Friday, January 23, 2009

Playing Favorites

You may have heard at some point that everything in the universe can be broken down to a mathematical equation. But did you wonder how that is possible? You might be surprised.

Take the things you prefer more than others for instance. Why do you have a favorite color, piece of music, pair of shoes or anything else for that matter? Why do people have different preferences over one another? It all comes back to that mathematical equation. Every single thing in the universe is comprised of energy. Energy vibrates. Every thing vibrates at a different frequency. We are most drawn to the things that vibrate closest to our own frequency. That is why not everyone shares the same favorites or taste in things.

But what happens when you run a business? Of course we are going to gravitate to things we like, but in order to run a successful business we have to be able to stick within our niche and yet sell things that appeal to more people than ourselves. For instance I am not partial to purple, but a lot of people like it so sometimes I accessorize bears in purple, make them in shades of purple and I even made a purple monkey once.

As you know if you have been reading my blog at all, I have been studying handmade online selling venues for a while now. I sell through several of them along with my website. Today however I was viewing them from the other side of the fence as a consumer.

Etsy has created some new gift guides for Valentines Day. At first when they created the Christmas ones I was pretty enthralled. Then I noticed so many repeat sellers, many of which sell the types of things that don't appeal to me. But here we had a new holiday and new gift guides so I figured they would have new vendors. I was wrong. A lot of what they put up was the same stuff from the same people. Etsy claims to have 250,000 why am I as a customer seeing the same ole same ole all over again? Especially when the seller is in multiple gift guides and the front page at the same time? Is it lack of staff to go out and look for more vendors, is it laziness or do they think they really are featuring what every single customer wants to buy? In the end it seems like they would be losing out on new customers and a lot more money that could be made. I realized I was simply bored looking at these same types of items for sale and left.

I moved on to the next site, and the next and the next only to discover that everything I found was predictable on each one. While each one has a different set of things they seem to favor, I knew what I was going to see on each one even before I got there. If I want to see the same types of items, I will just go to individuals websites that have things I like and not waste my time rifling through the pages and pages of featured stuff.

I have heard sellers over the months say they felt it was unfair to keep featuring the same people over and over again. But what about the customers? Are they looking at these sites and seeing the same thing over and over and leaving? If so what about the rest of the hard working sellers on the sites that aren't getting any feature time? What if one of them had something I would have liked? Sure I could have done a search, but in truth many window shoppers wasn't sure exactly what I might like to buy. I was waiting for something magical to jump out at me. I didn't buy anything from any of the sites today. In fact I thought back about it, and I haven't really made very many impulse buys from just looking at them. When I buy something I normally have something specific in mind and use the search feature, usually to have to go through 100 pages of items to find a few that are what I was really looking for.

I sat and thought about this for a while and finally went shopping in the real world. I came back with something fabulous that I found in a window display from a shop here in town that is privately owned. (Go figure.) The owner is a master at creating a unique look and feel with different items each time, but yet staying within the concept of her store. As a result she has stayed successful even during trying economic times. She knows how to draw people into her store by changing it up and appealing to a larger audience.

I would be willing to bet that she doesn't always put the things in her window that primarily appeal to her. I understand it's easy to get caught up in doing that, but perhaps people should step back and think about it a little more. As a result of today's observations I am rethinking all these online selling venues.

Every time I go into a thread related to one of these sites and see people complaining about one, inevitably someone will recommend another site that might be better...but I am not so sure because for the most part they all seem to fall into this trap. Some are worse than others.

Now I am the first person to say continuity is important in establishing a look that is recognizable, but that pertains to us as creators of art. It's important we are identifiable, even so we still change it up a bit to keep it interesting. But in the shopping sales arena, these websites need to have a little more diverse mix in order to keep people interested and gain new customers, particularly in the case of a site as large and diverse as Etsy. What we make will only appeal to some, in order to keep people coming back to these sites as a whole they need to have something for everyone and stop playing to their own favorites or their perceived target audience. Lets face it...if I can't find something I like, and I am bored shopping, you have to be doing something wrong because I have always been a serious shopper with a diverse and eclectic set of tastes.

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