Independent retailers are often wary of taking on new brands, and it can be risky to stock makers in your store instead of proven products. However, with e-commerce changing the shopping game for all retailers, stocking makers is more and more worth the gamble.
Let’s get the negatives out of the way first. Brand new products and entrepreneurs certainly contain a lot of risks. History has proven that we’re not always great at guessing which products are going to be successful.
Even extremely established brands with all the data in the world are often wrong about predicting how a product is going to be received by the general public.
When you’re dealing with a new product and a new entrepreneur, risk increases even more. New business owners are simply inexperienced, they may have to be taught how things work, and make more mistakes than their more experienced peers.
These concerns are real, but stocking new makers in independent stores has more pros than ever before, and fills a real need in the retail market.
1) Makers Have Great Brand Stories
With the rise of the internet and the new technology that it’s brought, competing for people’s attention is harder than it’s ever been before. Most marketers agree the most effective way to grab attention now is through the use of brand stories.
There are many reasons having a great brand story is good for business, and they all boil down to getting attention by standing out from the crowd. Humans are wired to latch onto stories more than facts, figures, or well-structured arguments.
And makers, especially makers who are usually associated with the highest risk, often have the best stories. Everyone loves to root for an underdog. Individuals who brought a product into the world by themselves, with little help or experience, are inspiring to your customers.
People who’ve overcome adversity or have a charity they hope to help may not be who you’d typically think to do business with. But the trade-off for how much more engaged your customers will become in their brand story can be worth it.
Bonus Advantage: By stocking these makers, you’re actively improving and changing your store’s brand as well. If your store gets a reputation for stocking local makers, or makers with a cause, it will help draw in customers with similar values and is an easy way to market your store.
2) Makers Are Unique
Because of the recent changes in the retail industry, there’s a massive demand for more. More products, more variety, more often. This new type of demand lines up perfectly with several different qualities small makers have.
- Consumers constantly want new products. Gone are the days of restocking your store once a season. Fast fashion chains like Forever 21 and H&M make it a priority to change their selection at least once a week, so shoppers always have something new and exciting to look at. Working with makers can help you keep variety fresh and your store’s selection more extensive.
- Makers’ products often aren’t available in other places. Every retail business is competing with Amazon and big-box retailers. Working with makers allows you to sell products before they’re available other places, and in some cases, your store may be the only place customers can find them.
- You can lean into the longtail. In our new retail world, 90% of products are purchased by only 1% of customers. However, 58% of revenue comes from that 90%. Offering a wider selection of products that fill niches is a great business technique and enhanced by getting makers in your store.
3) Your Store Will Be On Trend
Makers are hustlers that haven’t made it big yet. They’re often artists, inventors, and people dying to make their voices heard. For that reason, they’re way more likely to be tapped into the zeitgeist than any big company or supplier.
It’s advantageous to have a store that makes trends instead of copying existing ones. Your customer base will know your shop is the best place to come for gifts, or when they just want to see what’s gaining popularity. And best of all, if you’re making the trends, you won’t be caught literally stealing art like World Market has been.
4) It Gives Your Employees Something Creative To Do
Being a buyer is a prestigious and creatively fulfilling job. If you have employees, letting them help out with this part of your business will make them feel valued. You don’t have to completely rearrange your existing workflow. Just offer a day once a month where if they want to, they can pitch you new items. The people who work for you may have seen great products around town, at farmers markets, or have friends and family that sell products.
This doesn’t just create good morale and give your employees more job satisfaction. It also serves as a great way to give your store more variety, and a deeper connection to your local community.
5) Makers Are Hustlers And Valuable Business Contacts
Putting makers’ products in your store allows you to form a personal relationship with another small business owner. Small makers are incentivized to help your business succeed. Large manufacturers and online orders who are largely anonymous are not.
Makers are more likely to promote your store to their friends and family, or through their social media. If you need advice or help in general, you’re way more likely to get help from a maker. Large companies don’t depend on your business doing well.
There are a ton of great reasons you should be stocking makers in your store if you’re not already. Whether it’s because of the uniqueness of their product line, their brand story, or just because they make really awesome stuff, stocking makers can be a great way to make your store stand out in the crowd.