As a Maker and high touch entrepreneur, you want to make it as easy as possible for your customers to get answers to questions that help them choose you as the best option for their product needs. The things they consider when buying a consumer product made in a factory may be similar to the things they consider when buying a handmade product. But because handmade products are made by a person like them, and not a factory drone, they may have slightly different concerns.
This article will help you prepare for and reply to some of the questions your customers may have about how their products are made and how you handle your business. Answers to most, if not all, of these questions should be at your website, either on your About page, your Policies page, or your Frequently Asked Questions page.
1. Where Are Your Products Made?
Always be prepared to tell people where you make your products. Do you create items in a studio? A commercial kitchen? An addition built onto your home? If you make hand knit scarves, you can create them just about anywhere so long as the products are not picking up dirt and dust. But if you are making facial cream or herbal tea, you’ll want to satisfy buyers’ concerns that the product is not only well made, but also properly preserved (if necessary) and crafted in a clean environment.
Be prepared to answer these types of questions with confidence, so you can continue to build the trust of the buying public.
2. Do You Have Product Liability Insurance?
Despite the fact that we hear about lawsuits all the time, only a very tiny percentage of consumer products actually result in injury to a user. Still, things happen, and you should carry product liability insurance, and should not be shy about answering customers’ questions in this regard.
3. Are Your Ingredients and/or Components Fresh and Safe?
No one wants an article of clothing made with fabric that’s been in storage for a year, right? And who wants a handmade necklace crafted with a metal that is not safe to wear against the skin? Always be prepared to answer questions about the source and nature of the ingredients used in the products you offer. Of course, you should never be expected to share confidential commercial information, such as the names of your suppliers, but other than that, you should be ready to answer everyone’s questions about the ingredients and components used to make your products.
4. Do You Comply With Regulations For Your Industry?
Every consumer product is regulated by at least one state and one federal regulatory agency. It’s fair for a buyer to inquire about whether you are complying with the rules that apply to your industry. Smaller handmade companies are sometimes excluded from some of the laws that apply to mass producing companies. Feel free to share this with your customers, but always be ready to back up assurances that your products are made in accordance with applicable laws, and that you are not cutting corners just because you are “small.”
5. What Is Your Return Policy?
Wise consumers never buy anything without first knowing the procedure for returning the item if they change their minds, discover that they don’t like their purchase, or if the item they bought is defective in any way. Your Policies page and/or FAQ page should contain information about your return policy. Is there a restocking fee? Are all sales final, with no returns accepted? Making it easy for your customers to clearly see your return policy in advance could save you and them a lot of time and energy, and make doing business together easier and more enjoyable.
6. How Do You Monitor and Control the Quality of Your Products?
Buyers like to know that you adhere to specific internal processes that allow you to produce quality products time after time. You should have in place systems and procedures that help you produce your products consistently and efficiently. It’s a fair question for people to ask, and you should be prepared to answer in ways that build confidence and trust in the mind of your customer.
7. If I Have a Question, What’s the Fastest Way to Get an Answer?
Nothing is worse than paying for a product, and then receiving radio silence when you follow up with a question. Your website should contain contact information to include a phone number and an email address, along with your estimated response times, so people can know generally how quickly they’ll receive answers to their questions.
8. How Do I Subscribe To Your Newsletter?
This is an easy one. Make it easy for people to subscribe to your newsletter so you can keep them posted on new product launches, limited editions, and sales. If you don’t have a pop up box, use the space in the upper right of your website, and also in the footer, to add newsletter subscription instructions.
9. Do Your Products Vary From the Product Photos at Your Website?
One of the things that makes handmade products so unique and sought after is the fact that they can vary quite a bit from item to item and from batch to batch. Let your customers know this in advance, and give them an idea of where the variations will appear. Color? Texture? Size? Flavor? Sharing this type of information with people in advance of purchase can prevent disappointment if the product delivered does not look exactly like the one pictured at your website.
The relationship with the people who buy the products you make with your hands is very different from the relationship they have with big box stores. Answering questions like these, and yes, even welcoming them, can go a long way toward strengthening and solidifying relationships and helping them last long into the future.
What other consumer questions should Makers be prepared to answer about the products they make?
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