The pandemic has meant that many creatives have had to pivot their business to be online. Hannah Ayre is a participatory artist, educator & producer. Creating everything from small-scale crafts to large-scale outdoor sculpture & events.
During the lockdown in the UK, all her work projects were either cancelled or postponed. Ever resilient, Hannah used the downtime too (amongst other things) to set up an online shop selling prints of her neighbourhood in Leith, Edinburgh.
Her short brief was that it needed to be as cheap as possible, on-brand and easy.
As Hannah was trying out a new market and wasn’t sure if it would work she wanted to keep her costs as small as possible.
Her website was on SquareSpace on a personal plan, to upgrade to an e-commerce plan would cost either an extra £8 a month on a monthly plan or £60 on an annual plan – a substantial cost in the circumstances.
Hannah owned both co.uk and .com of her domain-name, the first being redirected to the latter. Intending to keep things as cheap as possible, I suggested using the co.uk domain for the online shop. It is not the ideal set-up, especially for SEO but unusual circumstances often mean unusual solutions.
Solution to pivoting business online cheaply:
I managed to find a small amount of free temporary hosting which meant that we could use an alternative to SquareSpace for no extra cost. The obvious platform choice was WordPress with the plugin WooCommerce as they are both free
The main idea was to make the shop and her original site seem like it was just one website. I took all the design elements, fonts, formats and menu setups and recreated them on the shop website. When it was finished, I added the shop to the .com menu and now the user can move seamlessly between the two.
It was also important for the shop to maintain Hannah’s values which are important in her work. She sourced a local and sustainable printer that is based just a couple of streets away from her studio, so she can support her local economy whilst keeping her carbon footprint as low as possible.
We decided this was one of her unique selling points so we made a feature of this on her shop whilst utilising her current branding. The tree image we used is also on her business cards and stationery. The secondary menu – we kept the same colour and used it for the shopping elements.
We only used PayPal as a payment provider. It was quick to set up, Hannah already had an account and it kept her accounting simple.
Hannah decided to restrict sales to UK delivery only so that she could do the shipping without queuing in the Post Office and therefore continue doing her other work when it started again.
Easy to use:
Hannah downloaded the WooCommerce app to her phone and saved it in a tab on her laptop browser. After a quick tutorial on Zoom with her, she says that she finds it easy (and exciting) to see when she gets a sale! She can quickly mark it as dispatched, which automatically sends an email to the customer and keeps track of her stock. She also learned to use the Royal Mail online posting system, which is quicker, easier & slightly cheaper than going to the post office. Now she pays online and just pops to the post box at the end of her street.
Easy to add more products:
I’m a designer who uses Divi, a web building platform that works with WordPress, so my clients have free access to this software. This meant I could create templates for products and categories so when Hannah’s product range grows it will be easy to add them.
Simple site maintenance:
I wanted to keep the components of the site simple so that there was less that could go wrong and to ensure that the page load was quick. The shop has the standard free plugins I use on every WordPress site for security, back-ups, SEO etc. The only additional ones I have used are WooCommerce which creates the shop and Advanced custom field’ a free plugin that gives the templates a bit of extra flexibility.
We also took this opportunity to start an emailing list for Hannah. We incorporated some sign-up sections into the design of the shop and integrated MailerLite, a free email provider. So Hannah will be well placed not just to market her shop but her other work activities as well when restrictions are lifted.
See the finished work here:
Hannah Ayre – shop