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29th August 2014

Friday Blog Round – Up 8/29/14

roundup2Since I posted on the EnMart Twitter feed asking where people look for inspiration this morning,  I thought that it might be a good idea to do a blog round-up and point out some of the inspiring things I’ve found lately.

First up is an post that makes you think from All Things Embroidery.   The question being discussed is whether or not you would do embroidery work for a company or organization with whom you don’t agree or who’s aims you don’t support.   The blogger comes down on the side of “business is business”,  but I know other business owners who have refused work because they didn’t like the business or organization that was offering the work.   If a business or organization that didn’t coincide with your particular beliefs came to you,  would you do the work, or would you decline?   It’s an interesting question.

Second at bat is a post on speed techniques for handbags.   Since bags are a big seller for many people,  particularly with a monogram,  getting them done quickly is always a benefit.   Creating handbags in less time is also a very good thing,  the faster you make them the faster they can be sold. There are some very cool ideas here,  and the finished bag is quite nice.

Third on the list is a post from Retail Minded about how to make decisions decisively.   The one tip that got me in this list was “embrace ambiguity”.   I always want to know what all the possible consequences are and how things are going to work out.   Ambiguity is a tough things for me.    I also like the advice about slowing down when you’re making decisions.   Sometimes we’re so caught up in getting things done that we simply jump to a conclusion and a decision too quickly.   All these tips are useful.

Fourth in the line up is a post from the Stitchworks blog about why businesses fail.   This echoes the article in Stitches Magazine on the same topic.   I have to agree that lack of marketing is definitely one reason why businesses don’t succeed.   You have to let people know that you’re out there before they will buy what you have to sell.   I also agree that underselling your work is dangerous and can be a big problem for this industry.

In the fifth slot we have a post that is rapidly becoming one of my favorites.   I think the issue of creative people undervaluing their work is an epidemic,  which is why I love the “We are $ew Worth It”  movement.   Creative people,  whether they quilt, embroider,  draw,  sew or write,  need to value their own work before anyone else will.  It’s also up to us to change the public perception that handmade is easy or isn’t worth that much.   We’re artists and should be treated as such.

Sixth on the docket we have a post from John Morgan about asking the right questions not the easy questions.  As someone who is passionate about helping people learn and grow their businesses,  I love this post.   I think he’s right,  so often we don’t ask the questions that will tell us what we really want or need to know because we’re afraid of looking stupid or vulnerable,  or of being too personal.   The only way to learn is to ask,  and the better the questions you ask,  the better you will become.

 

posted in Around the Blogosphere | 1 Comment

25th June 2014

Changes

change ahead 2When EnMart first became a company,  in late 2007,   we had one plan,  to supply the best thread,  stabilizer and other embroidery products to the commercial embroidery marketplace.   Fast forward to today,  and some six and a half years (give or take) since EnMart began,  what we do and what we are has changed.   We now sell sublimation supplies.   We sell quilt thread and FabricMaker and are looking at expanding into other quilting related items.    We are exploring new markets and encountering new customer types and the simple site that started it all is beginning to need a bit of an upgrade.

In the next few months we will be making upgrades and changes to our website.  If you want the quick version of what we’re doing,  here are the bullet points:

  • EnMart is splitting the store in two.
  • One site is for businesses, and the other for everyone else.
  • Businesses must use a login, and get custom pricing.
  • Everyone else can buy from us now from the public site.
  • If you already have a login you can still use it.
  • Always go to www.myenmart.com and choose the login option that applies to you.
  • If you are a business and don’t have a login, you need to contact us to get one.
  • If you are not a business, you can shop with or without logging in.

Log-ins will still be required for all customers checking out,   but you will only need to log-in before shopping if you are a customer who is eligible for special pricing.  The front end log-in option will be implemented soon.  Pricing structures will be put in place some time after the log-in option goes live.  You can find a complete description of the changes we’re making and the reasons behind them on our FAQ page.

Making these changes  will benefit everyone involved.    The log-in and customer category functions will make sure that every customer receives the proper pricing for their type.    It will also allow a wider group of customers to purchase from EnMart which means some people who were previously turned away will now be able to buy.   This structure will also help us ensure that we’re not trespassing on the territories of any customers who buy from us to sell to the end user.    The changes will also allow us to keep everything on one site, instead of having different sites aimed at different categories of customer, which would have gotten confusing for everyone.

