Merchandising Tips & Tricks for the Quilting Trade

As quilters, our aspirations and ideas for fabric and patterns are almost unlimited (if only we had enough time to see all our quilty dreams come to fruition)! But as quilt shop owners, we have an even loftier call: monetizing our hobby and creating an environment for fellow quilters to gather and enjoy. Besides marketing, merchandising (even for online retailers) is the #1 method we can employ to make our sales go boom (and to improve customer satisfaction). I've compiled the most effective merchandising tips to make your shop a top performer...you've got this! 




Alison Glass asked that we laser-cut her popular pattern, "Cathedral," with the release of her brand new batik line, "Chroma" in June.

alison glass chroma cathedral laser cut kit

1. Sales per square foot

 A key sales metric in the analysis of your quilt shop is "sales per square foot." Go back through your POS (if you don't have a POS, your website or software you use likely has a data analysis tool)--assess what you've sold in the past and where it was placed. Did certain areas in your shop attract more attention? Did those areas of high attention have a higher concentration of sales? That's what I call your "prime real estate." You'll want to reserve those spots for best-selling, higher-priced, high-margin items.

Consider the "Cathedral" quilt (above), designed by Alison Glass. If a customer were to purchase the needed fabric from your shop, they might buy 1/8 to 1/4 yard of each print. With 20 prints used in the pattern, they might spend $20 to $50 in fabric. 

If you kitted this pattern with the fabric to make the quilt top and binding, you'd charge $80 to $85 retail. If you had this pattern laser-cut and pre-fused with SoftFuse Premium fusible, you'd be able to charge $90 to $100 with a higher margin (because the laser-cutting means each kit requires a smaller amount of fabric). 

The wonderful, magical thing about quilt kits is their penchant for being a low-volume, higher-priced item that adds value to your customers. So, instead of taking up a 5' square area of your quilt shop (like fabric bolts can), it can be placed on a shelf or in a decorative crate. That's key when it comes to your "prime real estate!"

We are NOT saying bag the bolts, by any means! Fabric boltage brings an ambiance to your shop that makes us all a little quilt-crazy and that brings in a sizable portion of sales. But, careful placement of a collated kit can mean much higher sales without increasing the square footage of your store.

The same goes for online retailers. The "prime real estate" space of the website is the front page. So analyze past sales and then curate carefully :)

modern handcraft acrylic laser cut

 


Nicole Daksiewicz of Modern Handcraft designed and released these fussy cutting templates for piecing and EPP. We laser-cut and engraved the acrylic for her!

Have custom template ideas for your shop? Pairing templates and other notion with relevant kits helps merchandise like products with each other and increases your sales!

2. Remember quilters have 5 senses, not 1

Most of the time, we only think about how our customers see our products. But it's as much about smell, taste, sound, and touch. Before you laugh, listen up.

1. Sight: We quilt shop owners have this one pretty much down pat. We know how to arrange each product aesthetically and make beautiful hanging samples to entice our customers to buy. Other factors you might consider leveraging: lighting, contrast, symmetry, and balance--each of these components affect how long and what your customers look at.

2. Sound: What kind of music do you play in your shop? Quick, lively music inspires impulsive buying, while mellow music helps relax your customers and makes them feel at ease to browse and take their time. Try each and see how your customers respond!

3. Touch: Sure, quilters feel at home caressing the fabric in your shop, but also consider using events to merchandise the products you want to sell...Wanting to introduce them to laser-cuts? Schedule a Make and Take! Determined to sell more quilting rulers? Hold a Show & Tell where they can watch you demonstrate and have a turn to practice themselves. 

4. Smell: There really is a thing called scent marketing. While it sounds borderline pathetic, it totally works. A neurologist ran a study with Nike tennis shoes. Two exact same pairs of shoes were placed in separate rooms, but one of the rooms had a floral scent. Customers purchased the shoes in the scented room 84% of the time. Companies employ this tactic all the time--coconut essence in swimsuit stores, baby powder odors in the infant section...Consider your quilters' likes and dislikes and their emotional response to a smell. If some of your regular customers are sensitive/allergic to floral sprays/fumes, try something more natural like scented starch (Mary Ellen's Best Press) or cinnamon sticks placed in boiling water. The goal here is to try to connect the smell with their passion for quilting.

5. Taste: Now it might give you a hilarious visual: shop owners encouraging quilters to lick the fabric...but that's not what we're getting at ;) In the case of quilting, "taste" is similar to "touch." It allows quilters to sample the product before they purchase. Consider placing sample baskets throughout the store with mini charm squares. Or, hold a UFO (unfinished objects) class that's free where they can use the shop's sample notions/machines in-shop. They'll probably walk away with a bag full of fabric, goodies, and (maybe) a sewing machine or notion they tried out in your shop! Cha-ching.

3. Rotate inventory

Inventory that isn't rotating becomes stagnant, especially with your frequent customers. Rotate your front displays--"prime real estate"--with seasonal items/fabrics and best-sellers.

The absolute best way to determine what "works" with merchandising and what doesn't it to test out the waters...make a hypothesis, or educated guess, based on your previous years' results, and then execute! You'll never know if you don't try...

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