Saturday, June 30, 2012

Belts: a short history

Belts have been documented for male clothing since the bronze age, which, for Europe, was between 3600 and 600 BC. Both genders used them off and on, depending on the current fashion. In the western world, belts were more common for men, with the exception of the early Middle Ages late 17th century Mantua, and skirt/blouse combinations between 1900 and 1910. 
A Japanese Obi-variant
In the period of the latter-half of the 19th century and up until the first WW, the belt was a decorative as well as utilitarian part of the uniform, particularly among officers. In the armed forces of Prussia, Tsarist Russia, and other Eastern European nations, it was common for officers to wear extremely tight, wide belts around the waist, on the outside of the uniform, both to support a saber as well as for aesthetic reasons. These tightly cinched belts served to draw in the waist and give the wearer a trim physique, emphasizing wide shoulders and a pouting chest. Often the belt served only to emphasize waist made small by a corset worn under the uniform, a practice which was common especially during the Crimean Wars and was often noted by soldiers from the Western front. Political cartoonists of the day often portrayed the tight waist-cinching of soldiers to comedic effect, and some cartoons survive showing officers being corseted by their inferiors, a practice which surely was uncomfortable but deemed to be necessary and imposing.
In modern times, men started wearing belts in the 1920s, as trouser waists fell to a lower line. Before the 1920s, belts served mostly a decorative purpose, and were associated with the military. Today it is common for men to wear a belt with their trousers.
Over the course of history, the belt has known many traditional different styles. In Japan, for women wearing the traditional Kimono, the Obi came to be. Worn both by men and women, though the width would differ, the men wearing less wide versions. Some have extensive folding on the back.
Tribal Cowrie belt by Studio StebbyLee
Also in Tribal  Africa the use of belts as adornment has a long history.About the practical purpose is little known, but the most logical explanation has to do with adornment and showing of wealth. In olden times, far before currencies were introduced, Cowrie shells were often used as a form of payment. Well-to-do women would use all sort of jewelry and show off by using cowrie shells in them. To today standards it would be as making a necklace out of 100$ bills.
On Etsy you can also find them, though they are not plentiful, for instance in the store of Studio StebbyLee

Of course, the Belt has a very practical use now a days, keeping pants from ending up around our ankles. Although they are still a way to express ourselves. Either by colour, material or with adornment, such as the studded belts worn in Rock- and Grunge scene's. If you want to make a statement, a belt definately is a part of it!

Friday, June 29, 2012

Amsterdam International Fashion Week

In just over a week, the Amsterdam International Fashion week, or AIF for insiders, will strat again, in its usual venue of the Westergasfabriek.
For people not familiar with this location:

The famous "Gashouder" at Westergasfabriek Amsterdam
[Photo: Westergasfabriek]
At the end of the 19th century, the Imperial Continental Gas Association (ICGA) built two coal gas factory complexes in Amsterdam: the Ooster Gasfabriek (Eastern Gas Factory) and the Wester Gasfabriek (Western Gas Factory). The latter was completed in 1885, strategically located near to waterways, the rail network and access roads. Originally, the gas was used for street lighting..Now, the Westergasfabriek is providing a new surge of energy and light. The redeveloped factory site and the beautifully laid out park are an asset for the local area. Creative entrepreneurs work in the renovated historic buildings and many high-profile events and festivals are held here. The Westergasfabriek is regarded as a model for redevelopment, far beyond the Netherlands’ borders. Its different buildings form an ideal backdrop to host a variety of exhibitions or meetings, and the AIF is a regular attendee.

This summer, a plethora of aspiring and already settled designers will fill the catwalk, among others Marga Weimans, Bas Kosters, Gestuz, Claes Iversen  and Rebecca Ward.

Its not more than logical that The Fashion Corner will pay attention to one of the top Fashion Events in The Netherlands, so stay tuned!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Vogue China's CAPITAL error

We all know that in fashion / modeling, PhotoShop is a household brand: I believe there are little to no photo reports in ANY fashion magazine that have not had a PS-treatment.
Of course, the amount of "tweaking" to a picture or reportage differs greatly. From highlighting some colours, increasing the hue or saturation to editing away a few love-handles.

But Vogue China has pushed the envelope to a new, never seen level.
In their newest editorial about Doutzen Kroes, there is a spread of her sunbathing.... One Legged!
Some photoshop-geek of Vogue obviously decided that the model looked better with one leg, and the editor probably did not do a thorough quality check. Because a mistake like that is not just a "slip of the hand".

