Thursday, May 7, 2009

Shopping Spree 01 - Julie Scheffer

My first shopping spree item arrived today! Horay!

One of the things I've learned (yet again) from this experience is that I really really really HATE to shop, online or offline it doesn't matter. It's OK when I'm buying art or craft supply, groceries or even cloths and props for shoots, but when it's something for myself, I have to think a 100 times before "do I really want this?" and "is this going to be useful?" and "is this a waste of money?" On a whole, not a bad habit, but when being pressed to shop, it's very annoying. Last month I gave a 200$ gift certificate to a friend because spending the money before the expiration date was too stressful.

But when I saw those, I knew I wanted them right away!


The artist that make those is called Julie Scheffer. She is listed on Etsy since 2007, but I think she only started selling at the end of April. she makes really nice ceramics and the coolest thing is that since I bought those she already made another sale.

I made my order on April 30, and the package got to me in May 6th, so basically a week long delivery time, which is pretty cool. I got an Email from Julie a day after I placed the order telling me it will be shipped in the next couple of days, which was very nice.

The cups were packed really well in bubble wrap and tape and the package contained a business card with a hand written thank you on the back side and... an extra cup! the listing was for 2 and I got 3! how cool is that?! They are beautiful, all made it safely and looks even better in reality then they did in the photos.

The price was 19$ and shipping was 5$ - which to me seem very affordable - there is something about 19$ that is really appealing to me somehow, I know it's "almost 20" but somehow the fact that it's less then 20$ makes it easier for me to spend money. Since I send pottery, I was amazed at the low price of shipping for this, more about that - in a sec.


I recommend everyone on checking Julie's beautiful shop and buy everything! (there are only 4 other listings so it won't take that much time...)

A couple of things that Julie and actually everyone can learn from this transaction:

The first thing, which I'm actually really bad at is how important a personal e-mail is upon receiving a new order. I don't buy often on Etsy and getting the e-mail, even if it's a simple "thanks for the order, package will be out on Saturday" line makes the buyer know that there is actually a person on the other side, it makes you feel like that person is professional and nice for letting you know. I often, as a seller, feels like I don't want to pile the buyers with junk mail and I don't write those e-mails and simply send out the package, as a buyer, waiting for a week without hearing from the seller would be really annoying. I would not treat this simple "Thanks, package will be out on a couple of days" massage as junk mail at all.


As suspected, the price of shipping, especially for 3 cups instead of 2, was not 5$ - not even close! by the postal stamp it was 13.65! I feel so bad for Julie! she charged 24$ for the whole thing, shipping included, and out of that, had to pay almost 14 for shipping! that means that she made about 3.5$ per cup - before expenses. That's really isn't enough for the work she put into it and it really sucks!

What can be done?

Julie send her package using Priority mail, it's great, but it's expensive. The cheapest way I found to send stuff is USPS first class mail. Sometimes with Priority over a certain price, it evens out, but still first class is cheaper. I'm not quite sure how it added up to 13.65, but each cup weigh 9 oz. so the whole package, with box was about 2 pounds with the box. On Priority mail - that's about 12.40, but on first class, that's 8.12 - a third less! when you start making more sales this becomes a big difference. If Julie would use First class (even with insurance which for this price range is about 1.60$) she'd still be making 4.5$ per cup instead of 3.5$.


I LOVED getting the extra cup! usually I'm not a huge freebe fan, especially when those are cheap and irrelevant gift, but giving a third anything for free is cool, especially because she already know I love her cups (cause I just bought 2 of them) I don't know if Julie intend to give a 3rd cup with every 2 cup purchase or if this was on account of me being her first sale, but it was super cool.

However, at first, it made me feel a little uncomfortable - it seem to me like a really huge gift. I actually checked the listing again after opening the package to try and figure out whether I didn't notice and order 3 cups instead of 2. But it was a wonderful and huge gift.

