Monday, October 26, 2009

What I learned from Coldwater Creek

I don't know about you, but I get a ton of catalogs, especially the closer it gets to the holidays. I've resolved to do a lot of my shopping on etsy this year, to buy handmade and to support other etsy sellers with all of their wonderful stuff. I don't look at the majority of the catalogs I receive, but I always take time out to peruse the latest offering from Coldwater Creek. They put together one of the most beautiful catalogs I have ever seen, and it's a treat to sit down, relax, and look through the pages. I have some clothes from them, including my favorite red velvet ruffled shirt and my big faux fur winter coat. When you buy an article of clothing from them, you will have it and love it for years.

Beyond that, though, the Coldwater Creek catalog is exactly what all individual sellers of unique and high quality items should be looking at. Here's why:

1. Their photos are gorgeous, with great detail. You can see exactly what you're going to get. Small details are shown, and then the entire piece is shown. Often, on etsy, you get a bunch of close up pictures, but no idea of the piece in its entirety. For your customer, you need to provide both. They often include a warm but fairly neutral background, so that the merchandise is the focus of the picture. And everything looks rich, lovely and worth the money.

2. Their descriptions combine poetry with fact. They offer a short, two or three line story about the piece, to give the piece a little charm, and also to show where, how and when it could be worn or used. Then, they completely and accurately describe the item, materials, measurements and the feel of the piece. They also offer options of what it could be paired with. When ordering something you can't see and touch, the more factual information you give, the easier it is for the customer to visualize it. Plus, it never hurts to add a little bit of charm, but a customer usually doesn't need an eight paragraph story with no realistic info about the piece they're looking at.

3. Their merchandise is, for the most part, absolutely gorgeous and well made. Anytime I open one of their catalogs, I know that I could spend an obscene amount of money between those covers. Any piece I've gotten from them, I have loved and worn over and over. They have great variety, while staying within their style and brand. You don't have to worry about hems falling out or buttons coming loose. You know you will get what you pay for.

4. They offer outstanding customer service. I once ordered a jacket for my mom from them for her birthday. There was a mix up in shipping, and I received the wrong size. I called their 1-800 number, talked to a real person, got precise directions on how to return the jacket, and received a replacement two days later. My credit card was credited promptly when they received my return, and, since it was their error, they waived all shipping and handling fees. So many places seem to offer terrible customer service anymore, so that, if you should decide to return or exchange, it becomes more of a hassle than it's worth. I'm not one to return very often, but, one bad experience like that, and I'm pretty much done with that company.

5. There's something special about their catalogs and their merchandise. I think it's the combination of the four points listed above. There are times when you order something, and then, when you receive it, it's disappointing in person. With Coldwater Creek, the item is gorgeous in the catalog or online, but even better when you receive it.

If you have a sec, check out their website, and take a look at their online catalogs. If you've never shopped them, I think you'll be surprised at how gorgeous their stuff is, and how beautifully they present it. See if you can't snag some of their marketing ideas for your own etsy shop. And, if you order something from them, be prepared to fall in love with it.


  1. One could take noted for how to write up their own listings on Etsy. Thanks for sharing. I'm going to check them out for some ideas too.

  2. I'm trying to do all my christmas shopping (except for my boys- they want toys) on Etsy this year too!

  3. I love Coldwater Creek! And I am certainly shopping Etsy for the holidays this year!

  4. I'm shopping Etsy, too!

    Thanks for all the tips. Looking at how the big retailers present and describe their goods is a great idea. Coldwater Creek is excellent. So is Antropologie--check them out.

  5. Great post, makes me think about presentation. :)