Monday, June 28, 2010
How To Increase Sales In A Sluggish Economy
Spring has turned to summer, and you were planning on selling many of your handmade crafts at at fairs, and online. But the results you were hoping for have yet to materialize and you are not sure why.
The easiest explanation is people just don't have the amount of disposable cash to buy the "I want that" items. Let's face it, the economy has hit everyone hard, not just handmade artisans. This economy has forced people to examine the way they spend their money on...and more importantly, on what they spend their money on. Fewer and fewer people will use their credit cards for ANY reason other than an emergency, and that may explain why your online sales are down. After all, how many people carry balances on their Paypal account. Unless you are selling items to someone how sells "stuff" on eBay, or a fellow Etsy artist, I think you'll find many of your customers make their purchases with Paypal, via a credit card.
Doing a craft fair may not always be the answer either. When doing a show for the first time, vendors need to do research on a shows prior history before filling out an application. Was the show well-attended in the past? Was the event well promoted? How available is the shows curator...is he/she available to answer questions & with they provide contact info for a few vendors from prior years for you to speak with. If you don't "feel it" when doing your research, you would probably be best served to pass on the show. If you want to get a feel for a show for next year, you should plan on attending the event to see for yourself...grab a few business cards while you are there, and contact them a few weeks later to get their opinion while the show is still fresh in their memory.
If you are considering returning to a show you did last year, be totally honest with yourself on how the show went for you last time. If a show was just okay, would a 50% drop-off in sales this time around be okay with you? Do you seem to have a following in the area of that show? A following may be worth taking a chance on a show.
Have you tried placing your items with local gift shops or galleries? Like a craft fair, having your items out in front of potential customers is great way to advertise your creations. Allowing a customer to use their sense of sight , touch, smell, etc is a sure way to help you make sales, and gift shops/galleries are a great option. You will need to factor in a consignment fee (usually anywhere from 30-50%) as a trade off to have the opportunity to show your items 5, 6, 7 days a week without you being present.
The economy is the caveat with this selling opportunity. Again due diligence is highly recommended. The type of questions you want to ask is how long the shop has been in business, how many "like" vendors are they planning on offering in their shop and where will your items be placed (and is that location permanent)? Always get everything printed into a contract. A good shop will already have a contract worked out, and it should explain everything the terms of the contract, how and when you'll get paid, etc. I cannot stress checking out a shop before signing any paperwork...there is nothing more awful than finding a shop owner has gone out of business and your inventory/and money has gone with them.
With the current shape of the economy, it is probably best to have your items available for potential buyers to be able to hold them up, examine your work, and physically see if this item is everything they want. At a show, you are the saleswomen...make suggestions, let them know if you are open to making custom pieces, and promote yourself!
The same goes for a consignment opportunity... sell yourself to the shop owner. Ask if they are open to allowing you to have a trunk show at their shop, perhaps at the end of their business day. Stop in and say Hi, and ask them if there is anything that customers have requested, or maybe ask them if there is any inventory that can be switched out for newer inventory. Work with them, and you'll find they are more receptive top working with you. After all, they want/need to make sales to help them pay their bills also. Let them know your committed to your business, and you might find yourself with a prime display area in future months.
Remember, things are tough for people all over. Factor in the how the economy is affecting the people in your area before choosing to do a craft show. If shows and shops are not the right answer for you at this time, you can always hit the promotions forum at Etsy and promote, promote and promote your shop some more. There is always something you can do to improve your shop and increase your sales in this economy!
'til next time...