A while ago, I took part in 2 truck shows for Christmas, I had a bowl full of mini notebooks and a bowl full of inspiration cards - both those were freebe gift, through both shows, people took a lot of cards, but not even one book was taken, I think people felt like it was too much for a freebe to take a notebook and didn't want to appere greedy. The extra cup, though making me feel really happy and very special, also made me feel a bit imposing, like I got something I didn't deserve.
This made me feel especially bad because of the high shipping price. Julie should have made 9.5$ for each cup, but after the extra cup and extra shipping - she only made 3.5$ - about a 3rd of what I wanted to pay for them (and even at 9.5$ though are cheap!).

If I were Julie, I would reconsider her freebe policy, there are a lot of small things she could make and give as a giveaway which would be smaller and still cool and won't make shipping more expensive. Like maybe a small ceramic tags for instance maybe on a leather lace that can be worn as a nacklace or a key chain, or a small ceramic plant marker or even book mark.

I'm still really happy I got a 3rd cup! it's really really cool!

What Else

Since julie already made 2 sales in her short Etsy experience I'm sure she'll go on doing well! A couple of other things she can do to generate some more views and sales:

Built an inventory
Right now there are only 4 listings in the store - 2 cup sets like mine, and 2 nesting bowl sets (which are really cool!) it still feels like the store is pretty empty, I like stores with 20 items or more - it makes me feel like there's a veriety to choose from.

Have a larger veriety of items
There are a lot of items ones can make with the basic "cup" shape - make a hole in the bottom and sell them as planters, make them taller to be used at toothbrosh holder or pencil holder, get a cork lid and sell them as a sugar bowl or honey jar and so on. The bowls can work as soap dish, pasta strainer (if you poke holes in it), a larger bowl can be used as a fruite bowl or salad bowl or to store anything in really.
A lot of times somebody doesn't like a style for kitchen but would love this style for office or bathroom - it's good to spread out.

Also, the listings only allow buyers to get sets - the cups comes in twos, the bowls in either 4 or 6. It might be a good idea to make listings with just one items in then.

Good Luck Julie! I hope your store makes a million sales!


meme said...

Good Morning Aya and your comments on these lovely cups was so good!! Being a potter too i want to also give a wee bit of advice..i have had to "eat" extra shipping charges...suggest that she have the PO folks check the scales..they can be wrong...also i would check what other potters and ceramic artists charge for a similar item...If you know you are going to have cups regularly in your shop take a prepacked box to the PO and get an estimate to go by. Shipping pottery is hard i think...its amazing that i can send something to Australia for "cheap" but to mail the same thing to California YIKES ...i also state if i over charge by a dollar or more i will refund..that rarely happens.
Also having different items in your shop does never know what will strike someones fancy and sometimes folks want a dish or bowl to go with their first purchase. One thing i have noticed is what i sell at an art show or festival is WAY different than what sells on Etsy..its all about learning and experimenting!
I am sure that Julie was SO thrilled that you picked her cups. Sometimes the clay "speaks" and just wants to go on an adventure (as the extra cup) i am a spaz when i say something like that ,i admit it i am weird!!. I too have a hard time taking something given...even if its a nice word or a freebie..i try to think about it this would i want the other person to react if it was the other way around..i would want them to love and use my piece...while my first reaction is NO NO NO and push it back..i have to make myself cuddle and love the surprise..use pottery likes it!!! ;-) XOXOXO happy creative days!
xooxox meme
(dang sorry so long!)

Blanche and Guy said...

Hi Aya! What a wonderful critique you have given to Julie! Such a good job. It's nice of you to take time out to do such a thing.

Regarding freebies: We always like to give freebies when we're mailing out packages. I can understand meme saying that the clay sometimes speaks and wants to go on an adventure. The beads do, too! Especially if Guy made them on the same day. It's kind of like separating siblings which nobody wants to do! However - rarely does an extra bead or two change our shipping costs by much. Mailing jewelry is relatively inexpensive, also. I wonder what Julie's perspective was in throwing in that extra cup. It was very nice of her. Good karma!

Happy Mother's Day! We are all mother's in some form, though it might not be to actual human children!