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Archive | July 17, 2011

Michaels Releases iPhone App

I was quite excited several months ago when arts and crafts retailer Michaels began accepting coupons via smartphone at their checkout. I was even more excited to find that they’ve recently released an app for the iPhone that combines their electronic coupon functionality with some exciting new features.

The app is well laid-out, easy to use, and filled with pleasing visuals such as the screen that greets users on opening.

Once loaded, the app gives customers access to a number of features, most notably the ability to browse sales flyers and search for products.

The “Deals” section of the app provides access to the Michaels weekly ad in a mobile-friendly format. Customers can navigate by category and then drill down to see more details about sale items.

The “Coupons” section will probably be the most-used in the app as it gives customers a way to carry coupons without the hassle of printing them and then remembering to bring them along to the store. Coupons are automatically loaded into the app when available and removed after they have expired. Each coupon can be used multiple times (subject to the current “one per customer per day” wording) and contains a barcode that is scanned at the checkout.

I found the “Projects” section to be surprisingly well-rounded, containing in-depth instructions for craft projects in a number of categories. The images, shown as a thumbnail on the instructions screen, will display a larger version when tapped.

The “Lists” feature provides a place for customers to compile one or more shopping lists to use in the store. It’s tied closely with the “Products” section that allows customers to browse available items (the products listed are not tied to a particular store’s inventory and may not reflect current stock) and add them to a shopping list. Users can also add items manually by typing in text.

The “Products” section, which I’ve already mentioned, allows users to browse available items by navigating through categories to find products. Customers can drill down to a specific product to read details, and there is also a space for reviews  (though none of the items I browsed had reviews yet). No pricing information is provided for items.

Customers can also view upcoming classes and events at their local store under the “Events” button. The app also has functionality to locate stores nearest to you, just in case you catch the crafty bug while traveling.

The app also provides the ability to read QR (Quick Response) codes to allow customers quick access to information on the web. These codes are “scanned” by holding the iPhone’s camera over the code until it is registered by the app, which will then redirect the user to the appropriate web page.

Droid users, don’t despair!! Michaels corporate office has assured Scrapbook Update that an Android version of the app is planned, although there is no release date available yet. Scrapbook Update will keep you informed of this and any other developments as the areas of tech, crafting, and retail continue their exciting convergence.

Pre CHA Product Sale at Two Peas in a Bucket. Get 15%-75% off Select Products. Sale runs July 14-22, 2011

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CHA: Making Useful Buys

Retailers shopping at CHA to stock their stores are searching for the best, the items and lines that will sell the best. But what as consumers should we be looking for? It is easy to get caught up in the hype and the glamour of fresh new product, but it’s important to stop and look at what will be useful, vs. what will look good in your stash. A few months ago I wrote an article about maximizing your budget, and today I will share some tips for what to look for in new products to help you pick items that will be useful and add something good to your crafting.

1: Beware cute packaging.

This one gets me every once in a while, but I try to be good! Sometimes the marketing is just brilliant and things are packaged up so incredibly cute that I can’t help but buy them! The downside? I get home, remove the packaging that was so adorable and I’m left with average product that I wouldn’t have otherwise bought. This isn’t true in every case – but before you buy that adorably packaged item, ask yourself what is inside that package, and if it’s worth it without the great wrapping.

2. Ask yourself how you would use the item.

This is key! Whether it’s paper or a new tool, ask yourself how you envision utilizing it. If I can’t think of at least three situations I’d use it in right off the bat, I don’t even consider it. If your answer is “oh I don’t know but it’s just so fabulous!” then step back, and do not buy.

3: What does the item remind you of in your own stash?

Sometimes, you’ve already got something that is similar, or that could be substituted out for this new product, and it wouldn’t actually add anything unique or special to your crafting supplies. If this is true, then you can skip it and go to something else. Unless of course, it reminds you of a product you’re constantly running out of, and the fresh look will be welcome!

4: Useful papers vs difficult papers

Paper is a big thing in scrapbooking (ahem, it’s the base of all my pages!), and if I ask most any paper crafter, it’s paper that they have more of than anything. It’s important! It sets the mood, it should enhance your layout and photos, and so much can be done with a sheet of paper that it’s arguably the best value you can get! That said, the cutest pieces of paper are not necessarily the best choices. Papers that look more like they should be framed, that you can’t envision cutting up or covering with photos should be left behind. I love a good busy paper filled with elements and bold design – but it’s not easy to use and I don’t use them often. Small patterns, repetitive motifs, and papers that have fewer colors are much easier to make work into projects that I love.

5: Easy on the themes.

I know…I get excited about themed product. Show me a stack of new Halloween product, and I’m squealing and grabbing. But wait! Just how much theme product do I need, and what should I choose? My first article here on Scrapbook Update was in fact about picking holiday supplies, and I also have a new series of articles planned soon that will showcase getting the best of the crop of themed supplies coming this fall!

My top tip for you though, is to look at the projects you’ve been doing. What “must haves” from 2011 that you purchased have you been using, perhaps even re-purchasing? What patterns of paper, colors, designs, and looks work for you? Also take a minute to look at the projects you’ve made recently and see what direction you are going in. While you might love a trend or look, will it work for you and your paper craft projects? Staying true to your own style and making projects that are uniquely you are the biggest trends in the papercrafting industry at the moment. And isn’t that great? Not only are the choices exceptional right now – but you’re also encouraged to do be your authentic self.

Pre CHA Product Sale at Two Peas in a Bucket. Get 15%-75% off Select Products. Sale runs July 14-22, 2011

Want to stay up-to-date on all the latest scrapbook news?

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