Showing posts with label sales. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sales. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Inventory Management, Part 2

As your business continues to grow, you'll need to develop a system for inventory management. In a previous post, we discussed the why an inventory management system is necessary; today we'll discuss how to develop your system.

Consider the variety of your products. What do they have in common? If you develop a variety of products, try to align them similar to how you would shop a department store: bedding, kitchen, clothing, decor. If your products are in a similar line, such as jewelry, align them around similar functions: necklaces, earrings, bracelets. And don't be afraid to be specific.

When I first started my inventory management system, I grouped my products similar to the sections in my Etsy shop: container candles, tea lights, votives, etc. For the most part this worked.....but then I needed a way to differentiate between three container candles I carry.  While "container candles" creates a category of similar enough products, I have a different pricing structure for my 7 oz and 12 oz candles. So in addition to the tea lights and votives, I now have separate product categories for my 7 oz. container candles, as well as my 12 oz. status jar and 12 oz interlude jar candles.

You'll also want to be able to differentiate between sub-categories. At D'Lites by Dorene, I use a sub-category of fragrance. If your product is jewelry, you may choose a sub-category of metal or stone; if your product is paper products, you may choose a category of notecards and a sub-category of stamped or stenciled.

Why are sub-categories important? Because at some point, you'll probably want to cross reference your products to understand your best sellers. For example, I can easily identify by my Etsy sales that tea lights are my best selling product. But what if I want a better understanding of my best selling fragrance? This is where having a sub-category and the ability to sort comes in handy. Think of how you could get a better understanding of which stone sells best or whether your stenciled or stamped products are most preferred.

As I've mentioned before, I utilize the online system Stitchlabs to manage my inventory. What's nice about this system is it has already developed dashboard functionality to show my sales trends.

This can also be easily accomplished using Excel or another spreadsheet software. Here's a snapshot of the same information:

And, using a little Excel Pivot Table Magic, here are my top ten fragrances for the same time period:

But what if most items are similar but a few are unique? I have a category for my clearance items, many of which are five or less. The pricing structure is different, but it's still a way for me to collect "similar" products yet use the same formula to be able to analyze my results.

As you grow, you'll find yourself creating a unique identifier for each item - a shorthand method for you and your customers to place and to analyze sales.

What questions do you have? My intent is to "build" this information in segments.  Our next chapter will be on how to use our inventory system to develop sales sheets to distribute to retail and wholesale vendors.

Until then, Happy sales!


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Christmas In July!

Now is a great time to begin stocking up on your Christmas and other gift giving purchases. Candles, home fragrances, and bath & body products make great stocking stuffers, gifts for teachers and co-workers, and "just because" items. For the entire month of July, I have two sales to offer to you:

  • FREE SHIPPING - That's right - Free Shipping on all orders over $50. Free shipping is valid for U.S. customers only. For international and local customers, one free candle ($16.50 value) may be substituted. If your purchase is made through my Etsy store, shipping will be refunded to you within 24 hours of purchase.
  • BUY ONE GET ONE 50% OFF - Tea lights and 7 oz. cocktail glass candles are available for $3.00 and $3.75 each when purchased with a regularly priced item. Please see my BOGO store section for available products.
All products, are more, are just an email away or available online at Stock up now!

P.S. If you are hosting a Christmas in July sale, please feel free to post it in your comment!


Saturday, April 21, 2012

What's Your Purple Goldfish?

This week I had the opportunity to travel to a conference and listen to featured speaker Stan Phelps.  Mr. Phelps recently published a book, What's Your Purple Goldfish? I'm not going to give away the secret of what a purple goldfish is, but I will share with you the gist of his message.

The subtitle of the book is How to Win Customers & Influence Word of Mouth.  Mr. Phelps began on a journey to find 1,001 examples of marketing lagniappe.  What's lagniappe? Pronounced lan-yap, it's a Creole term for "a little something extra." This book is the result of his findings of examples of companies who deliver excellent customer services by giving "a little something extra" to their customers.

I haven't completed the book yet, so I'm relying upon my memory of his presentation to give you my favorite examples of marketing lagniappe:

  1. Bigelow Tea - A recent customer ordered a box of Bigelow Vanilla Chai Tea, and the first item that fell out was a packet of Constant Comment.  The customer feared he had received the wrong order.  Instead, it turned out to be a complimentary sample, and the customer was delighted to have a fun new item to try.
  2. Plaza Cleaners - This Portland, Oregon company posts a sign on their door, "If you are unemployed an need an outfit clean for an interview, we will clean it for free."  They're paying it forward; maybe, just maybe, the local economy will improve a bit if that person gets the job.
  3. Nurse Next Door - We all make mistakes, as much as we strive for business and personal perfection.  If this home health service provider makes a mistake, they deliver a fresh baked apple "humble pie" as an apology for the poor customer service. 
  4. Southwest Airlines - Ok, we've all seen this one, but who doesn't love the "bags fly free" marketing message? 
  5. Nordstrom - This company is famous for its excellent customer service, but I found this story exceptionally interesting.  One customer's feet were two different sizes: a 9 and a 9.5.  The salesman at the store split two pairs of shoes for one order. 
Now, the book is more than short stories about the little somethings extra companies do. It really is a study into marketing behavior and how develop the customer experience.  There are some fantastic, basic rules that will make sense more than your college textbook.

Do you offer a little something extra to your customers? It's not always easy, especially if you're a small business, like me.  I have two.  The first is the Bigelow Tea example. This lagniappe was born out of economy, not marketing strategy.  I send a "Krazee Kandel" with every order.  Some are tea lights, some are votives, all made from leftover amounts of wax I cannot use in the future. It's supply I have, can't do anything with, yet is a relevant gift as a means to say "thank you."  Always packaged neatly with my signature froggie thank you tags.

My second was recently introduced.  Knowing happy customers are the best word of mouth, I decided to start a referral program.  To my repeat customers, I include a referral card for them to give a friend or colleague to recommend my product.  If that friend makes a purchase, she/he receive 15% off their entire order, and my customer receives the same discount from her next order.  The discounts are truly minimal given the increased sales brought my way.

So today I ask you, what is your marketing lagniappe?  Post it here.  Maybe a reader will be inspired to follow your example, maybe a new to you customer will see if and bring you new business!

P.S. All those who post their examples, will be entered into a drawing.  If I draw your name, I'll feature your shop in an upcoming post!
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