[new feature] Sell Anything with Option Categories

A new major feature update to the ASF platform, how it will change your business, and some thoughts on how small wins in business and art stack up and become something big.

Whether you are a customer, just getting to know us, or this is the first you have heard of us, I think it’s important we here at ASF can articulate what we do – our secret sauce, if you will – to you in only a few sentences.

Why we believe we are better than our competition, and why your business is going to be more effective on our platform.

In fact, I’d like to think we can articulate it in just one sentence.

So, what’s our secret sauce?

It’s a large number of small wins stacked together.

That’s a fairly profound statement, so permit me make it again.

Call it a bunch of little features, or little wins, perhaps small bets, or call it marginal gains.

Whatever you want to call them, stack those little guys together and you get a big win.

A win that we have found that can make all the difference.

It’s not any one feature that makes the difference. Yeah, wall preview is awesome with its fancy designer paint colors, but it’s nowhere near enough. In fact it’s nothing more than one small win.

Our secret sauce is that we have identified the many features that, together, raise conversion rates when it comes to operating a print or art business online.

We put all of those features together in one software offering and then studied the data that came in. Further tweaks were made, some stuff was tossed out, some stuff was added in. We are testing still.

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This process is never going to stop.

Our commitment to that process is why we are releasing this new feature today. It’s a pretty sweet feature, and we are excited about it, but it too is just another small win.

Before we start talking about that feature, let’s talk about British Cycling and the Tour de France for a second.

Perhaps you follow cycling, perhaps you don’t.

In 2012, Team Sky rider Sir Bradley Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France.

That same year, the British cycling team at the 2012 Olympic Games dominated the competition by winning 70 percent of the gold medals available.

So you have probably just read that and said, “Thanks for that awesome tidbit Patrick, but what does the red coats winning a bunch of cycling events have to do with running an online business?”

Everything.

After that run of success, Britain followed it up the next year by winning again. Most have called it the most successful run in modern cycling history.

During this period they had a coach by the name of Dave Brailsford.

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“Sir” David Brailsford

 

Brailsford believed in a concept that he referred to as the “aggregation of marginal gains.” He explained it as “the 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do.” His belief was that if you improved every area related to cycling by just 1 percent, then those small gains would add up to remarkable improvement.

James Clear’s piece on this is a must read

He did all kinds of small things like finding the best pillow for his athletes to sleep with, how to wash their hands to prevent infection, the most effective massage gel to use, the best tires, and bike seat, etc. etc.

Those small wins stacked up to big wins, and eventual complete cycling glory.

I would love to say that we consulted with Dave (lol …like we know him personally… sorry Sir Dave) prior to writing the Art Storefronts software, but we more sort of stumbled on the concept by luck.

Having backgrounds in e-commerce, art, and marketing, we listed out all the features we thought were important and built them into our product.

Once we got all of those features live and started looking at the data across our portfolio of customers, it hit us like a truck.

We stumbled on to Sir Davids coaching style and have found that whoa can it be effective.

It’s not any one thing. It’s all of them. It’s all the small wins stacked up that is making the difference for our customers.

Sure it might be the wall preview tool that gets the sale done in some cases, in others it’s a smooth checkout process, and in still others it might be having more finishing options to chose from so the customer can get the print the way they want it.

Living room art

The long and short of it though, is that nobody can watch all traffic and call all customers and ask them what it was that finally sold them. In many cases, the customer wouldn’t even know. What you can do though is look at your conversion rates.

Study them, and work on improving them all the time. A good amount of traffic x a high conversion rate = a healthy business.

Which brings us to today’s feature update. Lets dive into our newest feature and another small win.

The New Feature

It’s tough to make it as an artist today.

I think that’s true across the board but I feel especially bad for photographers. The competition out there is voluminous and fierce — everybody and their brothers have cameras.

In order to make it for many you have to diversify. Add other, different, and varied products to your line up.

Our newest feature will help you do just that. You can now sell anything you want with ASF.

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Yep… ground breaking, right?

“So what you are telling me is that your e-commerce platform functions like every other e-commerce platform out there where you can add any product to your store with variations and get the same smooth checkout experience as we now get selling art?”