As always, we encourage you to offer us your feedback about these changes.   You can comment on this post, send an email to info at myenmart dot com, leave a message on our Facebook page, send us a message on Twitter or call us and let us know what you think. We appreciate any feedback you can give us, and it will certainly be considered as we move forward with these changes.

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9th June 2014

Why EnMart Sends E-mails

mailing listWhy is EnMart sending you email? Are we spamming you? Did we buy a list? We get these questions sometimes, so we thought it was time to explain ourselves, and let you know why you just might want to keep on receiving the messages we send.

EnMart, as a rule, sends out three types of email messages. They are:

  1. Order confirmations/updates, sent out automatically by our online store
  2. Direct correspondence, such as quotes, information, notifications, questions, or answers
  3. Mass emails, such as special offers, sales, or other general information

For the purposes of this post, we are addressing the third type of email.

First off, we would like to emphatically state that we do NOT buy lists to send mass emails. We don’t like those kinds of emails either. Our emails are ONLY sent to three groups of people. Those who have:

  1. Placed an order with us at some point in time in the past
  2. Attended one of the trade shows where we exhibited
  3. Indicated in some other way such as via our Facebook signup page that they are interested in receiving our emails.

A lot of people don’t realize it, but when you attend a trade show, somewhere in the papers you sign or in the information you receive is a statement that you are giving permission to the exhibitors to contact you via email. After all, that’s one of the main purposes of a trade show – to connect vendors with existing and potential customers.

Trade shows are mutually beneficial. As a customer, you want to find new products and vendors, information, or meet with your current suppliers. As an exhibitor and vendor, we want to meet with you, our customers, and we want to gain new ones. Sending emails out to trade show attendees can sometimes reach people we missed, or people who may have stopped by and forgot about it.

As an advertising medium, email lets us keep costs low and also offer occasional discounts, product offerings, or other potential benefits to you. Since mass email and social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) are the ONLY methods EnMart uses to notify you of these special offers, if you are not following us or receiving our emails, you will miss that limited time free shipping offer, or the % discount, etc.

We’re not machines auto-emailing you. We are real people, and if you reply to any of our emails, you will reach a real live person and not one of those “do not reply” mailboxes that drops your message in to a bottomless black hole. We do our best to keep the number of emails down to a minimum of around 1-2 per month. If you don’t want to receive them, it is very easy to stop them and we honor your unsubscribe requests.

We use Constant Contact to send out all mass emails, and there are very strict rules that we must adhere to. All these emails have a very convenient “Safe Unsubscribe” link at the bottom. With a few clicks you can unsubscribe from any or all of our lists, and we’ll never email that email address again. We couldn’t even if we wanted to – Constant Contact prevents it. In fact, if you later want to start receiving emails from us again, you’d have to either go back to Constant Contact and change your settings, or come up with a new email address.

While we do make every effort to reasonably target our potential audience with relevant email content, it can appear to be a bit of a shotgun approach at times, and you may receive something that doesn’t pertain to you personally. For those emails, we apologize and beg your indulgence.

Sincerely,

The EnMartians

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16th May 2014

Friday Blog Round-Up 5/16/14

roundup2Haven’t done one of these in a while,  but got the urge today.   Let’s see what’s out there for me to share that’s useful and/or helpful.

First up today,  I’m spotlighting one of my own posts, mostly because I think it touches on a topic that is problematic for a lot of people.   In this post I discuss the art of the unfollow,  and how to determine when and why you should unfollow someone.     I know from the seminars I did this year that figuring out who to follow and who to unfollow can be tough,  and I intended this post to provide some guidelines and advice for the times when you realize that someone doesn’t need to be cluttering up your feed.   If you’re using social media for business purposes,  you have a specific reason for being on whatever platform you’re on,  and that reason should extend to who you do, or don’t, follow.

Second at bat is a piece from Erich Campbell about educating your customers.    I like this post because it points out that you can’t assume that customers know what you can do, you have to show them.    The show and tell shouldn’t, however, only involve what you can do,  it should involve information about what you can’t do and why.   The more educated your customers are,  the better able they are to appreciate your expertise and understand your pricing structure.   There’s a lot of meat in this post and Erich makes some very good points.

