May 16, 2007

Digi Scrapping + Traditional Retailers = ?

Can we do it? Can we (meaning traditional scrapbook product retailers) REALLY successfully integrate digital scrapping into our businesses? Recently, a trade magazine devoted quite a lot of space to that very thing. And, as usual, I (the retailer) was told over and over that I need not fear digital scrapping and that I should EMBRACE it into my business. I hear that a LOT in the industry. But, what I am not hearing is a convincing reason to do it.

Now, before all you digi scrappers jump down my throat (again - LOL!) Let me remind you that I am a hybrid scrapper and do both! Let me also remind you that this is NOT an anti-digi scrapper post - these are my thoughts about the TWO different industries. I have nothing against digital scrapping, but I just don't understand how it can help a traditional retailer's bottom line.

Digital Scrapping and Physical Scrapping are two separate industries. They are both as different and yet as similar as, say, Cross-stitch vs Embroidery or Knitting vs Crocheting. There are people who do BOTH, but there are also people who do one or the other exclusively.

I hear voices in the industry trying to convince me to embrace digital scrapping as a retailer. But how? If a digital scrapper comes into my place of business and buys buttons, ribbon, etc. for an altered project or to complete a digital page, isn't she then just a customer? What makes her any different and why should I specifically embrace digital scrapping just because she's a digital scrapper? She's not in there looking for digital stuff, she's in there looking for what I already carry.

The only possible product that I could add to my product line-up that I might not already have is a digital scrapbook program. Other than that, I've got nothing that I could add that would entice a digital scrapper into my store. I should already be teaching paper craft and card-making classes- things that would appeal to a digi scrapper.

I'm not going to sell CD's of digital elements because anyone who digi scraps is going to be comfy with downloading what they need from home. So, what is it that I should be adding to "embrace" digital scrappers?? I already sell bare books to alter, elements for hybrid scrappers to add to their pages, etc. I don't need to specifically add any of that for digital or hybrid scrappers.

Someone suggested I have a photo printing kiosk if I own a store. Why? I don't think digi scrappers are printing out their photos and my regular customers will probably get their photos from Walgreens or Walmart. If I stock photo paper, I won't be able to sell it for less than Office Depot or Staples. A wide format printer to print customer pages may be one of the few services I could provide since they are so pricey and many people don't own one.

Someone else said I could teach digital scrapping classes to "embrace" digital scrapping. That doesn't make sense. I know people who have gone digital who have literally stopped buying scrapbook products. So, I show my customers how to do digital and sell them a piece of software and then I see them once a year for a button or piece of ribbon instead of 12 times a year for cardstock, adhesive, stickers, rub-ons, albums, brads, paint, etc. How does that help me?? It's a protectionist attitude, I know, but I just don't see how showing my customers how to do something that causes them to buy LESS from me benefits me.

Yet, the voices in the industry keep telling me to jump on board and incorporate digital scrapping. But why? Where's the benefit to a retailer to do that? We tried the Dot Scrap Alliance and it was a Dot Bomb. No one understood it.

So, here's my advice - let these two industries develop independent of each other. There is cross over in both directions and that's great - both are great ways to scrap. But I think we (meaning digi and traditional retailers) should just do what we do and not worry about trying to force a partnership. We should be friends, however.

Again, before you flame me in the comments section - this is NOT an anti-digi scrapper post. It's addressing those voices in the industry giving retailers advice to do something but not offering a good way (yet) to do it. I have NOTHING against digital scrapping nor am I minimizing it's place in the universe!!!


Anonymous said...

Interesting - you're right, everyone talks about the two getting together but no one is really doing it. Thanks for a good think...

susan said...

A very thoughtful post and yes, I think paper and digital can co-exist nicely. But here are some other reasons stores might want to include digital...there are two groups of digiscrappers that may increase store traffic. Teen/young adults - take a look a My Space, there's a lot of digiscrapping going on there although my teen would never admit the collages she creates are scrapbooking. But she's making an album for her friends and it is paper.
And seniors who lack space but have the time and technology to do digital scrapbooking. Every month I teach a digital class at a Senior center - it is always full. With a monitor and laptop a store owner could easily teach outside the store and sell products to a new group of customers. Just some ideas...

scrapgeek said...