Yes, that’s what I am telling you.

I am not writing this post about all the nuts and bolts of this feature. Most people get the idea of a “sell anything” eCommerce store, and ASF customers can read the knowledge base post for that kind of in-depth tutorial as well as check out a live store example.

I would like to give you the quick overview, though.

You can create dropdown menus, radio buttons, multi-select checkboxes, text fields, as well as text areas. You can specify if you want them to be “required”, or just leave them as optional.

While you have always been able to upload multiple images for your products, you’ll notice now that we have added a beautiful “filmstrip” which displays thumbnails of all the images, so that your visitor can easily scroll through them and click the one they want to see.

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This functionality currently applies to Standard Products as well as Original Art Products. Soon, it will also apply to Art Print Products, which means you’ll be able to dynamically create your own option groups as people are buying your prints.

Okay, maybe we got a little bit into the nuts and bolts.

Really though, what I want to blog about is how best to use these new features to advance your business. It’s the possibilities that open up with this new feature that I want to get into.

Specifically I love that this new feature makes it easy to address the holes you have in your overall pricing strategy.

Pricing Strategy

We could write 20 different articles about how to price your products. MSRP, Keystone Pricing, Discount Pricing, Anchor Pricing, etc.

Rather than focusing on your pricing type, how about thinking through your price points and, specifically, having a range of price points.

There are so many folks on our platform that simply do not have a range of prices.

What do I mean by that?

Unless you have had success catering only to high end buyers, you cannot treat the whole market as one person. Not everybody is prepared to to drop $150.00 + or often more on an order from you.

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If your store starts at, say, $150.00 and goes up from there, you are potentially leaving a ton of money on the table.

People out there differ so wildly in their spending power, in their desires, and in how they value products. If that is true in a retail sense, it’s only more-so in an e-commerce sense where your visitors are even more varied.

So audit your store and see what type of range you have.

A good rule of thumb is to at least have a three tier range. Low – Med – High. And then have some items in each. Even if it’s just a few in the low end of the spectrum.

Let’s get some ideas going

  • If you’re an artist… Do you also sell workshops, or books, or e-books, or any educational products? You can now add it to your store and sell it right along with your art. What about a calendar, or really cheap print, or a sticker, even if you barely make money or break even, it gives you a contact to market to in the future, and the ability up-sell later… stop smirking, Monet paid the bills doing caricatures for years.
  • If you’re a print studio… Do you sell cups, or mousepads, or magnets, or stickers, or t-shirts, or anything else for that matter? Now you can start selling them in your store. Capture those lower price point buyers.
  • If you’re an art gallery… Sell tickets to a show, or pre-sale tickets to a show. Why deal with having to deal with that at the door when you can setup tickets to a show on your site in minutes, throw the link to the artists represented, and then close the sale down when you sell out.

Don’t have a diverse range of products to offer yet? No problem. Use this system to pre-sell products and learn about what your market will buy from you.

  • Print studios, if you’re thinking about adding a new item to your repertoire but you aren’t sure if you want to invest in the equipment to produce it, don’t. Instead, add the product to your store, drive some paid traffic to the product, and see if it sells. If it does, email everybody back, refund the money and let everybody know you will be shipping in X months after you get said piece of equipment. Much cheaper then assuming it’s gonna work only to find out it doesn’t.
  • For everybody else, the best thing about pre-sale (IMHO) is that you get to validate a new product in the only way that matters, which is by taking a credit card deposit. You can literally pre-sell anything, gauge interest, refund their $ and scrap the idea, or keep their $ and make the product. You can run these tests now with anything; all types of products, events, anything and immediately get feedback and $ to make it happen.

I could hammer off ideas like this all day. Adding low-tier items and pre-selling are huge parts of why I am excited about this new feature.

Yes, it’s another small win, but this one has some great flexibility to it and is limited only by your creativity.

So by all means, audit your pricing and make sure you have a range. If you don’t, add a product so you do. If you do, add more products. And if you have lots of products, start testing some new ones.

While you are busy testing on your store, we’ll get back to testing all of ours – looking out for our next little win.


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