Unfortunately, the high hopes we had for the Big Cartel shop we opened a few months back haven't really worked out as we'd planned. Having the shop accessible through our facebook page seemed like a great opportunity to allow our likers to buy directly from the tab on the page and compliment our Folksy and Etsy shops but sadly sales have been very slow and not really worth the cost of the package we chose.
Perhaps with a greater focus and more effort on our part we could have driven more customers into the shop and may still manage that at some point, but for the time being we have decided to scale the shop right down to its bare bones on the free package. This has proved to be an interesting excercise during my current efforts to expand my side of the business as the restrictions on the minimum package mean choosing only the most signature elements of how I would like my brand to look.
The limit of five products have made me think about the most key pieces in my range and how to present them effectively. On the free package you only have one product image per listing so I have decided to use montages to show all the design variations I'm offering on each product. This means I am at least quartering the size of the images the customer will see by putting 3 or four tiles in one image so I needed to choose the template with the largest images possible. There are only three available on the free package so I have gone with 'sidecar' customised to show a maximum of six images.
Unfortunately, design and brand-wise the template is not that ideal. I have copied my colours and background successfully from the old shop, there is even the option to use our fave font courier new, but the heading is small - tiny in fact and the reduced size is pixelised and a bit rubbish! I really like the rollover option for the product info and price and the cart is user friendly but it just doesn't look much like a shop any more. My bio has to go onto a separate page so there is no introduction, proper header, description - nothing like that.
BUT beggars can't be choosers and I do think that you can get something worthwhile from the free package. The limitations make you look at your products and think about presentation in a very different way and pare your range down into the most important elements. I really like these catalogue style composite images and think they look rather nice on both the original shop and the facebook version - I may well use them elsewhere. It may be that we still don't sell much but it's cost nothing but time and I admit to rather enjoying the excercise! What do you think?