Tips to Sell Your Products to Retail Shops
By Pam Pesetti
Now that you’ve finished creating an exciting new line of hand-made products, you might ponder the thought of selling them to a local retailer. Items by talented artists are a wonderful addition to specialty shops. They help distinguish boutiques from big box retailers and charming towns from ho-hum malls. By paying attention to a few guidelines, your products will be seen in their best light, at the right time, by the retailers who can propel them towards success.
Present your wares in an appealing and organized manner. For example, group items together by theme, price point, or demographics. When you go in to show your products, do not pile items on the wrap counter expecting the owner to sift through each one. Offer ideas on how your merchandise can best be displayed, possibly with a visually appealing marketing card that describes your unique product. Be creative in your presentation, perhaps displaying household magnets on a cookie sheet or Asian-inspired hairpieces propped in a bowl of rice. Offer just a sampling of your most popular products; shop owners are busy and want a quick overview.
You and Your Products Need to Shine
You are an integral part of the presentation, so be conscious of your attire and cleanliness. A worn t-shirt with obscure graphics reflects poorly on you and your merchandise. Come to the appointment solo without friends, children, or pets to distract you or your presentation.
If you don’t love your creation, it will be difficult to sell. You are the expert on your goods and need to demonstrate their attributes and salability. Enthusiasm is contagious and must shine through your smile and presentation.
Do Your Homework
Your product might be the fantastic, yet if you approach a retailer the day after a trade mart, your chances of a sale are greatly reduced. Marts are offered around the nation throughout the year, so be informed as to when local retailers are most likely to attend the shows. It is common for retailers to overspend at shows, so their wallets will be tight.
Make an Appointment
Retailers are busy and appreciate a quick call to see if they are available to see your product line. Mid-week tends to be a good time for the majority of shops to view your wares. Monday, shops are either closed or gearing up for the week. Tuesday and Wednesday mornings tend to be a more reasonable time. As the weekend approaches, businesses are preparing their inventory and sales floors, and you may not capture their full attention. If you do cold call your line of items, be respectful. Their time and priorities may differ from yours, so be prepared to return on a more convenient day.
Find a Link
Call a friend who knows the shop owner to get a recommendation. If you are a customer, respectfully suggest your line of items that might be a good fit for the store. Mention the success of your line if it is selling well in another town or —better yet — get a testimonial from a store owner or customer. Be honest about where your goods are sold: Some owners want a local exclusive.
Be Accommodating to Customers
Often the person making the decision on your products also needs to help customers. Schedule enough time so that you can be prepared for a sudden rush of clients whom the owner will need to assist. This is a great time for customers to fall in love with your products, if they are well presented.
Don’t Get Discouraged
Not every product is right for every boutique, so don’t be disheartened. Ask if you can check back in two months with your new seasonal line. Don’t be pushy or snippety if the answer is “No.” If your product is irresistible and you are diligent, you will find an interested boutique. The owner may recommend you to another shop or venue.
Leave a Sample
Leave a reminder of your product to spark interest at a later date. It might be a postcard with a picture of your item, a small sample of your delicious chocolates, or a sassy, humorous pin that you leave behind.
Pop a note in the mail thanking the person who viewed your goods. If you notice that interest was piqued in the shop owner and you didn’t leave a sample, this is a good time to include one. Keep your charming products on the forefront of his mind. A reminder card a few months down the line can reignite interest.
Know Competition and Trends
Be informed on how your product is different, more creative, of better quality, or more environmentally friendly than the competition. Research your locale so you can be knowledgeable about what similar products are being sold in the area. Be aware of trends in color and texture; it shows your savvy in the retail community. You don’t want to lose a sale because your item was the wrong color or outdated in its presentation.
Community Product Focus
If you live in a town visited by tourists, tailor some of your items to fit in with your local flavorings or historical landmarks. If your town is known for its roses, cheese, or buffalo, incorporate that specialty into your items. Simply including the town name and year on your product can attract attention. If you notice that shops in town do not carry locally handcrafted items, mention their salability to local businesses.
Consignment or Not
Know your limits around consignment. Include length of time, percentage of profits, liability for damaged or shoplifted items, and marketing as part of the conversation. Consignment can be a wonderful compromise for both parties if you enter into the agreement with honesty and communication. If consignment isn’t right for you, find a shop that will purchase your goods outright.
It is rewarding for both artists and shop owners to display, sell, and promote well-made products. Spending time to research stores that will be a good outlet for your merchandise, as well as preparing a memorable presentation of your products, will ensure that you and your products are getting the exposure they deserve. HBM
Pam Pesetti is a Retail Consultant with over 25 years of experience working in both corporate and small retail environments. She owned a successful gift and accessories boutique and recently finished her first book, Boutique Basics. Pam inspires entrepreneurs and small businesses to pay attention to the details that matter most to their customers. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 503-880-4866. Please visit her website at www, pampesetti.com
Make it easy for a retailer to contact you. Have a separate business phone number so that you receive the initial call. It chips away at your image if a retailer has to negotiate a conversation with a child trying to leave a message. A shop owner might have a delay in an anticipated product shipment or is planning an impromptu promotion and willing to give your delightful items a try. This is an opportunity to shine.
Be diligent in returning calls or e-mails promptly to demonstrate your reliability. Perhaps set up a web site with a sampling of your merchandise to show depth and breadth of product line.
The marketing of your product does not end after your initial demonstration, but rather carries through every step of the relationship you build with your client. HBM
Pam Pesetti can be reached at email@example.com, or 503-880-4866. Please visit her website at www.pampesetti.com
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