Creating Effective Live Crafting Demos to Build Your Brand


This is a sponsored post by Arkon Mounts.

by Aaron Roth, VP Sales and Marketing, Arkon Mounts (www.arkon.com)

Video: Shown here, Janet Wakeland of RemarkablyCreated.com demonstrates how crafters can use Arkon’s phone and tablet stands for demonstrations and tutorials.

INTRODUCTION
If you have a Facebook or Instagram page, you’ve probably seen other crafters live streaming as they create their next amazing masterpiece. Going live to a global audience may be easy for some, but for many others, the mere thought of public speaking can be truly debilitating. Fear of speaking is the most common phobia, ranking even higher than the fear of death. Embracing the use of live video will help you overcome these fears and will undoubtedly have a positive impact on your business.

LIVE STREAM ESSENTIALS (Tools Required to Go Live)
If you own a business, odds are that you also have a mobile phone. Your mobile phone is arguably the single most important tool for your business. Not only does it serve as the lifeline between you and your existing customers, it can also be used to create compelling content to attract new customers. Some also prefer the use of a tablet computer (iPad) due to the larger screen size, making it easier to see comments. Phones and tablets are basic essentials for every live streamer.

The three best platforms are Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, though their respective features may be slightly different depending on whether you’re an iPhone or Android user. Be sure that you regularly update your apps to ensure that you have access to the latest features.

IMPORTANCE OF A STABLE BROADCAST | Mounts, Holders, Stands, & Tripods
While not required to go live, having your phone or tablet secured in a quality holder is strongly recommended as it will greatly improve the quality (stability) of your broadcast and the viewer experience. Having your device mounted also means that your hands are free to craft or demonstrate during the live video. These types of broadcasts are some of the most popular!

Arkon Mounts offers a full assortment of mounts, holders, stands, and tripods for live streaming. Here are the mounting solutions recommended for your video or live stream demonstrations.

The Remarkable Creators Video Phone Stand Bundle (Model RCBTABLED)

This popular bundle combines the best-selling Arkon Pro Stand, which allows crafters to shoot professional overhead views of their demonstration. It also includes a Tablet Clamp Mount, which attaches to the shaft/pole portion of the Pro Stand and is used to log in to live video apps on a secondary device like an iPad to see comments or to see the view of the phone that’s positioned overhead. Arkon’s LED Ring Light is a fan favorite in the crafting communities, particularly with those who create live video demonstrations. It clips onto the top of your phone, doesn’t block the camera, and features a USB-chargeable battery. Battery life is usually about 45 minutes per full charge.

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ARKON Live Streaming Essentials Bundle
Arkon offers the Live Streaming Essentials Bundle, which features a Phone Tripod with the LED Ring Light and Ultrasonic Remote. The tripod phone mount fits all smartphones up to 4” wide and allows the phone to be positioned in either landscape or portrait orientation. The ultrasonic remote control is designed to work with both iPhone and Android phones and is ideal for using with the tripod to easily take photos or videos from up to 30 feet away. Includes a timer, zoom capabilities, flash on/off, and automatic focus.

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Aaron Roth is the inspirational Vice President of Sales and Marketing and co-owner at Arkon Mounts, the most recognized and respected brand in the live streaming video category. In addition to being a regular speaker at live streaming and social media events, you’ll also find Aaron broadcasting daily on Instagram and Facebook from the Arkon Live Lounge, an office studio at the Arkon headquarters in Arcadia, California. Arkon has an extensive assortment of mounts, holders, stands, and tripods to support your live streaming video broadcasts.

AARON’S TOP 10 LIVE STREAM TIPS

  1. Join, and go live from Facebook Groups related to your business
  2. Create “shareable” content
  3. Use Arkon Mounts to hold your phone or tablet steady
  4. Clean phone or tablet camera lens before going live
  5. Engage with your audience; Say hello to people as they join your broadcast
  6. Always have your branding in view of the camera (something with your logo on it)
  7. Use relevant hashtags on ALL Instagram and Facebook posts to increase your reach (e.g. #crafting, #crafts, etc.)
  8. Utilize giveaways of your product to create excitement around your brand
  9. When an App sends out an update, immediately download and go live to see if there are new features. Facebook and Instagram Live continue to improve on a regular basis
  10. Have fun, and build great friendships!

