Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Sales 101--A Tutorial, of sorts...

I see a lot of Etsy Vintage shops lately, while perusing their offerings for items to add to my personal wardrobe.

There are also a lot of Etsy Vintage shops with Twitter accounts, Facebook pages, and Blogs; and I follow quite a few. Some of them are friends, some are online acquaintances, and some are shops that consistently offer quality merchandise at reasonable prices and I don't want to miss a thing.

In past life, I logged an absurd amount of time as an online/marketing/PR/sales-type professional. I am also considered quite knowledgeable about Vintage Fashion. This is meant to be helpful, drawing on my experiences of what works and what does not work, and what I find appealing as an online consumer.

1. SEPARATE YOURSELF: If you have a Twitter account for your shop, have a separate personal account. Establish yourself as a Professional, as a Business Owner who takes it seriously. Here is why: if you use Twitter to complain about slow or no sales, about how many sales you need to pay your rent or to wonder aloud WTF is wrong with people that they are not buying what you are selling--you will lose current and potential customers. A cardinal rule for sales people is to "fake it til you make it." This means, you must look prosperous and successful especially when you are not. The message you are sending is that your stuff is not attracting buyers, for whatever reason. So, instead of the complaints, post up your latest listings with tag lines like, "Limited time offerings!" "This won't last" "I'm keeping this if you don't buy it today!"
Your postings should be positive and engaging. Make us want to see what you found that is not to be missed!

2. LIMIT YOURSELF: Save up posts about your listings for once or twice a week, or at the most, once per day. Really. My Twitter feed looks like the classifieds some days, and I just skip them all. It's too much and I just refuse to sort thru it all. I've asked around, and I am not the only one. Make the updates an occasion, not just so much flotsam in the feed.

3. USE ACCURATE DESCRIPTIONS: This is huge for Retrophiles looking for vintage clothing. HUGE. We want authenticity. We want measurements. We want a true indication of condition and wear-ability. If it needs altering or repairing, or cleaning, tell us the truth. Avoid things like "Mad Men" especially if you have no idea what that means as a descriptive. I don't want a dress from the 80s that "looks" 50s that is "described" as Mad Men-style, which is 60s. See what I mean? Know your product. Do the research.
4. COMPETITIVE ANALYSIS: Where do you shop online for vintage? Which stores/shops are selling out, despite the lousy state of the economy? People are still shopping, you just need to figure out where and why. What are these sellers doing differently? I'm not talking about stealing someone's design aesthetic, I'm talking about basics: ads, photos, descriptions, policies, etc...These are the things that bring customers. What can you do better?

Nothing makes me happier than shopping online and supporting friends and fellow Retrophiles. I loathe chain stores and haven't set foot in the Maul in nearly a year. When I need things, or want things, I go to eBay and Etsy and the online stores.

If you're an Author on this blog, use it to highlight sales or especially choice items--it's free and it's like shooting fish in a barrel for your target market! If you want access, just email me and I'll set you up to post.

We want to keep these sellers in business! It's good for the environment to buy vintage! It's good for Fashion to buy vintage! It's good for your soul!!!

Please take my suggestions in the spirit they were offered: I just want to share what has been successful with all my friends who are struggling with their businesses right now. Holiday shopping season is upon us and there is no reason you shouldn't benefit from it!!


  1. If I am annoying anyone on twitter I'd rather they remove me and be done with it.

  2. That wasn't what I was saying at all. Your posts on Twitter are actually GREAT examples of what I was saying...I just didn't want to use anything anyone had posted without permission.

  3. Noooo! You didn't upset me, I wrote a long reply and had to remove it because it would have clearly ID'd a couple of people!

    I'm not perfect I get a bit giddy and think OMG you silly woman, shouldn't have said that!

    I like to think the personal twitter I have is a bit about my personality, anyone who likies what I'm doing clothes wise will follow the twitter for the brand and not the woman behind it who talks about what she likes
    and the like!

    I think all your advice is very good.
    I worked in pharmaceutical sales from 1991- 2006, was also a product manager, I know where you are coming from, I really do!

    I am so seriously not mad with you LOL and I'm sorry if you thought I was Hissy x

  4. Apropos of probably nothing, I've set up an RSS feed for this blog on Livejournal, so people can follow it there on their friends page.

    Here's the link:

    Although you'll need to tell people it's there.

  5. Well, thank Goodness, because I seriously wanted to use you as a Good Example, but dashed the whole thing off so quickly that I didn't want to wait for permission!

    thanks for your support, you're a Doll and I've always said so!

  6. hahaha, Helen, thank you so much!! that's a great help!

  7. Thanks, Sophie!
    Your blog is gorgeous, btw!!

  8. This is brilliant and if anyone gets upset over it, its because they have done some of these oopsies! :-D It's professional critisism. Take what you can use and throw out the rest. :)

  9. Great post! You made some very excellent points.

    I was thinking the other night about how anyone can have a shop now a days and sell vintage things. The market is very over saturated with places to buy vintage and it's more important then ever to be able to set yourself apart from the rest of the competition.

  10. Thanks so much--it's especially pleasing coming from people whom I admire and respect!

    Lolita is right--the people who need the help and information are often not the ones who can take it in the proper spirit. I am not bashing anyone, but I am offering up some good ideas. I spend quite a bit of $ on True Vintage, not repro, and I'd think they'd appreciate a Buyers' perspective...but I feel a bit like some folks have taken offense... I had no intentions of it and was frankly not expecting it. Que Sera, Sera...

  11. Great tips. I couldn't agree more. I too am equal parts interested in the buying and selling of vintage and the business side of it all. I've written quite a few tutorials and marketing articles for the vintage busienss, so I feel like your tips were spot on!

    Even people like me who have been selling for a few years online have to keep upping our game or get left behind.

    Looking forward to more articles!

  12. Hi. I just wanted to let you know that I have selected you as one of my 7 most enjoyable blogs for the style blog award!

  13. Thank you so much, Lolita!
    Wow. We are honored.