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Why You Should Try Superior PIMA™

Superior PIMA

Anytime Superior Threads introduces a new product, we get pretty excited. And this is no exception.

This month, Superior Threads is releasing Superior PIMA™, a 50 wt. 2ply cotton thread ideal for piecing, quilting and even general sewing. It’s made from American-grown Pima cotton and is sold in 50 solid color options in 1,200-yard spools.

PIMAWhat Makes Superior PIMA Different?

Besides the fact that Superior PIMA™ is vibrant and smooth, it’s significant for several other reasons too, including that it is:

  • The first Pima product sold by Superior Threads

Superior Threads is expanding to offer Pima, a specific type of high-quality cotton grown in the United States. Your customers will love it.

  • Exclusively available to businesses and is not sold online by Superior Threads

As part of Superior Threads ongoing support of brick and mortar stores, Superior PIMA™ is only sold to businesses. What does this mean for you? Healthier margins and a competitive advantage. Contact your favorite distributor for additional information or call Superior Threads.

  • A high-quality product for a competitive price

Superior PIMA™ is a strong 2ply cotton thread and is a perfect go-to for piecing, quilting and sewing. The combination of a competitive price and a high-quality product will make this thread the perfect addition to your shop.

Ready to Try Superior PIMA?

You can purchase Superior PIMA™ from your preferred distributor or by calling Superior Threads directly (registered business accounts only). Want to see all the beautiful colors before you buy? Check out the website www. superiorthreads.com/pima.

Lucky you! Superior Threads is offering an exclusive giveaway for American Quilt Retailer blog readers. Go here to enter and win a complete 50 spool collection set of Superior PIMA™ – a $600 value! We hope you win. Giveaway contest ends on October 1, 2019 and winner will be contacted by Superior Threads. Good luck!


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Small Business Email Marketing

Small business email marketing

Open up your email on any given day and you’ll find an email from one of your favorite stores. Everyone is running email campaigns nowadays, and because of that, it has become so much more than just sending a blast to your devoted customer base.

Read on to find out what email marketing services are offering and what it means for your business.

List segmentation

Email list segmentation is a marketing technique where you segment your marketing list on a number of conditions to ensure relevant communications are being sent to the right customers.

Think about how annoying it is to receive a lot of emails from one company; you don’t like it happening to you so try to avoid doing it to your customers.

List segmentation done right means more opens per campaign and other higher data points. There are a variety of ways to segment your contact list, and how you do it depends on the goals you have set for your business.

Consider adding a “new customer” contact list that automatically sends a welcome email to any first-time shoppers.  

Other ways include tagging certain customers based off their interests, or products they tend to buy. You can spend as much time on this as you’d like as the options are pretty limitless. Segmenting can be done by activity, inactivity, location, and so much more.

Email marketing services

Email marketing services offer different things, so again, the best campaign system for your business hinges on the goals you set forth.

The top seven services out there right now are:

  • AWeber
  • Campaigner
  • Constant Contact
  • GetResponse
  • iContact
  • MailChimp
  • VerticalResponse

It’s hard to know which is best for you without playing with them to find out which is easiest to use. Some services link directly with social media, but if you’re okay with adding the links every time then maybe that’s something you can live without. Some services offer an abundance of templates and others are more customizable.

Other services make contact management much easier within their system; others Excel spreadsheets still beat. By paying more, some services even allow email tracking and much more data on your users.

To help narrow the search, check out this article for a more in-depth breakdown on which of these seven will be a good fit for you.


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Small Business Shipping Logistics

Shipping logistics

If you think your quality product that consumers need can sell itself, you’re wrong. Unfortunately, how quickly you can get the product to your customer plays a huge role in the success of your business.

When figuring out shipping logistics, keep in mind the following.

What to keep in mind

  • Your company’s objective. This will help determine how much to spend on logistics. If your goal is to get your product in the hands of the consumer as quickly as possible, then spend more on logistics. If your strategy is to be a low-cost alternative, you’ll have to find ways to cut on spending.
  • Service sells. Transparency in the shipping process can be the best move your company makes. Often times it’s not possible to get your product to the customer by the next day, but sometimes all customers want is an efficient communication system.
  • Your management system is just as important as your forklifts and storage. It’s easy to pay big money for things you can see, but an effective management system can save costs on both the front and back end.
  • Keep track of your costs. By knowing how much you’re spending on shipping each item, you’ll know where you need to cut on spending.
  • Get competing quotes. Shop around every few years to make sure you’re getting the best help with your shipping logistics for the best price.
  • Plan ahead. By starting the shipping process before the busy season starts, you won’t feel like you’re drowning when more orders are coming in then your business can really handle.
  • Keep up on sales and operations. By accurately forecasting what your consumers want, you can stay on top of inventory.

