Posts from the ‘Marketing Tips’ Category
March 3, 2013
February 17, 2013
Our 3 bath & body vendors are in luck, as according to a recent article in Gift Shop magazine, Winter 2013, “the whole category is strong.” Some bath & body trends for vendors and retailers to keep in mind are as follows:
- Bars of soap have become increasingly important in bath & body lines. Don’t have one…make one!
- Packaging sets the bars apart. With the wide range of B&B available, some consumers shop by packaging, price, and scent alone.
- Fresh fragrance is key. According to Sue Jonas, VP of Innovation for Crabtree & Evelyn, “We’re seeing a trend in greener, fresher, more life-like fragrances that are inspired by nature.” Yes, some consumers like the food and floral scents, but there is a moving trend towards more organic scents.
- Made in USA is not just a sentiment. Consumers are placing an increased importance on the Made in USA label, and companies selling handmade products.
- Sample stations, testers, and point-of-sale demos are key to selling new bath & body lines.
- Organic is not just a catch phrase…it must be proven in the ingredient list and evidenced by the vendor’s actions.
“Retailers and vendors agree: bath & body products are ones that will forever work for gift store retailers. Luxury at price points is an irresistible commodity.”
Our own Bath & Body page will have several new products added this week!
December 28, 2012
What is a prime way to reach a large portion of your target market in one fell swoop? By exhibiting at a trade show, of course! For those handmade vendors looking to gain entry into, or expand their presence in, the retail boutique sector, a wholesale trade show is the way to go. The caveat? They are rather costly. This is where Sourcing Handmade comes in.
What’s the tease? We are planning on participating in the July 2013 Beckman’s Handcrafted Show at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, IL! This is a wholesale trade show which attracts roughly 10,000 wholesale buyers ranging from specialty boutiques, big box retailers, galleries & museums, catalog companies, hospital gift shops, garden centers, and hardware stores. These wholesale buyers come from across the country, but are primarily from Missouri, Minnesota, Kansas, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin, Ohio, and Iowa.
This opportunity is an add-on service, meaning it’s above and beyond our standard service offering. Given that, we will be putting together pricing packages for this show, as well as a special promotion, so be sure to keep your eyes and ears on us in the coming weeks (facebook, twitter, blog, newsletter)! One must be a client to participate in this opportunity, and pricing will be dependent upon the number of interested handmade vendors. Stay tuned for more information…and help us spread the word socially (share, like, and re-tweet galore!).
Happy New Year!
Jan. 5 update: Full details and pricing can be found under Services at this link.
September 17, 2012
I shop at Costco, and love their Costco Connection magazine. One would be amazed at how many interesting articles it contains. While I was reading their August 2012 edition, I found a little snippet entitled “Calling All Crafty Members!” Here’s the scoop:
Costco realizes the last few years have seen an “increased interest in hand-crafted items.” That being said, if you are a Costco member “who spends your summers or weekends at local markets or holiday bazaars”, or you sell on Etsy or at craft shows, they want to hear from you! Send them an email about your business (or hobby) to email@example.com, and use the subject line “Crafty Members.” The article doesn’t state the end goal, but I presume they may feature some crafters in an upcoming edition. So, get emailing…and remember to be clear and concise. If you send a novel, it may just get deleted! Also be sure to include links to your online marketplaces, or business website. It may behoove you to attach an image of your product as well. Good luck!
September 10, 2012
I recently read an article which described ways for boutique owners to find suppliers for their shops. The top 3 suggestions will come as no surprise: visit national and regional trade shows, search through vendor directories, and import product. What do these approaches all have in common? Time and money, money and time! Attending a trade show likely includes the following costs: show fee, airfare, gas, taxi, hotel, and meals out. All of these are costs assigned to the sourcing aspect of the business. Visiting regional shows, oftentimes held at convention centers, is a less costly approach, but there are still costs involved (how does a $50 parking fee suit your budget?). Online vendor directories do not offer a home run either. I searched through a few vendor directories, and was overwhelmed at the multitude of product categories and other “stuff” made available. One such example is ThomasNet.com. This was proffered as a directory for retail boutiques. However, it seems the site is more focused on industrial product sources (search “boutique clothing” and the results include safety apparel, scrubs, and uniforms…probably not something you’d select for your shop! ). Lastly, wholesale import sites include tons and tons of product. They are overwhelming on the face. It’s hard to find out exactly how and where the product is made (think child labor or unfair working conditions). Utilizing this method is a a strain on your pocketwatch…and your pocketbook. The point is, it’s time for a new option. An option that solely focuses on boutique retailers. An option that solely focuses on handmade product (plus some mom-invented products!). These narrow focuses make your sourcing job faster, easier, and less expensive. So, give us a try! Mention this blog post, and as an independent boutique owner, we will supply you with one complimentary wholesale line sheet for any vendor in our gallery. No obligations, just email us at info (at) sourcinghandmade (dot) com!
