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Old 08-06-2018, 06:10 AM
Tatyanka Art Tatyanka Art is offline
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Sales are rock bottom :(

My parents own an art supply business: www.artistsupplysource.com
Their sales are plummeting. Any tips on how we could get customers to come to our site? I mean, we have tried Youtube and Facebook, but nothing has worked.
We have been in business for over 20 years and it would be such a shame to close it down.
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Old 08-06-2018, 08:13 AM
Harold Roth Harold Roth is offline
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Re: Sales are rock bottom :(

I doubt anyone here knows how to run a brick-and-mortar art supply shop. A friend of mine who ran a brick-and-mortar metaphysical supplies shop for several decades saw plummeting sales and turned it into online only. He was able to stay in business that way.

That said, despite all the bluster about the "thriving economy," all the ecommerce people I know (including my own shop, which I've run for 18 years), have seen a downturn in sales in the past few years. These are the mom-and-pop shops of the internet. The big guns online are doing great because due to volume, they can get better prices not only for wholesale but for taxes (they get tax breaks for employing people) and postage. They get more customers when people aren't making much money.

The rest of us have to figure out a niche to survive in.
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Old 08-06-2018, 12:11 PM
Tatyanka Art Tatyanka Art is offline
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Re: Sales are rock bottom :(

yeah, amazon on other big companies are consuming the market. thank you for your words.
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Old 08-06-2018, 05:48 PM
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RobinZ RobinZ is offline
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Re: Sales are rock bottom :(

I buy all of my art supplies online. Your prices on the few staples I checked were more expensive by $3 or $4 than I pay, plus I get free shipping, plus for buying in bulk, I get more of a discount. I will buy anywhere that could beat that. I didn't see any deals for shipping like free if you buy "x" minimum on your site.

I just don't see how you can be competitive with professional artists, so maybe you can go after hobbyists and students in some way to maybe bunch things together to make it easy, like starter sets or something?

Since you aren't brick and mortar, events aren't going to help.

Since you sell brand name products, you can't say your products are better, and at both of the places I buy from, they have great customer service, too.

I don't buy from Amazon, their prices are on par with buying from other suppliers, and I usually am organized enough to buy a week in advance.

I haven't seen a downturn in my art business because I have diversified and sold in various places when one place slowed down. And I have lots of friends who sell online who are doing very well.

But I am afraid that pricing and shipping have to be at least on par with other sellers to sell art supplies to those of us who buy a lot of them, who would be your bread and butter, I'd think.

Or something very niche that you can source in a unique manner?
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Old 08-11-2018, 09:03 AM
contumacious contumacious is offline
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Re: Sales are rock bottom :(

Is the business online only? If yes, then like what others have already said, you have to be at or below the prices offered by the big online sellers including their shipping incentives, unless you offer a LOT of stuff they don't. In order to win new customers the prices would probably have to be less than they are charging which is going to be pretty difficult since you are likely paying more than they are for the merchandise. They buy direct and probably pay what your supplier pays, or even less for the stuff.

The website is a bit confusing. It states you have 20 stores but only two are listed, one in the US and one in Canada.

The About Us page shows 19 employees. That seems like a lot of salaries to pay out. How many individual orders come through in a day? Could 4 people handle the volume? That would free up half a million bucks based on $35K a year x 15 people.
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Old 08-13-2018, 04:39 PM
picassolite picassolite is offline
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Re: Sales are rock bottom :(

Hi Tatyanka ...

I love a marketing challenge ...

Regarding your comment - "We have been in business for over 20 years and it would be such a shame to close it down."

After reviewing your website - https://www.artistsupplysource.com

I've come up with the following observations and suggestions:

80,000 past buyers - "The easiest and most cost-effective sale - is the sale to past buyers."

Put simply - marketing gurus have noticed - 'the money is in the list.'

1- In my opinion- it is not the technical side of your site that is wanting - although you might look into CDN processing... to reduce page speed load timing. However this is not a priority at this time as competing art supply houses all have similar high page speed load timings...
run your site and competing art supply sites through - https://www.webpagetest.org/

2- The back-links of your site are not the issue - as all online art supply houses are in outrageous competition mode... and the backlinks history of competing art supply sites all show a significant drop-off ... see https://www.majesticseo.com

So what is the suggested marketing remedy?

It's the 'story' side of your site that has the most potential of retaining and increasing sales...

