In 2020 14.1% of all retail sales worldwide were online sales. It is predicted that this will reach 22% by 2023. If you’ve been considering it, now is the time to jump on the bandwagon of e-commerce. With SimpleConsign’s Shopify plugin’s easy setup, now is the time to open your Shopify consignment store.
Not surprisingly, the first e-commerce site in the US was Amazon. Beginning as a bookseller in 1994, Amazon now offers thousands of products. It is the world’s #1 online retailer. China is the fastest-growing for e-commerce sales nationally. In the US alone, online sales could reach almost $566 billion by 2023. Shopify’s stats are just as exciting.
If you haven’t signed up for your Shopify site yet, start one. Integrate your Shopify site with phenomenal resale software such as SimpleConsign. Our web-based system lets you manage your brick and mortar store, as well as your online store from anywhere. Plus, features like SimpleConsign’s Photo App let you easily take photos and instantly upload them to your Shopify site.
Signing up for a Shopify site is only the beginning. Marketing your online store comes next. Shopify offers a wide variety of apps that work to boost your consignment store sales. Everything from Sales Pop Up and Countdown Timers to Customer Support apps are available. Many of them are free but choose wisely. Don’t overload your site with too many features in the beginning.
For more benefits of our Shopify plugin, read here.
The future of consignment is full of promise! This year is all about 20/20 vision. Since it’s the beginning of the year and a new decade, now’s the time to look at the future of consignment. Everything I read suggests it’s extremely sunny. Pay attention to these 5 trends.
“Resale becomes more mainstream,” was the subhead in a Retail TouchPoints article. Everyone is adding some form of resale today. For instance, Macy’s added thredUp. Designer Eileen Fisher created the Renew program. Christmas 2019 was the first major holiday to break the only-new-gifts ceiling. Before, shoppers bought quality used gift items but never admitted it. In 2019, smart and eco-friendly shoppers chose a resale Christmas gift. According to thredUp’s 2020 Resale Report by the year 2024, the secondhand market will hit 64B. Now, that’s a bright future!
Temporary consumers want an ever-changing, never-owning lifestyle. This trend particularly applies to Gen Z (anyone born between ’97 and ’12). This sharing economy links people directly with each other. Like Airbnb and Uber, Depop links buyers and sellers of clothing. Both rental companies, Rent The Runway and West Elm, give consumers a chance to have a little luxury without buying. PSFK reports, “the number of people who participate in the sharing economy is projected to increase to 86.5 million by 2021.” That’s nearly double what it was in 2016. Why does this help the future of consignment? It’s one more step to the full acceptance of reusing merchandise.
Not every part of resale’s rosy future is secondhand. Marketplaces are popping up all over the country. Like an antique mall, marketplaces sell a variety of products from one location. Essentially, they’re a brick and mortar Etsy. Marketplace owners rent space and use vendor-managed inventory. Often, these items are handmade. Consider the L & L Factory Marketplace in Nashville. The original factory, built-in 1929, started as a hosiery mill. Decade after decade, different products were made and sold out of its doors. Today, it is a premier shopping spot. More consumers now choose to shop locally. They’re looking for unique, one-of-a-kind products. As a result, they’re avoiding big box stores and shopping small.
Sustainability. Not a new word, but an important one for this next decade. Today’s consumers seek products with a small carbon footprint. Whether it’s climate change, ocean trash, or chemical pollution, consumers want manufacturers to take responsibility. Fast fashion’s decline is bankrupting stores like Forever 21. Manufacturers like Colgate-Palmolive are inventing recyclable toothpaste containers. Rothy’s creates shoes from recycled water bottles. I’ve said it many times before. There is nothing more sustainable than the resale industry. Due to the growing concern over the environment, the future of consignment is bright.
As resale and consignment shops move into the mainstream, the look of their brick and mortar stores has changed. To be competitive, shop owners know they need to up their game. Most secondhand shops are now merchandised with only quality items. Consignors are required to bring their newest and best merchandise. Today’s consignment stores regard branding, marketing, online sales, and a solid POS system as essential. As shops improve, so will the acceptance of secondhand.
