIGG Childrenswear online. How frustrating to have a beautiful new highly functioning website and have no traffic to it as it is not being found on any of the search engines. How do I get found without having to spend a huge amount of money? This question has led me down a path of Search Engine Optimisation(SEO), Google Shopping, Google Ad Words and Social Media Growth. Believe me when I say this time last year I knew very little about any of these.
3.Letting our personality shine
Generating sales within my shop environment has never been an issue due to our excellent product, customer service and our unique styling service which we offer to each and every customer when they walk through our doors. It is not enough to have a product you must follow through with service and styling. I have certainly struggled with trying to bring all of these things to our online store. How do I have a personality when people can't speak to me or see me? This has bothered me greatly as I am a people person and at times throughout the last year I have asked myself if the website was a losing battle as it didn't have a personality.
There are other challenges with moving online, however, I feel the three above are the main things I have found the most frustrating and challenging. My bricks and mortar shop continues to perform at a much higher level than my online store, however, it has taken me ten years to achieve this success. I now see, almost a year after launching my website, that it could possibly take almost as long to develop my online presence and that I am now willing to accept. It took hard work, self-learning, vision, and determination to get DIGG Childrenswear Dungannon to where it is today and it will take every one of those qualities to bring our website to the same level.
Follow us on Facebook or add us on snapchat: cazdigg to follow our journey, and next time I will explore how exactly I tackled all of the above issues.