The trends, the issues, and productive business
Characteristics of a Hardcore Scrapper
And how to keep her coming back for more.
by Mike Hartnett (March, 2004)
Is your business ok? Sales AND profits? I hope so, but I also
hope you realize you're not over the hump. You put an enormous
amount of time, money, and emotional energy into opening your shop
and making it go. But this is no time to take a breather.
As I described in the previous issue, you are going to be
fighting more and tougher competition, and there will be a more
bewildering array of products from which to choose your inventory.
In that column we also talked about the need for attracting new
customers and gave you strategies to achieve that goal. Now we'll
discuss keeping your current customers returning to your store.
This requires as much work as attracting new customers. It
appears that many of them rush in and scoop up every new product you
offer, but it's not that simple. In fact, it's dangerous. As
wonderful as they are, those hard-core customers of yours do not buy
ALL of the new products. If you're lucky, they buy 50%, then
pressure you to buy more new lines while you're stuck struggling to
sell the remnants of the old lines.
To keep your best customers coming back, you need to understand
some of their qualities.
1. They get old, bored, and/or more away.
That's why it's critical to continue to attract new customers,
whether it's luring them away from your competition or getting
novices hooked on scrapbooking. If you haven't read it yet, click on
the title in the right-hand column to learn strategies for
attracting new customers.
2. Eventually, they will run out of photos to scrap.
When someone gets hooked on scrapbooking, they probably have a
lifetime of photos to put in scrapbooks. So they scrap like crazy
until ... they're caught up. Then they have no need to scrap until
the next birthday party, vacation, graduation, etc. They're probably
taking more photos than they did in their pre-scrapbook days, but
still, they don't have any many to scrap as they did when they took
up the hobby.
But by now they've learned to craft with paper and realized they
can produce lovely, creative projects.
So it's time to entice them to try new projects. What about
quilling? Stamping? Cardmaking? Altered Art? Framing? The
possibilities for paper-related projects are obvious: your customers
are using products with which they're familiar, so the
self-confidence issue is resolved, and the inventory for can also be
sold for scrapbooking.
Most consumers, hardcore scrappers or not, have some photos they
want to display, not hide in an album (no matter how lovely the
album may be). Sell frames – and/or add products that help the
consumer use her scrapbook skills to embellish a frame. (See www.magtimeframes.com).
Another lovely paper category is quilling, which would cost very
little to put in your store. (See www.lakecitycrafts.com.)
How about decorative painting? Don't laugh; if you think
scrapbookers are fanatics, you should see decorative painters. And
there's a new program. Scrapbooking Plus ... the painted touch that
combines decorative painting and scrapbooking and will even provide
a teacher for you. (Email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
3. They're switching to digital.
The Photo Marketing Association projected that by the end of last
year, more than 33 million U.S. households will own digital cameras,
and there is already a 64% increase in the number of digital photos
printed. As far as where and how consumers are having their digital
photos printed, there was a 639% increase in the use of digital
self-service kiosks, and only a 33% increase in home printers.
PMA says digital photographers aren't using home printers more
often because of print quality, ease of use, and cost. Although
companies such as Epson and Hewlit Packard are developing better
quality, lower-priced photo printers for the home, most of your
customers would find it cheaper and more fun to print their photos
in your store – and get better quality prints, too.
In other words, look to invest in one or two high quality
printers for your store. (See www.hp.com
Some retailers may even start selling photo printers or work with
a local computer retailer to co-sponsor classes.
4. Scrapbookers are very social.
A recent article in the Washington Post described scrap
parties as the quilting bee of the 21st century – but you already
know that. Scrappers love to get together. For new ideas on various
scrapbook events you can hold in your store, read Sandra and Laryssa
Joseph's new book, The Crop Corner: Event Ideas for Scrapbook
Businesses. It's a portfolio of event themes for retailers
featuring articles from Sandra's column in Scrapbook Premier magazine.
These articles provide information about event ideas for crops,
classes, retreats, parties, and more.
Sandra says the portfolio provides themes, each with ideas for
appropriate decorations, food, music, games, gifts and more). Also
included is reprintable store money that can be given to attendees
and used at a later date to promote future sales in the store. The
cost is $19.95. It will be on the website (www.remindersoffaith.com)
soon, but can be purchased now by emailing Kathy Brundage, Kathyb@remindersoffaith.com
or Sandra, email@example.com.
Another way to keep your more talented, outgoing customers
interested is to ask them to teach classes, conduct demos, and help
you with your scrap parties. They can make great sales clerks, too,
because they're so knowledgeable and enthusiastic.
5. Scrapbookers love your store, but they're price conscious.
Carry products not offered elsewhere; that way your customers
can't make apples-to-apples price comparisons.
You can't eliminate every product carried by a competitor,
however, so you must watch your prices. Your customers will shop at
Wal-Mart, Target, and drug stores for everyday items, but they'll
walk the scrapbook aisles and check out any new scrapbook stores in
town. They like your store or they wouldn't be your best customers;
they'll pay more at your store, but not much more.
Consider joining a scrapbook retailers group such as Crafters
to get better prices from selected vendors.
But don't be tempted to always buy larger quantities direct from
manufacturers in order to qualify for better discounts. You can end
up buying too much and having your back room stuffed with
merchandise your "what's new?" customers no longer want.
Better to use distributors. Order less but more often. Higher
margins are great – if you sell the products, all the products. In
the end, turnover is more important.
Note: To read previous articles regarding Memory, Paper &
Stamps, click on the titles in the right-hand column.