ABOUT ARKON MOUNTS
Arkon Mounts supplies a wide range of high-quality tablet and phone mounts, tripods, and other accessories designed to enhance the live streaming experience. Arkon celebrates its 30th year in business in 2018.

600+ mounts, holders, stands, and tripods for phones, cameras, tablets

2-Year Warranty on ALL Arkon Mounts

Visit Arkon Mounts at Mixed Media Event 2018 and Creativation 2019!

Will a Facebook Messenger Chatbot be Your New Customer Service Superhero?


By Sandi Rosner for Stitchcraft Marketing

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When you need to get in touch with a person or a company you probably pick up your phone, but not to make a telephone call. You might send a text message or an email or look for the “contact us” page on a website. In fact, you might be annoyed if the only way to get the service or information you need is to actually speak with a person on the telephone.

Consumer behavior is evolving along with our preferred methods of communication. In late 2016, Business Insider reported that the top 4 messaging apps (Messenger, WhatsApp, WeChat and Viber) have surpassed the top 4 social networks (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+) in monthly active users.

It’s not a surprise that younger customers have been quick to integrate interaction with chatbots in their daily lives. But Baby Boomers aren’t far behind in embracing the ease and speed of service available through automated communication.

How can you keep up with the increasing expectation for instant response through messaging apps, given all the other demands on your time? A Messenger chatbot might be solution you’re looking for.

What is a chatbot?
A chatbot is a piece of software that uses artificial intelligence, simulating natural conversation to answer questions and provide information. Most chatbots are designed for text input, but some incorporate speech recognition. If you’ve ever been on a website and seen a little pop-up box asking, “How can I help you?”, it’s likely you were being offered the opportunity to interact with a chatbot.

The use of chatbots grows every day, and examples are not hard to find. Chatbots are being deployed to answer common customer service questions, help you hail a ride, provide recipe suggestions, and order flowers for delivery.

How can a chatbot help my craft business?
Anyone who has spent time working in customer service knows that many inquiries are routine.

  • What is the status of my shipment?
  • What are your hours?
  • How do I take care of this product?
  • How should I use this product?

A chatbot can answer all these questions and more, for far less cost than hiring a customer service rep. The chatbot can also provide links to other content on your website, such as product tutorial videos or project inspiration.

Chatbots can also act as virtual personal shoppers, asking questions to hone in on what the customer is seeking and presenting clickable options.

How can I get started?
Chatbots are one of the hottest topics in the tech world today. There are lots of companies and developers who would be happy to charge you a lot of money to create a custom chatbot. Fortunately, there are also some simpler and less costly ways to put chatbots to work for you.

Shopify
Shopify has developed an app that will integrate your product catalog with Facebook Messenger. If you already have a Shopify store, it’s free to download this app.

The Shopify Messenger app brings the entire shopping experience into Messenger, using simple prompts to lead the customer along a decision path. The app automates some notifications, such as shipping confirmation.

To see how one company put Shopify Messenger to use, take a look at this case study.

Chatfuel
If you’re looking for a more conversational chatbot, take a look at Chatfuel. The basic version is free, with more features available with paid plans.

Chatfuel was designed as a no-code tool for creating a highly customized chatbot to run on Messenger.

Why focus on Facebook Messenger?
Messenger wants to be your communication channel. They are actively courting business users with tools for shopping and customer service. And Messenger is the dominant global messaging app, with 1.3 billion active monthly users as of January 2018.

You need to be where your customers are, and your customers are on Messenger.