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Did you see the article from Bloomberg? The headline reads, “Used Stuff Is the Next Big Trend in Christmas Shopping.” Now, that’s exciting! Tell your shoppers this holiday to make it a consignment Christmas. Here are a few ideas.
The stress is building. The longer a shopper’s list and the less shopping days available equals panic. With only a few weeks of shopping left, invite shoppers to bring you their list. Use your website and social media to stress the quantity and quality of unique, one-of-a-kind gifts when shoppers make it a consignment Christmas.
Getting the right gift during the holidays is foremost in every shopper’s mind. When you add in the possibility of giving a unique, luxury gift for less, the bargain is even better! Consider marking down your seasonal items the week of December 9. As Whizbang Training suggests, “take a smaller markdown now (maybe 25% or 30%) when people are actually buying rather than the massive markdown you’ll need to move it after Christmas (50+%).” Furthermore, add a price point table such as “All Gifts On This Table Under $20.” Have a variety of items for men, women and children. Print attractive signs, but don’t tape them to the table! Purchase sign holders. Make sure you have a variety of last-minute stocking stuffer items too. Remember, stocking stuffers don’t have to be cheap. They just have to be small.
It goes without saying, but I’m gonna say it anyway… keep your shop and your staff merry and bright. By this point, your holiday planning is finished. Now, it’s time to focus on selling. Motivate your sales team. Remind them of those traits that make a salesperson truly successful. In addition, coach them to cross-sell. Energize your team with a fun contest. Encourage them to wear Santa hats and hand out candy canes. As I stated in our 4th quarter marketing tips, now’s the time to be shopper and consignor focused. Personal service is what sets you apart from the other stores in your area. Friendly, welcoming smiles go a long way right now!
Highlight different merchandise daily on your social media. Stress that only one is available to build a sense of urgency. Ask every shopper to give you an email or sign up for your rewards program. Download a copy of our holiday hashtags. Use them with every post. I’ve added special ones strictly to promote resale. Advertise your uniqueness, your amazing prices and your friendly service. By all means, enjoy this season. When the store owner is happy, the employees, shoppers and consignors are usually happy too!
On the heels of #SecondHandSeptember comes #NationalConsignmentDay. Started by the online resale store The RealReal, National Consignment Day is celebrated the first Monday in October. This is the third year to observe this important day. According to Julie Wainwright, CEO and Founder of The RealReal, National Consignment Day “allows us to raise awareness about the circular economy, especially as it applies to the luxury market.”
An Instagram contest is extremely easy to run. This year, The RealReal gave away 2 Louis Vuitton bags using an Instagram contest. See The RealReal’s contest page here.
In order to run a similar contest, first, decide your giveaway theme. Obviously, include the hashtag #NationalConsignmentDay as part of your theme. Create an exclusive hashtag using your store’s name too. Next, decide how people enter your contest. Have them follow your Instagram page, like the post, tag friends, leave a comment, or even repost the contest. To enter The RealReal’s contest, participants had to follow @therealreal on Instagram, like the post added on May 4th between 7 am and 12 pm, and tag 3 friends in 3 separate comments. Set a deadline for your contest. Choose your prize. When you post, list the legal jargon. It’s as simple as that!
After all, who doesn’t love a reason to celebrate? Since the day honors you, decorate like crazy. Balloons, streamers, banners, cookies, and punch required. Offer drawings for a variety of giveaways. Consider partnering with other consignment stores in your area. Create a consignment crawl. The shopper who visits all stores involved gets their name thrown in a hat to win a grand prize. Or, teach a class, “Designing with Consignment.” Whether you’re a furniture or clothing store, show customers how to use your one-of-a-kind items to create something fabulous. If possible, run a fun price contest. Choose any one of the Price is Right games. For instance, play Bonkers. Purchase 3 or 4 flip-chart-style presentation books. Amazon offers these for $11 each. Print the numbers 0 – 9 on letter-size sheets of paper. Arrange the books in random order and give customers 30 seconds to guess the correct price of the item you’re promoting. They can rearrange the numbers in any combination. You tell them whether they’re too high or too low. At the end of 30 seconds, see how close they come to the actual price. Offer a prize based on their final answer.