Third party logistics

Some small businesses have found that working with a third party provider is too expensive for them, but this isn’t always the case. Check out options like UPS, FedEx, and DHL and their small business units to see how they can help. Often these companies have streamlining options for shipping that you may have missed.

Branding

Packaging is the perfect time to expand your branding. High quality packaging with your high quality product is just another piece of the puzzle to optimize the user experience.


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A Guide to Copywriting

A Guide to Copywriting

Copywriting may seem easy on a surface level, but the best copywriters spend hours trying to come up with the perfect line.

So what is copywriting? Copywriting is the art of writing copy (or the words that go on your website, products, advertisement, etc.) that make your services compelling and initiates your customers to take action.

Sales people reach customers one at a time, and a copywriter reaches them all at once. Although it may just seem like words on a paper, copywriting is a critical part of your business.

Understand your product or service

You should know your product or service inside and outside. If you don’t spend some time with it, researching it, using it, and whatever else you can do. This sets up the baseline and gives you the sales advantage; you should be the service expert so anytime someone asks you a question you know more about it than anyone else.

Create your product/service description

A good way to start this is to answer these questions:

  • What makes the product or service unique?
  • How would you describe the product or service?
  • What benefit does the product or service provide?
  • Is their pain the product or service alleviates?
  • What are the product or services features?

By knowing your product or service better than anyone else, answering these questions should come easy.

Know your customers

Knowing you customers, and what they want, can take some trial and error. One thing that will make this trial and error easier is through research. Here are some questions you should find the answer to:

  • Who currently buys your product or uses your service?
  • Who would you like to buy your product or use your service?
  • What does your typical customer look like?
  • What do they love?

Knowing your customer means you can cater your copy to make it more compelling. Remember, copywriting should be unique, specific, and convey urgency. The combination of these may not seem easy, but with a little work you can become persuasive in 20 words or less.


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Shoppertainment: Hosting events at your store

Events

Hosting events can be tough; it takes a lot of planning and organization to execute them well. If you’re hesitant to make events at your store a regular happening, look no further than American Quilt Retailer to help you through the process.

Check out our step-by-step list to guide you through the moves to make sure your first event (and every event after) is a success.

Evaluate

Determining what type of event your store should throw takes some evaluation; will the event attract current customers? Will the event attract new customers? How can the event encourage new customers to come back to your store? If the idea you have in mind addresses all three points than it’s a safe bet to follow through with the plan.

Three to Four Months Before

  • Send letters to vendors requesting merchandise for giveaways (many stores incorporate this into their budgets, you’ll never know if you don’t ask).
  • Ask for in-store help preparing classes and goodie bags.
  • Plan your advertising—what outlets will you use and when do you plan on contacting them to promote the event?
  • Choose your entertainment. DJs are always a good place to start.

Two Months Before

  • Check with staff weekly to make sure everyone is on par with getting their tasks done.
  • Follow up with vendors and entertainment. Check if they have any special needs (electricity is always a big one).
  • Put in your catering order.

One Month Before

  • Schedule social media posts promoting event.
  • Draw layout of sales floor outlining where everything will be day-of.
  • If this is invitation only, design your invites.
  • Start handing out fliers of the event to customers at check out. Be sure to train your staff on a 30-second pitch promoting the event as they put the flier in the bag.

Two Weeks Before

  • Check with staff to make sure everything is going as planned. If you find out things aren’t going as you’d think, you still have time to correct them.
  • Send your invitations.

One Week Before

  • Send press releases around town.
  • Prepare a list of in-store specials (grand-prize drawing 7:15, demo #1 at 7:30, etc.)
  • Talk about your event in your company voicemail.
  • Follow up with entertainment to make sure they’re ready for day-of.
  • Double check refreshment order.
  • Make “jar of beans” for guessing game. Not only do attendees love it, but it’s a great way to get names and contact information.
  • Start to get your sales floor ready for the event.
  • Adjust window displays to go with theme.

Day Before

  • Finalize floor plan.
  • Hang all decorations before you leave for the night.
  • And of course, check your master plan again.