Michael Che - Director of Digital marketing ... might want to review just how Jerrysartarama is retaining clients -

ENGAGE YOUR 80K BUYERS - of all the competing art supply sites - I have found - Jerrysartarama offers the best paradigmn.

* see https://www.jerrysartarma.com - 'artist resources'

* " - 'online art contests'

* " - 'my story'

* " - 'read stories'

In short - it is the sale ... after the sale (to the same customer) ... that will increase the profit margins.

* But first - you have to 'engage' your buyer with your site.

* It's time to get out your 80,000 buyer email list and go to work 'engaging' them.

1- see Mailist Controller at http://www.arclab.com ( a very cost effective and comprehensive email engagement program - allows the company computer to act as an email server. I use it myself)

2- Or you could try https://mailchimp.com/ and use it's automated features. The automated features are really remarkable.

Hope these suggestions give you food for thought.

Best regards,

Picassolite

PS - was going to comment on your 'plein aire - still life' entry of 8-6-18 but thought this was a higher priority.

I don't claim to be a marketing guru - but I have used these things and they do work.

Here's the back story about Jerrysartarama - years ago I contacted them - requested a set of brushes for demo and blog article purposes. Had to divulge what site would have the demo article... to obtain the brushes at no cost. It was an online competition art gallery. Well Jerrysartarama liked that site and took the idea to a whole new level of engagement.

Last edited by picassolite : 08-13-2018 at 05:17 PM.
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Old 08-14-2018, 03:03 PM
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RobinZ RobinZ is offline
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Re: Sales are rock bottom :(

Jerry's also has competitive pricing and shipping.
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Old 08-15-2018, 01:25 PM
Devorahdraws Devorahdraws is offline
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Re: Sales are rock bottom :(

From the "millennial" generation, some thoughts:

1.) If this is your family's youtube, https://www.youtube.com/user/artistsupplysource/videos then it is woefully out of date. The last video was a year ago - and popular youtubers tend to update weekly (if not daily, but that's a bit much). By contrast, Jerry's Artarama last updated 16 hours ago, and then again two days ago. I have also noticed relatively newer student grade/crafter's brands market by donating supplies and materials to youtubers to review. (i.e. arteza, or prima marketing). Similarly i've seen art supply stores give youtubers discount codes to share with their followers along with a few supplies.
2.) I've noticed a lot of people use instagram for art-related things (for obvious reasons - it's a site easy to update photos and short videos on)
3.) Your family's website makes it easier to find paintbrushes than to find paint! The drop-down of departments shows paintbrushes but NOT paints. You have to click through to "view all departments" and then scroll to find paint. I'd suggest the user interface isn't really as friendly as it could be. I want to be able to find things easily, and the "accessories" department coming in before paints is a bit much.
4.) I admit, I also buy from whoever is selling something for the cheapest amount. The people who can "afford" the pricier supplies but don't spend time to shop around are generally hobbyists/"crafters" and in my experience, middle-aged to retirement age (Yes, they also use pinterest) OR the more wealthy "younger" folks who want to be trendy/indie/hip.
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Old 08-15-2018, 08:42 PM
Michael Lion Michael Lion is offline
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Re: Sales are rock bottom :(

I don't know how a small store can possibly compete against the much bigger online art supply stores with much better websites and lower prices with free shipping.
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Old 08-16-2018, 09:43 AM
Harold Roth Harold Roth is offline
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Re: Sales are rock bottom :(

The best way a small store can compete is to find a niche that is not being filled by anyone. If you sell what everyone else sells, you can only compete in terms of service, not price, because bigger shops will always get better wholesale prices and be able to sell for less--and they'll have a bigger selection. So you can offer hands-on help, for instance. But with a niche, you can charge pretty much what you want. A niche still takes time to build. And you have to really dig for suppliers (or make things yourself). But it is how I have stayed in business with my little online shop for 18 years now.

The other thing is if you treat your customers decently, they will come back. A hefty chunk of my customers in my shop (and for my art, for that matter) are repeat buyers.

Niches in art supplies--illuminators, botanical artists, mosaicists, mixed media folks, people who sell at art fairs, etc.

One thing a friend of mine is doing is specializing in art classes, and these are on the fluffy side--like a paint and wine night. One night or day class making one particular thing that people can take home with them. Like everyone paints a decorative tree. She also does kid classes. This is not for everyone, though.
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