Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Sale or Return - The Rise and Rise of Crafting

As a retailer we offer sale or return to a number of local crafters. Doing this ensure that we become a more integreated part of the community, but it also presents a great opportunity to help other business develop and perhaps become part of the High street one day.

Small businesses need all the support they get, often they are so busy trying to compete with each other they end up allowing larger out of town options to destroy them both. Competition on a high street today is not something which should be feared, but positvely encouraged. If a high street is attractive to shoppers it will no doubt keep your foot flow from falling, as seen by many towns across the country. A wealth of charity shops, fast food and bookies now make up what once was the heart of a town, many people blame the out of town options, given such subsidies to build on green belt, creating minimum wage jobs to replace the businesses on the high street.

There is a way to compete but it does not come naturally to many businesses, you need to differentiate and collaborate. A strong traders association is vital to the health of a high street, ensuring the interest of the traders are heard on councils, committees and projects plans. Of course there is also the small matter of what to offer, after all ASDA have everything cheap? Well our approach is quality, hand picking our stock allows us to ensure that our clothing is on point for trends, comfortable and stylish to wear but also not going to be economically unattainable for the majority of your local area.

One of the best ways of differentiating is to network with local crafters, people who make things locally. Crafting has seen a boom for two main reasons, people are more conscious about not just dwindling time away in front of the idiot box and want to learn new hobbies. Secondly, times are hard, people need money and they use their spare time to create a small income. That covers why the supply of crafts are there for you to collaborate with, now let's look at the consumer, why would they want to buy crafts from a local supplier and not a £2.50 alternative made in a sweat shop in China sold in nice bright packaging at the local Tesco? Firstly, because most people have a conscious and are all too aware about the appalling ways big business make money, of course it's easier to have morals when your buying a one off purchase like a birthday card or new handbag, but when your buying milk and bread you may use Asda because morals cost a lot of money. Secondly, you will find crafting not only gives you a better finished product, but it also gives you a local presence to discuss, design and customise the products. A gift should always be made with love, it shows a much bigger consideration for the recipient.

So how to get sale or return items for your shop? Well we simply spoke to people, learned what our customers were doing and offered them the opportunity to bring us some along to sell. We agree a commission (usually around 50/50 split of final sale price), and then give the product a time period to sell, no point in us having it if it doesn't make them any money. We have found that this has helped a couple of local crafters start a market stall for themselves, turn a tiny profit into a second income and given them huge confidence.

Couple of Things to do:
- Check the products out, if you like them then stock them, if not don't.
- Don't be tempted to pay up front thinking you can get good margin, this defeats the purpose also leaves you open to be undercut.
- Make sure the crafter is promoting the work, after all they stand to make profit too.
- Ensure if selling in certain areas (especially anything to do with babies, food or cosmetics) they have all the neccessary safety checks or clearly labelled as not being toys etc.
- Dont be afraid to be different, the products don't have to be exactly the same as the ones you have, cross sales happen often and the wider the range the better.
- Ensure you agree time-frame and target before taking more, otherwise you may find your store over run by crafting goods, distracting from your original purpose.

Couple of things to avoid:

- Don't stand a rental space fee, this is a barrier for many of the best crafters.
- Don't set up strict exclusivity deals, barring them for sale in a 100 mile radius, this is ridiculous
- Don't assume you won't get any returns. Ensure contact Facebook page or number for complaints or issues, is provided to customers.

Good Luck

Written by LEC Boutique: A ladies fashion boutique in the coastal town of Dunbar in Scotland. Offering a wide range of clothing, handbags, jewellery and gifts.

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