July 25, 2012
Ever wonder if your handmade business is ready for the big time? Wonder if selling wholesale is for you? What about selling on consignment? What is the fundamental difference, anyway?? Read on to find out:
Wholesale: Products are sold to a boutique. The boutique pays the seller up front for the products, using the seller’s wholesale price and the agreed upon terms (i.e. net30).
Consignment: Products are lent to a boutique. The boutique pays the seller a commission % after the items have been sold to a customer in her shop (generally 50-70% of retail price).
Reading carefully, you see the big difference is when you, the seller, get paid. Shops that buy wholesale typically have more available cash or credit on hand in order to make the wholesale purchase. They buy outright, so once product is shipped and payment is made, the transaction is over.
Shops that buy on consignment take possession of the goods, but do not pay the seller until a customer buys them from their shop. In this situation, the seller is basically temporarily lending their product to the shop.
Below are some pros and cons of both from the handmade seller’s perspective:
- You get paid upfront
- Shop may be more financially secure
- Shop is financially vested in your products, may push sales
- If product sells, good chance you’ll get re-orders
- Get your products in a shop to gain more exposure
- May get a higher volume of business
- May be asked to make large production runs
- May need to invest in more supplies, employees
- Products may go on sale if they’re not selling, requiring a lower wholesale price on re-orders
- Get your products in a shop to gain more exposure
- Shop may price items slightly higher, waiting for the “right” buyer, thereby increasing your commission %
- If product sells, good chance you’ll get re-orders
- May have more autonomy to decide types of items to sell
- Shop is not financially vested in your product
- Shop may not as assertively push sales
- You may not get paid for several months
- Products may go on sale if they’re not selling, giving you a small commission %
- Need to buy on consignment may be an indication of the shop’s financial status
- Potential loss / theft issues…who is responsible?
Both are a great means of increasing exposure for your brand and growing your handmade business. Consignment does come with additional risks, though they can typically be addressed via the Consignment Agreement Form that both vendor and buyer sign prior to product shipment. Some handmade sellers start with consignment to “test the waters,” then graduate to wholesale when the time is right. In a future post we’ll discuss important factors to take into consideration when selling on consignment. Until then, feel free to post any questions below!
June 11, 2012
Pinterest is an online pinboard where people go to find inspiration. Recipes, crafts, projects, home decor, art, travel, education, books…you name it, it’s there. However, it’s not only valuable for the casual observer or hobbyist. It is extremely valuable for a small business when used properly. If you sell your handmade items via an online marketplace, your own website, or social media site, you should also have a Pinterest presence. It is by invitation only, so if you’re not on yet, request an invite (from the site itself or a friend already using it) and you can be on in a few days’ time. Then, follow this list to make your handmade business that much more pinteresting:
- Create a Product Gallery. Make a pinboard for your products. You can pin directly from your website, or upload products from your computer. This is a great way to get free exposure. If your product gets re-pinned (similar to a re-tweet on Twitter), it is added to the re-pinner’s board and shared with her followers. This means more eyes on your product. You will receive credit for the pin, so anyone clicking on it will be directed to your online shop (just be sure to add a link url to the photo if you upload from your computer). Think of it as a free ad.
- Show Happy Customers. Pin photos of customers happily wearing or using your products. Let them be a visual testimony to your product’s greatness. You can even give permission for others to pin to a community board. Be sure to include different types of poses and uses to show the versatility of your product, and only let other pinners pin if you trust them.
- Connect with Influencers. Re-pin, like, and comment on pins from influencers in your industry. This can be bloggers, small biz experts, and valuable sites like Handmade Success and Sourcing Handmade. This will open the door to forming a relationship, and will create mutually beneficial re-pinning potential. You can also tag others using the @ symbol…another great way to create relationships.
