What do you do when you leave the big city and move to a small town? You take a deep breath in and sigh, with a huge smile on your face. At least that’s what I did when I returned to my tiny hometown in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. Then the panic set in. Where would I get my daily doorman wave? Would I really have to drive to Washington D.C. to get a museum fix? How did I really feel about Amazon deliveries? And really high on my list — where would I get fresh flowers, at any time? Would I have to grow my own? I was spiraling.
Then Flower Haus arrived. Flower Haus is a creative floral design studio in historic Shepherdstown, WV, owned and run by two very creative guys. Mark Harding and Darin Sellers left city life behind too, and set up shop in a town known for its creative zeitgeist, indie spirit and satisfying D.C. daytrip . The guys at Flower Haus believe that flowers, plants and design should lighten, brighten and inspire our everyday lives. Their approach is simple — floral design should be fresh, accessible, and affordable. With that in mind, they also incorporate house plants into their repertoire and encourage customers to “adopt” the plants that fill their chic studio.
They create everything from modest bouquets to inspired installations for special events, and walking into their store feels like a chic boutique experience. Mark, the floral designer of the duo, believes it’s not just the scale of a design that provides major impact, but the designer’s and customer’s intention as conveyed through choices of color, texture and shape.
Flower Haus opened their storefront in September 2016 and has quickly gained the reputation as the go-to floral shop in the D.C. metro area and the darling of the small town they call home. As with most small creative businesses, Mark and Darin want to spend their time creating beauty, not updating, processing and marketing. I became a customer and was smitten by my weekly arrangements, but also by their growth and dedication to their craft. I had a chance to sit down with them as small business owners to explore their plans for growth and how they were going to accomplish them. Huge sighs — they were struggling with three main issues.
Click through to read about three pain points that every small business has and how to easily move past them!
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Small businesses generally struggle with managing in-store (even online store) time, creative/production time and business management time. Flower Haus is no exception.
We boiled down a long list of pain points into three main areas that needed improvement so Flower Haus could grow in multiple ways. Here they are:
- Maintaining and updating their website and social media presence
- Providing an easy-to-design/manage e-commerce solution for their customers and potential customers
- Refining their offerings by customer segment (walk-in locals, arrangement/deliveries, club subscriptions and special events, both for their customers and for their studio)
With perishable inventory that served an unknown quantity of customers, they felt that their growth was limited due to the unpredictability of their order and sales. They knew they had to keep marketing to all of their customer groups, to refine their offerings and keep the dollars rolling in, but they weren’t maximizing and optimizing. That left them in a cycle of fulfillment and discounting or coming up with plans for extra flowers with a definitive lifespan.
I recommended a one-shop resource to consolidate some big elements of their business, like payments and content marketing for customers and email subscribers who aren’t yet buying customers. That solution was Squarespace. I have several small business acquaintances who have used Squarespace with more success than they even realized was possible. Why? Because they were deep in the trenches of their everyday business operations. Today we’re partnering with Squarespace to share some tips on how to evaluate your own business pain points and what actionable steps you can take to optimize your website and internal systems, which result in a maximization of your sales. Small businesses everywhere can benefit from this mini-workshop, so lets get started!
1. DIY Website Audit
Ask a friend or family member to sit down and spend some time with your website. Give them a short list of items you sell and ask them to keep track of the number of steps it took for them to successfully complete a purchase. You may be surprised at how many steps it took them. Be sure to have them include every single step and page they went to, including going back and forth from page to page. If you see they’ve taken a step they didn’t need to, ask them why. Your goal is to get your customer to click “buy” (or sign-up for your mailing list) in 5 steps or less. Depending on your site, that may not be possible. If it’s not possible, consider how you could redesign your site on paper to get your customers closer to their goal and your goal, which is a sale.
I did a quick audit of the current Flower Haus site which you can see above.
FAQs & “Agains”
What questions do you answer repeatedly for customers? Do those questions keep you from making sales early in the game or do they take away valuable time you could be using to develop your next big thing? They probably do.
Sit down and just make a quick note that you can file away for later with all of those questions. They’ll come in handy and get addressed efficiently when you’re considering your website design, and even your in-store face-to-face meetings.
Flower Haus uses their website and social and face-to-face encounters to update their customers about the latest beauties that arrive in their shop. Because of the seasonal and perishable nature of their products, they need to communicate and move product fast. Updating three+ social feeds, their website and sending emails, in addition to sometimes lengthy conversations in the studio, is exhausting and time consuming.
Even if you’re not ready to move quickly into an E-Commerce environment, prepare for it now while you’re considering what works and doesn’t work on your current website. At some point, having E-Commerce capabilities will come in handy and may even be necessary in the future of brick-and-mortar businesses. Flower Haus was ready to move in that direction as they considered where and how they wanted to grow.
We visited the Squarespace templates (which are gorgeous) to get a feel for what Mark and Darin wanted their new and improved user experience to be. Flower Haus decided to test out the full-screen image, mobile-friendly and responsive Brine template. Brine has a lovely parallax feature too! You can see the template in action here.
Right now, customers visiting the Flower Haus website have an opportunity to order products, but not to pay for them. The order form is essentially an email contact form with a description of what the buyer is looking for, not what actually may be available. This leaves way too much room for lengthy conversation, a pitch from the store (based on what’s in stock) and on-the-phone negotiation of what is available that may meet the needs of the customer.
Let’s fix that! Take a look at the Squarespace E-Commerce page below. Simple, right? That’s the point. There is nothing on this page but what the customer potentially wants. And the shopping cart sits patiently waiting up in the corner of the page. When I hover my mouse over the product images, I see another view of the product — perfect for a top-down view of an arrangement or bouquet.
Here’s what I see when I click on product I like. I’m sold!
Mark and Darin discovered that by doing a quick website audit and taking a look at all of the different Squarespace website template options, they were inspired and able to see a viable growth path for their business. They immediately drafted a roadmap for expanding their business in the right direction with a high impact, low investment strategy.
Next week, we’ll find out how working with Squarespace helped Flower Haus develop two areas of the business they wanted to grow — their Flower & Plant Clubs — and talk about the importance of consolidating all the systems that make your business function and bring people to your doorstep or virtual shop.
If you’d like to follow this mini-workshop and create or implement these changes on your own Squarespace site, try Squarespace for 14 days risk-free. See all of their E-Commerce templates here. When you’re ready to subscribe use code ‘DESIGNSPONGE‘ for 10% off your first website, online store or domain purchase!
For help getting your online store started with Squarespace visit this helpful page, or contact Squarespace’s 24/7 customer care team.