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This is a post similar to this one for brick and mortar quilt stores: Advice to Quilt Shops: Quilters have their Say. Are Quilt Shops Listening?
In this post, Advice to Online Quilt Shops: Quilters give their opinions, we know right off the bat that quilt shops online have some specific challenges to overcome. Especially when it comes to making it a practical shopping experience for shoppers. As a consumer you lose the ability to feel the fabrics to be able to notice their quality, softness, or general texture. Matching colors on a computer screen becomes quilt difficult verses in person comparisons.
Quilting cotton can actually have a wide variety feels! Now we can definitely rely on our favorite fabric designers and some manufacturers such as Free Spirt or Moda, who many of us are familiar, to always feel pretty much the same. But when we get into the lesser known brands, I feel they might suffer more online because they are a bit unknown and we can’t touch them.
But besides the touchie feelie aspect that is lost, lets see what some quilters had to say in recent facebook posts where I asked them what they would like to se improved about online quilt shops. Here they are in order of most requested being at the top of the list.
The number one improvement they would like to see is pattern size and or scale. By placing a familiar object such a as a quarter on the fabric would help, even more helpful would be a quilting ruler. Place a quilting ruler onto the fabric so that actual size of the pattern can be seen clearly by your shoppers.
Next item to improve is better pictures of the precuts. Quilters really want to see what all they are getting in a package of precuts. Removing the packing and spreading out the pieces really allows to show how all the fabrics look when cut off the bolt. Smaller precuts can really change especially with a larger patterned print, so its great to show how one of the packages actually looks. Also helpful is to include a picture of the line represented however please make sure all are in the precut package as well. Check out the fabric pictures are The Contemporary Quilter.
Have you seen these new Flat Fat Stacks from Paintbrush Studios pictured above? They print the fat quarters in a single printed run and you cut them apart. This saves time and money which means we will get them for a more affordable cost!
Shoppers would really like more affordable shipping. Unfortunately fabric is relatively heavy so it’s understandable that shipping might be more. But if there were a way to make it more less of a burden on your shoppers, sales might increase. An upfront flat shipping charge that is advertised well is a great idea because the shopper knows what to expect immediately and can shop without fear of a shocking charge later. That surprise shipping charge when checking out might cause them to cancel their order all together. I know it my number one reason for backing out of an order when things were in my cart already.
Now of course as quilters we need to remember that profit margins can be quite tight on fabrics, and with the heaviness of the product, smaller online quilt stores just can’t give up a lot of money on shipping as well. Something to keep in mind when we support small online businesses in an Amazon world.
I wasn’t expecting this one! But oh so true! White fabric is hard to display online and for the shopper even more difficult to know what shade of white your might end up with. A great suggestion I received was to show whites on a dark background, or several whites all together, touching each other, so you can see the shades compared to one another. This idea would bring out which ones tend to go more warm or cool whites. Maybe showing whites on a piece of copy paper? Maybe that is a horrible idea, I was just trying to think of something that is more universal in color for the background to show it against. Even if the shop could tell us this is a warmer white or a cooler white could really help. The Fat Quarter Shop which has an amazing selection of the Grunge line ,my favorite background fabric, shows their fabrics in squares with ruler measurements.
Don’t scrunch your fabric samples. Quilters who are shopping want to see the pattern clearly without any distortions. We understand you are trying to make it a little more interesting but it just makes it more difficult to pick fabric when it isn’t shown flat. Now to this my own opinion I would like to add: Stop the Swirl. This trend when we take a quilt or fabric and swirl it tight in the middle for a photo op is baffling to me. I can’t see the pattern at all! So…that’s just my own pet peeve mixed in here amongst opinions!
Shoppers what to know where a fabric was manufactured to help base their decisions on to purchase or not. Not a lot has to be said here – it’s simply something they want to know. Also, they would prefer if American made fabrics were promoted as such. Now let’s continue on with our advice to online quilt shops: quilters give their opinions!
Ditch the 1 or 2 yard minimum requirements they said! Many quilters do not need 1 or 2 yards of a particular fabric. 1/2 yard increments are much preferred. If a quilt store feels this helps their bottom line, then maybe put the yardage requirements on the entire order. A 2 yard minimum order but the quilter could get 4 different fabrics. Maybe that is a way to help both parties out here. I agree it isn’t a good feeling when you need a small amount but you have to buy an entire yard. Maybe some compromise could be had here.
Someone suggested that eQuilter has an great option where you can choose a color in the fabric and see other fabrics with that color. This could be a great tool to help choose fabrics online! Another amazing suggestion is that maybe the larger shops or manufacturers could create a sort of drag and drop feature to add fabric pictures to a board where you can see them together. This would help with quilt design.
If you have any other advice to online quilt shops, drop it in the comments and hopefully some online shops will see your suggestions and take them to heart! We are all in this together to make each other better and create a beautiful world!