See (and Plan for) the Future with Inventory Management

See (and Plan for) the Future with Inventory Management

Ever wonder how we get weather forecasts? Or how people actually earn a living playing fantasy sports? It’s not magic, it’s math...

How To Upsell Without Alienating Customers

As business owners, upselling is crucial. You already have a customer that's ready to buy something—why not convince them to buy something else too? As customers, however, it is the worst... unless you don't know it's happening, which brings us to this week's post. Upselling doesn't have to be smarmy, sleazy or the worst. It can be helpful, friendly and and successful when it's done right. In his book To Sell Is Human, Daniel H. Pink notes,“Anytime you're tempted to upsell someone else, stop what you're doing and upserve instead.” We've rounded up five important upselling tips (or rather, upserving tips) to avoid alienating your customers.

via JoJakeman

  1. Get a dialogue going. Say hello, but give your customers breathing room to explore your shop before you engage them. Ask them questions without being overbearing. If they are buying a new pair of sunglasses, ask them if they have any upcoming vacations planned or if they have as much trouble losing sunglasses as you do. Get to know them naturally and it'll help you make smart suggestions for other products they may need.
  2. Make genuine suggestions. That sunglasses customer might need a new case to go with her shades—or maybe a hat to take on vacation with her! Or perhaps you just got a new line of higher-end sunglasses that you're legitimately excited and want to suggest. Be sure not to just recite your regular sales pitches. As a customer, there's nothing worse than listening a retail employee spouting the same disingenuous line over and over.
  3. Vocalize your discounts and sales. Some customers might not have seen your awesome 20% off signs, so let them know about discounts if you think they might bite. No need to be pushy, just helpful.
  4. Ask if they are shopping for anything else before you ring them up. Don't wait until they get to the register to ask if they need anything else, when their purchasing decisions have already been made. Make your suggestions before they are finished wandering the sales floor.
  5. Walk them to the register. If you have a large store especially, you can walk them through a particular aisle that might tempt them.
  6. Be patient as they investigate merchandise near your register. Sometimes, it does pay to move through your checkout process a little slower to give people a chance to look at the merchandise you've stocked near the register.
  7. Leave them with a smile. No matter what they bought (or didn't), customers are more likely to share a positive experience with their friends and online if they connected with you as a person.

How do you upsell without upsetting your customers? Let us know in the comments!

Maximize Fair and Festival Sales

Those long, hot days under a tent will not be for naught! Not on our watch. Summer festival season is kicking off, you're dragging your inventory all over town and we want you to make the most of it this year. Maximize fair and festival sales with a few actionable tips you can put into place today.

maximize craft fair sales

1. Pick your battles. When you first get started with pop-up selling, it is a bit of a trial and error game, but you can still be strategic. It's tempting to want to say yes to any and every fair into which you are accepted, but really think about your customers. Are they even at this fair? If not, spend your Saturday elsewhere (like the beach!).

2. Just say no. Especially if you've gone through your share of festival seasons already, it's OK to say no to the events that just aren't worth it anymore (or never were). If you do $5,000 in sales at Fair A in June and $500 at Fair B in July, and both require the same investment from you (time, money, sanity, etc.), it's clearly time to pass on Fair B.

3. Find your spot. We've found it helpful to make detailed notes about each event immediately afterwards so you can better position yourself next year, literally. If they stuck you in a back corner last year, make sure you request a specific spot next year that you noticed got great foot traffic. Most organizers will want to strangle you if you ask them right before the doors open, but are more than happy to accommodate requests they know about well in advance.

4. Bring business cards—lots of them! Network with your fellow sellers, and also keep plenty for passers-by to take in case they want to find your wares online or in your shop later.

5. Consider selling "needs," in addition to "wants." Yes, you're at this fair primarily to sell your handmade crafts, but the people passing by your tent might also be thirsty or need sunscreen or a rain poncho. Think about bringing some inventory in the "needs" category, taking care to follow the event's regulations on food and drink vendors, of course.

6. Smile. Be genuine. Be friendly. This should go without saying, but we can't count the number of times we've walked through a craft fair and the vendors are totally unengaged. It's like walking into someone's home and the owner's just sitting there watching TV... but also trying to sell you something. Don't do that, pals. Though it might be tempting to quietly work on your new line of jewelry while people browse, be approachable and present with your people and always say hello. Welcome people into your temporary home.

Need more tips? Check out our post on organizing and managing fair and festival inventory too!

How To Price Handmade Goods

Every business owner out there sells something or other, but then there are the makers. At Shopventory, we're lucky enough to have clients all over the world who are truly makers—of everything from watches to screen-printed art. When you work your behind off to create something truly one-of-a-kind—how do you possibly put a price tag on that special handmade product? How to price handmade goods

To price this tricky (but amazing) type of inventory, try this simple formula from Etsy:

Materials + Labor + Expenses + Profit = Wholesale x 2 = Retail

The Breakdown:

Materials: Include all your most insignificant materials, packaging, shipping, etc. for each item. It adds up!

