Business > Merchant Voice

First 3 weeks of my new business

After eight months of planning, I launched on April 23. I founded the business to appeal to Australian couples that seek personalized, unique, and unusual wedding decor. Today, May 15, I had my first sale.

Initial suggestions

Friends and family were quick to give their suggestions when I told them the website was live. My best friend suggested I replace the original iStock wedding table photo on the top of the home page with a photos (or series of slides) of my products. She searched in vain for the centerpiece on the hero shot, never realizing I did not sell it.

My brother believes I should show more products on wedding tables. I basically agree with him, although I don’t have time presently to take photos. However, I’ve also read shoppers prefer clear background product shots so they can create their own mental imagery.

For now, I’m showcasing one product per week. But I will test this against showing a series of slides with themed wedding decor products — such as glamour, handmade, personalized, and rustic.


I have 35 suppliers, mainly artisanal, that are based in different countries worldwide. They provide (to date) 84 products. It is clearly easier to showcase more products from the same suppliers than to seek new suppliers. But I have to consider the supplier’s exchange rate against the Australian dollar. Products from the U.K. cost twice as much against the Australian dollar, while American suppliers are a third more expensive, and those in Europe are around 50 percent higher, compared to the Australian dollar.

Shopify apps

I use Shopify for my ecommerce platform. I downloaded about 10 apps (paid and free), from the Shopify store. Some of them are straightforward, such as the McAfee website security certification app, and the free “Improved Contact Form” (my Shopify template doesn’t include a contact us layout option).

Other apps are more complex. I had the most challenges with those that customized my product pages and provide quantity discounts. An app for quantity discounts did not function properly, as customers could alter their minimum quantities in checkout to achieve the discount. No one at the app company was available for days on its live chat support.

Ironically, I have not had the time to decipher the Zapier app, which promises to automate the integration between apps and services. The pluginSEO app offers a premium service to check your search engine optimization work; I am waiting for the company to complete its review of my site. I am using the Lucky Orange app, which lets me view visitors surfing my site in real time, showing where and how they click.


I switched from Campaign Monitor to MailChimp a few months ahead of my launch, as MailChimp is tightly integrated with Shopify. However, I have not found MailChimp’s backend process as intuitive as Campaign Monitor.

I am yet to automate my newsletter process. And it was only two days ago that I finally managed to link my website to Google Analytics and to create my official company email address.

Since then I have been updating my contact details with Shopify, the app providers, my suppliers, PayPal, and other companies. I’d love to use an auto-responder to tell people my new email address, but I don’t want to receive spam to that email address.

Marketing and public relations

By undertaking three weeks of Facebook advertising prior to the launch, I attracted an additional 4,000 fans to My Wedding Decor page. I have noticed the heavy stream of traffic from mobile Facebook fans. I had good open rates from my prior customers at It’s In The Stars. I will email them again for a chance to win one of ten $100 My Wedding Decor gift vouchers.

Pinterest is yet to pay off — it is a notorious time suck. But I have linked my Facebook and blog posts to Twitter. Many wedding Twitter accounts seem to have been inactive for several months or more. Yet in the two weeks since I’ve launched my Twitter page, I’ve had the same number of visitors originate from Twitter as for Bing. I’ve taken out memberships with two wedding directories, and have earmarked a third, a non-profit organization for Melbourne-based wedding suppliers.

I have also written a couple of press releases and have been slowly updating my journalists’ contact list and checking their magazine deadlines. For some reason, I feel afraid to contact the feature editors about my website. I have to get over this, especially since I’m a former journalist.

Wedding bloggers are next on my agenda. I have been writing and posting my own wedding-related blog posts every three days. But I am not happy with the blog pages’ appearance. Unfortunately, this section is not a design priority, so it will have to stay text-heavy for now.


In my first three weeks, I had four Facebook message enquiries, one email via my “Contact Us” page requesting to buy a smaller quantity of one of the products, and my first sale.

To date, I have had a cart conversion rate of 2.7 percent,— i.e., percentage of total visitors that place items in their cart — and an actual sales conversion rate of 0.16 percent.

So there’s more work to do.

Elizabeth Hollingsworth
Elizabeth Hollingsworth
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