At the very least, you need to be prepared to respond to those customers who choose to reach out to you via Messenger. Here are 4 things you can do this week:

  • Create a Messenger greeting. Your customer will see this greeting the first time they connect with you on Messenger, before any messages are sent. This is a great opportunity to set a friendly, welcoming tone.
  • Create an Instant Reply. You can’t be watching your Messenger account all day every day. Create an automated reply so your customer knows you’ve received their message and will get back to them soon.
  • Create an Away message. An away message helps manage expectations by gently reminding customers that you don’t work 24/7. You can schedule this message to be sent instead of the Instant Reply at night time, weekends, or when you’re traveling.
  • Establish a routine for responding to incoming Messages. Prompt and courteous responses to incoming messages will help build trust with your customers. Decide who will be responsible for monitoring and responding to Messenger. How often will you check for new messages? Once an hour? Once a day? Set a reminder on your calendar until it becomes a habit.

Once you’ve connected with your customers on Messenger, either through a chatbot or live chat, you can run a form of paid advertising known as “sponsored messages.” This allows you to send targeted messages directly to people who already know you. Since your message shows up on Messenger instead of in their Facebook newsfeed, it’s far more likely to be seen, read and clicked than a standard Facebook ad.

Chatbots will not replace human customer service anytime soon, particularly for craft businesses that focus on the handmade and low tech. You’ll still have customers who want to talk to someone on the telephone or prefer the familiar medium of email. And you’ll need a knowledgeable human to respond to questions beyond the limits of the bot’s programmed responses.

Stitchcraft Marketing can help you integrate Messenger and chatbots into your overall marketing and customer service strategy. Contact Leanne@stitchcraftmarketing.com to learn how we can help you grow your craft business.

 

Member Spotlight: Cecily Moore


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AFCI Member, Cecily Moore is a graphic designer with an avid passion for scrapbooking, coffee drinking, and all things crafty. She is the owner of The Paper Curator, which is an online shop of artfully designed paper goods for the modern creative.

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In January, Cecily attended Creativation for the first time. We spoke to her and asked her why she attended and to share her experience.

Tell us about yourself and your business.
“My name is Cecily and I’m somewhat of a jack-of-all trades when it comes to crafting, but primarily I am a graphic designer. My business, The Paper Curator, is a handmade stationery and paper crafting company selling artfully designed paper goods for modern creatives. I specialize in hand-lettering and lovely handmade textures and prints throughout my seasonal collections of stationery items and monthly scrapbook kits – all handmade and produced by me.”

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Tell us about your experience at Creativation 2018.
“The entire experience was awesome and kind of a whirlwind. I wanted to cram so much into my short time in Phoenix so I booked my schedule Thursday and Friday with many of the classes available – seminars primarily, but a couple hands-on workshops as well. Because it was my first year at the event, I also penciled in plenty of time to wander the show floor and boy did I need every second. It was breathtaking to walk around and see all the up and coming products for brands that I’ve long admired. Overall the experience left me truly inspired (and a little tired from all the excitement!).”

Why did you attend?
Attending Creativation has been a goal of mine for many years now, so stepping foot into Creativation 2018 was a dream come true. I mainly attended because I’m always looking for ways to improve my business. Aside from the excitement of seeing all the new products on the show floor, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to take some great classes at Creativation as well. I think the free entrance for AFCI members really sealed the deal and I knew from the time I enrolled in a membership that I had to get to Phoenix for the experience!”

What benefits did your business see as a result of attending Creativation?
“Overall, the biggest benefit for my business at Creativation was the opportunity to network and make true connections with people that share the same passions and goals as I do. On the show floor, I also got to meet some critical vendors that will help me when I’m ready to expand my business. One highlight was meeting PhotoCentric, a stamp manufacturer on the show floor that I had been researching online. The process had been something I was looking into but wasn’t completely sold on prior to Creativation. Getting to put a face to the company gave me a whole new level of trust in their process and the quality of their products. Creativation gave me more confidence in myself as a business owner when considering new directions for expanding my business.”

