Image courtesy of ShopGirl226.etsy.com
There is no denying the constant talk of looming recession has a lot of us wondering about the stability of the arts industry. As people become more careful with their money, amenities & impulse buys will probably slow. This, of course, is something we should all be aware of but I had a mini epiphany last night about how artists may be able to stay afloat as the dollar gets smaller and smaller & it is entirely related to the internet & price-point.
I am coining a new phrase; the gas stricken buyer and I define it as such:
1. People who are choosing not to travel due to rising gas prices.
2. People who are getting smart about their shopping which includes looking for items that can be purchased without driving anywhere.
3. People who are middle class, want to remain middle class & enjoy buying unique and well made goods.
This new breed of shopper will be our biggest asset as the economy declines (or doesn't) & there are a few thoughts I have about catching their attention.
1. Take great photos. Though some gas stricken buyers are already shopping online some of them may be very new to this arena. Having gorgeous photos will help them trust they are spending their money wisely.
2. Have very reasonable to free shipping fees. If I buy 10 things for $2 shipping each I might as well drive to the craft show and save myself some money. In my own shop I offer free shipping for each additional item you buy; you pay for the first item but then can fill your cart at no additional charge. Yes this is a theory that only works for small items but for the larger items now is not the time to pad your shipping prices with $10 handling fees. Be reasonable, be fair and understand that excess charges will scare off the gas stricken buyer.
3. Have a range of prices in your shop. I can tell you from my own experience that selling inexpensive goods means selling more. The gas stricken buyer isn't used to a tighter budget, giving them a bevy of gorgeous & affordable items will help alleviate some of their own stress about finances.
3a. A range can be beneficial to the fine artists out there too. Lots of people walk into galleries to look around but rarely buy large expensive works. The do pick up counter top items, prints and lower priced goods because they want a piece of the experience. Having less expensive variations on your medium can be a huge asset in a tightening economy.
In addition to catering to this new breed of shopper don't forget to expand your reach. The bust of the American dollar means super savings for many buyers around the globe. Offering international shipment is opening up to a huge new & ready market. Now is the time to figure out those customs forms.
*disclaimer* I am no an economist, but I am optimistic. None of above the suggestions are based on any scientific or educated study (I'm a bookbinder after-all) they are simply an few ideas I thought I'd share.