Third on a list is a story mentioned on a blog (Stahl’s) but I chose to link to the full article from the New York Times instead.   I like getting behind the scenes glimpses of how things are done,  and this glimpse of how the shirts are made for the NFL draft is very interesting.   It never occurred to me that shirts would have to be made in the small space of time between when the draft pick is announced and when the person hits the stage.   It’s interesting to read about how that’s done.

Fourth in the queue  is another behind the scenes piece,  this one from Urban Threads.   I’m an unabashed Urban Threads fan,  so getting to see how a design goes from concept to finished embroidery file was interesting to me.    I especially like seeing all the different ideas they start with before narrowing it down to the design that will be used.  I remember going through that process when designing what would be come the EnMart logo.    Winnowing it down from many to one can be torturous.

Fifth in line is a piece in praise of reading.   I taught myself to read when I was four and I’ve been devouring the printed (and now digital) word ever since,  and I can’t say enough about the benefits of reading.    This blog discussed two myths about reading,  one that people are reading less (not true) and one about finding the time to read.     The post points out that we make time for the things that are important to us.   Staying informed and educated is important, so make time to read!

Sixth is a post about what makes you memorable.  In this case,  the post is asking in a social media context,  but it’s a good question for anyone who is building a personal brand or a brand around a business they own.   What makes you stand out,  what will stick with people after they’ve left your business or your presence,  what is the first thing people will mention when they speak of you?   It’s a good question to ask and something to consider.   These days everything contributes to a person’s brand and reputation,  so you need to be aware of what you want your brand and reputation to be.

Finally, just because I think it’s cool, this  piece from the blog for Designs in Machine Embroidery Magazine,  which turns a multi-needle embroidery machine into a work of art.   I love when ordinary items that we use so often we don’t even see them anymore are examined from a different perspective.

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10th April 2014

Why We Don’t Offer Free Shipping

free shippingAs it does several times a year,  the question of free shipping has come up again.   It’s a perennial question,  and one that we’ve generally replied to with a resounding no,  except in the case of an occasional special offer.   It’s also a question that has been debated in the halls of EnMart several times.   Our conclusion has always been that offering free shipping wasn’t that much of an incentive.   Here’s why we think that’s the case:

  • Free shipping doesn’t increase orders, in our experience. When we’ve offered free shipping in the past,  we haven’t seen a substantial increase in orders.   What seems to increase orders much more is when we offer discounts on buying multiple items or offer special packages from a particular product category.
  • Free shipping at an order cost threshold doesn’t increase orders, in our experience. When we’ve offered free shipping if the order meets a certain price level,  we haven’t seen more orders occurring on that level.   From what we can gather,  the free shipping offer doesn’t necessarily entice people to buy more than they would have purchased anyway.
  • When we’ve offered a free shipping special,  many people neglect to use the code or meet the threshold to get free shipping.   We have tried free shipping specials in the past in an effort to see if this type of offer spurs a greater percentage of orders.  We often find that people either do not use the free shipping code,  or neglect to purchase at a level that will get them free shipping.   Other types of specials that we’ve offered seem to have much better response rates.
  • We work hard to keep our shipping rates low.   We have deep discounts from Fed Ex (our primary carrier) and have introduced USPS Priority Mail as a shipping option as well.   Our shipping rates are, so far as we can determine,  reasonable,  and we do adjust the rates if shipping estimates are higher than what we consider reasonable.
  • We offer our customers the option to ship on their own accounts.  Customers can select the “Use my account” shipping option and ask us to ship on a corporate or personal account.

All that said,  the free shipping question does pop up pretty regularly,  which leaves me wondering if it’s worth examining the whole idea of free shipping again.    So,  I wanted to ask all of you who are EnMart customers,  what do you think about EnMart having some sort of free shipping program?  Would it motivate you to buy more or buy more often?   If we did have such a program,  how do you think it should be structured?

EnMart always is willing to listen when our customers speak,  so we’d really like your feedback on this.   Please share your thoughts in the comments.

