Being the ever diligent beading, scrapbooking and baking enthusiast, I am excited to evaluate the online presence of two of my most favorite bead and craft supply stores- Jo-Ann Fabricand Michael’s Arts & Crafts. I can honestly say that I enjoy shopping at both these stores in person over the online experience. As a creative person, I relish seeing new materials up close and feeling the textures of certain items.
Both sites have similar web layouts with easy to read font, pleasing graphics and color schemes for visual interest as well as being effortlessly navigable with intriguing content (Cumbrowski, 2008).
Jo-Ann’s offers easy online shopping with secure features and special online discounts which are not promoted in the stores. For convenience and additional deals, the option to go online and make selections from the comfort of home while still getting hot sales is wonderful. The option to sign up for special online-only promotions is a nice benefit which also prompts easy sales revenue from an audience eager for their great deals. With the small inconvenience of reading a brief email notification, a customer can decide to take advantage of the sale while saving time and fuel cost of physically traveling to the store.
Michael’s has an online blog which is a great way to locate new beading and craft project ideas. I enjoy scanning the blog for more thorough details than what they can post at Facebookor Twitter.
Both Jo-Ann’s and Michael’s employs social media networking opportunities, however, Michael’s definitely rules the internet super highway with their amount of followers and interactions. Not only does Michael’s use a blog, but they also have 2 additional social platforms to engage customers at Foursquare and Google+, which Jo-Ann’s does not currently utilize.
Jo-Ann’s does not offer a blog yet. I find that curious, especially since they have a wonderful selection of tutorials available on their YouTube channel which they could blog about. Mobile applications are more popular with the capacity for coupon delivery to Smartphones. Jo-Ann’s doesn’t provide that feature through its webpage, but does offer a cumbersome way to have a coupon sent to you via text. Michael’s has a clearly visible mobile app icon for this convenient feature which offers instant bar code scan-ready coupons at the checkout line. Jo-Ann’s does offer some mobile apps for iPads, but you have to scroll to the very bottom of the page and read the fine print for the word “mobile”, whereas Michael’s has a clear visual image. With mobile smartphones and gadgets becoming so prevalent (Strauss & Frost, 2012), it would be wise to take advantage of this market by adjusting the accessibility levels to meet new hi-tech audience viewership.
Michael’s does not offer online shopping unless you are trying to get a customized or personalized item. This lack of shopping convenience is a barrier to their sales growth, as many shoppers seek online deals and ways of avoiding holiday shopping traffic. *2015 UPDATE: Online shopping in all categories has now been made available! YAY!
Staggeringly Sparkly Statistics
I used an application called “Marketing Grader” (Shea, 2011) to analyze both stores for their online marketing presence and compare with each other. Out of curiosity, I also ran an online marketing appraisal of my own handmade business – A Touch of Sparkle by Monica. The following chart shows how all 3 of us measure up:
As you can see, Michael’s has a gigantic lead on Joan’s in all forums, with the highest overall marketing grade of an 87 compared to Jo-Ann’s 69. I feel pretty special to see that my own handmade jewelry business site came in with a respectable 57 right behind Jo-Ann’s.
Performing a Google search for inbound links, showed various other sites that hard link to a certain domain name. I was surprised to see that my own site had about 3 pages or 11,000 results. This is where other sites have linked to something from my domain at www.sparklebymonica.com . Compared to Jo-Ann’s 22 million links and Michael’s 62 million links, I am nowhere in their league. By following some suggestions to review products on Amazon, write a guest blog, publish online articles, link trade and other tactics (Bourn, 2013), I can increase good quality inbound links. The key to inbound links is that you want quality links, not necessarily quantity. If you have a ton of poor inbound links from sites which have low Google ratings that may drag your ratings down. If you have selective links from an “in-industry authority website” (Bourn, 2013, paragraph 6) this will show you are deemed as having applicable and engaging content for others in your industry or those interested in your perceived expertise.
And the sparkle-riffic bead-tastic winner is…
Michael’s Arts & Crafts Store! Shockingly even though you can’t purchase any in-store items* at their online web store, Michael’s is leaps ahead of Jo-Ann’s in terms of fans and followers, interactions via tweets, posts and blogs as well as inbound links. Although I do prefer shopping at Jo-Ann’s as far as their more organized in-store layout verses Michael’s seasonal mish mash in the aisles, I am impressed with the online interaction comparison results. Now, I plan to charge up my iPhone and head to Michael’s for some bead therapy with my mobile coupon.
Please view my various jewelry and crafty candy tutorials at my YouTube channel. Like, comment and SUBSCRIBE, please. Happy holiday crafting, everyone!
Bourn, Jennifer. (2013). 10 Ideas to Build Quality Inbound Links and Increase Website Traffic. Born Creative [blog].Retrieved online 12-12-13 from http://www.bourncreative.com/10-ideas-build-inbound-links-website-traffic/
Cumbrowski, Carsten. (2008). 50 Questions to Evaluate the Quality of your Website. Search Engine Journal. Retrieved online 12-7-13 from http://www.searchenginejournal.com/50-questions-to-evaluate-the-quality-of-your-website/6400/
Shea, Patrick. (2011). McDonald’s Flame Broils Burger King in Online Marketing Showdown. Retrieved online 12-10-13 from http://blog.hubspot.com/blog/tabid/6307/bid/29585/McDonald-s-Flame-Broils-Burger-King-in-Online-Marketing-Showdown.aspx
Strauss and Frost. (2012). E-Marketing (6th Ed.). New Jersey: Pearson Education publishing as Prentice Hall. (339-340).