Our good friend Rena Tom recently asked us to dig into our barrel of wisdom and put together some tips based on our experiences that would help people get their products into stores. She's currently teaching a workshop that helps independent creative business owners take the leap to wholesale. The first question we asked ourselves was, where do we start? There are dozens of creative ways to get yourself noticed and into a store. We didn't want to go crazy, but we thought of several activities that can have a major impact.
When selling wholesale, you want to ensure a mutually beneficial, long-term relationship with your buyer. Here are some ways to prepare yourself, and the store, for an effective, successful experience.
Be sure you can support the retailer:
- Manage your orders and inventory. The last thing you want to do is have a buyer place their first order and you’re unable to fulfill it. Understand how long it will take to fulfill an order and what it will take for you to meet demand.
- Tell customers about them. Be sure to have the stores your selling to listed on your website. Many customers want to see and touch products before they buy. This will help potential consumers see if a local store has your products and drive business toward the store.
- Provide relevant information. No one knows your line better than you. Be sure to arm your retailers with information that will help them sell your products. Line sheets are a great way to describe, in detail, what your products are all about. They also give the retailer an opportunity to see what other products you carry in your line. This is one of the main reasons we allow you to create line sheets easily with Stitch.
Be an asset, not a liability:
- Pricing is important. You are probably selling online and at trunk shows/craft fairs as well. Be sure you’re not undercutting your retailers with your prices through other channels. Have a consistent pricing structure so your retail partners are not getting hung with your products and they are not competing with you.
- Sell with facts. Face it. You’re a salesperson now. Know your business. What sounds more effective? “42% of my revenue comes from design X,’ or ‘This sells really well, you should carry it.” Whether it’s you or a sales rep selling for you, you need to be armed with facts and make confident recommendations.
- Stay in touch. Retailers are busy too. If they have to track you down to buy from you, they won’t. You need to follow up and make sure you understand their order history so you can make additional recommendations.
Evaluate your relationships:
- Know your top customers. It’s not enough to just have a list of your customers. You should know which are the most profitable and which ones to focus your energy toward. All customers are important, but if you’re spending an overwhelming amount of time on an account that isn’t helping you reach your goals, you need to reevaluate your relationship.
- Do a regular business review. This may not be feasible for every account, but you should know your top customers and carve out time to review their business with them. This helps build your relationship and shows them you are committed to helping them grow.
- Know when to end it. You’re doing everything you can to contribute to the relationship, but the fact remains, not every retailer is very effective at managing their business. If you’re spending more time that it’s worth with a particular account, it may be time to move along.