At IDCO Studio, we often work with designers taking the leap to e-commerce as the next step in their career. As designers continue to grow and innovate their business models, integrating an online store to a service-based website can be a strategic move. But keep in mind that while selling products may seem fairly straightforward, there are big logistical considerations to take into account. As Shea McGee pointed out in a recent interview on the blog, expanding to e-commerce requires really assessing your bandwidth upfront.
That being said, if you’re ready to learn more about e-commerce for interior designers with a shop-friendly website, we’re sharing everything you need to know before getting started.
Shoppe Amber Interiors | Photography by Jess Isaac
A Guide to E-Commerce for Interior Designers
Set Up Trade Accounts
If you haven’t already, it’s time to open up trade vendor accounts. It sounds so much more difficult than it actually is. You’ll need to show your business license and complete their application. Then, you’ll be assigned a sales rep (usually by region) who will be your point of contact for all orders moving forward. We have a handy post with more information about trade accounts here. Once those accounts are in place, ask your trade vendors if they allow e-commerce for interior designers. Most of them will!
We encourage all of our clients at IDCO Studio to use Wix as their hosting site. Why? Wix makes it incredibly easy to transition your site from an incredible, intuitive portfolio to an easy-to-maintain e-commerce site. If you don’t have a lot of inventory, you don’t need to invest the time and money into a platform like Shopify that is geared towards high-volume sales. Even with a smaller inventory, you can create discount codes, generate newsletters, accept payments, track inventory, handle shipping and taxes, and run promotions all within your Wix dashboard.
Create an Inventory Plan
Once your trade vendor accounts are in place, ask what their opening order minimum is (how much money you have to spend with that specific vendor to establish an account). Minimums vary, but most range from $500-$1500. Your second question should be about their re-order minimum. When it’s time to restock shop, you need to know how much you have to spend to place your next order. This amount should be much lower than the original order minimum, like $150, or some vendors might not have a re-order minimum at all.
Once you’ve selected the inventory that will fit your vision for your shop, ask about the per-item minimum. Depending on how they’re packaged, items might come in multiples of 2, 4, 6, or even 12. Our recommendation is to start small with inventory numbers, and focus on growing your inventory range. It’s more important that your store look fully stocked and offer multiple purchase opportunities than to have large quantities on hand, since re-ordering usually isn’t a big deal. You want clients coming back for more and checking in for new products regularly. A shop with 10-12 products leaves a lot to be desired.
Shoppe Amber Interiors | Photography by Jess Isaac
Think Quality Over Quantity
If you’re worried about only having a few products to sell, don’t. What’s more important is that the products you do sell are quality. The key to selling only a few things is that they be meticulously crafted and curated so that customers know when they buy from your selection, it will be a worthwhile purchase again and again. Pick a handful of products you love and believe in and don’t stress about inventory numbers or filling up your online store.
Get Your Website E-Commerce Ready
We’ve made this part easy! Just purchase your e-commerce for interior designers template and set up your store. At the studio, we currently have three available templates that allow designers to integrate all of the above:
The Madeline Our newest e-commerce template that beautifully showcases a designer’s portfolio and e-commerce shop all in one.
The Oak & Sage Another incredible template that strategically marries the portfolio + services with an e-commerce shop.
The Auburn This website template is for designers who want an e-commerce store exclusive from their service website. The online shop can easily be linked to their current website, such as our client Tiffany Leigh Design with TLD Curated.
Final Tips for Launch
Create a social media campaign to announce the opening of your shop and post about it regularly to build up some anticipation. When typing up descriptions for different items in your inventory, keep SEO in mind. What would someone searching for that item type in their search bar? Try to incorporate those words. Have a few professional shots on hand of your products styled that you can use on social media following the launch. This is a great way to cross-promote your pieces with the “Shop the Look” feature!
If you already have an established brand and following, opening an online shop is a great way to expand your offerings and grow your business without a huge time trade-off. We can’t wait to see the gorgeous goods being sold on the The Madeline, The Oak & Sage, and The Auburn.