19 Jun Best Practices in Quilt Retailing
ByAnnie.com, creator of bag-making products that are easy to use, made of exceptional quality, and bring vibrant color options to the creative process, holds an annual local quilt shop (LQS) contest. In conjunction with a special partnership to support the LQS contest, we’ve put together this compilation of best practices from the winners of the contest.
As strong supporters of local quilt shops, ByAnnie not only embraces local shop owners, but it also directs shoppers (on its website) to find a local quilt shop near them first by using its LQS Contest Map. Every vote helps fill out this map, which helps ‘quilters, sewists, and travelers find new places to share their love for creativity and find inspiration’.
The contest began in the same spirit by highlighting the efforts of local quilt shops while providing the local patrons an opportunity to show their appreciation. By supporting local quilt shops, ByAnnie is building a community and enriching the local economies while preserving these inspirational, creative centers.
Now in its sixth year, the LQS Contest continues to grow. There was a total of 39,327 votes and a total number of stores (with votes) grew by 10% to 2,092 stores across 11 countries!
“Our dream is to highlight all shops and create a competition that is fun for everyone,” said Annie Unrein of ByAnnie.com and Patterns by Annie. “From the smallest local shop that just serves walk-in traffic to the largest hybrid shop with an online following.”
This year’s four grand prize winners are:
- Quilted Twins in Dade City, Florida
- Quilts by the Bay in Brighton, Digby, NS, Canada
- Kadina Craft and Sewing Centre in Kadina, SA, Australia
- Oh Sew Sweet Ltd in Barnsley, United Kingdom
Additionally, there are 65 regional winners across the United States, Canada, and internationally. You can read more about the contest and each winner on the dedicated Local Quilt Shop Contest website.
As a crowd-sourced competition, even one vote means the local shop is making a difference in its community. As we at Stitchcraft Marketing watched the votes roll in, we also learned more about each winner as they answered questions about their store, staff, and impact from the contest.
From our perspective, a few things stood out as marketing best practices and we’d like to share the top three things with you here, while highlighting a few of the regional winners:
Take lots of photos
From the exterior to the interior of the store, photos can say so much. Take photos of every new or seasonal display, events and workshops, and your staff. Photos really sell your LQS story. Troll Brothers Quilt Designs did a bang-up job of capturing lots of photos for a fantastic view inside the store.
When it comes to products, a great flat lay shot—one showcasing products from above against neutral backgrounds and other props—is a winner nearly every time. A close second is a lifestyle shot—one that shows your product in action, placing it within the context of your customer’s life.
There is an art to both and they both need a good dose of lighting, either natural or studio lighting. Combining shots like these and making a quick video is another way to repurpose all the work put into capturing your products or store.
Have an online presence
You may have a strong in-store sales and customer base, but contests like these are sure to widen your reach. Keep your online store fresh and updated with products, workshops, and sales. The online store for Au fil d’Emma has an overall pleasurable shopping experience.
Another tip for a polished online presence, like social media channels, is to always like or reply to comments—even the negative ones. All of them offer something to learn from. It is always recommended to answer all comments left on social media and other listing sites, like Google reviews. Embrace the feedback and make it a point of customer service.
Related: Social Media and Buyer Behavior
Acknowledge your friendly staff
While this may seem obvious, it can go a long way with your customer base. As your staff, or you (if you are the solo shop owner), engage with your customers, your community builds. The stronger the community, the more inspiration can be shared. The folks at Kadina Craft and Sewing Centre shared lots of fun photos of its staff that show how engaged the store is within its community.
You can easily spotlight staff members on your social media channels or blog posts—the ByAnnie’s LQS contest is a fantastic example—to keep smiling faces online and in your store.
We hope this inspired you to take great photos your store, fine tune your online presence, and make customer service your hallmark. If you’d like help with any one or all three points we covered, contact Stitchcraft Marketing today!