First I want to talk about the elephant in the room that you don’t even know is here. In this piece, I am going to refer to some larger stores such as Joann’s and Michaels. I am aware that most of you do not have their resources and may not see yourselves/want to be in the same category as them. That being said, they are doing some great things that all art and craft retailers can learn from regardless of your size or budget.
Ok. Glad we got that out of the way.
So. Let’s talk about millennials. I have to admit, I kind of hate that term. Maybe because I am one. More importantly, besides caring about me, why should you care about millennials?
Because they are the ones with the most buying power and the ones changing the landscape of retail.
Additionally, if we start talking about the craft industry specifically, millennials matter. A lot.
Mark Hill, CEO of The Associaton For Creative Industries says,
“Today, crafters are the youngest they’ve ever been. The largest percentage of crafters (41%) are millennials, between the ages of 18-and-34 years old. Some 36% are 35-to-54 and 23% are 55 and older.” (Forbes)
So, how do you attract millennials to your store? Keep reading.
Create a memorable experience in your store
Many of today’s shoppers are looking for more from their shopping experience. To give them more, you need your customers to have a memorable experience in your store. (One that is memorable for good reasons.)
To promote an experience-like atmosphere, Joann’s has taken several steps with their new concept store in Ohio. They have created “an open space Creator’s Studio where experienced crafters and newbies can come to learn new skills, take classes, rent machines to finish projects and gather to share with friends and fellow crafters.” (Forbes)
This not only encourages shoppers to enjoy a better experience, but also keeps them in the store longer and gives them more reasons to come back, thus equating to more sales.
The more customers enjoy their shopping experience, the more retailers benefit.
In addition to encouraging customers to see their store as a space where they can get together with friends and craft, Joann’s is also stepping up the game with the way employees treat customers. The concept store has “Concierge services including Sew & Go, a custom sewing service for anything from suit tailoring to home décor, and Personal Shopper, which offers one-on-one guidance to ensure the crafter’s vision comes to life” (Joann News).
Both of these services are strategies for creating an updated experience that shoppers are looking for. Employees are there to do more than scan your items or take you to the correct aisle. Yes, this means more work for employees, but it is absolutely worth it. Besides, they’re getting paid and will most likely feel more fulfilled in their job this way.
When customers feel that they can trust the stores, (really the employees) they shop at, they will return again and again. Especially if it is a store that encourages them in a hobby they love.
What does this mean for your store? What can you do to turn your shop into an experience?
Can you create a space for creating?
Are there things your staff could do better to improve the shopping experience? Are your employees enthusiastic about crafting so they would be able to have great conversations with fellow crafters?
Utilize Technology In Your Store
There are many ways to utilize technology in your store, one popular way being the use of mobile checkouts. Read more on that here. Joann’s is doing something that is even newer in the retail sphere. Joann’s is utilizing technology in its store with its “Craft Creator touchscreen kiosk where customers can search Pinterest to discover new crafting projects”.
You may think, well, that doesn’t sound like a big deal because I could just look at Pinterest on my phone.
While it’s true that most people can just look at Pinterest on their mobile device, Joann’s is encouraging us to feel comfortable staying in the store as our creative juices start flowing and our projects begin to unfold. I know whenever I have to look up something on my phone at the store, I start getting stressed out like I need to hurry and get back to shopping (maybe I’m just weird.) But if there was a designated place that encouraged doing just that, I would feel more relaxed and stay longer. So I love this idea.
I also love it because it means that you don’t have to have every step of your project planned before you head to the store. I’ve done that many times and it never really works. I just end up going back and forth and feeling frustrated and flustered. If I was encouraged to develop the project right in the store, those feelings would be replaced with excitement and a sense of accomplishment.
Sadly, I haven’t been to Joann’s new store, so I can’t give you a play-by-play of how the kiosk works, but I’m guessing that it is more than just a docked mobile device that allows you to access Pinterest. I also bet that it will get even better as time goes on.
How can you better use technology in your store?
Be Aware of What Is Popular
As with any business, craft and art retailers need to be aware of new trends and what their customers want. If you don’t know what your customers are looking for, your business is going to start sinking.
In an interview, Forbes found what one millennial does and does not want –
“Moore finds the typical sewing shop, its merchandise and the experience designed for her 80-year-old grandmother, not her. “If you want to get people to shop in your store, you need to create an experience that is worth coming there for. Something that is Instagram worthy.” And often as the youngest person in the store, she feels she is treated by sales staff like their daughter or granddaughter, not like the accomplished sewist that she is.”
So how do you make the transition? How do retailers find out what millennials want?
“Representatives from stores like Michaels and McCalls Patterns, DecoArt and website creativebug.com said they often head to sites like Pinterest or Instagram to look at what’s popular.”
Source: Orange County Register
It’s highly likely that you are already on Pinterest and Instagram looking at crafts that excite you. But in case you aren’t, here is my gentle nudge to start browsing. It should actually probably be a strong push.
Showcase Your Products On Your Website
I don’t think I need to convince you of the importance of having a website and having your products available online, but just in case I do —Did you know that by improving your online presence, you improve not only your online revenue, but your total revenue? A good online presence contributes to foot traffic to your brick and mortar.
So if this sounds like something you’re looking for, you need to have your products available for purchase online and easily found.
Fill your website with great photos of your products and of shoppers having enjoyable experiences in your shop.
If you offer classes or host events, be sure to have an event calendar as well as descriptions of your upcoming classes. You can even have customers register for classes on your website. Learn more about class management here.
Provide an Enjoyable Mobile Experience
Be sure that your website is mobile friendly.
Mobile e-commerce sales account for 34.5% of total e-commerce sales in 2017, and that number is growing.
By 2021, mobile e-commerce sales are expected to account for 54% of total e-commerce sales.
(Source: Big Commerce)
You can read more on mobile-friendliness here, but here are a few pointers.
“To excel at mobile marketing, first consider the basics. Are your landing pages optimized for mobile? Are they too graphics-intensive, making load times longer with slower connections? Is your call to action clear, even on a smaller screen?” (Source: Entrepreneur.com)
Promote Products Via Social Networks
As I’ve mentioned, many crafters spend time browsing Instagram and Pinterest for inspiration for their next project. That means you need to be on Instagram and Pinterest.
“One defining aspect of the millennial generation is the way they access information. While older generations of crafters relied on magazines for inspiration, none of the women I spoke with subscribe to or regularly purchase craft magazines. In contrast, all four use Instagram — checking in multiple times a day to seek inspiration and information about the crafts they enjoy.”
(Source: Craft Industry Alliance)
Pin or post photos of finished projects with links to the materials or photos of new materials. Doing this will get customers acquainted with your store and will also give them a chance to do your marketing for you.
“Millennials have been conditioned to engage with content. The whole premise of social media is that you post content, share content and provide feedback on other users’ content. These people want to be involved in something bigger than themselves. They don’t simply want to sit on the sidelines and watch everything unfold; they want in on the action.”
Create an Omnichannel Experience
Last but not least, everything needs to work together.
Mark Hill, CEO of The Associaton For Creative Industries says,
“The changing shopping habits support the need for retailers to engage their customers through omnichannel strategies that integrate satisfactory in-store and online shopping experiences.”
It will make all of this stuff much easier if you have a system that manages your online and in-store inventory, as well as your classes, your website, your mobile site, and even your marketing efforts. This makes life easier and more enjoyable for you, and gives your customers a better experience. Which means they’ll come back again and again.
Time to get started. Choose one of these tips and work it in your shop. You’ll make your awesome store even better. You got this!
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