Update: As pre-arranged, Feedjit was turned off at 5:30PM today.
Latest Traffic Report, and Yesterday’s Mania blew away (again) the BoaF trunk sale, even after pinning it to the HP, and slapping on it a flashing neon Vegas-style featured image.
Per Feedjit, much of the traffic between 10am and midnight originated from a small number states. These are: TX, CA, MD. OH, FL, MA, IL, AZ. Numbers are approximate, as WP does not provide a sophisticated or even coherent view of blog traffic.
No sales or even inquiriy referrals via the Web.
There is little if any traffic between midnight and 6am EST, thus indicating the primarily domestic appeal of this blog — which stands to reason, as it is distinctively American in tone, with references that may not be familiar to an International stitcher. (No worries; I don’t ship overseas.)
That said, I do get consistent traffic from the UK, Brazil, South Africa, and especially Russia.
While the overall number of views dipped by 10 % from the prior day, unique visitors continue to remain at 50% above historical norms for my blog.
Traffic seems to be driven primarily by (occasionally satirical) textual “content” with cheesy teaser headlines. Most readers favor the mini features or opinion pieces — as opposed to merchandise-related pages, though of course these must pertain to needlepoint in some way.
Despite this, there continues to be disinterest on the part of the majority of visitors in commenting. It is a largely passive readership. Mute-atis mutandis, as it were, but unchangingly.
It’s hard not to conclude that — at least for Needlepoint Land and possibly for other needlepoint brick-and-mortar stores (with limited resources, like mine!) — that the Web is not an ideal sales venue. The online Emperor may have no clothes, or they are severely tattered. To the small needlepoint shop, Shopify et al. simply may not be worth the ROI.
This embarrassing failure to perform on my blog may be attributed to the lack of a shopping cart. Customers have to call, or email, and that’s so yesterday. (Actually they can also text me on my smartphone, which some do, constantly!).
It’s not a convincing argument, as many potential buyers now have cell phones — which are distance insensitive (duh, which is why Needlepoint Land does not have an 800 number), and they love to gab in the store (as do I!), so why not buy by phone?
Another hypothesis is that few viewers who visit Needlepointland.com are actually potential buyers. This is not a conspiracy theory. It’s more along the lines of looking at needlepointland.com as a sort of modern chapbook.
The majority of visitors do seem to enjoy being entertained by the literate writing (why else do they keep returning?), while a residual number of viewers (probably quite small, judging from a recent survey) may actually be interested in engaging in a quasi virtual shopping experience.
Yet another hypothesis is that there is not enough image content being displayed (despite the fact that thousands of pics of new canvases have been published on this blog since its inception 3 years ago, which did in fact lead to a few much-appreciated sales, but not what I would describe as a tsunami of online demand).
This may be true, but in large part Needlepoint Land’s canvas acquisition strategy (I cringe at the pretentiousness of the term “curated”: when I go to a trade show, I’m acting as a merchandise buyer, not some museum goombah) has been financial-driven: my resources are not infinite.
Needlepoint Land has always been about providing a personal experience to a customer, along with a personal familiarity with individual designers and their work. There is a needlepoint context. This is not eBay or Amazon.
This works quite well in a B&M; this week, for example, was quite positive in terms of store-driven sales. But this approach may not work online, and it is not of interest to me personally to commodify needlepoint art and sell it in bulk like screwdrivers or T-shirts.
That said, it is true that most needlepoint shop owners face a dilemma: how do I carry enough inventory (knowing that a percentage of canvases will turn out to be duds, er, non performing assets, and there is no return policy in the needlepoint business vis-a-vis design vendors, except for trunk shows) without digging oneself into a financial sinkhole?
This is a known systemic problem in the industry, one that faces every shop owner, except those who throw in the towel, and stop buying new things, or those who seem to have weirdly deep pockets (needlepoint as a front for money laundering?).
Looking forward (let me put on my Needlepoint Visionary hat for a sec), the solution may one day be for needlepoint store owners to form inventory cooperatives, where they agree to buy and cross-sell different lines.
Thus no one store would be forced to attempt to create a mega Bezosian warehouse of painted needlepoint canvas designs; the risk would be shared. (If you are interested in hearing more about how this might work, let me know: just title your email Socialized Needlepoint).
Bottom line: When it comes to trunk shows I’m going to try a slightly different approach to using this platform.
I have tried creating flippable hand-made ISSU catalogs, various types of WordPress and custom-coded galleries, cute CSS3 animations — nothing seems to work that well (as to opposed to the in-store experience; to wit, yesterday, I was starting to unpack the upcoming Julie Pishke trunk for Feb, when a customer walked in and bought several of her items in advance right out of the box. Love that!)
My latest idea is very simple, and is bound to please the unpolished Needlepoint Land tech crew louts who would rather be eating fish tacos any day of the week rather than putting up hundreds of images that don’t move sales.
I’m going to start offering on my blog a few bundled deals on some trunk items, highlight a select number of canvases from each trunk, and link to the designer’s web for the rest. There is, as the saying goes, no sense in re-inventing the wheel, or in this case, re-taking the pics!
This concludes a somewhat meandering edition of Needlepoint Land’s final Traffic Report series.
Thanks for reading.
Stay tuned for next week’s series: the global implications of needlepoint as a pre-Guttenburg craft. (j/k!)
PS I’m taking the Feedjit traffic cop off by COB today. I never did like those traffic stop cameras anyway. But, as far as I know, I’m one of the few needlepoint store owners who has actually revealed the traffic their store’s blog receives. This way, other needlepoint store owners, particularly ones that are just starting out, have something to compare with — and not make wishful thinking assumptions, when putting together their optimistic biz plans. I may have cast an unsparing, fact-driven light on the Internet Emperor’s new clothes, but at least now there is some kind of benchmark, instead of all this stuff being shrouded in all the hush hush on the qt. You can thank me later!
2009 Illo by Floridian cartoonist Jeff Parker
Flower Smiley from OpenClipArt
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