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What was the best workshop, seminar or event you attended and why?
“My favorite workshop was a Hands-on Lab called Styling Content for Your Brand with Amber Kemp-Gerstel of Damask Love. She really got us thinking about smart photography for our businesses with excellent detailed tips and examples of photos from her own repertoire. I left the workshop with not only some great photos of my products, but the insight moving forward to better my brand. Plus, she was completely lovely and continued to greet me throughout the rest of the conference when I bumped into her on the show floor! The hands-on nature of the lab let me make some great connections with all of the attendees — another excellent bonus!”

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Who would you recommend attend Creativation and why?
“I think anyone who is in a creative industry (as a buyer, maker, etc.), who runs a creative business, or is looking to get some insight into the world of the creative industries would definitely benefit from attending. The classes were absolutely inspiring and the connections an attendee can make on the show floor can definitely be beneficial to pushing any business forward.”

Learn more about the benefits of attending Creativation at www.CreativationShow.org.

Connect with Cecily and learn more about her business at www.thepapercurator.com.

AFCI Staff’s Favorite Products & Trends From Creativation


Creativation is a big, bright playground for creative professionals to see, touch, test and buy the best new creative products. While AFCI Staff members, Donna Cennimo and Raquel-Alexa Brizzi work on Creativation from 9 to 5, in their down time they are passionate crafters who share the joy and inspiration that attendees feel experiencing the event.

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Raquel (left) and Donna (right) in the Plaid Booth at Creativation 2018.

Donna and Raquel walked the 2018 trade show to discover their favorite new products based on their personal interests in crafts. After two months of experimenting and playing, here are their five favorite craft trends for 2018:

1. Back to Embossing

Heat embossing has been a popular practice among stampers and card makers for decades. Designer, Seth Apter and Emerald Creek Craft Supplies teamed up to invent an amazing product that makes embossing new again. The product, Baked Texture comes in seven varieties of thick powder, each of which creates a unique range of vintage, rusted, textured effects on your art. Seth’s booth demos gave attendees tons of techniques to try at home and in retail stores.

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Raquel’s art journal using Baked Texture.

When it comes to heat embossing techniques, Stampendous remains a leader. Stampendous Founder Fran Seiford’s book, Embossing Powder Techniques from A to Z, is a must-have no matter how long you’ve been embossing. The company’s new stamp releases make a big statement on your art, especially their Deep Impressions Chunky Embossing Enamel and techniques.

2. Sparkle & Shine

Who doesn’t love some sparkle and shine? We all do! But, at what cost? Glitter tends to get everywhere. Plaid created a solution for this problem by releasing two new FolkArt paint lines that help you achieve sparkle and shine without the mess. The Glitterific brand paints feature suspended fragments of glitter in a clear base, while the ColorSHIFT brand paints come in solid bright metallic shades. Each paint comes in 10 new colors. Donna and Raquel completed make-and-takes at the booth.

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Raquel’s art journal using Glitter Kiss.

The ladies at the Ecstasy Crafts booth showed AFCI’s crafting duo another shimmering product without the burden of loose powder. Glitter Kiss is a jarred product (manufactured by Creative Expressions) that can be used to add dimension and sparkle to embossed papers, but doesn’t require adhesives. This water-based product sticks directly to your page.

3. All Things Art Journaling

When it comes to art journaling, anything goes! Just about any products at Creativation can be used to create in an art journal. Donna’s greatest find was Ranger’s latest Dina Wakley Media Journal in its new Large size (10” x 14.25″).

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Donna’s full Dina Wakely Media Journal after two months of playing with new products from Creativation 2018.

Prima Marketing released several new washi tapes, which are lining the pages of Donna and Raquel’s journals.

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Raquel’s art journal using Prima’s new washi tape.

Stamps aren’t just for card making. Visible Image has an incredible selection of abstract clear stamps that are amazing for journaling. Their newest line for 2018 features each of the Zodiac signs in geometric designs and constellations.

