*Open Studio Visiting Creative, Nicole Leinbach Reyhle is an experienced retail and wholesale professional passionate about independent and locally based businesses. To read her Bio, click here
The dreams been made. The idea has come to life. Now the dreaded to-do-list of getting your product into retailers must be made a reality. But before you dive into the often harsh but always invigorating world of wholesale, there are a few things to check off your ready-to-go list.
For starters, are you able to handle orders placed? Your turn around could range from 24 hours to 12 weeks out – even more – but in order to meet the demands of orders placed, you need to be able to fund the production of your goods. This includes actual cost of materials, necessary labor involved and shipping expenses.
Even once your orders are placed, are you ready to have merchants display your product appropriately at retail? Packaging is part of the consumer appeal, so make sure your display options complement your brand identity and product. Consider who your competition is when planning for your display and packaging options, as well as factor these costs into your overall overhead and markup.
Beyond shelf appeal is the necessary sales role that wholesalers need to have with retailers. For designers trying to sell their own products, this is often a challenging task. It’s important to consider if you are up for it and if not, what your options are. You can try to find a reputable sales rep – whether independent or with a showroom – but either way the sales role is a must on your to-do list that should not be overlooked. A strong sales strategy will make the difference of gaining new accounts and keeping existing accounts versus anxiously waiting for your next order to get placed. Consider what trade shows may be right for your product, as well. Planning to attend these means budgeting for them – so like always, plan ahead with the dollars you will need to spend to bring your product to retail stores.
The questions below are good indicators as to how ready you are to sell to retailers.
1. Can you support orders placed and at what pace?
2. How long is your turn-around time from order inquiry to placement to delivery?
3. Do you have shipping plans prepared that will save you money on bulk deliveries and multiple deliveries?
4. What packaging plans do you have for shipping?
5. What packaging plans do you have for retail display?
6. What is your sales strategy for reaching out to retailers?
7. Do you have time to sell the product yourself or do you need additional support?
8. What trade shows are right for you?
9. What are your short term and long term goals?
10. Are you willing to work extra hours to make your dreams come to life?
While there are many more steps involved in reaching the retail market, the above checklist will help get you on track with the right steps you need to take.
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