We got an e-mail the other day from one of our young readers. She has just started a booth and she wanted to know what tag switching meant. If you have been in the industry for any length of time I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase or worse you have had this happen to your items. Tag switching is when a customer takes the price tag off a less expensive item and places it on a more expensive item and buys it. This is why it is very important to write a description of your item. I don’t just mean write a 2-3 word description. For example, if you have an alabaster lamp don’t just put white vintage lamp. Instead, put Vintage Alabaster Lamp with a square base (Very Heavy) with floral lamp shade included.
By using a vague description this enables a customer to switch tags. But if you have a very descriptive tag you are letting the cashier know more about the item. Let’s just say that there is another alabaster lamp in the store that is cheaper than your alabaster lamp. So when it is taken to the counter if it has a plain shade on it, and your tag reads comes with floral lampshade then the cashier will know this is the not the right tag, or the very least it’s the wrong shade. Hopefully, this will be a red flag for the cashier and she will call you to double-check.
The more descriptive you are the harder it is switch tags. But it will not stop a customer from removing the tag. Thankfully this has not happened to me all that often but it has happened. Sometimes tags will fall off during the shuffle of booth fluffing. It’s a good idea when you are working your booth to spend about 5-10 minutes looking at all your items. Make sure all your items are tagged.
Also if you want to mark your items down I would highly discourage you from using a red pen to mark through your current price. If customers see you do this it will be very easy for them to take out a red pen and mark through the price to reflect a cheaper price. This happened to a dealer I know. She wanted to mark down some things that had been in her booth a while. So she just took a red pen and slashed through the prices to reflect a 50% discount. A customer came in several days later and purchased a side table that was not on sale. How did they do it? Easy…they took out their red pen and made a little discount. The girl working the counter didn’t know any better and sold the table. Some stores will allow dealers to red mark their price tags only if they initial their tags. Customers can beat the system on this too. All they have to do is look another tag to see how you signed your initials and duplicate that.
If you want to mark something down I would recommend using an entirely new tag. So if you have a table for $50 and you want to mark it down to $30 just make a new tag that says $30. Another way to ensure tags are not switched is to use pre-printed tags. I personally never had time for this, but I have a dealer friend that types all her info out using a template on the computer. The cashiers all know she only uses pre-printed tags. Once she had a customer try to tag switch, but the cashier knew better and brought this to the customer’s attention. The customer got mad and stormed out of the store.
I think it’s important to pick one style of tag and stick with it. By choosing a style the cashiers will learn to distinguish your tags from other dealer tags. Using a particular color pen, style tag, etc can help set your tags apart from all the other dealers. For instance, I have another dealer friend that only uses brown kraft cardstock paper. She uses a heart shape puncher to punch her tags and she only uses a black Sharpie marker. The shop owner knows these are the only style tags she uses.
You can find these cute heart tags here. If you are going into a new shop or mall you could let the staff make a note on your account that says this dealer will only use heart-shaped, brown kraft cardstock paper written with a sharpie marker. You could also tell them that you will never mark through your prices in red. You could take a tag to the front so they have a sample of your tag. Communicating with staff is key.
A lot of stores that are on a computer system can take a pic of your tag and have it on file. For those stores that are still on paper receipts, it’s good to have a notebook. Have a page in the notebook for each dealer with notes about their items and booth etc.
We love these kraft tags with the small heart punched at the bottom. You can find these tags here. You can find tags at Hobby Lobby or Michael’s Crafts or even Walmart. However, those can be very expensive. You can find them in bulk in our Amazon store. Making your own tags would be a lot cheaper.
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