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Sales Discussion

iCraft Admin


Administrator
Posts: 1444


« on: February 06, 2018, 01:08:29 am »

Hi guys,

As you know, we are working on the new site that will come with a lot of new tools and features, like store stats, support for more payment options etc. One of the burning question we are still working on is "How do we increase sales for our members?".

There are things we can do as a platform, but online sales is a complex topic and a lot now days relies on good content and social media. We feel that by simply providing tips & advice on how to use social media to generate sales, running Bootcamps or offering online tools is not enough, especially for people that are new to selling online.

One of the ideas that's been floating around in our heads is that we could create an extended sales network, similar to what some cosmetics companies do. iCraft team would provide sales & marketing training to these people and you, as a store owner, would have an option of working with one of those people directly. Actually, some of you are well connected online and have sales or marketing background, and could also do this "job" - help your fellow iCrafters to generate more sales, while creating extra income for yourself - a win-win!

We need to work out all the details of this multi-layered incentives and compensation model, but so far it looks very promising. As usual, we are looking for your input on this idea. Let me know if you'd like to participate in a brainstorming session with us or to be an early adopter.
Hope this piqued your interest.  Wink
SarahMars


Posts: 174


« Reply #1 on: February 06, 2018, 05:34:24 pm »

My mother-in-law would be good for this job. She can't work, so she is spending a lot of time on Facebook. I've seen many posts from people who want to do work from home and looking for anything really.  This is better, as you are helping your favorite crafters and not some manufacturers in China to promote their products. Actually, I might do it too. Cheesy More details please!
iCraft Admin


Administrator
Posts: 1444


« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2018, 12:28:28 am »

Hi Sarah, thanks for your interest!
We are putting a page together where we'll explain how this will work, but basically there will be different levels of compensations built into the system for attracting buyers or sellers to the site, some you will receive for a lifetime.
We just wanted to see if anyone is interested in brainstorming this idea or participating in this program themselves. 
elizanne


Posts: 15


« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2018, 08:53:19 am »

Hi:

I have worked out a marketing plan for my site a couple of times but have never implemented it because the cost in time and money would not be for my store's benefit alone.  The thought that I would be paying for something and a person visiting my site would end up buying from another seller has stopped me each time. 

I very much appreciate that every seller on iCraft gets a chance, whether itís on the home page or on Facebook.  I had a store on a site that made the choices.  You could see that if they didnít consider you good enough, you didnít make the home page or Facebook, or were not asked to be a featured seller.

One thing that I like as a seller is the Top 20 sellers.  However, I donít think that it helps iCraft as a platform that the top sellers have less than a thousand sales collectively and the top seller has only sold 128 items.   I would like that statistic available to me as a seller, to know how many sales were occurring on the site, but I would rather the buyers not see the numbers.  Having a ďTop SellersĒ by category for the buyer would be better.  However, I think as a seller I would like to know what the sales volume of the site is.  I donít think this is helping you attract sellers either.  Same with the statistics on your store page; I have been selling on iCraft for 9 years and sold only 43 items.  As a potential seller, that would turn me a way.  As a buyer, I would question the quality of the products if so many people looked and only a few bought.

I also think that the links across the top of the page should be about the buyer and not the seller.  While I understand that iCraft wants to attract sellers to the site, the home page should be all about what the buyer needs.  A simple link to a page for sellers or potential sellers is all you need.  If a potential seller likes the home page they will search for more information, as long as there is at least one prominent link to indicate you can open a store.
iCraft Admin


Administrator
Posts: 1444


« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2018, 10:39:11 pm »

Hi Elizanne,

Great feedback. Thank you for that!

We are making a number of changes, that you've mentioned, on the new site - making it buyer-centric, removing some features that don't help them and adding some that will help them in finding relevant products.

As for the number of sales - we are introducing this program for that exact reason - to improve sales overall.

Right now we don't have a requirement for recording all sales online, like custom orders, as people pay a subscription fee. So we are missing some of those orders in total count. Once we switch to a percentage off sales, then this will be a requirement for both buyers and sellers - to put all orders through our system.

To your point about other stores benefiting from your marketing efforts, we'll track all selling activities and pay you a small percentage off sales in other stores that resulted from you attracting new buyers to iCraft.
SarahMars


Posts: 174


« Reply #5 on: February 12, 2018, 10:37:34 pm »

So if I bring buyers to the site and they keep buying, I'll keep getting a compensation for that? For how long? When would this program start working?
iCraft Admin


Administrator
Posts: 1444


« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2018, 12:40:52 pm »

Hi Sarah, yes, that's the idea!
We are trying to find a good incentive for people to promote products on our platform, as the amounts will be small, but they could accumulate over. This would be a life-time compensation.   

