Time to start thinking about Christmas?!

There have been huge leaps made in the technology that powers online shops that has reduced complexity and cost, making it much more appealing to small museums. Much of this has been driven by the pandemic, where the need to get products online simply and cheaply has never been in greater demand.

The upshot of all of this is that online shopping software is now very affordable, with the popular Shopify platform starting at £19 a month for non-profit organisations.

An online shop is also a great way to engage volunteers who may not be able to attend the museum often or help with physically demanding tasks but can access a computer at home. The tools to create and manage online shops are more straightforward than ever before so volunteers will often be able to update products and prices.

With careful planning and making a start this Spring it is perfectly feasible to have a professional looking, well thought and laid out online shop up and running for the Autumn. This will give you time to get processes in place for managing orders as well as build up those important Google rankings to get to a worthwhile level of sales for the Christmas period, which for online shopping starts in early October and peaks at the first week of December.

Your five point preparation checklist for Christmas

  1. Product. Do you have products that are appealing to an online audience? Customers looking at museum online shops are on the hunt for unique gifts or publications and are generally willing to pay a little more to support you. Start with product that you already sell in your shop that are either unique, quirky, desirable or have close ties to your museum.
  2. Presentation. Good photography of products and detailed appealing descriptions make items far more appealing. There are many photographers now specialising in online product imagery at affordable prices.
  3. Content. Engaging blog posts that link items for sale with your artefacts or the local area as well as reviews of publications and products make a shop far more appealing to the public and the search engines that will rank you far higher if they spot this uniqueness and care.
  4. Platform. What online shop platform should you use? The choice is enormous, but the key ones to take a close look at are Shopify, WIX and Squarespace for their low cost, simplicity, and great designs.
  5. Fulfilment. You will need to consider where you will ship to and how much you will charge for postage. Consider starting out with UK mainland only unless you have a particular overseas following and look to charge between £4 and £7 for orders up to £100 and then free after that. Also think about packaging and who will manage the orders. Again, the software makes it relatively easy, and you do not have to offer next day delivery, so having someone check for and pack orders for a while each morning would be sufficient.


If you are now inspired to start thinking about maximising sales for this coming Christmas, but you would like some professional help and advice.

Rod Barlow

Rod is an accomplished senior executive with considerable experience in supply chain solutions for the retail and visitor attraction industries.



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