Or, there is the slight possibility that Vogue China decided to do it deliberately as a Guerilla Marketing strategy. Or am I now thinking too bad things?

Here's the wreaked picture that appeared in Vogue China:

A one-legged Doutzen Kroes? [Source: Vogue China]

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Harajuku Kawaii coming to Paris

For all lovers of the Japanese Fashion Scene, and specificaly the Harajuku style who are living in Europe: Good News! They will be coming to Paris soon!  Harajuku Kawai is a Japanese inspired style that has been made immense popular outside of Japan due to Gwen Stefani, who often used it in her shows and music clips. It is so popular that some regard it as a fashion movement.
the Harajuku girls
The background group has gained huge popularity since being featured in Gwen Stefani's show, and even one of the pop-diva's songtitles was "Harajuku girls". The Harajuku name comes from a distyrict in Tokyo, Japans capital. There, every sunday, a variety of young fashionable Japanese gather with their Lolita, Gothic and Decora-outfits. The region around Harajuka station has grown to be the fashion capital of Japan.

HARAJUKU KAWAii is a popular Japanese fashion and music event about which has been reporting for the last couple of years. Harajuku Kawaii features fashion shows from kawaii Harajuku-friendly fashion brands (including 6%DOKIDOKI), concerts by kawaii singers (including Kyary), special celebrity appearances, popup shops, and lots of fun. While 6%DOKIDOKI has made several international appearances and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu held a concert in Los Angeles last year, the entire Harajuku Kawaii experience has never been seen outside of Japan – until now!
Asobi System have just announced that the next Harajuku Kawaii – with Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, 6%DOKIDOKI, Spinns Harajuku, and more – will take place at Japan Expo in Paris on July 8, 2012.
Harajuku Kawaii in Paris (3)
In addition to Kyary, Harajuku Kawaii in Paris will feature several of the top models from the Harajuku scene (including the always-amazing Una). Here is all of the Harajuku Kawaii info directly from the source (translated by us):
“HARAJUKU KAWAii!!!!” is going worldwide!
“HARAJUKU KAWAii!!!!” will officially be held in Paris, France, at the “JAPAN EXPO,” one of the largest Japanese culture festivals in the world. On July 8 (Sun.), “HARAJUKU KAWAii!!!! in Paris” will be held on the Japan Expo Main Stage.
Kyary Pamyupamyu, a Harajuku icon who charms the entire world, will perform a live concert. There will also be a fashion show in which the creators of Harajuku street culture, popular Aomoji-kei models such as Fumiko Aoyagi, Abochi, Ayumi Seto, and Una will perform.
The “Kawaii” of Harajuku will be on display for all to see in Paris, France, a city known for its love of Japanese culture.
HARAJUKU KAWAii!!!! in Paris Event Summary
  • Date: July 8, 2012 (Sun.)
  • Location: Paris Nord Villepinte
  • Exhibition Area: Main Stage
  • Time: Scheduled for 15:15-16:00 local time
  • Audience: Approx. 15,000 people
  • Harajuku-style fashion shows
  • Kyary Pamyu Pamyu live concert
Performing Artists / Models
  • Artists: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu
  • Models: Fumiko Aoyagi, Apochi, Ayumi Seto, Una
Fashion Brands
  • Innocent World
  • Date: July 5, 2012 (Thurs.) – July 8, 2012 (Sun.)
  • Time: 9:00 – 19:00
  • Location: Paris Nord Villepinte Exhibition Area
  • Expected number of attendees: 200,000 people
  • WebsiteJapan Expo
[Thanks to]

Monday, June 25, 2012

10 tips to increase webshop traffic part - 2

Af few days ago, I posted the first part of this blog, and today its time for part 2 of tips to increase webshop traffic

6) post regularly on forums where your target group is to be found. Use a link to your store in the signature.

