How we set up an online jewellery business

'The Little Things in Life' Jewellery and wedding accessoriesThe Little Things in Life sells all kinds of jewellery including bridal jewellery and special accessories for weddings. Launched in 2006, it’s a fast-growing business thanks to some clever use of online advertising

Peter and Angela Bishop opened their online jewellery business — The Little Things in Life — in mid-2006. “We’ve done really well since we launched. We nearly quadrupled our business in 2008 and grew our business by 50% in 2009,” says Peter.

The Little Things in Life started as a general jewellery business, selling fashion and costume jewellery, but it has developed several specialist areas that have proved to be incredibly successful.

“Jewellery is still a key part of what we sell but we now have three other important areas,” explains Peter. “The first is wedding jewellery and accessories, the second is jewellery stands and mannequins, and the third is fascinators.” Fascinators are hair accessories worn instead of hats at weddings and other special occasions. “People don’t wear hats as much any more and these fascinators have really taken off,” says Peter.

Bumper online sales at Christmas

“The Christmas season is the most important time of year by far,” says Peter. “It starts getting busy in October and really takes off in November. We sell about three times as much in the run-up to Christmas compared to the rest of the year. We’re packing and dispatching goods from early in the morning to late at night.”

Peter and Angela certainly seem to have cracked the two key challenges facing any online business. Firstly, attract people to your website and get them to buy and secondly, provide products and a service that keep them coming back for more.

“Our marketing is all online,” says Peter. “We’ve been using Google AdWords since we first set up and we’re still using it today. We also advertise and have links on other websites, such as bridal sites and shopping sites to bring people to our website.”

Peter employs someone to help with Google AdWords and search engine optimisation but he’s no novice when it comes to online advertising. “We get a lot of business from people finding us in searches. You’ve got to be on the first page.”

Using AdWords successfully

It took Peter a couple of years to see which keywords work best and really maximise results on AdWords. “Believe me, it’s a big exercise,” he says. “We understood the basics quite quickly but it took us a couple of years to really understand all the potential of AdWords and you are learning all the time. It is worth it but you have to dedicate a lot of time to it.”

Peter has discovered that some terms are already bringing up his website from “natural searches” (those that display the website in the main list of results). So he uses other keywords with AdWords to maximise results. He’s also found that negative keywords are very important. “We’ve found that you have to put in a lot of negative keywords. We don’t do Indian wedding jewellery, for example, so we put ‘Indian’ in as a negative keyword.”

Above all, though, customer service is at the heart of The Little Things in Life. “We attribute a lot of our success to our customer service,” says Peter. “We always ship that day or the next at the latest and all our prices include delivery. We know people get irritated when postage and packaging is added on. A lot of customers have thanked us for our speedy delivery and they really appreciate the free postage.”

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