Monday, 23 June 2008

TV Shopping Craft Shows

Shopping Channels, including those selling crafts are facing a major problem. Not so long ago people would watch their channel and if the viewer thought the product was good, and the presenter could persuade them that it was a bargin, then they would buy. Simple, straight forward and how a shopping channel should work

So what's changed... well mainly what you're looking at now, the internet.

Is it a bargain? No need to take the presenters word for it, a quick google search will most likely find exactly the same product ..... better still a price comparison site will find you a lowest price around. Remember the sites selling these items don't have the overheads which the shopping channels do; no studios, camera crews, production staff, editing equipment etc etc.

So now people are watching the demonstrations on the TV and then buying on the net, great news for the Internet retailers but a big problem for the shopping channels. Their only answer is to try and sell "exclusives" which isn't always possible.

Of course they could always try a bit of price fixing, they do have a fair bit of power over the suppliers but then that would be illegal, wouldn't it ;-)

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

Card Making and Paper Crafts. CDs

It continually surprises me that the sale of Craft CDs continues unabated. About 6 years ago when Chris Warner was selling CDs on Ideal World with Alan and Barry I confidently told anyone who would listen that sales would quickly decline and once everyone had one or two craft Cds then the bottom would fall out of the market.... how wrong I was....... I didn't allow for the fact that new designers would come along and produce work that would totally outshine Chris. Not only that but more Craft CDs would be programmes which would help people produce their own designs.

However the craft CD market is now facing new competition: firstly from sites providing immediate downloads of backing papers and decoupage sheets AND from sites giving away free paper crafting resources.

Just flick through Free Craft Stuff and you will will find 1,000s of free craft downloads , mostly made by gifted ammutuer designers. If you want free backing paper then Backing Papers for Free has 100's. Other sites do templates, T-bag sheets, decoupage sheets, tags and labels, almost everything you could want for your paper crafting. So will Craft CDs survive, I suspect the answer is yes for the foreseeable future (although they will slowly turn into Craft DVDs) because people enjoy collecting their favourite designer and it much easier to pick a CD up off the side than go searching on the internet where there is always a chance of getting sidelined on other things :-)

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Craft Shopping Telly..Good or Bad

There has no doubt been a huge increase in the amount of Craft Goods being sold on the TV Shopping Channels at least in quantity if not range.

QVC had sold crafts for a long time with Dawn Bibby being the anchor but it wasn't until Alan and Barry from Rainbow Glass arrived at Ideal World that things really took off. Some people loved watching them, others didn't enjoy their sense of humour at all :-) Whatever, it was down to them that Ideal World joined the Craft Market with a vengeance, launching the Create and Craft channel and later the Create and Craft Club

After leaving leaving Ideal World Alan and Barry went on to develop their own Website, now, in addition to presenting on JML and Channel 648 they also produce daily live shows on the internet.

So there's the quick history BUT has this been a good thing?

On the positive side:
  • There are now lots of craft demos to be seen even if most of them lean heavily on "the sell"
  • It has definitely driven down prices (although this would probably have happened as the Internet became more popular anyway) 10 years ago most peel offs were £1 a sheet in many shops and at the NEC. In the last 10 years the prices have dropped remarkably.
  • It has brought many more people into crafts, attracting a lot of people who through disability or location are unable to get to craft classes.
On the negative side:
  • Shopping Channels would have you believe that paper crafts were the bee all and end all of crafting. Paper Crafts: card making, decoupage, scrap booking etc are obviously a cash cow for the shopping channels and they are going to milk it for every penny they can get.
  • The quality of some of the items sold on these channels can be a bit suspect and they aren't always as cheap as they like to make you believe.
  • They are driving some of the smaller craft shops out of business... leaving us with just papercraft suppliers rather than real craft shops run by craft enthusiasts.
  • They have a very simplistic idea of crafts, the American "stick A to B" style of crafting. They don't try and sell crafts or techniques which are difficult or take time to learn as they only want to sell stuff everybody can do irrespective of time, ability and talent. If it can't be demonstrated in 60 seconds then they aren't interested (OK that may be a bit of an exaggeration but I still believe it's based in the truth)
In the end it doesn't matter the shopping channels are here to stay (well some of them at least) and we will see an increase in TV style websites as well but remember "you get what you pay for" Whilst shopping channels and larger sites can often offer cheap(ish) prices the smaller sites and local shops often excell at customers service and advice. Lets face it, in these ays of money means everything your order is probably less than o.o1% of a shopping channels daily takings but it could be something like 10% of a small shops / sites takings... who do you think is going to value you more :-)

Tuesday, 3 June 2008

Craft Forums

Well I wasn't going to do a blog like this but everyone seems to be doing it now-a-days so I thought I'd give it a go :-) I have various interests, card making, glass painting, computer crafts etc... but I also have a life away from crafting.

Sadly the first thing to report on is the suspension of the Arts and Crafts Direct Forum. A message on the site says

"The forum has been suspended until further notice due to inappropriate use."
I wasn't actually a member of this particular forum but I have been a member of two others which have been closed down because of "in fighting". The fact that this seems to happen fairly often begs quite a few questions.... this time the forum was obviously closed because of arguments over the "My Craft Studio" software and whether or not it does what it should, if it was released too early and whether people who previously bought the software should get an apology. I can't really comment on the specifics of this case because I have never tried the software but for me it raises wider issues:

1. Should commercial sites have forums (or is it just asking for trouble). Should forums just be run by "independent sites (,,

2. If it is on a commercial site should it be seen as integral part of the site run by the owners or a service run by the owners for their users.

3. Is a companies forum the correct place for customer complaints, is any forum owner going to leave them there? Can any customer who can't seem to get an answer elsewhere resist putting a message in the forum :-)

4. What should a forum owner do about "inter forum flame wars"

5. What should a forum owner do about criticisms of competitors or a competitors product in their forum.

No doubt the Craft Forums will continue but it does seem sad that people who take no part in a particular argument / thread loose the facility of a forum altogether. Sometimes I don't think these companies realise how "stuck on" a forum people can get... its where they meet their friends, swap stories and even get support. Removing that without warning could be remarkably upsetting. Too many companies seem to think they can tag a forum onto their site and then forget it or hand the responsibility of it to some poor volunteer who then has to manage with little support.

We shall wait and see if Art and CRaft Direct decide to bring theirs back.