Saturday, February 13, 2010

Looking Ahead to the Spring/Summer Selling Season

In past year's my online shop was able to generate enough sales each month to keep me busy during the off-season. With the start of 2010, sales appear to be down by nearly 70% through the first two months. Certainly the competition in "my niche" market hasn't helped. Just a couple of year's ago, there were but a few sea glass jewelry makers on Etsy. But as Etsy has grown in popularity, many more shops have opened and there are know many more options selling into a niche market.

I also believe that my sea glass jewelry sells to the niche market better in the warmer weather. (though in past years and a better economy, I was busy selling 12 months a year) Rather than be dismayed at what could appear to be a slow-down, I'm gearing up for what should be a busier season.

Anyone who finds themselves in the same boat should also be looking ahead. The economy has begun to take a turn for the better and history often indicates that in the warmer weather, people begin to go out more often and spend their discretionary income. With the rough winter weather we've experienced up and down the east coast (and actually the entire US and the rest of the world) being ready to go could be the difference to having a great 2010 and just an average year.

For me, the lull means time to look back at 2009 to see what was successful, where I need to improve, where I need to increase inventories and perhaps what I need to pull back on. I planned on debuting a few new ideas last season. They were met with varying degrees of success. One exceeded my expectations, another did slightly better than expected, and the third wasn't received as well as I had hoped. It could be a simple as a different type of promoting is needed or perhaps the disappointing item needs to be improved upon or discontinued for awhile.

During this break, I'll be looking to add to components. Finding sea glass in jewelry quality has become quite expensive. Sea glass is referred to as a "vanishing gem" for good reason. Plastic has been for many decades, the replacement for glass and most importantly, garbage dumping in our oceans is illegal. The is a finite amount of sea glass and while there will always be pieces to be discovered, it also has become harder and harder to locate as the years pass. Searching for quality pieces is a year-round constant, but increasing competition and decreasing supplies (not to forget man-made or altered pieces made by the unscrupulous who greedily take advantage of the popularity of of sea glass) is making it harder to continue offering the same quality year after year.

I'm also looking to take advantage of the drop in silver to purchase my metal components before the price goes up. Purchasing in a down silver market is the way to go in my opinion. Getting a better price means I can continue to offer quality pieces for reasonable prices. It is often hard to lay out the money when you know that you'll be sitting on the components for a while, but with the price of silver down around $2 an ounce compared to less than 6 weeks ago, it's an easy choice...stock up now and continue to watch where the market goes.

At the mid-way point of February, I have my plans in place and I'm working toward bringing each plan to fruition. Take advantage of the lull, look at what/where you can improve your craft and see where you can expand your product line. Examine what works for you and look at what your competitors are doing well. This is the time to plan and adjust!

The market will return and I'm taking the necessary steps to be ready when my customers are ready to look at my sea glass jewelry. Winter is winding down (not soon enough, but it's getting there) I'm taking advantage of this lull to spend time with my family outside in the snow and inside during "family movie night". It's free time that I haven't had in the recent past and I'm enjoying the free time, while gearing up for GO TIME.

Enjoy the rest of the winter and have a Happy Valentine's Day! See you soon

'til next time...