We should have a page up in a few days, explaining different ways in which we'll compensate people for referrals, so stay tuned!  Cool
iCraft Admin


Administrator
Posts: 1444


« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2018, 01:09:39 pm »

As you know, we are switching our payment system on the new site to collect % off sale, instead of monthly subscription fees.

Here are a few questions to all sellers:
- Would you want to get help with your store's sales from sales and marketing people?
- If yes, how much would you be willing to pay them in terms of additional percentage off sales?
- What other help would you want to receive? (e.g. help with images, product descriptions etc)

We are also wondering if it would be helpful to add a "Services" section, where sellers could list their own skills that they could offer to others and also find people who could offer services that they need ... or where they could find collaborators (e.g. I have an idea for an interesting line of clothing, but I need someone who can do embroidery)
What do you think?
Fairy Cardmaker


Posts: 1023


« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2018, 09:30:04 pm »

I have zero marketing skills and zero time. I have a professional career that I quite like but has very demanding hours. This is only a creative outlet for me. So, my number 1 question is, will these changes discourage or otherwise negatively affect the hobby seller?

I know someone who had a career in graphic advertising before having kids. Then she went into crafty direct sales and now she owns a bricks'n'mortar craft retail store. I always admired her monthly newsletter. I've also seen lots of people use SurveyMonkey. I find all these tools daunting and I'm sick of having 1,000 different online accounts to try to meet 1 goal. But, if I could get affordable marketing advice that is both tailored to my business and scaled to my activity level, I would pay something for that.

For your questions:
Quote
Would you want to get help with your store's sales from sales and marketing people?
Yes.

Quote
If yes, how much would you be willing to pay them in terms of additional percentage off sales?
3-5%

More than that + iCraft's cut if it is in the same ballpark would put each item into a loss. I fear who would want 3-5% of $4? I feel like the nature of my product would make me an undesirable client. It's really not worth someone's time.

As a hobbyist, I need my business to at least cover costs. I would love it it could be profitable, but I don't have the time or motivation to make it so without great help, and yet I cannot afford such help.  I would totally understand if a commercial enterprise like iCraft doesn't want my kind around. I work in business. I get it.

Quote
What other help would you want to receive? (e.g. help with images, product descriptions etc)
Branding: A cohesive image and messaging. Advertising: newsletter. Marketing: How to encourage people to shop on my site. Many of my co-workers know I craft, some know that I sell, but that's where it ends. I feel like showing them to the store and encouraging them to buy is crossing a line somehow.

Quote
"Services" section, where sellers could list their own skills that they could offer to others
I could offer a relevant skill but I have no time to use it. Sorry.

Quote
Or where they could find collaborators
That sounds like a great idea! What a good way to foster community too!
iCraft Admin


Administrator
Posts: 1444


« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2018, 10:36:38 pm »

Hi Fairy Cardmaker,

Thanks for your great feedback!
None of the changes we are implementing should negatively affect the hobby seller. We definitely want "your kind" around!  Kiss

It will be up to the seller to use the services of our trained sales associates or not.
However, every seller on the site will benefit from the additional traffic - once the buyers discover iCraft, even if they initially came to check a specific product, they could always buy from other stores too.

Yes, you are right, this will not work for every store, if the amounts are too small.

In terms of offering services, we just thought that it would be helpful to list everyone's skills and expertise and what they are looking for from others, so everyone could help each other. (either get paid for their help or exchanges services)

We are thinking of a 5% total commission on sales and 1.5% of it could go to the sales associates. Anything over 5% is probably too much.
Fairy Cardmaker


Posts: 1023


« Reply #10 on: February 17, 2018, 02:03:02 pm »

Do you mean, iCraft would collect 5% and of that 5% 1.5% goes to the sales associates? Or it would be a total of 6.5% from the seller, of which 1.5% goes to the sales associate and 5% to the iCraft?
Fairy Cardmaker


Posts: 1023


« Reply #11 on: February 17, 2018, 05:37:14 pm »

Also, does shifting to a commission-based fee mean everyone would have unlimited listings? A greater stream of new products would also draw shoppers.
elizanne


Posts: 15


« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2018, 01:03:41 pm »

If you are moving toward system where we are not paying our monthly fees, but instead, a percentage of what we sell, I am interested.  However, based on the limited number of the sales on the site, I have concerns due to the overall low sales from the site.  I would have to increase my sales by 167% in order for you to receive the same amount from me as my subscription.