- Pin Other Interests. Don’t stop at pinning your products. Create boards for topics in which your target market may be interested. This can be recipes, projects, kids’ craft ideas… anything with which you think your target will identify. This will draw more people to your Pinterest page, creating more opportunities for people to find your handmade products. Try to keep it related to your market, and be sure not to pin anything that may be offensive (what is funny to some isn’t funny to all).
- Pin Works in Progress. Show images of you in action, or before and after pictures of your product. Of course you don’t want to give away your secrets, but it will help to show you as an expert in your area.
- Price your Products…with Caution. You can upload pins that also contain sales prices for your products. However, I advise using this with caution. If one is obviously using Pinterest as a sales method, it may turn off some people. Pinterest should be used for sharing information, photos, ideas, products, and inspiration, without blatantly asking for sales. Outright self-promotion is also against the Pinterest code of ethics.
- Use Accurate Descriptions. Have a well written “about” section on your Pinterest profile, and include links to your website, Facebook, and Twitter. Be sure your profile and pin descriptions include pertinent keywords for SEO.
- Organize your Boards. Organize your boards so the most relevant ones are in the first row. You do this by clicking the “re-arrange boards” icon in the center of the page, next to “edit profile.” You can also choose the board cover by hovering over the center of any given board. Be sure to use a pin that is an accurate and attractive portrayal of what the board contains.
- Don’t Over-Pin. If you have thousands of pins, people may feel overwhelmed and jump off your page. If you love it, pin it. If it’s mediocre, don’t. People will appreciate your authenticity and value more if you don’t pin and re-pin everything.
- Use Great Photos. Of course, you must pin high quality photos of your handmade products. If the photo isn’t high quality, no one will look twice at it. After all, Pinterest is all about photos, so make them good!
Feel free to comment below with your Pinterest link, and we will check you out!
May 10, 2012
“Variety is the spice of life,” and of your shop. I have entered countless boutiques who sell several of the same products…typically national brands. For example, we all love Melissa & Doug toys, right? I would guess so because they are sold in almost every kids’ boutique I enter. There are a few flaws with selling the same product as your competitors…especially if they are local:
- Price. If every boutique in the area sells the same product, it will come down to price and price alone. Speaking as a consumer, one could love ABC Boutique and patronize it often, but if they sell the same product as a local competitor, for a few dollars or percentage points more, a consumer would shop at the less expensive shop.
- Commonality…and Price (again). Boutiques aren’t the only supplier of the aforementioned toys. Big box retailers (i.e. Target, Wal-mart, Toys R Us) also sell them. Guess who can price them lower? The big box retailers, of course! Many of them (Wal-mart is famous for this) use toys as a “dog” in terms of pricing strategy. This means they may price them at cost (or even below! <gasp>) in order to draw customers into the store. Customers come for the inexpensive toys, and stay to buy household necessities (and possibly splurge items) while there. So, although the store is perhaps losing money on toys, they are more than making up for it for on other products purchased which have a much higher profit margin. Put yourself in the average consumer’s shoes…would you shop at ABC Boutique for a national brand toy, or would you shop at Target where you could get it cheaper (and pick up some milk while you’re at it)?
- Being Forgettable. You want repeat customers, correct? The answer should be a resounding “yes!” A primary way of achieving this is by being memorable. Selling unique products, being in a niche market, offering services or products which differentiate you from your competition. Common, national brands do not accomplish this. Unique accomplishes this, and that can easily be done with handmade products and products made by local artists.
- Brand Name Designers. I have seen boutique ads touting “big name” designers…not as big as say Vera Wang, but perhaps big in the boutique / retail scene. However, the flaw with solely carrying and advertising these names is that many of your customers have no idea who they are. The average boutique customer, be it a local homeowner or a tourist, is probably unfamiliar with these lessor known, (but big name in some circles) designers. An ad or shop solely showcasing these artists would not reach many in their target market. Some, yes, but not many. It may even intimidate or isolate some (“ooh…I’ve never heard of her, perhaps I’m not chic enough to shop there”). However, touting local artists, and truly unique products, could reach more of your target market by tugging at their heart strings or their curiosity. Afterall, consumers nowadays are more touched by buying from a local designer, than they are buy purchasing a national, or “big name” designer, who quite possibly manufacturers their items overseas.
Consider this when you are sourcing your next line of products. Then, peruse our Gallery and envision some of these items in your shop and how they might draw in more of your market, or an additional part of your market on which you are missing out.