Jul 13, 2007

Digi + Traditional: Round 2

CHA is hosting a plethora of digital scrapbooking classes at the show next week. I don't go to CHA Summer because, well, it's summer, but this year I am sorry to be missing it. I am intrigued by these classes, because honestly, I have yet to be convinced that there is money to be had in the traditional retailer by adding digital to their product mix.

Interestingly, traditional retailers seem to have been cut out of the loop on this matter. The content of the trade magazines these days seems to be comprised largely articles that seem to STRONGLY suggest that you MUST add digital to your retail store in order to survive. Okay, sounds reasonable. But, show me the money... Not the "sell this software" temporary money that essentially invites my current customers to never darken my door again, but the ongoing revenue stream I can create from a customer who is 100% digital. No one seems to be considering this angle.

If I sell a customer a piece of digital software and say, "Hey, try digital scrapping!" What ELSE does the digital industry offer me to get them to come back? They might drop an average of $50 a month in my store on paper, adhesives, embellishments, etc. But, if I show them how they can download everything they need from the convenience of their own home, aren't I shooting myself in the foot and unwittingly building someone else's business instead of my own?

What I find interesting is that all the classes at CHA and all the articles I see are written by people who have no financial stake in the traditional side of the industry. They are almost exclusively DIGITAL people. Of course they want to spread the gospel of digital - just as traditional retailers want to spread the gospel of traditional scrapping. But, it's easy enough to say, "Add digital" without REALLY considering what the ROI is on adding it.

I have talked to many retailers and they ALL agree that they must add some form of digital to their businesses. However, ask us (traditional retailers) how WE think it can be done. We are for-profit businesses. We need to see the long-term profit in adding digital so offer us solutions and not just advice. The fact of the matter is that until traditional retailers and even traditional manufacturers get brought into the loop and there are products that are EXCLUSIVE to the traditional retailers that it just doesn't make sense. I know, I know, HYBRID scrapping is one option. And I'm strongly in support of inviting digital scrappers to branch out and add traditional elements to their pages. But, I just don't, yet, see the benefit of introducing my traditional customers to digital. Show me the money - not the downloads...

I would love to see a round table discussion at a trade show about this - a panel of traditional retailers talking with a panel of digital industry leaders (not designers but people who are in a position to develop products that could be SOLD in retail stores). I don't want to be talked AT as a retailer, I want to be talked TO. Let's get together and chat and figure this out!


Anonymous said...

I'm a digital tutorial writer/designer and I enjoyed reading your thoughts on digital (I went back and read others too), and you make a lot of sense.

I'm digital because I have serious arthritis and hand problems, I was born with a disability the arthritis just makes worse. I doubt I could ever put together a whole trsditional page without some sort of catastrophe! But I am rather drawn to trying out some smaller stuff like altered tins, or brag books.

Digital for me has been marvellous! I can do things on my computer I could never do for real. It certainly has its place in the scrapbook world, but I understand your argument about traditional retailers and embracing digital.

Me said...

Digital is a FABULOUS option for a variety of reasons. Including the reasons you do it. Also, there are lots of women who are computer literate but not particularly crafty. Personally, when I started scrapping in the early 90's, I wished and wished for a way to do it by computer - but it just wasn't there! Many traditional scrappers use the computer for their journaling, but it's not really digital scrapping, IMO. Digital is a completely different way of scrapping that cuts traditional retailers out of the loop since it's all about the download!

Julie Ann Shahin said...

Please talk to Ashley, owner of Polka Dot Potatoe www.polkadotpotato.com who is an expert in offering hybrid for retailers. She has both a brick and mortar store and an online digital/hybrid store. Also you can talk to Cindy Wyckoff, owner of Scrapbook Dimensions magazine at www.scrapbookdimensions.com
We totally agree that the tradeshows need to focus on HYBRID rather than pure digital classes. Please contact these women and tell them Julie Ann Shahin (Creative Editor at Scrapbook Dimensions sent you!) thedigitalproject@gmail.com

cakhuxel said...

Hi, Kim. Carole Huxel here. I got the CHA brochure in the mail and my very first thought was to be shocked at how many digi-classes were being offered. I believe I counted over 20- which was a full 25% of the total. Shocking. I love digi-scrapping, however I don't plan to give up my tangible art supplies, and the fact that the Scrapping Superheroes seem to be oblivious to the financial aspect of this digital trend is a big concern to me. I don't feel they are supporting the lss any longer, but instead are running with any new trend that will grab them a quick profit- then on the next trend. Witness the debacle with the release of the original Cricut (and I'm not even going near the Michaels/Martha Stewart foolishness). As for digital- I've got 200+ "kits" in my iPhoto, and all but two were free. The two I paid for cost less than $5 each. It seems to me the only people making money off digital are those who are either writing books (renee pearson) or editing magazines. On occassion an exceptional artist might have their digital work picked up by a traditional paper company, but that's a needle in a haystack compared to how many are out there on the web hawking their designs. The whole digital thing is a worry, and I don't see anyone in the upper echelons of the industry doing anything right now to protect the lss. I suspect that their agenda is about the upcoming 20-somethings, who will be marrying and having children- which will lead to scrapbooking. This generation is more comfortable living their entire lives on their computers, so that's where the Scrapbook Superheroes are directing their energy. Works fine for those who are already "Arrived", who's magazines are already successful, who's fortunes are not tied into the sale of paper and glue. But for the lss, I don't see any upside to digital, and quite frankly, if I were manufacturing paper and glue, I'd be pretty concerned about this emphasis on digital, too.

Anonymous said...

Consumer (Information Maven)here. Advice to the Brick and Mortar LSS;

Offer higher end printing services, many folks have basic printers and those all so cool digital pages really look incredible on the upper end printers. Something most home scrappers will not buy for themselves... just yet. I know this is NOT an option for many, the set-up costs are HIGH.

There have been around here some LSS that are doing "hybrid" classes take a smaller digital LO printed out, add to CS and embellish using more traditional stuff.

Just a couple thoughts, I do both and would hate to see the LSS disappear altogether.