Friday, September 20, 2019

Where are you planning to sell your perfume? Online?

    The most obvious points of sale for your perfume are retail stores and online. In my last message I wrote about the basic requirements for making sales in stores. Now I want to address the online option. There are alternatives to both of these that fall under the heading "guerrilla marketing" but it's hard to explain these opportunities as a good deal of imagination and energy are required to recognize and exploit them.

    Anybody can offer their perfume online. There are no restrictions, no gate keepers. You control your online presence. What is essential is that you have a device to take orders. This eliminates Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram although they can be highly effective for promoting sales. Typically selling online involves having a website, although there are alternatives such as eBay, Etsy, Shopify and "Etsy alternatives" (do a Google search for "etsy alternatives" to find them.)

    The cost of having your own website can be (realistically!) less than $60 a year -- if you are able to prepare your own pages. The $60 includes both web hosting and domain registration. For shopping cart you can use Paypal which is free. But, as Shopify warns, "Marketing your store is ultimately up to you, and is your responsibility as shop owner."

    So to sell online you need a store, you need to market that store, and you must be prepared to ship orders promptly (and be familiar with regulations for shipping perfume.) In short, you need to become a merchant but, as mentioned, there are no bars to prevent you from setting up your online store.

"Marketing your store is, ultimately, up to you."

    A platform like Shopify takes pains to educate its clients. Other platforms often make vague promises of marketing support. They want your business and the truth about how unlikely you are to sell any perfume with them unless you, personally, work at marketing it, does not encourage sales of their hosting services and it is the hosting services that they are selling, not your merchandise. You may need a hosting service but, just like having your perfume in a store, getting it into a store doesn't mean you're going to make sales.

    Sometimes the solution is a marketing partner, a person who can take what you have and make sales. It is not easy to find an individual who can take this role and, of course, it means that profits will be shared. "Sharing" is the key here. You don’t want to pay someone a fee to market your perfume based on promises alone but you certainly might make a commission arrangement with someone who can make sales for you that you otherwise would not have made.

    What it all comes down to is your overall plan. Having a product (your perfume), having a market (people who will be receptive to your perfume) and then deciding how to best connect with that market. If your market is local, a retail store makes sense. If your market is scattered across cities and states, an online store makes sense. But the key will always be how well you sell your perfume.

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Could this be an opportunity for you? Using a window display to sell a lot of perfume!

  Thinking "big markets, unlimited sales" might close off any hope you have of becoming a successful perfume entrepreneur. You don't have the resources to complete and, by focusing on big markets, you're likely to overlook markets where you can make money.

Keep it small

    If you've never sold a perfume before and have never sold anything in big numbers, how many bottles of your own perfume do you think, realistically, you might be able to sell perfume? 50,000? Not likely. 10,000? Still a tough proposition. But what about 1,000 or perhaps a few less? Can you manage to produce just the number of bottles you need? Producing more bottles than you can sell can turn a good promotion into a disaster. Let's look at opportunities to sell 1,000 bottles, or even fewer.

No media, no sales
    You need media to reach your buyers. Sometimes the availability of a particular media opportunity can be your opportunity to sell your perfume. To expand your vision of media, look at this list. It could expand your thinking.

    From this list, look at one example: "window displays" which I take to mean retail store windows. Yes, windows can be media and, depending on the store's location and foot traffic outside the window, a window display could be used to sell an unknown perfume successfully.

Getting your perfume into a store

    It's not that hard to get a store to take your perfume on consignment, which means you only get paid for what is sold. It's no big deal for a local store to take your perfume on consignment. Perfume doesn't take up much shelf space. The problem is that, since a bottle of perfume is small, your perfume can easily go unnoticed and, when it is seen, it can easily be passed over ... unless people have some reason to take an interest in your perfume. Here's where a window display can change everything.

    Let's talk about that store window. I'm not suggesting you'll be allowed to take over the entire window (unless you have a really strong display) but you are likely to get enough space to put up a poster (big) advertising the actual bottle (small). This is media you don't have to pay for as you would with newspaper, magazine, radio, or TV advertising. The expense is nothing more than the cost of making that poster. The effectiveness will depend on your powers of persuasion. An alternative to a poster could be a video that loops. This would require some hardware and video production but many effective marketing videos are, today, shot with a mobile phone. You will, of course, have a duplicate display in the store with your perfume.

    Can you make an opportunity out of a willing retailer? Can you sell 1,000 bottles of perfume? You do have to monitor the store's traffic before you undertake a project like this. Are there are enough unique visitors to give to store the potential you need? If you find a good store that may not have all the traffic you want but good traffic for your perfume, consider cutting your goal down to 500 bottles or even 200 and keep your production in line with what you expect you can sell.

    Working with a retail store is a good experience because you will get a dose of the reality of what a store owner needs and what the public wants, and, in this "window display" strategy, you can get this with a very small cash outlay. If you can make it work, it can be your first step into perfume entrepreneurship.