By Amber Christian

Follow These Steps to Get Started

More than 75% of the respondents to a Smart Retailer survey wanted fresh ideas to craft their handmade strategies. As a result, in each issue, we present inno­vative ideas and perspectives related to this topic.

In the previous issue, we shared the perspective of an artisan who participated in an in-person open call event. This type of event is one way to source new artisans for your shop.

If you have not done this before, it can feel a little intimidating or resource intensive. However, an online open call process could be the perfect starting point for sourcing new artisans. It can also be set up to fit into your existing business processes as a retailer, creating a true win-win for you.

Five Reasons To Consider This Process

1. Find hard-to-stock categories. The pandemic forced us to get creative and hunt online for many things. Lots of artisans were also forced to set up more of an online presence. They are looking for new avenues to sell their products. Much work was done to bring processes online, and it continues to yield benefits. More are now comfortable online, bringing a slow, steady shift to getting more familiar with technology.

Setting up an online open call process requires a one-time setup. Upon completion, you start gaining the benefits, which grow over time. Once the process is online, it is easy for others to refer prospective artisans to you. This is a wonderful way for existing artisans you work with to refer new work to you. This can be particularly beneficial for you with hard-to-stock categories.

2. Fill inventory gaps or find last-minute items without the typical lead times. This process gives you a ready-made list of artisans who want to stock their products in your shop. It can be helpful in situations when existing inventory sells faster than expected. You need a backup plan when that happens, and this can be a great go-to option.

3. Get an easier process for managing cold requests. Artisans may show up unannounced at your shop, asking to stock product. Cold email requests to stock product may show up periodically in your inbox. With a clear and regular process, these requests are much easier to manage.

4. Open a dialogue with existing customers. Your customers will see you sharing information on your social channels and may send artisans they know your way for consideration.

Once you review and select new products, you get the hidden benefit of sharing new artisans with your audience. You can also use information learned in the application process, allowing you to create easier promotion of these new artisans on social chan­nels. It supplies fresh conversation pieces in your store.

Another benefit is continuing to develop relationships and engagement with your customers. This provides a touch point with them without asking to buy products. It is an invitation to a continued conversation with your customers.

5. Give yourself something easy to talk about on your social channels. It is hard to constantly come up with new topics and can also be challenging to engage your audience. Talking about these activities is a terrific way to get social sharing and referrals to your channels.

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