Since you’re promoting the “circular” economy, create a circle day. For instance, see how long someone can hula hoop. Play a “Draw the Circle” game. Print a giant sheet of paper with as many circles as possible. Invite shoppers to draw a picture using the circles. No two drawings can be the same. Or, create a giant spinning wheel to earn prizes or discounts. In addition, decorate a selfie wall. Draw a huge circle and add the words, “I am making a difference by shopping at STORE’S NAME. #NationalConsignmentDay.” Give away bracelets, rings, or anything circular.
If you’d like to re-post the National Consignment Day image, click here and download.
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During my early years as a salesperson, our sales training involved listening to multiple Zig Ziglar tapes. That guy was the cheeriest man I ever listened to. The number one lesson I learned was to always put myself in the customer’s shoes. That person is always thinking, “What’s in it for me?” According to The Retail Doctor Blog, I’ve been asking all the wrong questions during my lengthy years of selling. Have you or your employees asked your consignment shoppers these questions?
Now, when I first read this I thought, “Well, why wouldn’t I ask that question?” The usual response you receive is “fine” which immediately ends the conversation. Plus, The Retail Doctor asked, “Do you really care?” Of course I care. Well, sometimes I care. Okay, so maybe I don’t really care, but what am I supposed to ask instead? The first communication you have with your consignment shoppers sets the tone. Vend suggests having a variety of greetings on hand. Ask, “Are you enjoying your afternoon?” If you recognize the shopper, ask “What brings you in to see us again?” Finally, try and find something you like and genuinely say, “I like your … (shoes, coat, scarf, etc.) Where did you get them/it?” I certainly love it when I’m surprised by a cheery salesperson. Or, when I hear “My pleasure” after I order my chicken sandwich at a Chick-Fil-A. So, it’s time to get more creative as you greet those consignment shoppers coming in the door.
A customer often gives the rote response of, “I’m just looking” and then the conversation is completely dead. As The Retail Doctor points out, not every shopper is looking for something but all shoppers do have a problem. Whether it’s the need to kill 30 minutes of time before a meeting, or they’re looking for the perfect dress for an upcoming event, they have a problem that you need to fix. So what questions should a savvy sales associate ask? For furniture consignment, ask “What room gets a makeover today?” For clothing consignment, ask “What special event are you shopping for today?” A children’s resale shop should ask, “Which color…pink or blue?” Make the shopper give you more than a “yes” or “no” answer to keep the conversation going. If you still get the “I’m just looking” response, try and make another connection. Ask “Would you like a basket?” or “Would you like me to hold your cup of coffee at the counter so you can shop easier?”
Although the intention of connecting with your consignment shoppers is good, you’re starting off with a negative. As Vend writes, “Every interaction should be positive.” Try instead, “Are you managing to stay dry with all this rain?” Or, “Are you enjoying all the sunshine we’ve been having?” Vend also stresses the importance of “reading” your customers. Watch their body language. Are they shy? Then, they will be uncomfortable with too many questions. Pick up on verbal cues. Is their tone angry? Find something to genuinely compliment them about. Always make eye contact.
There are 3 types of consignment store shoppers. The “Treasure Hunter,” the “Econo-Shopper” and the “Eco-Shopper.” You need to market to them differently. So, I’m here to help. I’ve come up with 3 separate consignment store marketing ideas to help you reach each special consignment store shopper.
Stores like T.J. Maxx, Marshalls and Tuesday Morning are killing it in the discount retailer’s market. Why? Their inventory changes constantly. Let’s face it, all three stores have overstuffed clothing racks and shelves with candles and housewares spilling over. Shoppers don’t expect amazing personal service. The thrill of the hunt keeps customers coming back. The “Treasure Hunter” consignment store shopper also needs to have that incredible “seek and find” experience. Your store doesn’t need to look like a bursting-at-the-seams Marshalls in order to have shoppers tingling with excitement. However, your marketing should capitalize on the excitement of discovering that one-of-a-kind hidden gem. For one of my kick a** consignment store marketing ideas, here’s a suggested Facebook ad you can download!
