The Do’s and Don’ts of Bricks & Mortar Retail. Part 2: Maintaining Sales & Enthusiasm in Retail
This is a guest post by Simmone Spring. I’ve known Simmone for a few years – we’ve bumped into each other at markets here in Brissie on numerous occasions! She’s uniquely qualified to write this – the first of a short series of articles on getting your work into a B&M shop – because she is both a crafter AND a retail coordinator, so she knows the score from both sides of the fence. You can read Part 1 here.
When we start in retail, or stock a new shop, we are often very motivated to do well. Maintaining this can be a challenge with the ups and downs that retail experiences.
Here are some tips to keep you selling and in good favour in a retail space.
Continue to present your work well
Spend time presenting your product and change your packaging if the situation calls for it. I am not a fan of excess packaging but think that simple things like card backing for earrings, or a box for a necklace can make a huge difference. Let you packaging evolve if it needs to.
A little info on the packaging is also recommended. Do you use a special finish to protect your product? Does it need to be washed regularly? Are the findings hypo-allergenic? This gives the shopper confidence in your product.
Emails and Phone Calls
Keep in touch with the shops you are stocking with a simple email every 2-4 weeks. Keep on top of your stock levels, and gather information about what is selling well.
Now, I cannot stress this enough, let the shops you stock know if anything is going on that will affect your stock supply, or their ability to contact you! If you change address let them know, if you have a crisis let them know. Anything that affects your supply to them and their contact of you. Let them know whilst it is happening, better yet, before it happens! Even if you are going on holidays for 5 days, let them know!
Listen to the Manager or Coordinator
Listen to those who run the shop. This is so important. If they want some more stock, restock as soon as possible. If they think you could improve sales by swapping stock, get onto it. If they think your product would work better with a simple change, give it a try.
These are the people in the shop every day selling your work, listening to your customer, watching how customers respond.
Be committed to the shop. If you are just starting out slowly add retail locations to your repertoire so you can be sure you can manage the amount you take on.
If something happens that means you cannot be committed for a period of time communicate this and see what the shop wants to do about the situation.
Broken Items and Refunds
Your manager should have discussed their policies on returns and refunds when they set up your contract. Make sure you know what you are obligated to do and do it promptly. If you are fixing an item stay in contact with the shop and let them know time frames and make sure they pass this on to the customer.
I once had a customer tell me it meant a lot to her to know we were so accommodating with returns and refunds and were going to do the right thing by her. This can be such a difficult aspect of handmade retail but one that you really need to be good at. It is your reputation and the reputation of the business you stock at stake.
:: Something to Remember ::
Make sure the shop you stock is holding up their side of the bargain. They should be following these rules as much as you. As a retail coordinator I know how difficult managing retail can be, but if we all follow these points it can be painless for all of us. If you are thinking a retail space is not holding up their side of the bargain, call them on it and discuss ways things can be better. There are always improvements we can make, on both sides.
Simmone Spring coordinated the retail space at Bleeding Heart until it sadly closed due to renovations. She has been making Anatomy for 6 years as Your Organ Grinder and coordinates Hands On Brisbane.
Image sourc: Martin Wessely