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Many craft shows have been canceled because of the pandemic, which leaves many vendors wondering what they’re going to do with all the stock they prepared.
Here are 5 ideas to help you deal with an abundance of stock.
1) FOCUS ONLINE
First and foremost, you must have a way to sell your products online.
Aside from essential stores (e.g. grocery stores), online is the only way for many people to shop, so you must have a way to sell your products online.
Even if there are some farmers’ markets open in your city, they aren’t drawing the crowds they once did.
There are a number of ways you can promote your products online, and many don’t require you to set up an online shop or website.
HOW TO SELL ONLINE
1 – NEWSLETTER
If you already have a newsletter set up for your business, you’re ahead of the game! You can simply prepare an email to send to subscribers letting them know your business is still in business and explain how they can continue to support it, even though craft shows are canceled for the foreseeable future.
If you don’t have an online store to direct subscribers to to buy, here are a few suggestions:
- In each email, include product pictures, prices, and any other product information they need to make a purchasing decision. Don’t overwhelm subscribers by including every product you offer in one email. Instead, try featuring one or two products in each email.
- Ask subscribers to reply to your email if they’d like to purchase an item, and include the product name, quantity, or any other details you need in order to complete their purchase (e.g. set item aside, total the sale to send them an invoice, etc.)
- You may collect money in the following ways:
- PayPal – send an invoice through PayPal so they can pay you online
- E-transfer – if you have online banking set up, your bank may allow you to send and receive money online
- Cheque – you may allow them to mail you a check. Once it’s received and cashed, you would then ship their item
- In-person – if your subscribers are local, with safety precautions in place, you may meet up in a place that allows you to keep your distance from each other. For example, in a parking lot, they might place the cash on the trunk of their car and stand aside while you collect the cash and replace it with their purchased item.
Interesting circumstances we’re in but where there’s a will there’s a way! 😉
It’s important to continually stay in touch with your subscribers.
Once a week is ideal to send an email and no less than once a month.
You will not be annoying them by emailing. That’s why they signed up for your newsletter; to receive emails about your business.
If you want my tips for starting, growing, and sending a successful newsletter, check out this handy guide.
If you don’t have a newsletter set up, you can do so right now, for free and in 10 minutes.
Here’s my handy guide to do so: HOW TO START A NEWSLETTER FOR YOUR HANDMADE BUSINESS (in 10 minutes & for free)
2 – SOCIAL MEDIA
In a similar way of using your newsletter to sell your handmade products online, you may use your social media accounts.
You don’t want customers to share any personal information on your social media posts so it would be a matter of creating a post with a product photo and using the description to include product details (e.g. description, price, quantity available, etc.).
You would also include instructions on how one would go about purchasing the item featured in the post.
Make it as easy as possible for shoppers. Ideally, your post would simply link to your online store.
However, if you don’t have an online shop, you may ask people to direct message you on the platform (e.g. if you’re using Facebook, ask people to use Messenger to send you a message if they’re interested in purchasing) or include your email address and have people email you instead.
3 – ECWID
Ecwid is a platform that allows you to create listings and then sync those listings with a Facebook page, Instagram account, website, marketplace, or even accept payments in-person.
Let’s say you have a Facebook Page set up, which you use to market your products but you don’t have a way to sell those products on Facebook.
- Set up an Ecwid account, (choose the Venture or Business plan)
- Add your products to your account
- Go to Ecwid Control Panel → All sales channels → Sell on Facebook and click “Connect Facebook page”
- Select the Facebook page where you want to add your products and click “Save”
Your products are now available for people to shop and buy, right on your Facebook page. You’ll see a tab on the left side of your Facebook page titled “Facebook Shop”
4 – ETSY
Most crafters are familiar with Etsy. It’s an online marketplace for selling handmade goods. It’s quick, easy, and affordable to set up a shop and start selling your products, however, you will need to drive your own traffic to that shop.
Here are the pros and cons of selling on Etsy and whether it’s worth it in 2020: IS IT WORTH IS TO SELL ON ETSY
5 – AN ETSY ALTERNATIVE
Etsy isn’t the only online marketplace for crafters. I’ve outlined over 30 Etsy alternatives in this article, as well as when and why you may want to sell on more than one platform:
6 – WEBSITE
Online shopping is here to stay and is likely to increase in the coming months and years. It’s likely worth it for you to set up a website and start working on its SEO (search engine optimization), because it can take months, sometimes even years, before a website starts showing up on the first page of Google results.
There are many platforms such as Wix, Shopify, Squarespace, etc. that make it easy to set up a website.
7 – DROPSHIPPERS
Dropshipping is sort of like selling your products wholesale to retailers, however, dropshipping means the retailer doesn’t carry your products.