This customer has been the lifeblood for the consignment, thrift and resale industries for decades. The “Econo-Shopper” is always looking for a bargain. They want or need to save money. Buying great merchandise at a tremendous discount, gives them the ability to brag about it. The trick is to promote the advantage of consignment store shopping without cheapening your merchandise. Avoid discount sales whenever possible. Add value instead. Read Stop the cycle of discounting. Nowadays, just because someone shops second-hand doesn’t mean they can’t afford to pay full price. Here’s another one of my consignment store marketing ideas that you can download and post on your social media.
Download and use in social media
They’re known as value-driven shoppers. The health of the planet is the “Eco-Shoppers” motivation. Younger generations especially have a passion for the environment and for righting the social wrongs of big industry. According to Sustain Your Style, fast fashion is the second largest polluter in the world. Consignment, whether furniture or fashion, is the ultimate solution. Your consignment store marketing ideas should teach customers to be ethical consumers. By shopping in your store, they’re making a difference in the environment. Let them feel pride in shopping local too. Read The interesting truth about the resale industry. Reprint this infographic for store fliers or use as a special post.
Conventional wisdom says discounting merchandise brings in more sales. Discounting is never a long-term strategy. If you want to attract shoppers for the short term, offer discounts. These customers will leave you sooner rather than later when they’re off to find the next, best deal. To build a solid base of loyal customers, focus on creating value and setting your shop apart. Here are 3 alternatives to stop the cycle of discounting.
A Harvard Business School study determined that people are motivated by 4 different biological drives. Here are the first 2:
Most shops normally focus (without realizing it) on the first 2 drives to gain new customers and make sales. What if instead, you focused on the last 2 drives:
Discounting tends to erode the consumer’s view of your brand value. In other words, if you discount often, you are only viewed as the cheapest place to shop. Instead, charge full price and add an item or service as a bonus. Read 3 sure-fire consignment cross-selling and upselling tips. For a short time, offer a free gift with the purchase of an item. Add free delivery on furniture buys or partner with another business such as a hair salon and offer a special discount. In the mind of the shopper they are getting greater value even when paying full price. Make sure you put a time limit on the offer so that it creates a sense of urgency too.
Today’s consumer is bombarded by messages. If your marketing efforts aren’t segmented to target groups of shoppers, your message will be ignored. Get a better understanding of your key customers by using an online survey (such as SurveyMonkey’s free survey), a printed survey that you use as a bag-stuffer or even your Facebook Insights page to gain in-depth information about your shoppers and fans. Target specific shoppers with specific messages about specific merchandise they want and you’ll not only have a greater chance of making a sale, but you will be building relationship at the same time.
Don’t let the leasing vs. buying question overwhelm you. Take a look at some of the pros and cons. Then, make a decision on which is best for your consignment store property. No matter what you choose, remember it’s always location, location, location!
There’s a lot to consider when deciding between buying or leasing. Regardless of which one you choose, you’ll still have store expenses such as insurance, salaries, utilities, display fixtures, hardware, software, labels, signage, etc. Consider these factors when choosing:
Finally, the wisdom that only Dave Ramsey, the financial guru can provide, “…put your business on solid ground, slowly and steadily. Lease your space and use your money to reinvest in your business. Make it grow. Once your business is really rocking, you can consider getting into the real estate business.”
If you read last week’s post (which I’m sure was hard to put down), you know July is Independent Retailer Month. I’ve decided in addition to taking advantage of this month and all of its benefits for consignment, we’re also going to create merchandising ideas. Let your store and windows reflect your independence all month long. Let’s show ’em July is also Independent Consignment Store Month!
Every independent store owner needs to focus on leaving a lasting impression on their customers. That’s what makes an indie store fun to shop. Unique merchandise, an eclectic atmosphere or even quirky employees can add to the experience. Remind shoppers there’s treasure to be found. Teach them about being a responsible consumer by shopping at your consignment shop. Promote “Shop Local.” Promote “Independent Consignment Store Month!”
Download and print this poster to place in your consignment store window. Thank shoppers regularly for choosing you. Celebrate July as Independent Consignment Store Month!
I thought I’d throw in a few ideas for giving your store that independence celebration feel. Since you don’t want to focus on our national Independence Day for the entire month, I came up with other suggestions. Use these ideas just for Independent Consignment Store Month, or have a special place in your store that you leave it permanently.
