What retailers want
Selling your product and designs to a shop can be very rewarding and preparing for a sales meeting doesn’t need to be a daunting process. After you’ve successfully set up a sales appointment with a buyer, it’s time to prepare for it. When you meet the buyer, make sure you can provide the key information about your product or brand. This article discusses what buyers want to know and some of the key information you should always bring with you.
What every buyer wants to know
Ahead of meeting a buyer or retailer, make sure you can offer them the key information for making informed decisions.
- Your product or brand – This is your opportunity to shine, and excite the buyer about your brand. Highlight your product’s unique features, any interesting narrative and provenance behind the product and evidence, where possible, of how it will appeal to their customers.
- Samples – Bring along several high-quality samples to show them exactly what they’ll be getting and let them know if there are alternative options/colours. Inspiration and ambitions: Feel free to talk about your inspiration and future ambitions for your product.
- Branding and packaging – Find out what the retailer wants in terms of packaging and labelling and supply samples if you have them. Some may prefer their own packaging/labelling/ swing tickets instead of your own branding.
- How it’s made – Make sure you can answer any questions they have about where and how the product is made, including production methods, materials used and sustainability. They may also want to know if your product is sold elsewhere.
You’ll need to discuss an acceptable unit cost i.e. the trade (wholesale) price you’ll sell to them at and the retail price your product will be sold at in shops.
Retailers will mark up your product to cover their own costs and this can be up to 250% or more. Be prepared to negotiate. For example, some London stores work on an average mark up of 3.3 and this equates to 3.3 x your cost price i.e. if your cost price for a product is £10 then they will retail this for around £33.00.
You’ve impressed the buyer and they’re ready to stock your product in their shops.
To ensure that everything runs smoothly, make sure you know how much they need when they need it and that you can meet all of their expectations. An order form or line sheet with all the product details will make ordering easier. Include reference numbers, thumbnail images, unit costs, quantities and design options along with all your contact details and delivery and payment terms. You may also want to offer discounts for larger orders or free delivery on orders over a certain amount of money.
There is always scope to negotiate so ensure you’re completely satisfied with all the fine details before agreeing to do business. Remember to:
- Know your bottom line in pricing and don’t go beneath it. Never agree to terms you’re unsure about, and if you’re not sure, ask to get back to the buyer later.
- Offer exclusivity only where appropriate. With increased competition on the high street and online, the buyer is often looking for exclusivity on a product which requires a different negotiation on the price to offset any loss in additional sales you could gain elsewhere. As an alternative you can offer to modify the existing design – agree on a unique finish or colour for your client which will not cost you as much additionally as developing a new product from scratch.
- Be aware of what your possible additional costs might be before you start to negotiate on this. It is perfectly reasonable to ask the retailer to take a larger quantity of your product to compensate for the loss of sales elsewhere.
- Agree everything in writing when the buyer places an order. This includes price, quantities, lead times, payment details, delivery charges (including in transit insurance and returns policies). It’s always best to have a written signed contract.
Build and maintain good relationships
Good communication is essential to building a good relationship with a buyer over the long term.
It is important to keep the buyer informed of any modifications or changes to the original order details at all times. Dealing with the same person allows you to develop a strong relationship with the buyer and meet their needs. Providing regular progress updates and confirming what you’ve agreed in writing is a good way to keep things organised.
Verify that your orders are correct in quality and quantity before they go out. Enclose a detailed delivery note and check in with your buyer to ensure everything arrived okay and on time. Always keep them informed and if you’re not able to meet their delivery time-frames, be prepared to offer alternative solutions. If the buyer doesn’t place an order after your initial meeting, it is perfectly reasonable to ask for feedback. Feedback and Follow up is so valuable to find out how you can modify your product or prices to suit them going forward.