I think this is an important one.  Te truth is that your potential customers don't know you yet (unless of course your name is Donatella Versace, but then again, something tells me you would not be reading my blog. If I am mistaken, please tell me!). So its key to make sure that those potential customers are aware of YOUR presence.  And the best way to do this is to go where they go. There are plenty of fora online where thousands, and sometimes even tens of thousands people go to discuss anything from their favourite artist to the latest gossip or tips on parenthood.
Not sure if jewelry goes well in a hotrod forum...
Make sure it is something you also have an opinion about, or at least can contribute something to. Be it answers, advise or anything else.  There you can also post, discuss etc, just as you would on the Etsy forum.  Don't make the mistake however to just post about your webstore. People don't mind knowing you have one, but if you continually put it in their face on an irrelevant spot, it is going to be considered spamming, and a ban is around the corner.
In stead, just put the link to your webstore with a description what is in it in your signature, so when you post about something in the thread, the link to your website will be displayed under it.
Does it work? Betcha it does! But of course only if you have built up credibility in the forum, and  not instantly. It works best of course if your target customer group is on the forum. So if you sell handmade jewelry, it won't in general be the most effective to start posting on a typical forum catering for hotrods....

7) Go to fashion fairs and alike. 

Every community usualy has several art or fashion fairs where it is relatively cheap to put your creations and try to sell them. No matter how online the world has become, people still like to see the item they are buying, making sure it is the quality they want, and even personaly speak with the creator or vendor. It gives them a sense of  security, and it offers you a chance to convey your enthousiasm of your product to them.  First buyers are a lot more likely to do a repetitive online purchase if they like what they got before. So don't just stand there and sell the goods, but also make sure that every client (or even just interested visitor of your little stand!) gets a leaflet with your contact details and webstore. I can almost guarantee you that your store in the days after the fair, will see a spike in views and likes! And since they already met you in real life, they are probably going to be a lot less weary on making an online purchase.

8) Ad your store's link in the footer of your e-mail addressess.

In point 7 we mentioned putting your web-address in the signature of your postings on forums. Well, why not take it a step further and put it in the footer of EVERY e-mail message you send across the web? Of course, it will not be a good idea to do it in a company mail if you work for a boss, but you surely send a lot of private e-mails as well! Wether it is to a club you belong to, to the PTA of your child's school or even to the people you met on the last holiday.  All potential customers. And since you already have a rapport with them, they are more likely to be interested in what you have to offer in your webshop.
If you want to keep it simple, start with just a description of what you sell, and a link to your store (for instance . If you feel adventurous, use the banner of your store, and put that one in your footer, and mak it clickable. (Most e-mail programs will allow to make an image in the mail clickable).  An image is a lot more enticing curiousity than just simple words like "Check out my handmade jewelry". Not sure how to do it? Just run a search in Google on "Adding footer in xxxxxx" where xxxxx is the name of your e-mail client.

9) Get accounts on Pinterest, Wanelo etc and post your items there.

There are a number of Graphic Content Aggregation sites such as Pinterest, Wanelo and Rebelmouse, which are potentially interesting for you as someone who is selling things on the internet. People LOVE images, and if your store is predominantly catering for women, your even in more luck! A recent study has shown that those sites are mainly used by women, and they are quite avid "pinners". Since those sites mix Social Media aspect with pictures, people "liking" or "Pinning" your items are more or les automatically also sharing it with their followers / friends. So the same goes here as what I described for Facebook: the number of potential viewers will grow exponentially if people share your items with their friends.  Here too, its important however to stay active. Regulary pin something, and also return the favor for others. Don't just pin your own stuff. 

10) Use Instagram and Youtube

Make pics using Instagram of your
WorkInProgress and share!
Are the tips on Wanelo, Pinterest and the likes all about pinning already existing images, Youtube and Instagram are about MAKING them. Now how can it benefit you? Instagram will allow you to make pictures, add arty effects and layers (if you wish) and instantly share them with your friends. So what would happen if you would now and then make pictures of your items? Finished products or, if you make things yourself, an item in progress! You will see you might get a steady stream of followers in your Instagram account, and you can easily integrate Instagram with Twitter! Your Twitter acount in turn is linked to Facebook so in a single action, all your followers will be seeïng your beautiful products! 
Now, youtube works simmilar BUT it has an added advantage. Most people don't realise that Youtube is actually the worlds second largest search engine after  Google. So immagine someone typing on Youtube the search string "How to crochet" and it will pull up a nice vid of you sharing tips on crochetting or showing what you do to get the product you love to make? Just add your store's URL to the vid  and description and off you go! It will add to the "Personal Touch", create awareness of the work you put into your products

Saturday, June 23, 2012

10 tips to increase webshop traffic part - 1

One of the most frequently asked questions on webstores of handmade items seems to be how to increase of-site traffic. I don't pretend to be an expert on those matters, but I have got some tips that work, so decided to put them in an few articles to share with the world.

