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The Friday Blog Round-Up 6/29/12

29th June 2012

The Friday Blog Round-Up 6/29/12

First up today, we have a post from Erich Campbell on handling customers who come to you with bad artwork and bad digitizing.  It’s a tough problem because you don’t want to irritate the customer,  nor do you want to spend hours fixing artwork or digitizing that isn’t up to standard, and most likely doing it for free.  In this post,  Erich provides some suggestions for defusing the situation, making the customer happy and getting the quality files that you need.

Second on the docket,  we have the inaugural post from Joyce Jagger’s new blog for Stitches.  This post deals with finding your niche.  Joyce describes how she used existing connections to develop a specific market and how she catered to that market.   It’s a great lesson for anyone who is looking to specialize  and a terrific debut for Joyce’s blog.

Third on the list isn’t really a blog post, it’s more an announcement of a webinar.   It makes the Round-Up because of the topic of the webinar “How to Tackle the Biggest Challenges in Online Retail”  and because of who is putting on the webinar.  I really like the Social Media Explorer blog and refer to their posts quite often.  I think they know their stuff, and that this webinar may be helpful to many of you.  So I thought I’d let you know it was available.

Fourth at bat is a post from Peter Shankman about how to stop being frustrated and angry.   One of the most valuable things I ever learned,  and it’s still something I’m re-learning all the time,  was not to obsess about things and to let my frustration and anger over an event go.   I was born a redhead and have the temper to match,  so being able to let things go and not get angry is still a work in progress,  but I know my life is much better when I don’t obsess and let my temper run free.   Peter provides some tips on how to destress when the world seems to be piling it on.

Finally,  just because she makes me laugh and because in my life as a blogger and forum monitor I have encountered these sorts,   we haver a post from The Bloggess which helps you figure out whether or not you’re a troll.  Now we’re not talking about the kind that live under bridges,  we’re talking about the kind of troll that populates the Internet and likes to rain on other people’s parades.    This post is,  as most of The Bloggess’ posts are,  funny and true.

One last note,  I am going to update the blogroll for EmbroideryTalk.  Some blogs will come off and some will be added.  If you know of a blog that you think should be on the list,  please let me know.

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28th June 2012

How Do You Interact with EnMart?

Last Friday,  on the EnMart Facebook page,  our chief I.T. wizard asked a question about how people order from websites.   The question was aimed at determining how many people were placing orders  or might place orders in the future from their mobile phones.  The hope was that the answers would help us decide if the mobile friendliness of  EnMart’s site was an issue and, if it was, or looked as though it would be,  how soon we needed to take steps to make that happen.

At the same time,  over in Marketing,  we were debating whether or not paper catalogs had gone the way of the dinosaur.   I said I rarely heard people refer to our paper catalog.  My customer service staff told me they talked to people all the time who referenced their paper catalogs.  This led to a discussion of whether or not having a pdf version of the catalog that could be downloaded and printed was satisfactory, or were printed versions that we could physically give out a better option.  It also led to a sub discussion of the fact that a paper catalog is always necessarily going to be a bit behind the times and that the website will always have the latest and most up to date information.

Both of these discussion lead back to the question that really needs to be asked, which is how do each of you,  as customers and individuals, interact with EnMart?   Do you visit the website on a regular basis?  Do you read the blogs?  Do you respond to the occasional e-mails we send out?  Do you use your phone to access our online content?   Is our catalog always securely stored somewhere by your desk so you can refer to it when you place an order?   How do you prefer to place orders with EnMart,  learn new things about EnMart and talk to EnMart employees when you have a question or an issue?

Obviously,  we can’t be all things to all people,  but we’d like to try to present information in ways that will be useful and helpful for the maximum number of our customers whenever it’s possible to do that.   Right now,  what we need is feedback from you.   Tell us how you prefer to interact with EnMart,  and what could make your customer experience better.   All suggestions and comments will be considered.

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21st June 2012

Check Your Confirmations

Most of you are probably already aware that EnMart sends a confirmation via e-mail for every order that is placed with us.  There are two main purposes for this confirmation.   One is to acknowledge that an order has been placed.  The second is to serve as a record of the order that can be checked to ensure that all information entered is correct.   Things you should check on your confirmation include:

