Oct 22, 2008

What Scares Me This Year....

This has sort of become an annual post so why stop now? The first time, it was Rosie O'Donnell using Blow-Pens and Scotch tape on photos to scrapbook. Then, it was Zombie Business Owners who just keep ordering and ordering and ordering without any knowledge if they are even making money.

This year, there are so many things to be scared of - the election, the stock market, on and on. But, this is about scrapping so I'll pick something in the scrap universe.

I think this year that I am scared by the drop in business for most retailers. I know that scrapbook stores operate at the edge of their financial universe most of the time. I wonder how many will be able to survive the storm - mostly because they lack the skills to help themselves.

I am optimistic about the industry. I think that memory preservation is important to most people - especially the moms who make up our demographic. They are still taking photos and still wanting to display those photos. So, how do we help and encourage them to keep doing that?

"Change" - that's a word we hear a lot lately. I think change is what we need in our industry. A few days ago, I wrote this:

"But, now we need to put our collective heads together and figure out Phase 2 of our industry. When this industry was born in the late 1990's, no one could fathom anything but the printed photo. The internet was just a few years old and computers were way too slow to make and print out a high-resolution image. Customers wanted the fun papers and fancy stickers - it was a decorative diversion from plain photo albums.

Now we have online stores, digital photos, digital scrapbooking, home photo printers, large format printers and custom photo products. Yet, many retailers are still plugging away with card stock and stickers in a world where customers want solutions, and not JUST products, for their photos. In the words of Jerry Seinfeld, "Not that there's anything wrong with that", except that you may not have done anything to adapt to the change and you may have paid a price for that. Every store doesn't have to adapt, but many should. You can't ignore the technology that has crept into our industry."

So, what do we do about this? How do we enter a new phase of our industry and sweep away the cobwebs? The paper and stickers will never go away, but perhaps customer attitudes have shifted a bit with regards to the use of those papers and stickers.

That is the million dollar question... In the meantime, don't be spooked by the climate of our industry - help your customers by solving their memory preservation dilemmas. Instead of pushing that paper, push those solutions. Instead of staff who can coordinate Bazzill with Basic Grey, maybe you need to train them to offer ideas to go along with products.

A relationship of trust is more important in times like this than any other time. Customers have precious little to spend, they want to spend it well and know that what they spend it on will showcase their memories in a way they will love and will last for generations.

The economic climate has played tricks on your customers, be the one who gives them treats when they walk in your door (cheesy, I know - LOL!)

1 comment:

Sandra @ The Memory Workshop said...

I think any retail who bases their 'success' on "how much stuff can I get people to buy" is going to suffer the most.

A retail business owner is more likely to be successful - or survive a recession - if they can find a way to provide services and offer *solutions*.

But if you can teach them new tricks, help them finish a gift album, give them ideas & instructions for actually using up the products they buy, help them save time & stress, provide them a time and place to crop, then they'll see the value in what you have to offer.