1) Keep in touch with your old customers, maybe they will do a repeat buy or recommend you to others

I think this is perhaps the single most imporant rule. In Marketing / Sales, there is an old saying: "Gaining a new customer costs you 10x more than keeping an existing one. Provided that your customers were satisfied with whatever they purchased from you, one thing is sure: they either liked what you make, or they bought a present for someone that likes what you make. Either way, they are potential customers to come back and do some more shopping! Key question of course is how to get them to do it.
Here are some idea's to do just that:

  • Offer coupon codes with an incentive to do a repeat buy. You'll be surprised how much it is valued by customers to get a small price reduction on their next purchase.
  • Add some freebees to your shipped item, such as a fridge magnet or a pagemarker, that way you keep on top of your customers mind.
  • Add your customers to a mailing list, or ask them to sign up. Which one you choose depends a bit on your relationship and communication with your customer. New anti-spam regulations demand you to be very careful in just sending unwanted mail to your customers, so make sure you don't get a spam-tag to your name. If you send mail to your customers, you can either ask them if it is ok to add them on your mailing list, or alternatively, to be on the safer side of things, ask them to sign up themselves and send a mail with the link to the subscribe page.
  • After a few weeks, send an e-mail to your customer requesting if they are still satisfied with your product. This is a great time to immediately ask them to fill out feedback if by then they still did not give it

2) Link your page to FB and regulary post items there

Distribution of Amount of FB friends
Its surprising to see how much time and effort some people put into maintaining their Facebook page. And the good thing about that is that it gives a great chanche of you not only bringing your items under the attention of your FB Friends, but also the friends of your friends! Why is that important? Studies have shown that the average amount of friends a FB user has is over 100. So the potential amount of people that with one click could see your items or store is 10.000! (100x100). 

In order to put this to effect of course, you need to interact with your friends. Make sure they appreciate your postings (so don't overdo it!) and try t get them to like it or share it with their friends. Remember, everytime they like your post, all THEIR friends get to see it too!

3) Set up a twitter account for communication about what you are in to.

Twitter is a great little tool to interact with a growing customer base. Here too, make sure you don't just SEND, don't just swamp people with links to your store or items, but try to add some value. How? Tweet link to interesting blogs, news articles or other items your customer base might find interesting. Consider to set up a seperate twitter account for your stores activities. You might not want to mix private updates like, "Oh My God, my Daughter just won the annual Spelling Bee Competition!" with your potential customer base, although it is a good thing of course to make sure in your tweets now and then to show you are a person, it greatly helps with building a favourable relationship with your followers.

With Twitter, don't just send. Do a search now and then on interesting Hashtags (#) like #Fashion, #Jewelry or #Vintage. It will point out interesting  tweets to which you can respond or show you new interesting people to follow. If you're on Esty and do Jewelry for instance, add in tweets about your jewelry #JewelryOnEtsy, they might retweet your tweet, potentially hugely increasing the visibility of that item.
And last but not least: Link your Twitter account with Facebook so tweets will show in your timeline.

4) Start your own blog. 

Start your Blog!
Why? Well, you're reading THIS blog right? And thats exactly why: It creates interaction with your potential customer base. If you use the right Tags, Words and Titles in your blog postings, more and more people searching for related terms on the Internet will find your Blog, click on it, maybe read it but at least it creates interest. 
So when you have them on your page, then you need to "Lure" them into your store. How to do that?

  • Put Etsy Mini in the side panel.  Its non intrusive, but highlights some of your items and are an easy and effective way to get them to click on your store.
  • Hook the blog up with FB and Twitter to promote it. People interested in you on one platform are most likely to start following you on another.
  • Blog about your own items. Don't do it all the time, but now and then talking about the creation of a new item, something that gave you inspiration, or how your items reflect a certain trend is definately worthwhile!
  • Blog about other stores. Probably your first reaction will be: "Why do I need to put my competitors in MY blog?" Well, easy. If you choose the right stores, the store might also feature you. And their customerbase is potentially also yur future customerbase. Maybe not the wisest move would be to feature a store that is in directly the same field that you are, especially not if they are cheaper! ;)

But a word of caution: A blog is not for everyone. Some people just don't have writing skills and / or the time or stamina to write blogs. And there is nothing more depressing that a blog with the last post dating back a year or so.
It costs time but its a great way to get the messages across. 

