Monday, May 11, 2009
You'd be making more sales if only...
While looking through different stores with no sales, I was trying to figure out why do some stores have great success on Etsy, and some doesn't at all. it feels to me like there are a lot of really awesome artists out there who makes beautiful stuff and still don't make any sales, and so this is another part of my "You'd be making more sales if only..."
You'd be making more sales if only I know what you were making!
Sounds strange, right? stores who make stuff you don't know what it is or what you'll be getting, however this is a pretty common phenomenon and a mistake I actually tend to do sometimes as well, even though I know it's a stupid thing to do.
For this review let me introduce first the super cool shop called COUNTER CULTURE CRAFTZ, which makes T shirts. The store is opened since July 10th 2008, but all the listings are from May 11, so either I caught the store on it's debuted day or they just renewed everything. At any rate, their designs are fresh, funny and very well design, I especially like this cool shirt:
Shirt?! where is the shirt? all I see is a super cool design, but this listing only have one photo and this is it. The listing text specify that they use reclaimed T-Shirts, and so, if buyer specify their size and preference of color, they'll do what they can to match it.
Why is this a problem? because it is. Because I'm not just buying a design, I'm buying a product, and the product is a combination of many things - a cut, a design, a color, the price, size, general feeling toward it and the photos of it on the site.
I understand that doing the design is the most fun part that take the most time and effort for an artist (or T shirt designer) and that the practicalities of buying shirts, producing the shirt by printing, washing and ironing the shirt both before and after the printing stage, taking photos and editing them, which with fashion means finding a model is a lot of hard work and a investment of money that might or might not repay itself - however, I've seen so many great designs for T shirts in the past that due to bad printing or bad color combination or just use if crappy materials, looks like shit. And I wouldn't want to own them even though the design of the print might be very cool.
More then this, I like wearing "reclaimed" t-shirts (which, lets face it, a kinder words for I bought those shirts for 1$ in the salvation army store) however, when I got to the salvation army store, I don't like all the shirts I see there, some are too old, some are too stretched, some T shirts cut just don't look good on me, some have holes - each of us have their own pet peeves about reclaimed cloths and it's impossible for me, as a buyer, to know whether I want to buy the shirt or not without seeing it before hand.
Because COUNTER CULTURE CRAFTZ decided to focus only on the design in their listing, I'm missing a lot of other information - how is this printed? is this done in that horrible printer iron on paper that wash away after 3 days? is if silk print? is it gocco (which means the printed area is going to be really small) If this is silk screen is the ink water or oil based (some people have allergies), is it printed in black? can I have a different color print if I want a black shirt? and so on.
While the artist puts most of the effort in the design, for the buyer, the design is just a part of the reason for why we buy something. Especially while selling online, it's super important to give all the information you possibly can or you will not make a sale.
What can they do to fix it?
There are a few options - the first is to do this right - designate a certain budget for this project, make the screens for silkscreen, buy 10-30 T shirts to start, get the inks, and print the T shirt, either shoot this yourself or get a pro photographer, and a model and get great photos of a beautiful person wearing the shirt, list every shirt separately, using the design as it is now as one of the images, and promote your store like hell to cover your expenses and make some money.
If it's too expensive to do this with all the designs focus on your 3 best designs and print in different colors \ sizes.
This is not always possible, so a few things that can improve things as they are.
1. Skip the "reclaimed" shirt and use ones from a known brand (I know American Apparel sells cheap when you buy bulk) - the advantage is that people can go to their store and look at the colors \ sizes and know the manufacturer. The downside of this is that even in bulk, the price per shirt will not be 1$ - the seller will have to spend more money per shirt and so the price of shirts sold will have to go up.
2. Offer those as a Custom order shirt - a person interested will send a convo to the seller, they'll make the shirt, list it as reserved and if the buyer likes the way it looks, they buy it.
The problem here is that this is not only a risky business (try selling a magenta XXXL T shirt with banana yellow print to someone else cause your original buyer didn't like it) and also, a lot of people who might like the design would not want to bother going into the interaction of ordering, waiting, looking at the design again and so on. They would just buy a different T shirt from someone else.
3. Fake it - find a good photo of someone wearing a blank shirt (or shoot one) and impose the image on the shirt in photoshop. The problem here is though it will indicate some information, like the color, placement and size of the printing, it still doesn't indicate any information about how the actual shirt will look.
4. give me more information - explain the process, explain where you get the shirt what what you do with them to make sure they don't have that old lady smell you get buying in thrift shops, let me know that you only pick shirts with no holes or stains on them, if using reclaimed shirts is a part of your philosophy, explain it to me. It might not insure all possible buyers, but it might insure some of them and you'll make more sales.
I do home that COUNTER CULTURE CRAFTZ will overcome their listing problems, because I think their designs are really cool and finny and I hope they'll make a lot of sales in the future.