Each Wednesday, I write a post from my dissertation.
People who work in the scrapbook industry see their way of selling the product as superior to the alternative. I was surprised to find that industry workers overall had little knowledge about their competitors. One reason for this is because industry workers shopped for supplies where they were both convenient and less expensive due to their employee discount. I bought very little outside of the store I worked. Industry workers have little motivation to seek out scrapbook supplies elsewhere. Most direct sellers did not use brick and mortar stores and most brick and mortar workers had never been to a direct selling event. Very few purchased scrapbook supplies online (though I’m sure this has changed since these interviews took place due to the closure of local scrapbook stores and the increase in people shopping online in general). Their unfamiliarity with the competition strengthened the differences in their mind between direct selling companies, brick and mortar stores, and online stores. The main differences among these different types of scrapbook suppliers can be thought of in terms of variety, exclusivity, and limitations.
Brick and mortar stores are known for carrying a wide variety of product from a variety of vendors. Online stores are able to carry even more product than offline scrapbook stores because they do not have the overhead costs allowing them to have an even larger variety of product in-stock. Online stores can spend more money on inventory compared to brick and mortar stores and direct sellers.
Direct selling companies offer products that may not be found elsewhere or they may sell products made by them and also some products from other manufacturers made exclusively for them. For example, Creative Memories carries exclusive products, but they also now carry a line of exclusive Cricut cartridges. These products can only be purchased through Creative Memories.
Scrapbook stores and online stores have more product diversity than direct selling companies because direct sellers are individuals who have to store their inventory in their home. Direct sellers tend to emphasize their company’s superior products and the fact that customers get them (i.e., the consultant). What direct sellers can’t offer in terms of inventory selection, they make up for in superior products and personal contact.
I did not set out to compare these different forms of selling scrapbook supplies and how supplies are sold has changed quite a bit since the industry became “an industry.” Unlike other industries, scrapbooking has a had a strong direct selling component. I’m left with more questions than answers about these different selling methods.
Do you work in the industry? Do you know what is going on with competing ways of selling scrapbook supplies? Join the conversation below or on facebook.
 I interviewed industry workers from three different brick and mortar stores, two direct selling companies, and one online store.
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