5) Link your store's url on Linkedin if you have a profile there.

I assume you have an account on LinkedIn. If not, my first advise would be to set one up. LinkedIn is a great way to keep in touch with business-relevant people such as suppliers, prospective customers and maybe even editors who can feature you!
Now, Linkedin has an interesting feature: you can actualy list up to three websites to your account. So use one for your webshop, and one for your Blog if you have it. But when you do that, do it in a smart way. If you go to the Profile Tab, and click on "Edit Profile", you can add or change the websites by clicking add or edit. by default it will say: "Personal Websites", Company Website or Blog. After that you have a window to enter the URL in. Now, most people just enter the URL there. That is, for SEO purposes, not the best way. If you choose "Other", another field will open where you can put the websites Name or description. If you put your webstore's name there, it will greatly enhance the findability of your webstore's name. The URL you put in the field after that.
If you also link your Twitter account to the one on LinkedIn, your updates will also show there. You can set settings for "all tweets" or just tweets containing the #LI hashtag.

In order tot to make this post too long, the remaining tips will be posted in a few days. So stay tuned for part 2!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Styles and definitions of Fashion

Market in Amsterdam, photo: Marcel Lücht
Today, strolling on the market, I was wondering what the definition of Fashion actually is. If I had to make a guess, it was something like "A way of dressing and using accessories that expresses who you are."
Judging by that definition, whe blandness on the streets was surely indicating that there was not a lot of expression going on. Surely, there were statements of all kinds, a black woman with short milimetered hair painted signal blue, and another woman with the type of red that was screaming "Not Naturally obtained".  But when leaving hairstyles out of the equasion (just for the sake of this blog, because it surely is a fashion statement), there was just an awfull lot of "nothing".
So, I decided to seek advise of the always trusty Internet on the definition of Fashion. And it came up with: "a popular or the latest style of clothing, hair, decoration, or behaviour." (source Oxford Dictionaries).
OK, so by that definition, fashion is more of a reflection of what the mass public decides is "Bon ton". Enter marketing budgets.

So fashion can be made, fashion is the biggest common denominator. Throw a huge budget on add campains in leading magazines lige Vogue or Elle, and there is a fair chance that the general public will, after the fashion pundits have decided its worth putting on the front cover, a new Fashion will be born.
Ok, so far the gloomy, negative, marketing-dollar driven definition. 

But I think there is more to fashion than the definition above is covering. Because everywhere in the world sub-cultures are being created, that keep on influencing eachother. Some on big scales, some on smaller ones.

Take the schoolgirl, Rococo inspired Lolita style that for a few years already is booming in a niche of Japan's fashion styles. Steadily it has found its way to all corners of the world and has grown there to sub-culture fashion statements, that now and then even make headlines in national and international media.
Members of the Lolita Paradise Club in Monterrey, Mexico
Photo Daniel Becerrill / Reuters
The British Daily Mail recently featured an article on this particular sub-culture in Mexico's cities, and sent a reporter to Monterrey for covering of the story. According to the Lolita's Paradise Club, its a statement against the forceful "Grow Up Quickly"- statement of moderns society, trying to stay a kid by dressing accordingly. If that is the whole story is up for debate, but maybe more on that in a later blog. At least we can agree that it is a fashion statement, a way of expressing yourself through clothing and accessories. It does not seem at all a common denominator, a mass inspired thing, pushed by large corporations. Instead its a niche that, on its own, and aided by the openness of the internet and assisted by media coverage, finds its way into different corners of the world. Is everyone thinking its "beautiful", "Cute" or something alike? I don't think so. And is it popular? Walking on the streets of Amsterdam today, I did not see anybody dressed even remotely Lolita-style. Therefor it does not really match the definition by Oxford Dictionary. But is it fashion? Yes it is! Fashion in my belief is more than the "Middle-of-the-road" that brands like PME, Esprit and G-star are pushing. Fashion is an expression of an individual!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tribal inspired fashion

® TeenVogue
A trend that is every now and then popping up is Tribal inspired fashion. Teen Vogue wrote an article about it in its 2011 trend report : 

From L.A.M.B. to Missoni, the runway was a delightful smorgasbord of vibrant patterns inspired by everything from African fabrics to American prep staples. Forget everything your mother told you about mixing prints - for this look, the more you pile on the better! To get the trend just right, try mix n' matching motifs with at least one thing in common, whether it be color palette, size or common graphic line. Most importantly: Wear it with utter confidence!