  • Shipping Address – Is the street address correct?  Is your zip code correct?   Is the address designated residential if it is a residential address? Incorrect addresses cause delays in shipping and can add to the cost of your order.
  • Items ordered –  If you wanted tearaway backing,  is that what you ordered?  Did you remember to order mini king cones instead of king cones?  Please make sure all types and sizes of products ordered are correct.
  • Amount ordered –  Did you really want five and hit four instead?   Check the amounts listed for each item and make sure that you ordered the number that you needed.
  • Have you considered any available discounts –  EnMart offers a dozen discount on our 5500 yd cones of thread in both poly and rayon.  Order 12 cones in any combination of colors and you’ll receive a percentage off the cost of each cone.   We also have discounts for volume ordering of needles,  backing and other supplies.  Checking for discounts and upping your order slightly may save you money.
  • Shipping Method – EnMart ships via Fed Ex and USPS.  We do ship on customer account numbers or via UPS at customer request.  If you want us to ship your order specially,  please make sure that is noted on your order and confirmation.
  • Payment Method – If you elect to pay via PayPal,  please make sure you complete your Paypal transaction.   If you elect to have your order invoiced, please be sure you have been approved by EnMart for terms.
  • Turn times and shipping times – Items, like blank patches, which must be created will have longer turn times then items that are simply stocked on a shelf.   USPS shipments will take longer to ship and arrive than Fed Ex Shipments.   Please be aware of the turn times and shipping times for your particular order.
  • Special instructions – If you have a specific deadline or need an order shipped specially have you included instructions regarding those issues on your order?

EnMart makes every effort to ship each order in a timely and efficient manner,  but we’re only as good as the information we’re given.   Checking your confirmation when you receive it is just another way to ensure that mistakes don’t happen.  It is also much easier to make changes to an order before it is shipped, so the sooner we are notified of an issue,  should there be one, the easier it will be to correct it.

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15th June 2012

The Friday Blog Round-Up 6/15/12

First on the list today we have a question from the Fashion Incubator blog  – does fiber content affect fabric weight?  This interests me because fabric weight does have a bearing on the success or failure of a lot of projects.  Embroidery stabilizer is also sold in different weights and fiber content can make a difference there as well.   There are some interesting answers to the question in the comments on the post.

Second on the docket we have a post from the Retail Minded blog with some tips for selecting a store location.  If you have a brick and mortar store,  the location you select for the store is very important.  This post details some things you should consider before making your location selection.

Third to take a swing today is this post from Tim Andrews blog detailing some great golf accessories and gift ideas.  With Father’s Day on Sunday and all the golf courses now open for the season golf related products are more popular than ever.   This post details some fun ideas for giveaways for tournaments,  gifts or just things to have in your inventory to use to upsell your customers.

Fourth on the list,  because we all know I’m an Urban Thread junkie and they just do such cool stuff,  is a post about 13 design trends that can make your embroidery more awesome.  My favorite ideas are The Dubstep,  the Runaway, the Ransom Note  and  The Evil Twin.   That you are my sunshine design in Goth version just makes me laugh.

Fifth up is a list of 5 new books that every marketer,  or really every one should read.  I’ve heard of The Quiet and I think Steal Like an Artist sounds very interesting,  but all the books on the list seem to be books that could make you think in new ways.   I always have a list of books that I want to buy,  and these books are definitely going to be added to my list.

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8th June 2012

The Friday Blog Round-Up 6/8/12

First up today is a post from Stahl’s about The Great Race,  a vintage car race that is more about navigation and team work than it is about posting the fastest time.  What’s awesome about this,  besides the fact that Stahl’s is fielding a team,  is that the race starts in the home city of EnMart’s headquarters, Traverse City, MI.   Good luck to the Stahl’s team!

Second at bat today is a post from Erich Campbell about how to deal with angry customers.   It can be uncomfortable to deal with someone who is upset and/or angry,  but it is part of the job.   Erich offers some tips for defusing the anger and turning it into something constructive.   If you deal with any aspect of customer service,  this is a great post to read.

Third on the list we have a tutorial from Urban Threads about printing and using templates.   This tutorial walks you through printing a template with embroidery software and through creating your own template from scratch.   This is a great step by step walk through of the process and it’s done so well that it makes me think even I could make a template.  Since I have the drawing talent of a squirrel (none, in other words)  you know this tutorial has got to be good.

Fourth on the docket is a post from Tara Gentile that deals with the idea that getting the word out is not the most important thing about selling your product or services.   Before you get the word out,  you need to be sure that what you’re spreading the word about is worth people’s time and attention.   This post makes a good point that all of us should remember,  getting the message out there is only half the equation.  The other half is having something worth talking about.

Fifth up is a post about why you should fire people faster.   Firing people is hard for almost everyone,  and whether you have one employee or one thousand,  it’s something you’ll probably face at some time in your life.   While it’s never easy,  there is a kindness in firing people sooner rather than later,  both for the person being fired and for those who are working with someone who can’t do the work or doesn’t fit with the organization.   If you have a problem employee and you’ve been debating over their fate,  read this post,  it may help you make the decision you need to make.