I’ve never experienced a natural disaster, personally. However, my sweet 96-year-old mother, Ruth, still remembers the St. Louis tornado of 1927. Just 5 days after her 5th birthday, she recalls being firmly placed in the middle of the bed by her grandmother. “Now, don’t move,” her grandma instructed. “No matter what, stay here.” Her grandma promptly left to retrieve Mom’s older sister, Dorothy, at school. Alone, Mom heard the almost 90 mph wind gusts. Glass popping and breaking. She felt the walls shaking in their little 4-family flat. After more than 90 years, the experience is still as fresh as if it were yesterday. Fortunately, in their case, everyone was safe.
Now is the time to create your consignment store disaster recovery plan.
Mariners have a clever way of remembering hurricane season. Follow along.
Did you know that the most common disaster is a power outage? Your local energy company often has the power up and running within a few hours, but there are times when it can be off for days sometimes even weeks. Be prepared with flashlights, a battery-powered radio and extra batteries. That’s a simple fix if everyone knows where they are kept. Check power strips. Do you have a surge protector? The beauty of web based software, like SimpleConsign, is you can still access your information on your phone if need be. Plus, we’ve backed up your data so nothing is lost!
Does your shop have a designated safe area or room? Is there one nearby in your community? Determine an area where you, your staff and customers should go in the event of a hurricane or tornado. If your shop has a basement area, map out the location that is safest. If no basement exists, decide which part of the interior of your shop could be used as a safe area.
Should you add business interruption insurance to your disaster recovery plan? This form of insurance will compensate you based on your previous financial records for the loss of income you incur in case of a disaster. The amount is determined by the type of business, the building structure of your shop and any other risk factors such as location, etc. Know what disasters aren’t covered. Furthermore, learn how to file your claim quickly.
Would you be able to quickly move your merchandise into another location? A complete disaster recovery plan takes into consideration that your fast-acting sales team will be ready to move any salvageable merchandise. They need to know where to take it though. Do you have an alternative location available? Even if it’s in your basement, your team knowing could make all the difference between re-opening or closing your shop for good. Before moving anything, make sure your insurer doesn’t require an on-site visit first.
Your consignor contract should already state that you’re not responsible for items that are lost, stolen or destroyed due to a disaster. With a web based system such as SimpleConsign, you’ll have consignor names and their inventory at your fingertips. Communicate with your consignors/vendors as soon as possible. Use email, social media and if possible, texts to clearly state the extent of damage and how it will affect them and their items.
The Red Cross provides a wealth of disaster-preparedness supplies. Order Emergency Backpacks that can easily be stored in your back office. Also, have at least one member of your team certified in CPR. Check your local Red Cross for class listings. Their site lists a variety of extra supplies they recommend you have such as water, matches, extra clothing, etc.
Be aware of what particular disasters could or have happened in your area. Check out government sites for a ton of information to help create your consignment store disaster recovery plan. Their plan prepares you particularly for natural disasters. They offer a wealth of information from planning ahead to coping with the aftermath. The site also offers suggestions for a basic disaster supplies kit.
A plan is only as good as the paper it’s written on if it isn’t communicated. Create a disaster-preparedness notebook. Keep it in plain sight in your back room and make sure every employee is aware of it. In times of trauma, it’s hard to remember the plan. Brief your staff completely on your disaster recovery plan. They need to know what to do if the disaster occurs while at the shop or if it occurs during off hours. If the disaster affects your entire community make sure you have a way to communicate with your staff members so you’ll know they are safe. Since texting uses less bandwidth than actual phone calls, set up the ability to send a group text. It will be the easiest method of communication. Consider adding the number of their close relative or friend too. List them under ICE (In Case of Emergency). The psychological toll a disaster can take on you and your staff can be overwhelming. Their well being is of course your first concern.
As an example, when Trader Joe’s in New Jersey had their roof collapse under more than 2′ of snow in 2016, they quickly communicated with their 160 employees and loyal customers. They stated they would be rebuilding in a “realistic time frame.” They even attempted to find employment for interested workers at other locations. In less than a year, they re-opened with employee-designed wall art and a stronger commitment to the community. Your consignment store disaster recovery plan needs to take you all the way through the beginning to the end so you meet everyone’s expectations.