That was 2011.... however, the trend was only starting of then. wrote: "You're going to see a lot of ethnically inspired fashion for both men and woman in spring/summer of 2012..".. And indeed, when we look at some of todays designs and fashion stiles, they truly are Tribal inspirations. Some can be clearly traced back to specific cultures, for others its harder to do.

SmpliAnwi's Metal Magma
BarefootModiste's "La Nubiënne"
Also on Etsy we can find Ethnic / Tribal fashion. Canada-based Barefootmodiste for instance has almost made her trademark out of it. Her store is litteraly filled to the brim with patterns, dresses and accesories that breath Africa. All hand crafted pieces, with material that comes from Africa and are designed by an African. True masterpieces. From her also comes a new fashion statement: Tribal inspired chokers. Also each handcrafted from African Cotton material, one can truly define them as "Fashion with an attitude".  Necklaces are also a favorite for tribal adventures. Shopstyle features some of them, like Cara Couture's Tribal Multistrand necklace. More Indian inspired is for instance Metal Magma, which has more Mayan influences to it. With some doomsday-seeers saying the Mayan Empire predict 2012 to be the end of this world, maybe it's a good idea to pay tribute to the once so powerful Empire of Central America this year! Who knows, it might keep you safe. And if the world will not end, well at least you were stylish!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

6 things to increase international sales

Okay, so here I went, posting a discussion on the Etsy forum: little did I know it would generate so many replies: 119 as I am typing this blog, but surely more by the time you read it.
Since in my last blog I raised a few questions, and the reaction on my post gave insight on what some people felt about the possible answers (at least from their opinion), let me share the results with everyone.
After all, crowdsourcing is in.

By the time I analized this, 40 US individuals had given their opinion on the issues I raised. Here are the results.
Of the 40, 35 said they did not have any real problems with buying from international stores, located outside of the USA. Thats a good score. The remaining five however, did have fundamental issues preventing them doing International orders. Of those 5, 1 reason was sort of patriotic, wanting to support US economy, one was due to the fact that international stores often only accept Paypal as a payment option, a service the customer did not want do signup with. The other reasons quoted for not wanting to shop international were of a more practical reason: costs. Either the cost of International shipping, or the costs of the goods themselves, due to the weaker dollar.

So, 5 out of 40 (12,5%) seems a good number. But we have to put this in perspective.
Don't forget that 62% of all 10 million Etsy users are US Based, according to this report, accounting for around 6,2 million customers, still amounts to three quarter of a million users that DON'T want to buy international. A sizable amount indeed.

But thats not all. In fact, only 17 (around 50% of potential international buyers) say there is no reason why they would not buy international. The other 50% list a number of apprehensions on buying from a non-US store. The graph  here shows what are the quoted reasons. 
The vast majority say the shipping cost and the shipping time are huge barriers when it comes to ordering from an international seller. Obviously, we want it, and we want it NOW is the key here, and adding another 10$ for postage is not a very enticing idea. The next big one is the cost of the goods, basically due to the low dollar exchange rate compared to the UK pound or Euro I guess. Well, the financial markets have recently partially done their best to reduce that difference ;-). 

So what can international sellers do about this?
I guess the following 6 pieces of advise can be distilled:

1) Make sure you have a clear shop policy, stating what international buyers can expect in terms of delivery times. Don't make promisses you cant keep, the shipment process is out of your hands, but a positively surprised customer is a better ambassador than a disappointed one. And be sure to put in your policies that any surplus on the actual shipping price will be reïmbursed, and adhere to it!

2) Minimize the transit times by clearly filling out custom forms, not including shipping costs in the declared value and (for US adresses) follow this link to the USPS zip locator for a correct addressing which seems to shorten the transit time (Thanks to Helen from Frenchsoul for this tip!)

3) Maybe, include part of the shipping rate into your item price. Now this is up for debate. Some will in no way want to do that, even if it is not to deter local buyers. On the other hand, since 62% of all potential buyers are US based (and international of course a lot more!), this might be a good strategy. After all, a lot of buyers will see a relative high shipping price upon checkout, and decide to cancel at that point.

4) Since most buyers can be found in the USA, make it a point to get good feedback from your international buyers, and maybe also ask them, in their feedback, to put something on the real shippping time. After all, uncertainty on it seems a large deterrant for many, even though some national US shipments also take some time.