I too have a very demanding career and crafting is my way of letting off steam and reducing stress, selling only makes sense. I also don't push my crafts on those at work. I am relying on iCraft to market the site, attracting buyers.  Based on my sales, they are out there, they are just not finding us.  There is a lot out there about social media marketing and it takes a lot to go through.  Just making a decision on what you want out of a marketing campaign and how to achieve that is a lot of work and planning.  I would appreciate resources, links to sites that can help us with a campaign.  Essentially, I would like iCraft to find the resources that would help us and keep that on a resource page, and make sure it is updated.  The resources could be from the platform themselves, just a description and a link, in one place that is easy to find.  Are there free sites out there where we can post information about our stores, how does Facebook Ads work, writing a blog, product photography, etc.

Offering services would be very helpful. Essentially, allow service providers like on-line marketers, regional product photographers, business cards, graphic designers, to set up a shop within the seller portal, who would offer their services.  These could be front facing stores, as they are a type of craft.  They could also only be within the seller portal. 

iCraft sales people can do a social media marketing campaign.  For a fee, we can have our store or pictures of our products, in the campaign.  Campaigns such as Mother's Day, Valentine's Day, wedding, purple, clothing, spring, the list could be endless.  To the stores interested in the marketing campaign, the cost would be less in terms of money and time, in setting up and implementing a marketing plan and sellers are only left out if you chose not to be a part of it.  The purpose would be to attract buyers to iCraft, we would pay to have our store or product featured as a sample of what can be found on iCraft.  A sales person would put the campaign together, do the copy, and the plan, present the details, including length of time, platforms and cost to sellers, and monitor and report the results.  Sellers should have an easy method of signing up and paying. I would be interested in doing something like this so long as the analytics shows an increase in traffic and sales overall on iCraft and in my store. 

The other thing that iCraft can leverage is a newsletter.  Weekly, or twice a week, highlighting new sellers, sellers with sales or items on sale, items that are new (not including updated unless it is on sale), In the Spotlight, blog posts by sellers.  Keep iCraft in the in boxes of our buyers, and have the newsletter sign up link available in every store.  Part of a marketing plan could include something in the newsletter.

I would be more inclined to pay to participate in these than I would to write a weekly newsletter, blog, or implement a marketing plan.  I had my own site for a while and it is an incredible amount of work, which is why I chose iCraft. 
iCraft Admin


Administrator
Posts: 1444


« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2018, 02:17:54 pm »

Hi Fairy Cardmaker,
Yes, iCraft would collect 5% and of that 5%, 1.5% would go to the sales associates.
Yes, shifting to a commission-based model means everyone would have unlimited listings, which would drive traffic too.
iCraft Admin


Administrator
Posts: 1444


« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2018, 12:19:58 pm »

Hi Elizanne,

A lot of good ideas. Thank you!  Kiss

We can certainly build up a Resources section specific to selling online. There has been a lot of good resources shared through forum in the past. Maybe it's the matter of summarizing things and creating step-by-step guides...

Paid promotional campaigns is a good idea too. I can see it being popular around holidays. How much would you be willing to pay for a spot in a Newsletter or a Facebook campaign?

As for the number of sales, because we are expanding our platform to sell more than just handmade (not on the same site, but through connected focused marketplaces), the total number of sales should increase and compensate for the low sales in some stores. At least, that's what we hope will happen.  Roll Eyes
Fairy Cardmaker


Posts: 1023


« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2018, 10:05:55 pm »

Thanks for the responses, iCraft admin. I think 5% is reasonable since you will only collect if we sell something.

Have you considered the cash flow impact of that to you? How will you "catch" people who list unlimited stuff on your site but seal the deal off-site for fee avoidance? People can sign agreements but if you don't have a way to monitor, it might not work. I don't need the low down, I just want to make sure you've considered that.

Great ideas, Elizanne. I actually created a make-believe company for a training program at work where the make-believe company was a social media campaign service that ran ads on behalf of companies! You must have read my mind!

For those who increase traffic to the site - say I manage to generate incidental traffic from my blog - does that count? Or does it have to be referrals from a specifically agreed-to service between a service provider and a seller?

I had tried Project Wonderful but it was time consuming and I didn't really understand all the stats. It was a $5 investment to experiment, so I went with it. It was tracking clicks per 1,000 views, so I suppose compensation can be based on click tracking? Anyway, I think I'll wait for you to release the info page before I try to ask more questions.