 

 

 

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12th February 2014

How EnMart Handles Weather Related Delays and Closings

It isn’t often that EnMart closeclosed due to weathers down due to weather.  In fact,  in the 8 years I’ve been with the company,  I can remember very few weather related closings,  and most that have happened have occurred in 2013 and 2014.   This winter has been a tough and atypical one for a lot of areas,  and it has caused plant closings and shipping delays.   Since these sorts of events have happened more than once over the course of this winter,  I thought I would discuss how EnMart handles these sorts of situations.

The first thing to know is that our goal is always timely shipment and delivery.    When the weather cooperates and we’re in control,  we will do all we can to make sure your orders ship quickly.   We will not, however, sacrifice the safety of our employees to do so.  When the weather is inclement and the streets are impassable,  we will close our plants in order to ensure the safety of those who work for us.   In those cases,  we will reroute all shipments possible to other locations.     We have locations in Michigan, New Jersey,  Georgia and California,  and it is extremely unlikely that all four plants will be shut down at the same time.   If one plant is out of operation,  we will shift orders to the other plants to compensate.

That’s the bit we can control.   The bit we can’t control is what our shippers do.   Fed Ex, UPS and the USPS make their own decisions as to what they will and won’t do.     While we sometimes get advance notice when pick-up times are moved ahead or service is discontinued entirely,  we often don’t get notified.  In cases when we can see the weather is not good,  we will try and anticipate an early pick-up and have orders picked and shipped on a different schedule than normal.   Sometimes, though,  despite all our efforts,  shipments will not leave our facility as scheduled.

Obviously,  once a shipment does leave our facility,  we are at the mercy of our shippers and their decisions.   We have no control of how long a selected shipper takes to get a package to its destination.  Weather delays may stop flights from leaving or landing,  or trucks from traveling from one destination to another.    All we can do is trust that our shippers will do their best to get all packages delivered in a timely manner.

Announcements of closings will always be posted on the EnMart Facebook page,  the EnMart Twitter feed and the EnMart Google+ page. You can always check these pages for the latest updates and details.     If you have any questions,  you may always contact us for the latest information.

 

 

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21st January 2014

Need Something Special – Call Us!

contact usOne of the hardest things for any company to do,  I think,  is find a balance between what they can do or offer and what they put on their website.   It’s a rather delicate balance.   Include too much and customers are made to wade through a labyrinth of pages before they find what they need.   Include too little, and customers may bounce off the page because they think you don’t have the item for which they are searching.    Too many categories and menu items can get confusing.  Too few menu items or categories that are too broad will not highlight all the options your company can provide.   Finding the tipping point is a matter of trial and error and that point will be different for every company.   Today I want to discuss EnMart’s tipping point.

When we were first constructing the website it became apparent that we couldn’t include every possible thing we might sell.   The list was far too long and would have resulted in pages and pages of products.   While we wanted to give a good representation of our product lines,  we didn’t want to overwhelm anyone or make it too hard to find what was needed.   So we settled on the idea of including,  in some sections at least,  only the most popular  or best selling products.   Our theory was that these products were items we knew people would buy so it made sense to make them easily available.

While this idea has worked well,  it still has left us with a list of products we could sell,  but which aren’t generally available on our website.   We can get special types and cuts of stabilzer.    We have access to a wide variety of sublimation blanks.   Our blank patch repertoire is far wider than what appears on our website.    Some of these items may not be stock items,  but we can order them and get them to you in a fairly small amount of time.

If you’re searching for something and don’t see it on our website,  please contact us.    In many cases we will have a option that will meet your needs.    We also are willing to send out samples of threads and backings  or a sample blank patch so you can test them before you buy.   All you have to do is ask.

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15th January 2014

Bring Iris Quilting Thread to Your Town

iris-ultra-cotton-quilting-thread-LOne of the questions I’ve been answering a lot lately is the question about where Iris Ultra Cotton Quilting Thread can be purchased.   It’s kind of a complicated question as there’s more than one factor to be considered when answering.    If you’re a retail store,  or run a long arm quilting business with a tax i.d. number,  you may purchase the Ultra Cotton Quilting Thread from us on our website.    Anyone who is not connected to a retail store,  or running a quilting business may not purchase from us directly.   This keeps us from trespassing on our retail customers’ territories,  and allows us to keep our agreements with the thread manufacturer.

