Monday, September 28, 2015

Monday, 28 SEP 2015 :: What matters in SHIPPING online?

I am beginning to make purchases more often at Etsy because I actually have money now and have been trying to budget for supplies.  It helps me to see the buying process at Etsy, the difference between shops, and the details that matter most.

The first thing I noticed is the shops that don't provide tracking for their shipments.  I just assumed everyone provided tracking.  Not having a place to check on your package left me hanging as a customer... wondering where it was, what day to watch for it, how long it would take to travel from another part of the country, and more.  This is all a learning experience for me as a seller as much as it is a learning experience for me as a buyer.

After the first few packages, I began to notice the shipping labels on the packages when they arrive.  I began to see Etsy shipping labels, and which carrier was chosen to deliver it, and what kind of shape the packages arrived in.  I tried to see the actual costs of mailing to compare with the charges I paid (not really available, and a wise route to go in because shipping is also about the packaging).

The product was part of the equation for packaging, so I had to keep that in mind.  The better packaging made me think of gift delivery, offering choices with a listing, and considering it a "branding" effort.  I am really working toward better solutions for my products and shop/s.

With the newest crime (especially at holiday times) being package theft at the delivery door, this issue of package tracking is very important.  We like to think that our neighborhoods are safe, but thieves don't care where you live or even know what is in an unwatched package.  I imagine the "nicer" neighborhoods are targeted more than poverty neighborhoods, but I don't really know.  Poor-on-poor crime is just as bad in some statistics.

Thieves steal first, and then discover what they got.

Wherever you live, the main problem is that YOU are the one that loses the item you have been waiting for, you or someone else paid for, and you want (hopefully).  As cybercrimes increase, thieves may begin to know what is coming and follow your tracking themselves.  I don't know what the perfect solution is, but tracking helps me.

A bad shopping experience really leaves a bad taste in your wallet.  It makes me not want to buy from any stores on the site.  I found it hard to buy online again after I had a bad purchasing experience.  What we do affects everyone else on our sales site.

It takes time to find the sellers you want to continue doing business with.  I am thinking that once I do find those online stores I like and want to buy from, I may not venture too far from them.  I won't have to worry about a new shop, if it's a fake, if it's a scam, etc.  I may only need to browse for items when I don't already have a source for it. 

Know this in myself makes me want to make sure my shop is consistent and trustworthy in lots of ways, including policies, shipping prices (and methods), listing details, and sales processes.  Once I get it all figured out, I want to be able to build on that foundation, to find permanent customers for my products. 

I think that is part of the reason I have been moving so slowly to build my Etsy shop and other online sales points.  I want income, I desperately NEED income, but I am hoping for long-term benefits instead of instant sales.  I am trying not to fret at the time it is taking, and hoping it will work out better in the future.

If you have a shop, I hope you provide package tracking for your customers.  I think it is a great investment.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Friday, 25 SEP 2015 :: My FIRST Quilting Expo

Yesterday I went to my first quilting expo. 

It is held locally every year, that I know of.  This year is was a three day span - Thursday through Saturday - at the Portland Expo Center.  I added links at the bottom of this post so you can explore the event.

I was only able to afford a one day ticket, which was $10 (the 3-day ticket was $27).  It was hard to decide whether to go on the opening day or the weekend day, but I finally decided to go on the opening day, which was yesterday.  They are generally open 9am to 5pm on all three days.

I didn't really know what to expect.  I knew there was going to be a display of quilts, vendors, and classes somewhere.  I hadn't even been to the Expo location before.  I had only seen it once before, many years ago, when I explored the MAX transit line that it is at the end of.

The best part for me was discovering some of the amazing quilt design, the ones that really stood out from the crowd.  It helped me to see that any designs I might want to create would be OK, that quilting isn't just about geometric shapes anymore, and that the computer really has changed our ability to create art on fabric. I'm not sure what directions I want to go in with fabrics, but I thought it was a really great experience to see some of the talent that is out there.

I also looked at the vendor spaces as I walked through each aisle.  I was trying to find out what quilters use and see if any of their tools would be good for other things I am working on. I found a small bundle of Insul-Bright to try, some small portions of beads to add to my supplies, and an iron-on sparkly thing with two red hearts...  I'm not sure what I want to do with that last one.

My most difficult financial mistake was not taking lunch with me.  I was really hungry and tired and didn't want to leave early, so I wound up spending $8 for a large baked potato with chili, cheese, bacon, sour cream, and then butter at the end when there was only potato left!  :-)  It was great to eat, but a lot to eat, too....and I didn't want to waste any of my food or money by throwing half of it away, so I managed to eat the entire portion. It was an expensive lesson for me, but that is how we figure these things out.

I discovered some prices on different types of sewing machines that would be nice to own.  The computerized models I was shown went from $5K to $15K, depending on what you wanted on them.  In order to make my own designs, the high-end model was ideal.  I think applique will have to do for awhile!

I recently discovered that my iron didn't work so a new one was on my list.  I discovered the fancy ones they have on TV craft shows are in the $200 range.  (Later on that day I purchase the least expensive one at a department store for $7.99...with a one year warrantee.  --  Maybe I can save up $200 for the high-end model before my new one wears out... or next year's show.  :-)

If I stay in the Portland area, I will try to enter a quilt for the exhibition.  Maybe ten years ago, or less, I began discovering the County Fair competitions and planned to continue submitting entries there, but this county doesn't seem to have a County Fair, so I was looking for alternatives.  This quilting exhibition will be perfect.  I am finding there are a lot of different quilting events, so I will have to find out the best ones to enter.

There were small and large quilts at the event.  I like small, so that will be fine for me.

I keep saying :  If I live long enough, I will be able to....   This is the same issue for me... as long as I am able to, I will keep on going in these directions  ( crafts, Etsy, other online and local sales options, and more...).   We'll have to see what GOD has planned for me.   :-)

Enjoy your weekend.  I hope to write more often in the future.  I'm just beginning to get my crafts going.  The photos are my biggest problem, but that will work out in time.


The event planners / hosts ::
NW Quilting Expo  --

A great place to see photos of this year's quilts, etc. ::
NW Quilting Expo Facebook page (for photos)  --

The event location ::
Portland Expo Center  --