So, How's things been then... ?
I have found that, certainly the latter half of my last tax year and the beginning of this, have been my toughest in a long while. I have found that people are spending 'less' when they do shop online (with me) although my regular big customers are still shopping the same. I think it is the luxuries and the IMPULSE buys that have been hit hardest. And this makes sense - i have reacted the same as a consumer in this recession, haven't you?
We had the HIKE in Postage prices, yeh? and that was a tough one. International went through the roof for a small online shop like mine (ours) ETSY shops will know how hard it was to put up those postage prices. But i found the UK parcel much easier to work with and could set an easy and fair lowest postal cost and could then 'reward' bigger shoppers with free postage on bigger orders.... so its been a bit up n down, hey?
WHAT can we do? when business is slower and spending is down? How do we keep going when handmade is being asked, on some levels, to compete with other online bargains?
The answer is NOT to reduce your prices.... DO NOT undervalue / undersell your own time and design efforts. Think outside the box and make changes to your business that will help YOU make the sales you need.....
I cannot speak for all of us or help personally, but here are some ideas to help us get through the lowest times and keep our small handmade businesses growing:
- Define your brand. Spend time getting your product range smaller and tighter and more coherent so you know exactly what you are marketing and who to.
- Keep up stock levels it is hard to think MAKE when sales have dipped but use this time to us up your stash, and get stock levels to a point that you are ready to SELL when the sales come.
- Clean & Tidy & Organise your office, your stash, your stock, your book-keeping. Get on top of all the areas you neglect. I WILL be doing this in January!! be sure on that. Untidy business is untidy selling.
- Blog / Twitter / Flickr / Pinterest... i am guilty of neglecting online interests. strike the balance between talking about yourself, your passions, your products and ramming U down peoples throats! why not get together with a few other small business people and cross promote each other?.... these people are NOT your business rivals! They are selling different things to the SAME customer base as you. Use each other.
STAY WITH: Original - Valued - Top Quality - Good Design - Customer Service - Personal Touches - Good Communication - Listening & Working with People.... because...
THE BIG COMPANIES cannot ever compete with that. They have low prices and speedy couriers and glossier websites and telephone (non) help. Your business has YOU!! and that is the power you have.
So use it!
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