October 22, 2011 in Inmate: The Irate Fox
Forgive me dear readers for I have been remiss! That and I don’t generally have the budget to be buying new gear from a different store every week…
To that end this week’s feature will be a short piece on what I find good and bad about a store and how you, as a kinky shop keeper, can stay on the good side of your ever so reasonable clients.
It All Starts with The Storefront
Whether you’re running a web only store or a small storefront on a side-street it’s important to have a storefront that’s descriptive and welcoming to the potential buyer. Your store front should scream permanence and integrity, something that’s sleek enough to say “Yes I’m a professional” and not so chintzy that it looks like you might move out any second. Gear is definitely something that can’t be treated like a corner variety store; after all your customers may be spending a few hundred dollars on their first purchase and as store that looks shifty will find a hard go of things getting started.
It Continues with Customer Service
Ideally contact with you should be easy. Most of your shopping world will speak English to some degree so a command of the language is important but the more languages you can tuck under your belt, either by learning them yourself or having an associate that can do translation. Equally important, too, is keeping in regular contact with your customers. I know it might seem like a pain, between cutting latex, leather and spandex, punching in rivets or epoxying zippers but checking your email on a regular basis, ideally several times a day, is important; customers who have questions, even the most inane ones, can still be buyers if they feel they’ll be able to get timely responses from you.
It Ends with The Gear
Make sure your products are ones you can stand behind; don’t sell things that you know are cheap or flimsy. You’ll find that customers will comes back to you time and time again if your products are of the best quality you can get. If something’s not working on a regular basis stop carrying it until the problem with the item is fixed. Yes, sometimes you’ll have a signature product go out of production but it’s better to have your signature product be one people keep buying rather than one they complain about. To this end it’s often best if you can make every piece yourself, but if you are a reseller at the very least TEST every piece you sell; make sure you know it, it’s use and it’s quality inside and out before you sell it.
It is also, believe it or not, very important to know your competition. In fact, try and know them as well as you know yourself. If you know their strengths and weaknesses you can make your gear look nice, be stronger and be more durable than any competition. It’s also worth noting that, if you don’t offer warranty on items (for any number of reasons) offering a reasonably priced repair option is the next best thing to aid in the durability problem because it will allow you to make design changes in your gear based on how it’s failed in the wild.
The Damage and The Price
You’ll notice that price hasn’t come into this; that’s because it doesn’t NEED to come into it. Being someone who’s had time where he’s wanted a lot more gear than his budget can afford I’ve been tempted to look to less than reputable sources to get my gear but I’ve seen time and again that the cheaper companies will often produce latex or leather that’s not even worth buying; if you produce good gear and sell it at a price you can live with you won’t need to compete with the “knockoff” competitors. Remember; people who buy the absolute cheapest thing possible were never going to buy your merchandise in the first place, don’t bow to them and make your business and your other customers suffer.
I hope this has been somewhat informative for everyone!