Day-Of

  • Schedule pre-breakfast meeting with staff.
  • Distribute copies of schedule to staff and place by register, cutting areas, etc.
  • Greet guests at door and encourage them to sign a guest book, this is another great way to get contact information from the attendees.
  • Take photos.
  • And have fun!

After the Event

  • Send an anonymous survey to staff to get their opinion about how the event went.
  • Record sales, customer count, advertising process, number of vendors, and even the weather for the day. Keep this on file to compare to other events.
  • Send follow-up press releases of event with images.
  • Send personal letters (not emails) to everyone who helped.

We recommend hosting four major events a year and one to two smaller events a month. The smaller events can be classes, demonstrations, or make-and-takes.

Events can be fun and will become easier to manage with time. Hopefully some events will be such a success they turn into an annual endeavor.

Inspiration for this post comes from Georgeanne Bender and Rich Kizer. You can find out more about them and their product offerings at their website.


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Social Media Video Guide

Video Guide

We get it, video marketing is intimidating. But with 81% of businesses using video marketing in 2018, it’s time for your company to join the trend. Check out this guide on tips and tricks for two of the biggest video platforms out there.

Instagram Video

Even though you can shoot videos from the Instagram app, it’s better to have your video prepared rather than shot in the moment. But, the days of having fancy equipment to shoot a high quality video are over! There are plenty of video-editing apps available that make your phone the only needed piece of equipment.

Videos can be anywhere from 3 to 60 seconds, and figuring out the length that’s best for your audience will come after some trial and error. Be sure to pick a compelling cover photo, and remember that sound is optional on Instagram video. That means your video should make sense even if there isn’t any sound. The options of what you can shoot are limitless—time lapses of projects, tutorials, and clips from events are all good options for this platform.

YouTube

Best practices for YouTube are more traditional. Audio is important on this platform, so make sure the microphone is close to your subject and they speak slowly and clearly. Cue cards can help, too.

Quality is important also. While you still don’t need fancy equipment for YouTube, the video should be stable and tastefully filmed. That means subjects shouldn’t be straight on and the video has a purpose.

There are so many technical aspects about video that make filming just the beginning. What apps does your business like to use? What websites helped you dip your toes into video?

Video has some of the best engagement rates for social media; the trick is finding out what your audience wants to see. Remember, practice makes perfect and the best way to get good at video is simply by doing it.


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Keeping Up With the Jones’s

Keeping up with the Jones's

It seems like every time you get good at something new, it changes—trust us, we’ve been there.

What do you do to stay fresh and make sure you’re keeping up with the Jones’s? Check out these conventions and strategies to keep your store up to date.

ASD Market Week

ASD Market Week is held twice a year at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The most recent Market Week ends today, and includes nine shows in one. Plus, it’s also home to the Independent Retailer Conference that hosts 15 minute presentations by vendors who typically don’t attend conferences.

After you attend these presentations and start seeing merchandising differently, you’ll begin to see booths at the trade show differently, too. What are common themes? What were the best displays, and what made them pleasing to the eye?

Also take note of the booths that have a lot of people at them. Is it because they are having a good sale, or their products are that in demand? This is the perfect opportunity to strike up conversations with independent retailers just like you to get new ideas and questions answered.

Other Observations

You can take advantage of everything new you learned when you return back to your normal life as well. Continue to start conversations with customers; what do they like about your store? What products would they like to see? Another good insight is which influencers they’re following. Follow up after the conversation to see what the influencers are pushing and try to guess why your customer likes them.

Once you see trade floors differently, you’ll see malls differently too (especially the shoppers in these malls). If you’re hesitant about trying something new, utilize Facebook and email surveys before launching a product.

Be sure to have a running note in your phone to keep all these great ideas organized. You’ll never know when a fleeting thought will strike gold!

Inspiration for this post came from Georgeanne Bender and Rich Kizer of Kizer & Bender. You can find out more about them and their product offerings here.


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Selling Fabric on Shopify

Shopify

Having an online store can be tough. Keep reading to find out how to sell fabric on Shopify.

Your store probably has hundreds of different fabric options for customers. Managing a site that’s also easy for customers to navigate and order these fabrics can prove a difficult challenge. If you’re serious about selling your products online, there’s no better time to jump on the ecommerce bandwagon than now.