4. Hand Lettering Happenings

Hand lettering and modern calligraphy are still top trends that many of the exhibiting companies showcased. Donna and Raquel spent time at the Sakura booth experimenting with their white Gelly Roll pens released in new sizes (05 08 10 mm).

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Raquel using Gelly Roll pens.

Crafter’s Companion came out with a new line of Spectrum Noir dual-tip metallic markers. You won’t be able to resist these shimmering brush pens.

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Raquel hand lettering with Crafter’s Companion’s Spectrum Noir dual-tip metallic markers.

Raquel sat and lettered in the Uchida booth learning the versatility of their Le Plume II dual-tip watercolor markers from blending tricks to stamping tips.

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Raquel hand lettering with Uchida’s Le Plume II dual-tip watercolor markers

The Artisan Fair was also a worthwhile stop on the show floor where the Calligraphic Society of Arizona taught calligraphy using a multitude of pens, markers and styles.

5. Wrapped Up in Jewelry

Donna enjoyed stopping by the Ranger booth to talk wire-wrapped jewelry and Ice Resin with designer, Susan Lenart Kazmer. Ranger’s latest releases to the Ice Resin line include new Jewelry Wires, 3 shades of shimmery Lusters, and Rune Bezels, which are replicas of Susan’s own designs.

Donna and Raquel have loved playing with many of these new releases. See some samples of their creations below!

Join us at Creativation 2019, taking place January 17-21 at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Education begins on January 17. The trade show opens January 19-21. AFCI members attend for free. For more information about attending or exhibiting, visit www.CreativationShow.org.

About Donna and Raquel

Donna is no stranger to crafting; she has been creating her entire life. Her varied interests include painting, jewelry-making, collage, sewing, and most prominently art journaling. Donna’s work can be characterized by bright colors, deep textures, layering and abstract patterns. Find Donna on Pinterest: @blkmoondesignz

Raquel is a lifelong doodler who has recently taken up hand lettering, card-making and art journaling. While she was always creative, it took exposure to AFCI members’ products and techniques along with Donna’s knowledge and guidance to bring her creative hobbies to the next level. Find Raquel on Instagram: @raquelcreates

Member Spotlight: Tanya Fox


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AFCI Member, Tanya Fox, owner of Crafty Crafters Ltd., is a retailer located in Camrose, Alberta, Canada. You will often find her in her store, apron on and creating new ideas and projects or visiting with the fellow crafters hearing new ideas. In January, she attended Creativation for the first time. We spoke to her and asked her to share her experience.

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AFCI Member, Tanya Fox, owner of Crafty Crafters Ltd.

Tell us about yourself and your business.
“I have been crafting for over 35 years. It has always been a passion of mine. After over 16 years of dreaming I finally took the leap my father told me to and made one of my dreams a reality opening Crafty Crafters in 2014. You will often find me in the store, apron on creating new ideas and projects, working on our YouTube videos or visiting with fellow crafters, seeing their creations and helping solve problems with projects of all kinds. Whether it is a new craft you want to try or help with getting back into it, I am always there to help share my passion and excitement about the crafting world.”

Tell us about your experience at Creativation 2018.
“This was my first year attending. The staff was AMAZING. Registration was like a well-oiled machine, which is nice when you are so excited to get into the venue. The information book in the welcome bag had a wonderful map, but the (Creativation 2018 mobile) app was above and beyond all my expectations! I was able to take so many notes and really track my booth visits with notes, which comes in handy since there were so many wonderful exhibitors and ideas.”

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Tanya Fox arriving to the Phoenix Convention Center for Creativation 2018

Why did you attend?
“My wonderful rep, Laura at Notions Marketing had suggested that I attend as she thought that I would really enjoy being able to see all the exhibitors as well as to help get some new ideas for the store as she knows we are always wanting to expand our lines.”

