When it comes to Internet and e-commerce sales of designs, the website intermediary a designer chooses to sell through can have as much impact on sales and reputation as the quality of the design itself. Gone are the old days when a design product sold itself. Now the venue is just as important as the product.
When selecting a site as a third party channel for jewelry and clothing designs, a designer has to do her homework and understand where the desired market already exists. The fact is, very few designers can start off on their own, with no presence whatsoever, and develop an instant following. It usually takes at least a guest appearance on Oprah to make instant demand occur. Instead, most designers have to get saddled into the markets available through a product consolidator. The one chosen often says a lot about the designer in the eyes of the buying consumer, even if she doesn’t actually match that perspective.
Simple, low-end consolidators like arts and crafts websites or auctions are exactly that, low-end. If a designer is looking for a prestige factor, these are not the place to go. They have their role in design selling, if one wants to operate as a grassroots business and never shake the “working out of the garage” persona. If a designer wants to hit the mainstream, she needs to avoid establishing a name on small end art sites. Doing so can come back to a bite a reputation later on, as well as lower pricing and damaging revenues.
The consolidator site chosen should already be respected in the design market the designer ultimately wants to be a part of. That means the platform is already a well-known retailer carrying a number of respected designs. Getting in won’t be easy as there is high competition to be recognized, and the consolidator gets to choose which designs are most likely to be in demand and produce sales. After all, it is a business in the end.
Establishing a name under another designer may not be a bad idea. An already successful designer has a presence with consolidators and connections. Learning the ropes while spending time under the shadow of a successful name can produce some good insights on which markets to pay attention to and which ones to ignore. When a budding designer then goes out on her own, she can avoid a number of rookie mistakes, being far more efficient in connecting with the right consolidators and retailers.
Finally, designers need to anticipate that when a consolidator does pick up a design, the designer better be willing to sell the design entirely or be able to mass produce quickly. Dubbed the “Walmart” effect, high capacity orders can be the norm, and a designer has to move quickly to catch the order when a consolidator says, get on board. That means producing cash flow to pay for the production as well. If a designer is not ready to go there, a bit of time in the minor leagues may be smarter play to build up resources to go big when needed.
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