This post is going to get a little ranty, so I’m going to break down how I plan on it going: I’m not going to name any names here. What I’m doing is voicing some frustrations I’ve experienced trying to use indie makeup sites. Many of these companies I have not even tried the product for. If/when I ever do try the actual product I will give a comprehensive review that may include information on ease-of-use for the site, but until then I’m just going to speak generally and not make this personal for anyone. Having never tried to manage an online store, I really have no idea what goes into it, but I’m assuming it takes capital E Effort. I respect that. Still, several sites have or almost have lost sales from me because I have been frustrated by site designs and I feel like this might be a topic worth discussing. Let’s begin.
Recently I entered a giveaway through For the Love of Indie, and the number of entries you amassed was based on the number of related pages you “liked,” so I went on a liking spree to maximize my entries (I did not win. Sad day). Still, I was glad to have the chance to be exposed to so many indie makeup companies, some that I plan to investigate in the future as I perhaps become more lucrative (now that I’ve achieved a 50 cent raise and all). One way that I’m able to get the most bang for my buck and try out new products is through sales, and it was trying to take advantage of several sale events Thursday-Monday that lead to the observations and frustrations I had. In no particular order:
- Multiple storefronts. A number of these shops (enough that it seems to be relatively common) have both stand alone store pages and also shop pages on sites like Etsy and Storenvy (sometimes all three!). In some ways I understand it, different platforms provide different services. I’m not at all familiar with Storenvy, but I know Etsy charges per listing (and sites like ebay take a cut of the profit) and that’s an annoying little bit of overhead to have to account for. I’m sure that I’m not the only person in the world without the technical know-how to pilot my own website, let alone an actual website that takes people’s money. The frustration come in trying to navigate across these platforms. Some sales were offered ONLY at the stand alone storefront or ONLY at Storenvy and a lot of times the products were not the same! I ended up not taking advantage of one of the purchases I was going to make because it was only offered at the store page and I couldn’t find it on the Storenvy… several times special products were mentioned but I could not find them at either place. Is it possible what I experienced were glitches that carried across Chrome and Firefox? Sure, my relationship with computers is largely reminiscent of that ICP song (fucking internets…) but it was really obnoxious. Given that I just wanted to buy some sale stuff to test, I did not go forth and contact any admins.
- In that same vein, if you’re only offering product via Facebook direct messages or “auctions,” I will not be buying from you. Have some professionalism, please.
- ON THE PRO SIDE: Many of these companies offer ‘blogger packages’ with a pre-set number of product available for those with active blogs to try out for the sake of a review! They all seem to fall in the $5 range, so even though I’m paying to test it out, it’s at a really reasonable price and if I like the product they will probably earn me as a repeat customer. A few sites were also offering “affiliate” programs, were you could earn a percentage of the sales made through your personal referral link. That’s a great idea, a great way to get b/vloggers interested in your product and why doesn’t Smashbox offer that kind of program and please just let me sell my soul to your primer. *Ahem* That closer relationship between company and customer is another of the pros of indie shopping
- A lot of the website layout was awkward. Not all of it, but there were some sites that looked like they were trying to be flashy corporate sites and it was harder to navigate and actually find the product page beneath the glitz. This probably just comes down to personal preference but I like a nice streamlined site. Even Aromaleigh’s is a little clunky for me (currently. I mention them because I know they are in the process of moving to a new site that does seem to have a smoother feel, from the test pages they’ve released).
- The names. This is a really petty complaint, I will admit that super bizarre spellings of things, overly long names, and names that sound too cutesy/childish are turn offs to me. I like ones that are short and sweet yet catchy. Again, personal preference, and there are a finite number of names out there so you have to get creative to be unique, it just seems that some companies are veering a little to close to that kr8tyve ledge.
Obviously take this observations with a grain of salt. I haven’t tried the products of many of these businesses and that is honestly what I care the most about. I don’t think any of these companies have permanently lost me as a potential customer (Even if temporarily I’ve thrown my hands up in frustration), but it would be easier for me to provide them with my patronage if they streamlined things for easy checkout and whatnot.
Bonus shout out/anectdote: I haven’t tried Hello Waffle‘s makeup yet, but goodness if that is not just the most adorable name on the planet? The owner explains the naming decision: “The phrase ‘Hello Waffle’ is commonly said around my household as he likes to lurk around corners and scare you when you least expect it.” As I read that, Manbeast knocked over a stuffed red tail hawk that was abandoned by my previous roommate. It’s from the Audubon society and when a stiff breeze blows by it, or it falls down on the floor, or you look at it funny it makes an ‘authentic’ red tail hawk sound. We usually respond with “Goddamnit Screechy Hawk!” I realized after that incident and reading the Hello Waffle description that if I were to start a makeup company and name it after a commonly uttered household phrase, I’d have “Goddamnit Screechy Hawk Cosmetics,” which just doesn’t have the same ring to it.