If you plan to redo a resources section - can it be seller-only? It seems weird to talk about how to get buyers in front of the buyers.

iCraft Admin


Administrator
Posts: 1444


« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2018, 11:48:34 pm »

Hi Fairy Cardmaker,

Good point about the placement of the Resources section. Ha ha!  Embarrassed

As for the referral traffic, we'll give you a Referral Code that you could add to any iCraft URL on your blog. This way we'd know who's referral that is. Thanks!
elizanne


Posts: 15


« Reply #17 on: February 24, 2018, 06:54:15 pm »

I am not sure how much I would be willing to spend, mostly because I don't know the cost (its been a while since I set up a marketing plan).  It might be helpful to have some sample plans set up including cost and reach to see if it is a viable idea.  Divide the cost among those who want to participate, limiting to the number of participants so it doesn't get too busy, or run a separate duplicate ad with a different set of stores if a lot of people are interested.

For the newsletter, I how much I am willing to spend depends on the reach.  I would not want to spend much if you are sending out 1000 newsletters per month but if you were sending out 20,000 my interest would increase.  Also, quality of the content would be important.  If it is just to advertise stores, I would not be interested, but if we were presenting the reader with reasons for shopping at iCraft - great selection of gifts for Mom, warm up to winter with great hand knit hats, I might be inclined to pay for inclusion if my store fit the topic.  (Hmm - iCraft Admin setting up a store on iCraft selling advertising space - for some reason that amuses me)  If you were to have an "on sale" section in a newsletter, I would probably pay between $5 and $7 for a spot in a newsletter if I were holding a sale. 

Finally, while I say I would be interested in paying to be included in a marketing campaign, I would want analytics to show what the results were and that they met the purpose of the ad (increase traffic, brand awareness, increase sales, increase the number of product views, increase Facebook Likes and Follows).  I can see the results to my own store, but what are the results to iCraft?  I wouldn't continue to pay for something that benefits everyone without knowing if it's working. 

As for resources.  How about something like - Increase Interest in your Store - with links to sites that present well how to take good product shots, how to write tags that work, how to name your product and the first line of your product description.  Places you can list your store such as directories or forums, that are free and a quick description about them.  Another resource could be about social media, links to blogs, websites, and articles, about how to use it, when to use it, how effective it is, and what is good content.  With the changing landscape of social media, this should be updated regularly.  If we find something that we think should be included, a email to send it to so that it can be included on the resource page.  I really don't want to read through forum topics to try to figure out where to post something or where to find something.  I just don't have the time. 

One of the reasons I stopped reading the forum here is that I found there were very few recent additions and didn't know if the information was up to date.  My last check showed only two posts this year and only one had a discussion going.  Writing a response should be encouraged.  A store only newsletter could be implemented to highlight new discussions, comments to discussions, new resources added, results of marketing campaigns, etc, to try to get us more involved in the community.  I am busy with work and if something is is in my inbox I am more inclined to participate.  I also agree that we should have a forum that is not available to the customer.
iCraft Admin


Administrator
Posts: 1444


« Reply #18 on: February 24, 2018, 09:52:10 pm »

As usual, a lot of good ideas, Elizanne. Thank you!
No, I am not setting up a store here, was probably testing something.
iCraft Admin


Administrator
Posts: 1444


« Reply #19 on: February 28, 2018, 05:01:47 pm »

Please check our redesigned Community Rewards program http://icraftgifts.com/community-rewards.php and let me know your thoughts on it.
We still need to figure out a few things related to how sales associates will work, but that feature will be implemented on the new site. So we have some time to do all this work. For now, we are looking for people interested in doing this kind of sales and marketing work from home and for sellers interested in getting extra help with sales.
Fairy Cardmaker


Posts: 1023


« Reply #20 on: March 18, 2018, 05:43:25 pm »

I like the refer a buyer idea. I see lots of paper crafting you tubers have associate links to stores where if you use their link they get some small compensation. I imagine refer a buyer would be similar.

I wish I had time to contribute to the blog. Unfortunately, "regular" is not a word I associate with my crafting, let alone any kind of marketing, lol.

Looks like a good start but I'm not sure it will be the large scale transformation you're looking for.

Question - in your mobile or social media tools, can a buyer put a favourite seller on a watch list of some kind and receive an update whenever that seller lists something new? That might help get return buyers.
iCraft Admin


Administrator
Posts: 1444


« Reply #21 on: March 20, 2018, 12:00:11 am »

Hi Fairy Cardmaker,

We are trying different things. I think a combination of those things will help, thought it might take time to get the participation numbers up.

Yes, we can definitely add "Watch this Store" notifications feature. Great idea!  Grin
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