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Navigating the Online Marketplace: Selling Fabrics and Supplies Online

by | Apr 9, 2024

Online shopping has transformed the retail industry over the last several decades. The number of shoppers choosing to buy online has been steadily increasing with no sign of slowing down. The sewing industry is no exception to this trend, shifting more and more towards online sales over time. While some quilters prioritize the in-store shopping experience, others enjoy the flexibility and convenience of purchasing fabric, thread and other supplies from whatever online vendor they choose, regardless of where they live. If you’re a sewing store owner who has not yet begun selling online, you have the opportunity to greatly expand the customer base you can serve and increase profitability as a result. To compete in today’s world, online sales give you a critical edge.


Understanding Your Audience

Retail sewing and quilting stores offer a unique product that requires unique features for online sales. For example, it’s important for customers to be able to order a specific measurement of fabric. The online shop they purchase from needs to be able to calculate and display the price for the specified measurement so the customer has the information they need to make a purchase. Customers also like to get a close-up view of the quality of the fabric, so high-quality images of the fabrics are important. Functionality for in-store classes and automated marketing emails are also helpful features that will help you run your business.


Choosing the Right All-In-One POS System

A point-of-sale or pos system is a digital platform that will take care of these and other important features you need to run your business. When you look for a point of sale system, it’s important that you consider the features it offers, the price, and if it integrates with other programs you want to use.

There are a variety of pos systems on the market, but LikeSew’s pos platform has been designed specifically for sewing and quilting stores with all of the features you need to run your store. The system offers inventory management, website, online store, shipping, marketing, class sign-up, and more. Rather than doing all the work yourself, using an effective pos platform allows you to add these features to your business easily and with all the support you need.


Building Your Online Presence

Your website should be as unique as your store. Employing creative, unique designs and including high-resolution photos of your shop’s interior will help you showcase your brand identity. Don’t be afraid to include a section with the history and inspiration behind your store. Is quilting a family tradition? Is it a way for you to connect with friends? Customers enjoy learning these details, which tell your story and build brand loyalty.

Putting extra work into your product listings will reap benefits. Make sure to include quality photos, specific product titles, and quality descriptions. When customers have more information about a product, they feel more trust in your offerings and buy with more confidence.
When developing your online presence, lean into the patterns, textures, and colors of your quilts and fabrics. Your site should be full of these images, which draw the eyes of customers and create a lasting impression.


Managing Inventory and Fulfillment

Effective inventory management is essential for the success of any retail store. Paying close attention to how your products are selling allows you to order more of what’s popular and less of what isn’t, increasing profitability and customer satisfaction. An all-in-one point-of-sale system tracks your sales and inventory, helps you automize online ordering, creates sales forecasts, and provides you with all the tools you need to optimize your inventory management.

One of the most important factors to consider when you begin selling products online is order fulfillment. You may choose to package and ship online orders yourself, or you may involve a third party to fulfill orders. Which option is better for you depends on several factors, including your packaging needs, your team’s experience with shipping, your available warehouse space, your order volume, and how much control you want over shipping. Utilizing a third-party order fulfillment organization can save you money on space, labor, and training and may provide customers with a better shipping experience, including sophisticated order tracking and round-the-clock customer service.

While online ordering can increase your customer base and profitability, it also adds to your expenses and the logistics involved can complicate your role. There are many things you can do to decrease shipping costs and simplify the process. Be aware of shipping services’ rates, including when they change. Try to use the smallest and lightest packaging options possible while making sure fragile products have the insulation they need to avoid breaking. Non-fragile products, like fabric, can be sent in bags or envelopes. Prepaying for shipping may get you a discount from the service you use.


Marketing and Promotions

It’s important to get the word out about your store if you want to generate sales. To effectively market your business, you must first know your audience. Many quilting and sewing store owners are quilting enthusiasts themselves, and have friends who are. If this describes you, try to speak in a language you and your friends who quilt understand in your marketing efforts.

Social media is a great way to reach new people. It allows you to build a network of customers and let them know about new products, special discounts, classes or other events, and more. Personally appearing in images and videos on your social media channel can give your brand a personal touch and build camaraderie with your audience. You can also utilize email marketing, sending thank-you emails, special offers, or store updates to your customers, encouraging repeat business. LikeSew’s point-of-sale platform can help you automate this process.

Social media marketing can also open the door for collaborations with other organizations. You could invite a popular quilter to teach a class at your store, for example. You could sell a popular new quilting product at your store, resulting in revenue for your business as well as the other organization. Reaching out to others who share your interest in quilting can lead to partnerships that strengthen both businesses.


Providing Excellent Customer Service

Many consumers see online shopping as the easiest and most convenient way to shop, but despite the systems in place to prevent errors and ensure quality, there will still be some hiccups along the way. Sometimes products are out of stock, shipping errors cause delays, or the package is lost. In these instances, your business will need excellent customer service. It’s critical that you respond quickly when customers contact you with questions or concerns about their online orders. Though you won’t be able to resolve every issue immediately, responding quickly lets customers know you care about their experience and are doing what you can to fix the problem.

Having a return and exchange policy helps you keep your customers happy, even when something they purchased wasn’t the right fit. A no-return policy can create frustration and turn customers away from returning. Putting a little extra effort towards helping these customers have a good experience leads to more repeat customers and a better reputation for your business. Truly caring about your customers and showing interest in their projects can help you build long-term customer relationships.


Monitoring Performance and Adaptation

You can’t improve if you don’t know how you’ve done. Monitoring key performance indicators like sales, expenses, profit, and inventory turnover allows you to find the gaps between where you are and where you want to be so you can close those gaps. By asking for customer reviews you can also gather data on customer satisfaction. Don’t forget to pay attention to market trends so you can adapt your business to the needs of your customers. If a new product you don’t carry is sweeping the quilting industry, try it out and see how it sells. Identifying areas where you can improve is the first step to greater success.

A point-of-sale software will keep track of your key performance indicators and can automatically ask customers for google reviews. LikeSew’s point-of-sale platform presents the data in a clear and readable manner so you can determine how you can best improve your business.


Moving Online

Simply put, if you aren’t selling online, you’re missing out on success you could have had. By investing time and effort into building a high-quality online presence, you can reach more customers, build brand loyalty, and see increased sales. While embarking on the journey of online sales can seem daunting, an all-in-one point-of-sale software can simplify the process and allow you to manage the various aspects of your business from one place.

Request a demo with LikeSew today to learn how going digital can serve your business and your customers!