So, then,  what do you do if you’re not a retail store or a quilting business with a tax i.d. and you still want to purchase the thread?   Your best option at that point would be to go to a quilt store in your area that carries the thread and purchase it there.    We are always expanding our quilt store customer base, and we’ll always be happy to let you know of any quilt stores in your area that carry Iris thread.

If there is a quilt store in your area that carries Iris Ultra Cotton Quilting Thread,  then your problem is solved.  If not,  you can help bring the thread to your location.    If you have a favorite local quilt store that you think should carry Iris Ultra Cotton Quilting Thread,  let us know.  Give us a call,  leave us a message on the EnMart Facebook page,  send us a Tweet,  leave a comment on this blog post,  or send us an e-mail.   When you contact us,  let us know who you are,  and give us the store information,  including location,  telephone number,  website and contact name.   When we contact the store,  we’ll let them know that you recommended they carry the thread.  Once they’ve sampled the thread,  we’re sure they’ll want to add it to their inventory,  and you’ll have a ready source of Iris Ultra Cotton Quilting Thread nearby.  Everyone wins!

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3rd January 2014

Friday Blog Round-Up 1/3/14

Cowboy Twirling LassoWow,  the first post of the New Year!  I want to wish everyone a happy, prosperous and productive 2014!    Here are some things,  both some old favorites and some new items, that will hopefully help you achieve those goals.

First up,  we have 10 Tips to Increase your Productivity from Joyce Jagger.    Joyce knows her stuff and these tips will help make you more productive as an embroiderer.   I especially like the tips about maintenance.    A well maintained machine is a productive one,  and allotting time each morning and on Friday afternoons to make sure your machines are well maintained will pay off in increased productivity with less down time.

Second on the list,  we have a post from Fashion Incubator “One Way Or Another, It’s Going to Hurt“.   I think I like this post because it’s on the same theme as a post I did for the DecQuorum blog about the downsides of working for yourself.    Neither my post,  nor this post,  say that working for yourself and running your own business is a bad idea,  both posts just point out the fact that there are costs to be paid if you’re an entrepreneur,  just as there are if you work for someone else.   I think we all need a reminder about this every once in a while.  It’s easier to think the grass is always greener wherever you aren’t,  and a bit of realism always helps.

Third at bat,  we have a replay of a post from Erich Campbell outlining some basic digitizing skills for non digitizers.  Since I see requests on Facebook all the time for designs to be digitized or altered so they can be stitched out more smoothly,  I thought this post was a good one to include.    Every embroiderer is not,  nor do all of them want to be digitizers,  but knowing some basic skills can save you time and effort when you run into a problem design.

Fourth on the docket is a post from Retail Minded about how to deal with upset customers.   This task is something no one likes to do,  but handling an upset customer the right way can help save a situation that might otherwise be unpleasant for you and your company.   What I like about this post is the emphasis on listening to the customer.   It isn’t enough to put a bandage on the situation,  you have to know why the customer is angry and what they want before you can resolve the situation satisfactorily.

Fifth in line is a post from John Morgan about why you should share your success and your knowledge.    One of the things I like best about the decorating community is how willing most people are to share what they know and to help others.   Hoarding your nuggets of knowledge doesn’t protect you from competition and it doesn’t keep your business safe.  Sharing and forming relationships and helping others is the way to true success.   This post illustrates that beautifully.

Finally,  we have a post from Peter Shankman about a simple thing that could totally capsize your whole marketing and promotional programs.     We all like reviews,  and people who sign up for our mailing lists and those who leave recommendations,  but how often are we checking to make sure the mechanisms by which people can do those things work?  It’s a small thing,  but it could mean the difference between a great review and no review at all.    If you want people to review you and help spread the word about your company on social media,  make sure you’ve given them the tools to do so.

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30th December 2013

Happy New Year!

happy new year 3EnMart will be closed Tuesday, December 31 and Wednesday January 1 in honor of the New Year’s Holiday.

We will return to work on Thursday, January 2, 2014. 

All orders placed on Tuesday, December 31 and Wednesday, January 1 will be shipped when we return on Thursday, January 2.

Happy New Year and here’s to a prosperous and creative 2014!

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