I’m Casey Doran At Jewelry Keepsakes, And This Is How We Run Our Online Business
Kyle Hungate • November 21, 2016
Name: Casey Doran
Location: Montana, USA
Current Role: Owner
In our ongoing series, “How We Run Our Online Business,” we’re excited to profile one of our newest customers, Jewelry Keepsakes. Their Volusion store has carved out a unique niche that is focused on preserving the memories of loved ones through jewelry. Since 2005, they’ve helped more than 40,000 customers keep their loved ones close with their products. We caught up with Casey Doran, the owner of Jewelry Keepsakes to get an idea of how they first got started, and how they continue to grow their online business.
Tell us a little bit about your business and why you started it.
Our business specializes in cremation and photo-engraved jewelry. Cremation jewelry has an inner cavity that allows you to put a small amount of cremated remains inside of the jewelry. It is available in the form of a pendant, bracelet or ring. Photo-engraved jewelry can be a pendant or keychain that has a photo of your choice engraved on the surface of the jewelry.
We’re always looking to find new and unique ways for family and friends to commemorate their loved ones – both living and those that have passed away. We started this business with a focus on using jewelry to memorialize those that are important to us. We have all experienced loss, and a simple but meaningful keepsake can be very comforting when grieving.
What was the biggest challenge you had with getting your online store up & running?
The biggest challenge was building our ideas and emotions into a website. Our customers are often visiting our website at a time when they are under great distress. Thus, they can not be “marketed” to in the traditional sense that other online shoppers can. Building a website that is comfortable, detailed, and informative without going too far was a real challenge.
Now that you’re online, what apps & tools do you rely on to power your operations? Can you describe how you use each of them?
- Provide Support — We use this tool to see who is on the site in real time. Provide Support is actually an online chat tool, but is also effective in viewing our store’s visitors and their click history.
- MailChimp — We use MailChimp to send out marketing emails and instruction emails for our products. MailChimp is very user friendly, and we’ve been pleased with its effectiveness in targeting our customers.
- Vextras — We use Vextras to help coordinate which emails should be sent to specific customers based off their purchase history. This is very helpful, as our product line has different instructions that need to be sent, depending on what the customer purchased. Vextras helps sort all that out, automatically.
- Google Analytics — We use this service to view our website’s traffic and analyze all aspects of what visitors are doing when they are on our website.
Do you use any kind of customer relationship management software (CRM)?
Actually, CRM software has not been very beneficial for us thus far. Most of our customer inquires are over the telephone; we prefer the personal nature of phone calls due to the type of product we are offering. The customers really appreciate the one-on-one personal assistance that they receive. Our representatives are trained to be helpful and gentle in working with our customers. Some phone conversations can last over 45 minutes, and that’s ok with us.
If there was one tool or app created that could solve a huge pain point for your business, what would it be and how would you envision using it?
We sell a large amount of photo-engraved jewelry. Selling this product requires that we obtain a photo from our customer. Currently, we use a Wufoo form integrated into the webpage that allows the customer to upload the photo. However, this can be cumbersome, and sometimes our customer doesn’t upload the photo correctly. It would be great if our shopping cart platform would offer this built into the software, or if there was an app that worked for this purpose.
Do you sell in other channels like Amazon, Etsy or Ebay?
We have experimented selling on Amazon in the past. However, in our case, the decreased profit margins are too much to justify using the platform. Additionally, our product seems to sell well on a website that is designed to be receptive and understanding to what the customer is currently going through. The colors need to be comforting, etc. Other channels just can not provide those details like a stand-alone website can.
Do you recommend any books or podcasts?
- Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill — We really like this book because it talks about changing your way of thinking. Creating wealth has much more to do with a mindset than a profit and loss statement. Creating wealth takes time, and it must be managed over time. I equate it somewhat to growing a tree in your yard. You must care for it constantly at the beginning, and you can not ask much of it. However, over time, the tree provides shade, shelter, perhaps a platform for a treehouse, etc. Often the tree can even provide seedlings that produce more trees. Building wealth is similar to us — it takes time. You must be patient.
- Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki—This is a fantastic book, and has changed my entire way of thinking.
What advice would you give to new online sellers?
- No one cares about your business as much as you. You need to make sure that you or someone else that is very detailed-oriented and capable handles day-to-day operations. The end product that you get is dependent on the amount of work, pressure, and thought that you see through to the very end.
- Try to get at least 80 percent right. Focusing on things being 100 percent before you launch or unveil the newest, greatest thing will drive you nuts and it will ultimately cause delays. Get things to 80 percent and then go. You likely will discover things that need to be tweaked no matter what. After launching, fine tune to get things to 100 percent.
- Price isn’t everything. We work with some designers, photographers, etc, that are not the cheapest in the industry. In fact, they are at the upper end of cost. However, they do the best work, and they are totally worth it. You do get what you pay for. Work with others that are attentive, detailed, and produce an excellent product. Pay them well and everyone wins. They will be around when you need them again, and so will you.
- Focus on building long-term business relationships. Do your due diligence before hiring a company or firm to work with you. Treat your initial conversations just like a job interview. Is this firm a good fit for your company? Is your company a good fit for this firm? Do they have an interest in building a long-term relationship with you, or do they just want to get this job and then move on? Are you working/talking with someone that knows what they are doing? Or are you just talking with a salesperson?
Vextras’ “How We Run Our Online Business” series encourages online retailers to share best practices, must-have tools, and resources that are necessary to building a successful web business. Our goal is to help other retailers succeed online by using these insights. We’d like to acknowledge Lifehacker.com’s series of posts that profile movers & shakers in their “How I Work” series, we’re trying to do something similar with an emphasis on ecommerce. If you’d like to share your experiences, drop us a note, we’d love to hear from you.