It's Here! It's Here! It's Here!
Whew! The holidays are always fun, but they have been rather hectic, and we still haven’t gotten through New Year’s yet! Hopefully you have been wondering where the heck I’ve been lately! I can tell you I have been glued to my laptop, type, type, typing away. Not writing blogs, obviously, but undergoing a definite baptism by fire when it comes to all things website design and software integration. My hat’s off to ANYONE in the tech field who does that for a living.
I just want to go on record and say the commercials that claim you can get your website up and running in 20 minutes or an hour, are full of it. You might get one up, but there is no way you have any decent amount of content on it. Here’s what I learned – and it took WAYYY more than an hour!
First, I had to figure out what systems would integrate (talk) with the other systems I wanted to use. Two of them had built-in integrations, so all I did was click a button to get them talking to each other. The third did not, so I had to embed/inject code. That was terrifying to say the least! Thank goodness they provided the code and great instructions on what to do with it!
Then, I needed to get the inventory data entered into the POS system, including images for each item, as the other software had a great tool for importing information into the online shop. BIG lesson learned here!! Always, always go for the largest image you can get, provided it has good resolution.
At first, I was zipping right along, copying images from the various designers’ and distributors’ websites (after I secured their permission of course!). And yes, it took a few nights and most of the weekend, since I was having to locate and save more than 600 images, but it goes with the territory, right? Right.
After that, I had to upload each saved image to the corresponding product item in the POS system. Again, took some time, but well worth it since it meant I wasn’t going to have to do it twice when I imported the data into the online shop. So, the next step was importing everything into the online shop. Process went nice and smooth. Life is awesome, right? Right! I was feeling pretty proud of myself as I checked out the new online shop I had just created, pretty as a picture, all embedded in the Fire Poppies’ website.
Then I saw it. Or rather, I saw THEM. Lots and lots of grainy, fuzzy images. I clicked into several of them to see what they looked like individually, hoping it was just an issue with the particular page. Turns out the images were not only fuzzy, but tiny as all get out. There was no way in hell that was going to work.
I felt the blood drain from my face. The knots in my shoulder muscles, formed from hunching over the laptop for days, tightened even further. “NOOOO!” I wailed. The pitiful sound coming from my lips drew the attention of my husband and dogs, as they all came running into the room to see what calamity had befallen me. I simply pointed to the screen and tried not to burst into tears. Following several vigorous shoulder rubs and numerous doggy kisses, I managed to pull myself together.
I discovered that the images I had copied from certain sites’ main/catalog pages, rather than selecting the image from the item’s detail page, were the ones with the problem. It didn’t take long to realize I was going to have to go back to those sites, click on each individual item, and then click on THAT image to see if it was any larger. Sigh. After I re-saved the improved images, I proceeded to replace the fuzzy images with the new ones for each of the items in the online shop itself.
As it turns out, that fixed the problem beautifully. So much so in fact, I went back to sites where there weren’t any issues with the original images, just to see if I could get even better ones. With that out of the way, I had to determine payment and shipping settings, taxes, product layouts, and a whole host of other decisions I had no idea existed.
Did I mention I haven’t even started gathering images for floss?? So. Much. Floss! That will be a work in progress, so the online shop will just have to open without them. I have been lovingly accused of leaning towards perfectionism, but this is one point where “good” will have to be good enough for the moment.
So that, my dear friends, is why there has been absolute radio silence. But the good news is, the online shop appears to be reasonably ready to go. I’ll be adding even more designers and fabrics here shortly, so what you see now is certainly not all that I plan on carrying.
Plus, each time you visit the shop, you will start to see more and more features and details appear. Like I said earlier, I have a newfound respect for those who do this for a living. When you see sites offering related products, engaging descriptions, multiple filtering options, and a gazillion other touches that make their sites seamless, you can rest assured someone had to spend a lot of time putting those capabilities in. Make sure you say a silent word of thanks to them for taking the time to set all that up. Those investments in time are what make it easy to find what you need.
Since it will be just little ole me for the time being making all those things happen, I would love feedback and suggestions from you on what features, filters, placement suggestions, etc., that would make your online shopping experience flawless. So, please click the “Shop” link at the top of the page and go explore a little!
Next goal? Find a place for the physical shop.
And finally, as 2018 draws to a close and 2019 fast approaches, I do want to thank my fellow stitchers, friends, and family members for all the advice, hugs, encouragement, and suggestions over the last several months. Please keep it coming!!