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Editorial blog

Spread your crafting wings and diversify your business

26 Jun 2018

Crafter’s Companion founder, Sara Davies MBE, gives some top tips on diversifying your business.

Everyone loves to try their hand at something new, right? But, when it comes to trying something different in your business it can feel like a whole different ball game. However, while mixing things up with your store might appear daunting at first, you shouldn’t be afraid to give it a go.

With the right research and some trade tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be well-equipped to make some positive changes. Whether you are eager to expand, or just fancy challenging yourself, here are my top tips for diversifying your product range.

Do your research

First things first, get talking to your customers. Ask them what else they would like to see on your shelves, and if they have any products or crafts they have been keen to try. Watch out for the people who are leaving your store empty handed. Were they looking for something in particular? Ask them! If the same sort of products or a specific craft comes up time and time again, you could be on to a winner. If you are an online retailer, you could always pop a questionnaire at the checkout, on your homepage or on your next e-newsletter to gather responses.

The next place to do your research is in the market itself. Visit trade shows, attend seminars, chat to suppliers and other retailers. Don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as possible. Ask them about upcoming trends, product launches and how to manage a varied craft range. Also, do your own background research on the market to see what else you can find!

Complement your stock

If you are still unsure about branching out into new areas, you can think more closely to home and find some products that complement your current offering. For example, if you already have a great wool and yarn stock for knitting and crochet, could you expand into dressmaking and sewing? Or let’s say you are a papercraft stockist, why not venture into fine art materials? Catering to complementary hobbies will not only bring in another customer base, but your current customers are likely to dabble in these sorts of crafts as well!

Focus group

As soon as you have a few ideas, consider setting up a focus group of regular customers. Get them to take a look at your proposed product offerings in depth, perhaps get them to test out a few samples and gather their feedback.

Study the competition

Look at the current market competition and ask yourself these questions: is it worth competing against them, is there enough demand for these products, and can you retail yours better? If the answer is yes to all of these questions, then create an action plan for launching and marketing your new products. Put as much behind it as you can, so that you can get it off to a flying start. If you think you are providing something unique to the market, still create a plan to help knock it out of the park!

Test the waters

Once you’ve decided on some new products and your launch plan is ready to go, make sure to test the waters by stocking a small amount at first. Display the products in a prominent position of your shop or on your website to help gauge the reaction of your customers. If it’s a hit, you can always bump up the stock orders or even build up a new department in your shop!

Go for it!

When you’ve mastered diversifying your product range, you might want to think about taking things a step further. To really go for it, you could begin to branch out into areas that are closely linked to crafts but are a different market altogether! Consider again the papercraft stockist, they could look at stocking stationery items, or a sewing retailer could try out giftware or storage solutions. Again, these would not only bring in new customers, but be something current customers would enjoy!

So, there you have it! My go-to-guide for diversifying your product range – good luck in putting these tips into practice and just remember, even small changes eventually add up to huge results!

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