Building Business with a Standout Website

Joan and Mike Loch of Crescent Moon at The Cotton Exchange completely redesigned the gallery’s website, right down to the colorful header with drips of color, to better reflect the in-store experience.

For Joan and Mike Loch, co-owners of Crescent Moon at The Cotton Exchange in Wilmington, N.C., redesigning their website was an essential part of building revenue for the art glass gallery they purchased in 2007. “We have a strong tourist season,” Joan explains. “We have fans who go to great lengths to make sure they come in once a year.” To capture yearlong business from these dedicated customers, the Lochs decided an e-commerce website was the answer.

What was in the way? Knowing how to do it safely and securely while providing all the perks and personal service customers expect from an in-store experience. Finding the right marketing company to redesign their website was the easy part—they stuck with the same vendor who had launched their static site in 2007.

But their yearlong development wasn’t without obstacles. “The first challenge was taking photos of glass without a photography degree,” says Joan. So she invested in a light tent, professional lighting and a camera to set up a product-photography studio. Then she learned how to use free editing software and built a database of more than 1,300 images.

The second challenge was designing a custom content management system (CMS) with the vendor’s programmer. The goal was to make it easy to add and remove artists and product photos, and make it highly searchable for customers. “I learned a lot of the language in web development,” Joan laughs.

The Lochs started the project in April 2009, and completed it in June 2010. “I learned that a larger web presence will mean more administration and possibly more resources,” Joan says.

But the Lochs’ online presence doesn’t end there. Joan launched a blog first, which is linked to the website, and has also jumped on Facebook and Twitter. What are her best pieces of advice? “Don’t try to do everything at once,” she says. “Decide on how much you can do, and how much you want to do.” But the bottom line for Joan is this: “Social media is all about relationship building. Your gallery is your brand. Promote it.”

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