Nederlandse video onderaan
Today I had the biggest reality check.
An envelope landed on the mat in the shop with a very interesting question in it…
At first I was excited; ‘Someone has send me a letter!” I thought! Woohoo. I love letters…
There was a postcard in the envelope and it read:
I would like to order:
- Color A of yarn A
- Color B of yarn B
- Color C of yarn C
My email address is….
My telephone number is…
I can pick it up at the store, because I don’t live in Rotterdam.
Such and Such
My very first thought was ‘What a crazy late April Fools Day joke!’ I giggled to myself and showed it to Line, my daughter (she comes with me to the shop every other day) we giggled some more and then I realized this might be real.
Now… I do get mails and phone calls with orders regularly, which to me are already a bit strange. From my perspective it seems like putting orders in this way is just most convenient to them. In my mind EVERYONE knows to first check the website to see if there is a web shop attached and only then find the appropriate channel for ordering.
I REALLY think that way.
But since the shop has closed it has become painfully clear that loads and loads of people aren’t as internet savvy as me and my friends are.
This lady had send me a card. A PAPER card. That had to be written, was posted, picked up by a van, went to the whole process at the distribution center, was put in a van again, given to a post-person and only then landed at the shop.
She had obviously gone online to figure out the colors she needed, I could tell from the specific numbers, but after that she didn’t look for an email address on the page, nor a phone number. She found my address and wrote me a card!
After my initial baffled reaction... This made me think.
The internet must be a scary place for many.
Questions like ‘how much will my shipping be?’ will not be asked by people that shop online regularly. They know the cart will calculate that for you. But lots of people find it a scary process and are afraid they will pay before they’ve ok-ed it and so they call me to ask.
Communicating in English mostly and sharing the company's news on Instagram... there's lot's of hurdles to take to get to my products.
People that shop in brick and mortar shops do it for a number of reasons, but after calling this lady I realized that actual shops are really valuable to many because the online world is foreign to them.
In these times it is almost unavoidable to get what you need for crafting online. Most craft shops have closed and not all of them had a web shop attached to begin with.
So it might be a good idea to check if there are knitters in your circle that don’t feel comfortable with the whole online process. Perhaps you can help them out. Shopping online together on the phone is actually quite fun.
A few years back I had an elderly lady call me with questions, she was well in her 80’s, and I asked her if she had some time to spare and if she wanted to help.
She did and we went through the whole process together. I asked her all the things she saw and did or did not understand and I was able to adjust my website to better suit her needs. But her needs were not the needs of other customers.
Buttons with two sentence bi-lingual explanations might be clarifying for some but they are definitely off-putting to others.
I am focusing on a particular audience, like most businesses, and I can’t be all things to all people, I don't want to either. Waaay too much pressure.
I have decided to communicate to my audience in English (half of my followers are not Dutch, and loads of Dutch people speak basic to great English) it wasn’t hard to decide but almost every time I write a newsletter I get a reply asking why I have 'forsaken' my native tongue.
I own an indie yarn shop with a curated collection of GOOD yarn and tools. I focus on local and European products and I there is an international community that feel attracted to this collection and my way of thinking and choosing.
This doesn’t mean that I am not here for local knitters that come from a completely different perspective.
If you don’t like shopping online, if it feels uncomfortable, remember that it won’t be like this forever. But for a short while we need you to take that step too. Your local cafe, bookshop, restaurant, if they offer an online service or product and you want them to survive this crazy time, step up and learn something new!
When I told the card lady on the phone that some of the colors she had asked for weren’t in stock and I wasn’t ordering in because of the Corona situation, she quickly said ‘Well never mind then’. She went through all this trouble to reach me and make an order and wasn’t interested in any other colors. She said; 'I really want to go to a real shop to choose', and I replied that hopefully she would be able to do that if shops would survive these times. She expressed that she really wished my shop would still be there to visit on the other side of Corona.
I got a bit cheeky, grabbed the opportunity to inform by the balls and told her that if she would be able to select other colors then that would mean an extra sale for me and with that more business and a better outlook.
I know this sound utterly dramatic. And it is in a way. But imho many people need a BIG SHIFT in their way of thinking. Or a huge amount of information that they didn't have previously. Or didn't understand.
(trust me I know it sounds arrogant, but at the same time I do come from a lot of experience)
Choosing from what is offered will sell products, selling products is income… it is super simple. ALL SALES MATTER! Every little one does. And saying to me three times that she really hopes that my shop will make it without being able to shift and choose another color…
If you know me you know I can take stuff personally (because THEY ARE) but this time I was so surprised my eyes just grew big and my jaw dropped, again.
Have a look at justacard.org and learn more about supporting small businesses and keeping them going in ‘normal’ times it’s hard enough. It’s getting harder now. Supplies will be limited soon and a recession is coming. I have started my business in the middle of the last recession and I love a good challenge. I am doing pretty good considering. I am crazy thankful for all sales and I mean all of them, every needle tip, every piece of lanoline soap, they all matter and they all make me happy and thankful. I am not talking to those that get it directly but I know that if you are reading this in English on my blog (even if it is trough my newsletter) chances are that you are on the savvy side of things. But there is so much mind shifting necessary and I guess I am just talking about it to make you aware to make you think and look around you. How are your friends and family doing when it comes to online shopping? They might need your help. It can be hard to ask for, they might feel shame even. When everything around you is about conference calls, online koffie bingo, Instagram DJ parties and Insta live workout sessions... Ask around and see if you can help.
And if you feel slightly addressed, if you think this is about you in the slightest of ways, I hope you’re able to shift your mindset. Pivot your way of doing things. Are open to learn and not scared to try new things. Especially that last bit. Don’t be scared, take a step, do it and learn something new!!
You'll be fine.
And remember... you won't pay for anything if you don't give your bank information.
In het Nederlands flanste ik even snel een video in elkaar waarin ik door het bestelproces heen loop. Zo kun je alvast zien hoe het werkt voor je zelf gaat bestellen:
The biggest problem shopping online is the feel and actual color of the materials, I lately ordered some lovely Ovis et cetera dimidium online and as it arrived I found the silver tray beautiful but the three pink/orange skeins way to pale. 35 years ago I studied weaving for one year with a lovely indie dyeing lady in Australia, so I got out my old dyeing skills and gave it a go dyeing the tree skeins over in blue/green tones, with great delight! Desperate times call for desperate measures. (PS I sent pictures to firstname.lastname@example.org, no clue how to upload them here)