Platforms, tech and creative ideas to build your brick and mortar art + sewing + craft business online store

If you’ve been putting off that online store, you’re realizing that being online is a really smart idea. In the best of times, it creates a second channel, open 24/7 that anyone, anywhere can access. But the onerous task of tallying inventory, taking photos and managing a digital + physical store is probably what made you avoid it in the first place.

Let’s talk three strategies for getting online on your own website, FAST:

  1. If you were going to do it anyway, and have the tools in place, now you have the motivation. Spend some time in your store if you can (with your family by your side if you must bring them) and get that inventory online.  But this is less important than the second item, so spend time on it before you do this step.
  2. If you weren’t planning it, but you’re worried about a 2-4 month potential time frame to deal with your customers being in quarantine or worse, and you do NOT have tech in place to manage inventory, here are a few recommendations:
  • Spend an hour in your shop and identify 10 items that you believe are popular sellers.
  • Take 10 photos.  
  • Post these on your Instagram and Facebook feeds, with a ‘call to order’ phone number, then,
  • Post these same photos on your website with a buy now button (if you don’t have a commerce site, a PayPal button is easy to set up)
  • Send an email to your customers about your new “online store”, and post this on social media, too.

It’s not enough to say “if you know what you want, call us” because right now, your customers don’t know what they want (in fact, you know they never do, it’s that thing that catches their eye in the store that they buy.)

One brick and mortar sewing store took a relatively unloved crazy print ponte fabric that didn’t sell, sewed it into a sample dress using one of our client’s sewing patterns, and popped a jacket (also a client’s sewing pattern) on top, took a photo and SOLD OUT of the fabric in a matter of days.

  • Package up kits for customers – pair a pattern with fabric or yarn and offer kits.
  • Start a sew along with pattern, your recommendations for selected fabrics, open a length, fan them out and take a pic. One pattern, six fabrics, one project kit to sell.
  • Do this with 10 fabrics and 10 patterns and post on social media with a special sale, outdoor pickup or local delivery.

This works for most brick and mortar stores right now. Your fearful customers are terrified by the economy, are bored, are turning to retail therapy AND they are worried for YOU and your business. Give them a reason to hope for sunnier days and happier times.

If you’re selling sewing patterns online, focus on spring and summer wardrobe planning now. It’s a great time to help clients shop their stash and learn a new technique

  • Show pictures of your patterns with your own stash fabric and show how you’re planning to plan your wardrobe
  • Encourage them to download wardrobe planner documents from your web site and sew their own
  • Start a wardrobe contest online and offer weekly prizes that you can mail out (patterns, sewing supplies, even a length of your own stash fabric!)

Do not be afraid to mention the quarantine/self isolation/social distancing in your posts now, we’re collectively in this together. It’s weird, its scary and we’re all human.

Do understand that we’ve all seen our stocks plummet, most of us have our hands over our ears and our eyes shut “lalalalalala! Not listening!”  but a small purchase makes you AND your customer feel good – they’re supporting your business right now!

If all of this tech terrifies you, go slowly. Putting kits online is nothing more than taking photos and putting them up on social media. But if you have the chance to do it, get your inventory online in your online store. See our articles here about WordPress + Woo Commerce or SquareSpace here for options for easy to manage online stores.

And if all of this really freaks you out, and you need advice, message us! We can help you get online. If you just need a nudge in the right direction, it’s on the house. If you want us to build it, we work alongside our entrepreneurs to help train them and mentor them through the process so you learn right from the first moment, and are able to take control of your business and marketing.

You will have the opportunity to reach customers far and wide with an online presence and a creative use of social media during this time. Your audience is at home, with a lot of free time. It’s a unique time to help them realize their creative potential!

Our featured image is Ann Normandy Sewing Patterns!, an online sewing pattern retailer that had an awesome website long before coronavirus!

How can we help? Drop us a line, ask us a question. It’s free.