This Local Business Outgrew Etsy. One Ecommerce Store, Coming Right Up!
Benchmark Signs and Gifts sells beautiful custom wooden signs in the greater Cleveland, OH area. (That's our town, in case you didn't know!)
It was great to connect with another Cleveland company and help them grow their business. Sam and Kristy, owners of Benchmark Signs and Gifts, took the fast track to ecommerce success. A few years ago, they hadn't even thought of making a living selling custom carved wooden signs online. Sam worked full time in the automotive industry.
"Etsy is a great thing, but we had all our eggs in one basket. It was time to build our own website."
If things didn't work out, Sam could have his old job back at any time. Now, Etsy is a great thing. It has fueled a renaissance in home production and vintage trade, and it has allowed millions of people to sell beautiful, uniquely crafted goods.
He had a passion for woodworking and wanted to get into selling online to earn a little extra money, so he started building reclaimed wooden furniture and selling it on eBay. Sam and Kristy wanted to open up their market and streamline the process, so they opened an Etsy store for their creations. Things happened fast. Soon, Sam didn't need to work anymore. His boss was incredibly understanding. He told Sam that he could leave for a while to try living off of Benchmark. Etsy seemed perfect for Sam and Kristy. It allowed them to sell their custom goods in a marketplace ideally suited to their products. However, Sam and Kristy began to realize that the market for Benchmark's products was larger than they'd realized. To reach that market, they might need more than an Etsy store. As Sam put it, "Etsy is a great thing, but we had all our eggs in one basket. It was time to build our own website."
We've been building amazing ecommerce stores since 1999, and we don't offer a cookie-cutter approach.
We perform a thorough market analysis for every new client. We determine exactly what platform, extensions, and design will nail it in that market. You could say we tailor our recommendations to every client's specific needs.
We did exactly that for Benchmark Signs and Gifts. We listened to Sam and Kristy's goals for their business. We took a comprehensive cross-section of their market, and we saw what was working and what wasn't for other businesses. Then we put together our recommendations.
Benchmark Signs and Gifts: Now A Serious Ecommerce Player
Given Sam and Kristy's goals for Benchmark, we recommended Miva, the web's best-kept secret among ecommerce platforms.
We knew Miva was perfect for the custom catalog options which Benchmark required. When it comes to custom functionality, Miva is a blank slate. With our Miva development expertise, we built custom pricing options so the price of a sign goes up as the customer selects more specialized routing options. This was crucial to Benchmark's business model, and our work delivered.
"This easy-to-use blog allows Sam and Kristy to pump out great content marketing without doing any coding."
We also built a WordPress blog into the new Miva site. This easy-to-use blog allows Sam and Kristy to pump out great content marketing without doing any coding. Given our research of Sam and Kristy's market, we recommended the Iron and Wool Miva ReadyTheme. With a few design tweaks to a WordPress theme, we got the WordPress blog fully integrated into the look and feel of the Miva store. If we hadn't told you, you would never know that the blog is running on a different platform.
Even better, the Benchmark site is fully mobile-responsive. That means Benchmark's mobile customers won't get frustrated with difficult navigation or text that's too small to read. This site is great for desktop and mobile users alike.
From Etsy To Self-Hosted Store: A Key Transition
We see a lot of online sellers who get their start on Etsy or eBay.
When these businesses start to grow, their owners often need something more. Sam and Kristy's situation was no different. When we asked Sam why he and Kristy wanted to build another revenue stream alongside Etsy, Sam's answer was clear: “To have the independence. As a company, the value is higher when you own your own website. With Etsy going public soon, I didn't want to see where that was headed, like when eBay went public."
"As a company, the value is higher when you own your own website."
We couldn't agree more. For serious ecommerce entrepreneurs, independence is an asset which you can't even begin to measure.
When growth takes off, you don't want to find yourself saddled with platform transaction fees. Worse, on some major ecommerce platforms, you could make a big jump in pricing tiers when you cross a new sales threshold. With the select group of platforms which we recommend to our clients, you choose what to upgrade-and when. This gives you more financial control over the growth of your business.
Given our expertise, we didn't hit many snags in putting the project together. In fact, Sam was thrilled with the communication process. He says, "I'm a little old school, a phone call and meeting guy. We didn't have to do that. It all went perfectly. I'm really impressed with it, actually."
As an ecommerce entrepreneur, you know how difficult it is to succeed.
It can feel like no one is watching out for you. At 216digital, we sympathize with the difficulties of launching and running a small ecommerce operation. We believe that anyone should be able to run a successful online store, and that philosophy permeates everything we do-for clients of all sizes.
Kristy had nothing but praise for her experience with us. "We know you have big clients, but we felt just as important as the big guys."
Sam added, “Even if you're very small, like us, 216digital is a great company to work with.
Maybe you turn to Wix.com—but you get what you pay for. The new website does very well for us."
"We believe that anyone should be able to run a successful online store, and that philosophy permeates everything we do-for clients of all sizes."
Wow. Guess we're doing our job. Thank you, Sam and Kristy, for the kind words. We couldn't be happier about how your project turned out.
The Bottom Line
If you're ready to make the transition to a self-owned ecommerce site, get in touch today.
Our team of experts is ready to analyze your catalog and your market. We'll determine the best platform and functionality for your store. Then we'll build it. Why wait? Drop us a line today, and let's start talking about your next big thing.