How to Combat the Summer Slow Down

How to Combat the Summer Slow Down

 

how to keep busy in the off season for craft businesses knitting sewing crochet yarnSummer is coming in the Northern Hemisphere, luring people outside with its warmth, sunshine and fun activities. Most craft businesses see a drop-off in sales during the warmer months as even dedicated crafters take a break to engage with nature or tackle larger household projects instead of their hobby crafts. What can you do to level out some of the lows of the off-season for your business? We have some suggestions for you, whether you’re selling your products wholesale or retail.

Markdowns

Yes, lowering your prices will stimulate sales. You just want to make sure you do it in a way that doesn’t hurt your bottom line.

Giving your retailers an opportunity to restock their inventory before you institute a price increase isn’t exactly a markdown, but it is a way to get them to commit to an order during the off-season. It’s also a great way for you to clear out current stock to make room for your new line of products, so everybody wins. When you know that your costs have increased and you will have to pass on that increase, it’s a courtesy to let your customers know ahead of time. Offering them the chance to buy at current prices helps them deal with their off-season sales slump, too. It puts both you and your stockists in a position to invest in your product lines for the new season ahead.

In the same vein, you can offer limited-time markdowns on your most-popular products. Again, giving your retailers a chance to buy at a discount could let you make up on volume what you are losing on price. Putting a time limit on the sale protects you and gives your customers an incentive to make the purchase. Considering picking your four top-selling products and offering each one for a week to get you through July, for example.

Finally, the off-season is traditionally a time to offer deals on discontinued merchandise or end-of-season sales. Customers are conditioned to expect markdowns, so you can meet that expectation while clearing out last season’s products and/or those you have decided to discontinue. It’s a fresh start for you as you gear up for your busy season and it’s an opportunity for your customers to feel like you’ve given something back to them.

Extend Your Customer Base

With internet sales, markets are worldwide now. Remember that off-season in your hemisphere is the busy season in your polar opposite. Consider this: a specialty pajama company noticed that they were getting a lot of orders in June, not their typical busy season. When they looked more closely, the orders were primarily from Australia. The lightbulb went on and they began a marketing campaign in selected Southern Hemisphere areas. You can do the same with your craft products. Expanding your global footprint to include stockists in the opposite seasonal regions is another way to balance the ebb and flow of sales. Do your research to make sure your export and delivery costs don’t consume your potential profits, but do consider it a way to find year-round demand.

You can also extend your customer base by extending the use and focus of your products. Let’s say your company makes organizer and tote style bags for crafters. Brainstorm other potential customers for your products. Are your bags water-repellent? Maybe those pockets and dividers actually make your knitting bag the perfect take-along for a mom taking the kids to the pool on a summer afternoon. Perhaps your smaller cloth project pouches are also great toiletry and lingerie cases for traveling. Now you can do some marketing outreach beyond the crafting community, whether it’s with a coordinated campaign or tagging your online products in such a way that these new markets will find them. Brainstorm with your team about how your products solve a problem for different customers and then find those customers.

Create New Demand

Your off-season is a great time to introduce a new product or technique to stimulate demand. Dedicated crafters are always thinking about their craft, even if they’re not actively engaged with it on a daily basis. Use your social media channels to show them a new way to use your tools or teach them a new craft with your materials. Perhaps you create overdyed wool for use in rug-hooking. Summer may be a time that rug-hookers are not keen to be indoors working with heavy fabrics, bent over hooking frames. What else can crafters do with your fabric bundles? Stacking and rolling wool fabrics strips is a whole different application for your materials. This Pinterest pin gives you some idea of what it looks like; crafters assemble these stacks and rolls into standing wool rugs, trivets, jewelry, vessels and other things. Why not post a video about how to do this? It’s a portable craft using your products that could give your customers a reason to buy your products when normally they wouldn’t even be thinking about them.

If you’re facing a seasonal slump at the retail level, create an event around introducing a new craft. Weather permitting, hold it outdoors, offer refreshments and teach the craft. Have it on a weeknight that your customer is used to the shop being open late. The event will bring them in; the craft will sell product and having it in-store will remind them of all the lovely things they’ve forgotten they planned to buy. And that brings us to our final suggestion…

Promote Your Busy-Season Demands

The craft industry has lag-time built into it by its very nature. As every knitter realizes sometime during Thanksgiving weekend, there are only 4-5 weeks until Christmas and there’s no way everybody on the list is getting a handknit hat, let alone an afghan. That’s the pain point which off-season marketing can relieve. Crafters need to start working in the off-season in order to have their projects finished by the time they want to give, use or wear them. We all should be knitting our summer sweaters in February and our Christmas stockings in July, but that’s not how the yarn industry defines seasons.

But you can. Partner with your retailers to promote your products during the off-season. Your stockists could have a Cast-On Party with a Craft-Along making a specific pattern with your materials. There could be prizes for first-finishers or most-makers during a specified period. Whether it’s a quilt block or an afghan square every week from June through August, or a mystery project with a new clue given every week, you can keep your customers engaged and give them a feeling of accomplishment when they have a finished object (or two or three) by the end of the “off-season.” And it will make them feel less guilty about all the new craft materials they want to buy at the beginning of the new season.

If you liked these ideas, we have more for your craft-based business. Contact leanne@stitchcraftmarketing to learn about how we can make magic for your brand.

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