I think many traditional retailers need to rethink their attitude because they are losing business because of it. When a customer announces they are digital, often there are comments like "that is not real scrapbooking" etc. It can be very hurtful when you have built up a relationship and is one reason why converted digiscrappers don't go back (I think anyway). It is bad business to drive away potential customers, no mater how small you might think they will be. Who needs to be made to feel like some kind of leper? Maybe a better response would be - "how cool - you could make a really neat digital project with xyz product". A good salesperson doesn't see a threat - they see an opportunity. I agree that digital classes are not likely (not least because of the difficulty in providing hardware) and are more easily delivered over the internet. Perhaps when advertising classes like canvases and other altered work, make it clear that the class can easily be adapted to the needs of digital scrappers. Or even team up with a digital site and advertise classes on that site - and maybe reach people you might not otherwise reach. Not all digi scrappers are ex-crafters and many may be interested in learning how to make better use of their supplies (and may end up buying stuff like Mod Podge etc to make them). And it is easier to learn these hands on techniques in an actual class rather than on the internet. If they are made to feel welcome at classes, then you will get people in your shop - then you need to use your sales skills to make sure they don't leave without spending something. Also, on the subject of CDs, not everyone has access to fast internet and those digital kits are big so I think they still have a place in the market. Sorry to ramble on - yes there is a tension there but I think that an attitude adjustment is required for some retailers. No, digital scrappers won't spend as much as paper scrappers - but can any retailer choose to ignore a growing market sector and potential source of revenue? Personally, I still buy albums and idea books - but I won't buy them from my local shop if I am made to feel unwelcome there (luckily my local shop owners still speak to me - even if I am not in there very often these days).

Lauren said...

I respect your opinion and how you have stated it.I am a digital scrapbooker and never have been a paper scrapbooker so I can see things from the point of view of a digital scrapbooker who might enter your store.
The number one similarity between the majority of digital and paper scrapbookers is that they are collectors- much of the product they purchase is not for a specific project but a "just in case" purchas or a 'I have to have this because it is so beautiful " purchase. Digital Scrapbookers purchase digital graphics - they can purchase these online true, but many enjoy the task of physical shopping just as much as the paper scrapbooker likes to enter your store to search for that little new item.
These graphics can not be found in many if any large store such as Walmart - but the other products that the digital scrapbooker would be interested in are - so there is a method to have the digital scrapbooker enter YOUR store in the first place - if she can purchase a hard copy cd of her favourite digital scrapbooking graphics you actually have made a NEW customer - by ignoring that she exists or refusing to put effort into enticing her into your store you are effectively pushing her to the superstore market to purchase the physical product that she does need to buy.
Your attitude reminds me of the photography store owners in the recent past who refused to acknowlege that the digital photography customer would ever be of importance to them - sadly those who kept this blinkered attitude have all but failed to keep their businesses afloat - but those who embraced the new direction their industry was headed have found that with a little effort on their part they have in fact expanded their customer base .
As Susan mentioned - just because a scrapper is digital doesnt preclude them from enjoying the social aspect of scrapbooking - I have run and attended laptop crops which have been filled with women craving the company of like minded people.
There are digital scrapbooking companies out there that are willing and able to assist the paper scrapbook store to embrace the digital scrapbooker and eencourage them back to your store over and over again - I know because I work for one of them !!

The Lundys said...

i just returned from teaching a class at a scrapbook store doing the embracing (my company sells the digital element cds). this store gained digital customers that wouldn't have shopped there otherwise. i printed pages and bought embellishments to add to them (and encouraged others to do the same). we work with many retailers who carry our products and from all we've seen it's simple.
1. you gain digital customers who yes, just become regular customers who need stuff.
2. you don't lose your customers who end up doing digital on their own anyway.
great question and well put!

Carole Huxel said...

Hi, Kim, it's Carole H. I'm currently working with my local adult ed to offer a beginning digital scrapbooking class, and with it I'm working with my favorite LSS to offer a cooperative discount on embellishments. My plan is to introduce the digital aspect, while encouraging the students that the best layout is a hybrid layout. It's inescapable that the upcoming generation will probably lean more towards digi-scrapping, so I'm hoping to blaze a trail here in my neighborhood by encouraging both at the same time. While scrapbooks can be exclusively digital or exclusively paper, there are plenty of things that simply can not be exclusively digital, like collage. In my class I'm planning to teach how to create certain elements for collage, like fruit box labels for instance, and then print them out and use traditional products to age them, etc. I'm really passionate about supporting the LSS, so I really couldn't teach this class any other way. Take care!