Basically, the dropshipper would list your product for sale on their website, when an online shopper buys an item of yours, the dropshipper would then pay you and you’re responsible for shipping that product directly to the customer.
You may even suggest this type of payment structure to retailers who purchase your products at wholesale prices.
They may typically purchase those products to carry in their physical store. However, if their store is currently closed, due to physical distancing, they likely won’t be placing refill orders anytime soon.
If they’re a retailer who also has an online store, or has started selling their products online during this crisis, consider reaching out to them to see if they are interested in a dropshipping deal.
This cuts out unnecessary contact from you dropping items off to them, and allows them to add new inventory to their online shop without placing orders or putting up money they don’t currently have. If one of your items sell, they pay you, send you the customer’s shipping address, and you take care of shipping the item in a timely manner.
If your items don’t sell, there’s no risk for the retailer. Might be a good incentive for retailers to “carry” your products.
2) RUN A PROMOTION
Many consumers are looking for incentives to spend money during this time, so if your profit margins allow, consider putting items on sale or offering free shipping.
You may even offer free delivery to customers who live within your city. You would accept orders online and then drop products at their doorstep (no face-to-face interaction). Doing so may open opportunities for you to participate in local initiatives communities are organizing to support local small businesses (e.g. a shopping district in my city has created online shopping events to help promote and sell the products local retailers carry).
For many business owners, earning enough money to cover costs is better than no revenue right now. If you’re in a dire situation and simply need to recoup your costs, consider taking profits out of the picture and price products based on your costs. This would only be to get you through this tough time and isn’t a long-term solution.
Be sure to display your products as “on sale” and not simply list them at the lowered price. This lets shoppers know what regular prices are and not to expect those low prices regularly.
3) RE-BRAND EXISTING PRODUCTS
What consumers are searching for, shopping for, and buying has changed. Consider if you can re-label, re-package, re-name your products to be more appealing to consumers’ current wants and needs.
This won’t work for every product but here are a few examples:
>> A “travel case” may be re-branded as a “cosmetic case” or a “manicure case”. The product isn’t changing; its purpose is. Instead of organizing cosmetics for travel customers are organizing them for tidy drawers.
>> A similar idea can be applied to bath and body products by bundling items together and create a self-care quarantine kit. Obviously, you don’t want to make light of the situation, but a “Stuck inside Beauty Kit” or “Stay Sane Stress-Reducing Kit” could bring a bit of enjoyment to consumers.
>> No one is able to celebrate birthdays, Mother’s Day, etc. in groups at the moment so mailing cards and gifts are the only options. Marketing your shop or products as “Send a Gift” (e.g. “Send a Gift for Mother’s Day – cozy scarf for Spring walks”) and encouraging consumers to allow ample shipping time to ensure products get to recipients on time, may have them buying your products as gifts.
4) WORK WITH THE CRAFT SHOW ORGANIZER
The organizer of a canceled craft show may have a Facebook page for the event or, if it’s an event that happens regularly, they may have an email list of shoppers who regularly attend.
It may be worth it for you to reach out to them and see if they’re interested in creating an online craft show through their Facebook page or sharing a list of vendors who were supposed to be at the event with links to their online shops.
Again, it’s a good idea to offer free shipping since craft show shoppers wouldn’t pay those fees had they been able to buy from you at the event.
5) WORK WITH ANOTHER HANDMADE BUSINESS
If you don’t have a website or online shop (such as Etsy) and you’re not in a position to set one up, the following idea may be an option for you.
Consider reaching out to a handmade business owner who runs a successful Etsy shop or website, and who sells products that complement yours, and see if they’re interested in a commission deal.
>> Someone selling bath & body products may reach out to a shop selling washcloths, soap dishes, or other bath accessories.
>> Someone selling jewelry may reach out to a shop selling clothing that their jewelry might pair well with.
>> Someone selling greeting cards may reach out to a shop selling Mother’s Day gifts (the cards could be offered as an add-on to the gift).
You could offer to cover the fees for each product of yours they list, as well as pay a commission on any products they sell.
You’ll have to decide the commission percent that’s appropriate.
You don’t want to offer 30% commission if that means you won’t profit. On the other hand, you don’t want to offer 10% if that means they’ll only be making a dollar or two on each sale. The commission they earn should be worth the time they put in to create listings and share their shoppers with you.
Even if you do have an online shop, this idea may be a good way to band together and make use of each other’s audiences.
IF IT’S NOT APPROPRIATE FOR YOU TO PROMOTE YOUR PRODUCTS
If you have lots of product but it doesn’t feel right to promote it at this time, you can hold off on listing your products and do so when it does feel right.
If your products are seasonal, it may mean holding onto them for a year. In which case, carefully pack them away and keep them in good condition.