Labor: What would you (or do you) charge per hour? Multiply your hourly rate by the hours it takes to create each item for your labor cost.

Expenses: Include studio rental, utilities, repairs, web hosting, office supplies, product donations, promotional materials, advertising, meetings with wholesale clients, gas to deliver products, processing fees for PayPal Here or Square, and every other cost to run your business. Divide those monthly costs by the number of items you sell each month (or plan to sell) for your expenses/item cost.

Profit: How much profit would you like to make on this product? Be honest. Don't be stingy with yourself.

Add the above up to get your wholesale price. Multiply that by two for your retail price. Easy-peasy.

Other considerations:

Higher prices can either turn customers off or turn them on. Your packaging, branding, quality of work and price will determine the perceived value of your goods. Pricing your products too low can make your customers question the value, so try to find a happy medium. When in doubt, estimate a little high. MAKE zine cites a the owner of a wedding stationary shop that raised her prices in order to focus on what she thought would be fewer clients. Instead, pricing herself as the most sought-after designer in town made her the most sought-after designer in town.

Is your craft your full-time job? Do you want it to be? Here's where that old saying comes in: Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Price for the business your want, not the business you have. Yes, you might still be sending dozens of free lotion samples to beauty bloggers to generate buzz and build your client base, but it also means that you are confident enough in the quality of your products that you will charge your friend's cousin's dentist full price.

Why You Should Buy Inventory For Your POS Area

Think about the line at the grocery store. When was the last time you didn't at least consider buying a pack of gum? Big retailers experiment with the positioning their goods constantly and small business can implement a few of their merchandising tips too. The global beauty chain Sephora, for example, is a master of maximizing these mini purchases. Their checkout line is like a corral filled with trial size goodies. Just small and cheap enough to inspire people to throw a few into their basket on the way. These are products you'll find all over the store (a store that will give out free samples of everything, no less), but miniaturize them and throw them near the register and they become irresistible.why you should buy inventory for your pos area

1. The people buying things are already there. Your customers have already decided to make a purchase, so it's the best time to subtly encourage them to make more purchases by prominently displaying the things they might want. Try showing off some of your newest products near the register so that your regulars will take notice of something they might pass by while browsing.

2. It adds urgency to the purchase. While wandering around a store, it's easy to put something down and pick it up later. But it doesn't feel that way while waiting in line at a register. Simply being in line creates a mental time limit for a person's buying decision, which is often the difference between "maybe another day" and "I'll take it."

2. The extra $2 adds up. People get excited when they see little "deals." They are also more likely to buy easy edibles or drinkables like candy or a bottle of water or even a day-old danish, so don't be afraid to stock some chocolate bars near the counter even though your bread and butter might be fair trade home decor.

3. You'll engage with your customers. There's nothing that solidifies a good customer experience than actually having a conversation, so put those conversation pieces near the register or get creative with your display. Even if they don't buy anything extra, you've made a personal, hopefully memorable impression.

What successful strategies do you use at your register? Let us know in the comments or say hi on Twitter or Facebook!

4 Retail Staff Incentives That Actually Work

bookstore catNow that the holidays are over, 'tis the season to keep up your sales numbers and move inventory in creative ways. Motivate your people with these four retail staff incentives they'll actually care about.

1. Discounts. Giving your staff a merchandise discount is a classic way to show appreciation and it's typically easy for business owners to implement. If you already have a staff discount program in place, try setting an extra special discount day for them if they reach a particular goal together or extend a one-day friends and family discount.

2. Friendly competition. And then there's the opposite of teamwork, which can work just as well too. Whether it's a day-long blitz or a monthly contest, make the competition fun and give it personality. A major grand prize never hurts, but don't let the reward be the focus. Bob Marsh, the CEO of LevelEleven, notes, "While it can help incentivize employees to participate by offering a high-end product (e.g., a nice watch) or experience (e.g., a trip to Hawaii), we’ve seen employees become just as invested in sales competitions with prizes as basic as a Starbucks gift card. That’s because competition itself is a strong motivator."

3. Free food. In the spirit of National Pie Day (which really is today), cut your staff a piece of the pie... literally. Doesn't matter if it's blueberry or pizza pie, but sponsoring a bite together at the end of a long sales push can be a simple, sweet (or cheesy) reward. As any sixth grade teacher knows, pizza parties get things done.

4. Personal time. Don't underestimate the power of a day off. Not only will your employees love you for rewarding them with something they can actually use (rather than another water bottle with your shop's logo on it), but studies show that they'll come back more productive and refreshed. The Atlantic reports: "The impact that taking a vacation has on one's mental health is profound," Francine Lederer, a clinical psychologist in Los Angeles told ABC News. "Most people have better life perspective and are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation, even if it is a 24-hour time-out."