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5th June 2012

Planning Receipt Time for Orders

Sometimes the hardest part of planning a job for a customer can be determining when you’ll receive the necessary materials and allowing enough time to make sure the job can be completed by the deadline.    When you order supplies from another company, you’re at the mercy of that company’s schedule when telling your customer how long it will take to complete the order.   That’s why clearly stated shipping and turn times can be a lifesaver,  and why EnMart makes every effort to ensure our shipping and turn time policies are easy to find.  We do know,  however,  that people in a hurry may often skip what seems like boilerplate type,  so I thought I’d spell out our policies, turn times and shipping schedule so all the information would be in one easily accessible place.

In Stock Items

In stock items will normally ship the same day that the order is placed.  The official cut-off for same day turn times is 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time.   EnMart will make every effort to ship from the location closest to the customer,  but reserves the right to ship from other locations as necessary.   Backorder situations will be addressed and corrected as quickly as possible.    Orders placed on Saturdays, Sundays or holidays will be filled on the next business day.

Custom Items

Blank Patches

Blank patches are created when they are ordered.   Because EnMart has such a wide variety of size and color choices we do not keep any patches in stock.   Creation time for patches may take anywhere from 2 to 5 business days, depending on the production queue and the size of the order placed.   Blank patches generally ship from Michigan, which may add up to four shipping days (via Fed Ex Ground) to your receipt time.   If you have an emergency situation and need patches quickly,  please contact us to determine if we can meet your required turn time.

Ntrans Screenprint Transfers

Ntrans transfers are created when they are ordered.   Completion time depends on timely receipt of useable artwork,  the size of the order and the production queue, but is generally a minimum of two days.    Ntrans transfers are made in Michigan,  so shipment time could be up to four days (via Fed Ex Ground).

Sublimated Patches

Sublimated patches are created when they are ordered.  Completion time depends on timely receipt of useable artwork,  the size of the order and the production queue,  but is generally a minimum of 2 days.   Sublimated patches can ship from any of the EnMart locations,  so shipment time may depend on which locations have openings in their production schedules.

Also, please keep in mind that selecting USPS as your shipping method may also have an impact on the receipt time for your order.   USPS orders generally ship the day after the order is placed.    USPS as a shipping service is also only currently available from the Michigan facility.   While USPS is a viable and economical shipping option,  we do not recommend it if you need something quickly.

As always,  EnMart endeavors to do all we can to assist our customers.  If you have an emergency situation and need an item quickly,  please let us know and we’ll be happy to work with you.

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1st June 2012

The Friday Blog Round-Up 6/1/12

Can you believe it’s already June?  Where does the time go?

First up today we have a helpful post from Erich at Black Duck Inc.  which explains exactly what an applique is and when you might want to use one.    I think the difference between an applique and a patch is something that eludes a lot of people,  so this post is very useful.   If you have customers who might need to have the difference explained to them,  I would bookmark this post for future reference.

Second on the list today is a contest from Urban Threads that I just love.   They’re out to demonstrate something they know to be true,  that people of all ages and types love their designs.    That’s why they’re holding a contest, through June 19,  and inviting people to download and stitch out their great new design that proclaims “It’s Not About Age,  It’s About Attitude”.    Four of those who enter will be chosen, at random, to receive a $25 Urban Threads Gift Certificate.

Third at bat is a post from The Bloggess.  Depression is a subject that’s close to my heart, as it’s something I deal with myself and something I know some of the readers of this blog deal with as well.    This post from The Bloggess is a great description of what it feels like when you know you’re sliding into the abyss once again,  but it also points out how much it helps to understand that other people share the abyss with you.   In that spirit, I wanted to share the post here.

I guess the fourth spot today is where I get a bit ranty (yes, it’s a word, I looked it up).   Almost every week I sit down to write one of these posts and I search far and wide for new material to include.  A lot of the same players show up week after week because (1) they have good content and (2) they’re some of the only people producing new content on a regular basis.   I know there is a lot of expertise out there and a lot of people who have knowledge to share.   I also know time is at a premium for many of you,  but I hope some of you will consider starting a blog or a Facebook page or something that allows you to share your knowledge with others.   It’s frustrating (o.k., and kind of fun) to Google “machine embroidery blogs” or “garment decoration blogs” and have EmbroideryTalk come up over and over again.   I know what I know,  I want to know what the rest of you know.

I would also like to ask any of you who have a favorite garment decoration or machine embroidery blog to please share the link with me.  I’d like to add to the EmbroideryTalk blogroll, and I am aware that I might be missing some great blogs.   If you know of something I should be reading,  please pass that information along.

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