Last August Printwear & Promotion announced the three lucky winners of an eTrader website. P&P editor MELANIE ATTLESEY caught up with the winners to find out how they found the experience during the last 12 months.
By entering the competition ran in Printwear & Promotion last year, three lucky garment decorators won the opportunity to revamp their websites with the help of the eTrader team and a new webshop worth £7,377.
As a regular reader of Printwear & Promotion, Mark Valentine and his wife Christine entered the eTrader competition on a whim thinking they had no chance of winning. But when their name was drawn, the pair began to get excited thinking about the prospects that a website could bring to their business.
As a one-man band carrying out embroidery and transfer printing from his home in Northampton Mark did not have a website to begin with. He says: “I really was ecstatic with the win. I was previously relying on word of mouth and reputation. Off the back of the website going live in January I have received new customers and plenty of new contracts.”
Since entering the world of e-commerce, Link-it has grown considerably. Mark has picked up orders from local rugby and cricket clubs, as well as other businesses. In fact one order he received recently was worth £12,000. Mark adds: “In one instance I received business from one of the main sponsors of the Tour De France. He got let down by his supplier, heard about me through word of mouth and after checking out what I offered online he placed an order for 80 embroidered light weight jackets. This was extremely pleasing for us.”
Mark is pleased to add that in May and June alone he gained eight new customers, something which would have been unheard of before the launch of the website. “It’s the whole service I offer, not just garment decoration and I think this is something which my customers appreciate and why they reorder. I have 12 competitors in the Northampton area, so keeping hold of my customers is important to me and the business.”
Although Mark has done little to promote his website, something which eTrader recommends, he is pleased with the result and plans to carry on with his subscription long after the 12 month trial. He is even in the process of expanding the business beyond his home and is looking for a site where he can employ a few members of staff.
Mark says his regular customers have had no complaints about his website and find it easy to navigate. Even the ordering process is simple. “I’ve got the ordering process down to a fine art now,” laughs Mark. “Once an order comes through to me from the online ordering system I have a week to turn around the order. Garment distributors are pretty good at next day deliveries which is helpful for me. Having the website has enabled customers to see what products I offer as well as the prices. Previously a customer may have ordered a bog standard polo shirt, but upon seeing what other polo shirts I offer perhaps now order a more mid-range polo shirt. The website provides a lot more variety for the customer.”
But what advice would Mark give other garment decorators in a similar situation? “I’m of that generation where I’m not particularly au fait with the internet and social media, but you do need a website in this modern age,” explains Mark. “It provides a professional image and conveys accurately the level of service we provide. I would definitely recommend the eTrader system to other garment decorators as it provides a huge boost to business.”
Owner of family-run Sprint Sports, Beverley Godfrey, jumped at the chance to be able to update her existing website. She decided to enter the competition because she wanted to have a priced website, which would enable her customers to purchase online. Beverley felt that without offering her customers the ability to view prices of garments online that her customers would potentially look elsewhere.
After discussing what the Chesterfield-based company wanted to gain from a new website, Beverley and her team were given a few design options to choose from, with the new website going live in October last year.
Beverley says the response from her customers has been mixed, but that they do like being able to see the prices online.
The owners of Brighton-based digital printing, promotional products and promotional clothing business Colourfast were excited to have won the webshop, but unfortunately due to time constraints they are yet to take up the prize.
Managing director of the family-run business, Peter Foulkes, says he was happy with the initial concept and is still looking forward to giving his website a boost in the months to come.
Rounding things off eTrader’s managing director, John Sheppard, says: “The competition was a huge success for both eTrader and the well deserved winners. It opened up a whole new door online for these businesses and gave them a helping hand growing their business online which may have otherwise taken a lot longer and not been as straight forward.
“As one of our ‘eTraders’, we hope to have them on board for the future and continue to work with similar garment decoration businesses across the UK helping grow their online business and the online industry in our nice little sector.”
About the eTrader website format
eTrader Websites provides both the owner and their customers the easiest user experience possible focusing on user friendliness. Created by garment decorators for garment decorators the sites are modern and professional, but what separates it from your average web design company is the industry specific nature of their system which comes from over 20 years of experience in the garment decoration game.
eTrader makes setting up a new site as simple as possible for its customers, not overburdening them with the technical aspects of web design. Customers are required to simply complete a design brief, attach some artwork and information about their business and its target audience. The experienced design team take care of the rest, constructing a visual design and test site and only once approved the team construct the site.
Constructed in a search engine friendly way following Google guidelines, the sites give eTrader’s customers the best chance possible to outrank its competitors and grow their online ranking and sales. With site layouts constantly being developed the hard work never stops for the Cardiff-based company. The latest designs focus on Responsive Design and improving users experience on mobile/tablets in response to Google’s latest SEO update.
Once the sites are live, the team don’t stop there and rest on their laurels. The team offer customers training sessions, support and advice ensuring that every customer is 100% happy having an eTrader website and advice on how to make best use of their sites and all the features involved. This high level of service and support is proving a hit when it comes to both retaining new customers and pitching to prospective new ones.
The sites provide a huge emphasis on online sales with a variety of marketing tools aimed at grabbing the attention of the customer and converting sales. Tools include things such as customising banners, tabs, featured products and much more alongside a variety of other sales tools, SEO tools, management tools and other features including the webshop feature.
Created in just a few simple clicks all that is required is some artwork, a product description and a price. The shops are used for a variety of reasons by customers (as long as you have got a picture you can sell it) but most use it for larger customers – sports clubs, businesses, schools, organisations etc.
With the option to be public or private webshops are proving highly popular with new customers as they are the ideal way to tie in both large existing customers and win new orders from prospective customers keeping their business one step ahead of the competition.
All this is done through the eTrader dashboard, which every customer receives. The dashboard makes managing the site as simple as possible. Controlling a number of features such as creating content, customising your marketing tools, customising the site – tabs and features products, sales tools and other management tools, the focus is purely on user friendliness. The dashboard makes it as simple as possible for customers to manage every aspect of their day to day online business as simple as possible.