Sew Much Commerce

Shopify is the biggest ecommerce site on the internet with over 600,000 stores. Shopify is known for having a box of core functions; when they stay in the box they do these functions really well. Anything outside of the box will need some assistance.

Because you can’t sell 1/3 of a t-shirt or 0.5 of a shoe, Shopify does not have the ability to purchase quantities outside of whole numbers. That’s where Sew Much Commerce steps in. Sew Much Commerce is a code that goes along with Shopify that enables your customers to buy fabrics in 1/4 and 1/2 quantities. Adding this service can make your online store tailored with your customers in mind.

Shopify

Shopify has several functions that make it stand out from its competitors. It’s easy to build a site, multiple employees can work on the site at the same time and at different locations, and it can keep your inventory updated on various platforms (no matter if your customer bought in store or online).

If you’re ready to take ecommerce more seriously, making the move off Etsy is a good place to start. Switching to Shopify can help legitimize your place in the industry.

What platform do you currently use to sell your products online? Do other products have the same problem of only offering fabric quantities in whole yards? Leave your comments below to help other retailers like you.


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Your Competitor’s Store

Competitor

Keeping up with your competitors can feel like Keeping up with the Jones’—a never ending process that includes keeping constant tabs on social media and websites.

As it turns out, comparing your business to your competitor’s requires more work than just stopping by. Check out this list for how to best approach an in-store visit.

Prepare

Start by making a list of everything you want to compare. This can include pricing and signage, and overall things like customer experience, first impression, appearance, customer flow, and in-person experience.

Let’s be honest, walking into your competitor’s store can feel uncomfortable. Pick a reliable and trustworthy friend to make the trip for you! Have them read your prep list so they know what to keep an eye out for, and make sure they stop by the restrooms and classrooms while they’re there, too. Better yet, chose a topic they have knowledge about to ask a sales associate while they’re scouting your competition; this is a tell-tale sign of both training and how your competitor is trying to sell.

Review

After you visit your competitor’s store, see how you stack up. Make a list of everything you need to improve on, and schedule it into your next few weeks. Every time you complete a task, cross if off the list.

Visiting your competitor’s stores should be done at least every quarter—trust us when we say your competitors are definitely shopping you.

*Inspiration for this post comes from Georgeanne Bender and Rich Kizer. Check out their website to find out more about them and their services.


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Selling on Amazon

Amazon

How do you know if selling on Amazon is the right move for your business? This post will help answer some of your preliminary questions and give you a gist of the service so you can make the right decision before putting any money down.

Currently, 44% of shoppers start on Amazon and 40% of Americans purchase products on the site every month. This step-by-step breakdown will give you a preview of the process.

Pick a selling plan

As a business owner, you’ll likely chose the Professional Plan, which comes out to $39.99 a month. You can also chose to sell as an individual, and will be charged $0.99 for every item purchased through the site. Amazon recommends the Professional Plan if you plan on selling more than 40 products a month. This of course, is assuming the products you sell are approved to sell (you can check out a list of products that require pre-approval here).

Register on Amazon Seller Central

After you create your account, you can manage your products and start uploading photos. Batch options are available with the Professional Plan and photos can be uploaded one at a time with the Individual Plan. If your product is already listed in Amazon, the only other information required is the amount, condition, and shipping options. Otherwise, you’ll need to have the SKU ready.

Choose your shipping options

Speaking of shipping, the best way to go is to sign up for the Fulfillment by Amazon option. Fulfillment by Amazon takes away the hassle of packing and shipping, and even deals with returns. Through this you get a check every two weeks of the products sold two weeks prior, less Amazon’s fees. Fulfillment by Amazon also makes your product eligible for Prime, and helps your product to be listed higher on the search page.

Promote your products

There are multiple ways to promote your own products, including good, clean, and concise copy, encouraging reviews, and running ads on the site. The three factors that contribute to higher listings are price, feedback rating, and fulfillment method.

Analyze your performance

Similar to Google analytics, Amazon Seller Central provides interactive charts and numbers that help you compare your sales to other industry averages. Checking these statistics before and after making changes to your process can help you optimize the Amazon experience.

Does your store sell on Amazon? Have you found the service useful? Have your experiences been good, or bad? Share your comments to help your comrades in the quilt retail community.


If you’re looking for more information to guide you in owning a retail business, subscribe to American Quilt Retailer today. Already a subscriber? No worries—join our Facebook group for insights and dialogue from industry specialists like you.