Shop Owner Challenge Day 1: How to be a Successful 3D Printing Shop Owner on Shapeways

Welcome to the Shop Owner Challenge! Every day for the next 30 days, we’ll be sharing a new tip! Since we’re about to unleash quite a bit of information on you, I figured we should start off with a lesson on prioritization. What is the goal of your shop at it’s core? Kicking us off is Matt Boyle, avid Hokie fan and Quality Engineer here at Shapeways. He spends his days prioritizing all the fabulous (and some of the not so fabulous) things we do here and is a wealth of information. Heed his advice, and feel free to replicate his dapper style show below.

At Shapeways, our Shop Owners are our lifeblood: They create awesome content for our community members, push the limits on what our printers are capable of, and demand the best from us every single day.
At the end of the day, your goal as a Shop Owner is to sell: The more of your products that people buy, the more recognition, praise, and money you receive. There are several tools that you can use as a Shop Owner to maximize your potential by selling more products:
1. Model Upload — Fill your shop with products!
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many Shop Owners have a shop with only two or three models in it. In order for a shop to be truly compelling (and drive repeat sales!), you should sell a variety of products. This will allow you to define your style/motif, and provide your customers with an engaging experience that will ensure their return for future purchases.

ProTip from Savannah: We only promote complete shops, those with four or more photographed products. Lucas Plus is a favorite of mine these days:

We recently released a major update to our Model Upload process, which gives you real-time insights into our model processing tools. Rather than having to wait for an email, we’ll now immediately take you to a Model Edit page, and give you information as soon as it’s available (volume, 3D render, pricing, printability). 
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to check out this process, as it allows you to create content, verify dimensions, and check pricing very quickly. You can also update your model with a new file (perhaps with more hollowing or different features/textures) right from there, allowing you to adjust your model to meet desired material and pricing requirements.
2. Purchase and photograph your products!
Once you’ve got the models, you’ve gotta promote them. The biggest concern of shoppers on Shapeways is ‘What will this model actually look like? How big is it? Does the color match my shirt/dress/hat/velociraptor claws?’ These questions are all answered with photos. 
Of course, in order to photograph your sweet product, you’re going to have to purchase it… most likely in multiple materials. While this may seem like a cheap ploy to get you to buy stuff from Shapeways, it’s not: Models with photos sell WAY more than models with renders. This isn’t conjecture: It’s fact. Plus, Shapeways won’t promote your products if you don’t have photos of them. This also gives you a chance to see the final product that your customers are purchasing, confirming that it meets your standards before offering it for sale to others.
3. Tag your products!
Once you’ve created your product, uploaded your photos, and made your product page perfect, it’s time to start promoting! The easiest way to do this is to take advantage of the category and tag features provided by Shapeways. For example, if you’ve made a ring, you can add the ‘Jewelry’ category, and it will show up on the Jewelry category page. If you then tag your ring with ‘ring’ or ‘jewelry’, it will show up when people click through tags on other product pages. Pretty sweet, right?

Stay tuned for more Shop Owner Challenge tips from the Shapeways Staff! And yes… this is Matt, in a Santa Suit, getting you pumped for holiday season.

5 comments

  1. Edrice

    I would never have thought to add the category as a tag, it’s a bit counter intuitive. It’s good to know thanks!

    1. Savannah

      So happy to hear you found it useful, Edrice! Hope you find the rest of the content equally relevant as well :) .

      Best,

      Savannah

  2. Sara

    About a month ago I was finally able to do a lifestyle shoot with almost all of my pieces. I can’t even describe what an amazing difference that made with the presentation of my jewelry. Slowly but surely getting pieces produced in different materials.

    It would be awesome if you sometimes offered “maker” coupons that enabled us free shipping or a small discount when ordering samples to build up or photo inventory. :)

    1. Savannah

      Hi Sara!

      I could not agree more- great photographs make all the difference in the world!

      We do occasionally offer maker discounts, typically surrounding the launch of a new material or changing of the seasons (we did a “summer white, strong and flexible” sale not long ago). Make sure you’re subscribed to our newsletter and check back on the site periodically- we want to make it easy on you makers :) !

      Thanks for the great feedback!

      Cheers,
      S

  3. Mike Jenson

    You’re right the is seems obvious to add more products but I’m glad to be reminded. I’m stoked to get my models on uploaded. Thanks!

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