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Tanya Fox with Laura of Notions Marketing at Creativation 2018

What benefits did your business see as a result of attending Creativation?
“I was able to connect with two new companies. We are now bringing there lines into our store. From seeing them at the show and the new product we will be the first in our area to carry the lines, which puts our business at an advantage. This would not have been able to happen without attending this event. Being able to speak directly with them in person also allowed us to create a relationship with them. This has made the ordering process so much easier and helped create a stronger initial bond, which is important to us!”

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Tanya Fox with Donna of Needleworld Diamond Dotz

Who would you recommend attend Creativation and why?
“I would absolutely recommend this to any store owner. Not only does it help you to get ahead of the new trends but also allows you to see the product in person. As the world changes to more online ordering sometimes it is hard to truly know what it is that you are going to get. Seeing it in person helps you to get a better idea of what will work for your demographic. This event allows you to also meet the distributors and form relationships that can only further your lines. Business aside, how as a crafter, do you not get giddy like a child on Christmas morning, walking into a room buzzing with laughter and hands on craft projects to try new things at! It was heaven. I will be making a point of attending each year!”

Learn more about the benefits of attending Creativation at www.CreativationShow.org.

Connect with Tanya and learn more about her business at www.craftycraftersltd.ca.

Member Spotlight: Koren Wiskman


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AFCI Member Koren Wiskman of Maryland is a professional crafter, blogger and YouTuber. Over the past couple of years, she has been building a physical and digital presence for her business, including 1,900 subscribers to her YouTube channel. Aside from developing and maintaining new content for various social media, she enjoys selling cards on her Etsy shop, KorenWishmanNCo and in a local bakery.

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Koren was one of our many members who attended Creativation 2018 in Phoenix, Arizona to be inspired and discover new ways to grow her business. We asked Koren to share her experience at this year’s event.

Tell us about your experience at Creativation 2018.
“I could go on for hours about it. In short though, it was terrific. Having the opportunity to learn from some of the industry leaders and innovators, and being able to see and touch the upcoming products was simply incredible.”

Why did you attend?
“I want to grow my business. I know that developing both skills as a crafter and business person/marketer is critical in doing so. The folks at Creativation seemed to have this concept in mind as they developed plans for this event. It really was a great blend of business and instruction with art and function.”

What benefits did your business see as a result of attending Creativation?
“Overall, I think that the benefits will be more evident in the coming weeks and months as the lessons learned at Creativation will have had an opportunity to bring about change and improvement.”

What was the best workshop, seminar or event you attended?
“There are three that really stand out to me, in no particular order: Collaboration seminar with Mandy Evans, who was inspiring and innovative; The design team to influencer with Justine Hovey and Kreative Kymona, as they provided very good transitional information for a business such as mine; and PHD to PHDIY with Damask Love, who makes business successes feel more possible and tangible.”

Who would you recommend attend Creativation?
“Having more access to the industry representatives and sneak peeks at new products is great for everyone with a passion for paper crafting. I think that it is particularly beneficial to brick and mortar shop owners, to be able to get face time with manufacturer representatives directly and also for avid crafters who are anticipating these things, to be able to touch and feel the new products before the public. One of the things that I liked best about Creativation was that it seemed like our core demographic was well-considered throughout. From the assistance with nearby accommodations, a super amenable venue, and incredibly helpful and supportive staff, the experience sets the bar for what should be considered for future events.”

Learn more about the benefits of attending Creativation at www.CreativationShow.org.

Connect with Koren and learn more about her business at www.korenwiskman.com.

10 Cost Saving Benefits for AFCI Retailers


Did you know? Independent and online retailers save thousands of budget dollars annually by taking advantage of cost savings benefits offered through membership with the Association For Creative Industries (AFCI). Whether you’re just starting your business or are in need of tools and connections to grow, we can help you take your business from average to astonishing and save you some money along the way.

Here are 10 cost saving benefits that retail members can use starting the day they join.

Cost Saving Benefits for Retailers

Visit the member benefits page to see the full list benefits and ways to save. If you have any questions about joining, call our membership team at (201) 835-1200 or email membership@afci.global.