5) Be sure to have a unique product. After all, if a US prospect buyer can choose between simmilar items, one international with potential shipping delays and high shipment costs, and one that doesn't, you can't blame them for choosing the latter.

6) Maybe most importantly: respond fast and clearly to all questions or remarks, gaining potential buyers' trust and, above all, get them to become repeating customers. 

Good luck selling!

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Yesterday, in Etsy's forum an interesting topic turned up, one that I had already been pondering on for some time. The topic was concerning the amount of views vs the amount of likes and the resulting amount of sales. In marketing terms this is called the Conversion rate.

The first few posts, all showed similar conversion rates of, between 100 and 250 views per sale (with around 20-30 likes per sale), but later more and more posts popped up where the views per sale ratio ended up between 500-2000.
Of course I quickly calculated my own and ended up on an average 650 views per sale, so well within the second tier.

Now, finding out those numbers is interesting, but the key question of course is how to INFLUENCE these numbers and in order to be able to do that, we need to know the cause.

There is where it becomes a bit tough. I don't have the time to make a scientific research on this, but a few observations could be made.

To people saying that external marketing (outside of Etsy) would be the cause: I don't think so. That would increase the amount of views, but not necessarily the view/sale ratio. In fact, it could be debated that it would reduce the ratio, since more views will dilute the sales made ratio (increasing sales but not in the same amount as the amount of views).

Of course a difference could be that the tagging of items was more specific, resulting in possible less views, but a higher conversion rate per view (ie more sales per view). That is to be investigated.

An other difference that caught my eye has to do with location. It quickly struck me that many of the shops with low conversion ratios (so high number of views per sale) were located outside of the US.
A quick look on Ebay shows that many stores don't even consider selling international. Its considered "a hassle", dangerous or just unneccesary. Whether that is a valid idea remains to be seen. However, I believe that the vast majority of Etsy buyers are US based. And I can immagine they would prefer to buy from US based stores, either because they are apprehensive of buying from non-US stores, they feel the shipping charges are too high or just for patriotic reasons.
Is there much that non-US sellers can do about this? Hardly. Just keep the shipping rates as low as possible (don't inflate), communicate in a timely and kind manner, and maybe in the stores policy or "about me" mention that many international orders have not caused any problems.
But that aside, I strongly believe Etsy can do something too: Increase they brand awareness outside of the US.
Maybe its a good idea to discuss this with your local Etsy representative?

Your views are highly appreciated.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Etsy's numbers

Under here are Etsy's monthly figures, its so-called weather report. A quick analyse shows not only volumes were up, but the growth of turnover exceeded the growth in sheer item-volume, which indicates the average price per sale went up. Slightly worrying is the flimsy growth in new members, only 0.1%.
Blooming flowers and rising temperatures made May the perfect month to hop on a bike and go for a ride. The Etsy community rode through the month with sunny days and growth to match.
The stats:
  • $65.9 million of goods (after refunds and cancellations) were sold by our community in May, 3.6% higher than April’s $63.6 million
  • That represents 3,034,442 items sold for the month, 2.4% higher than April’s 2,962,196
  • 2,248,143 new items were listed in the month, 2.1% higher than April’s 2,202,219
  • 688,365 new members joined the Etsy community in the month, up 935, or 0.1%, from April
  • 1.29 billion page views were recorded on the site in May
The $65.9 million of goods sold (after refunds and cancellations) represents a 68.5% increase from May 2011′s total. At the same time, items sold were up 51.2%. Thanks to everyone who contributed to the Etsy community in May!
Source: / Sinohe Terrero

The Struggle for Customers

I think everyone who has a webshop, or as a matter of fact, even a Brick & Mortar shop, faces the continuous struggle to find new customers. As have I. The truth of the matter is that I am not the most digitally versed person in the world, I just want to do what I am good at, making jewelry, leather bags and crochet dresses, next to my daytime job as an MD. But instead I find myself busy with things such as Tags, Blogs, Twitter, SEO and setting up Facebook Company pages.... ahh, such is the life of an artist.

Etsy, and Etsy users all proclaim a blog is a great way to engage with your customers and attract new potential customers for your webshop. Well, lets wait and see.

So what is my goal with this blog? Or rather, what can you expect? Well, expect news on handmade fashion and jewelry, updates on my projects, Lessons learned and maybe some times tips and tricks.