By Carolyn Edlund
If you’ve got a greeting card line and want more retail stores to carry it, these techniques can help get your foot in the door. Choose carefully what you will offer – it should meet the needs of the buyer, and give them the incentive to try your line. Experienced sales reps and savvy card companies make these irresistible offers and deals from time to time – and so can you!
- Offer a free fixture to display your card line. If the account is close by, deliver the fixture, build and stock it. Or have your sales rep do so for total customer service, and to make sure the display looks terrific.
- No minimum order. Even if you normally require minimums, waive that for new accounts. Let them order whatever they want, just to get in the door. Quite often they choose enough product for a minimum anyway.
- Buy out dead stock. This is a super incentive that works quite well. Every store has really slow sellers hanging around from other card companies whose products they no longer carry. Buy out this stock in exchange for “real estate” (the pockets those dead cards were sitting in). You don’t have to buy for full wholesale – make an offer – half of wholesale or less may get a bite. The total dollar amount of the dead stock you remove from their store becomes a credit towards their new order from you!
- Free shipping. Every buyer is looking for a way to make better margins, and free shipping cuts their costs. It’s a great incentive at a trade show to encourage buying right there and then, or make it a limited-time offer to drive sales.
- No-risk guarantee. Let the buyer know you are so certain of success, that you will take back all remaining stock if your line doesn’t sell after a certain period (six months, for example). At that point, they pay only for what they sold.
- Extended dating. Many card vendors require pre-payment for first time orders, or they give net 30 terms. Extended dating means allowing extra time to pay for their order (60-90 days, typically), which may make the difference in getting that order. Offer this only to prospective accounts you feel sure will pay their bills.
- Take back holiday card leftovers. Got Christmas cards, Valentines or other holiday cards to sell? Most card companies allow returns on unsold seasonal cards, and store buyers expect it. Allow returns of all leftovers in exchange for credit on their next order from you.
- Allow ongoing returns for credit. Some of your card stock will become damaged in the store, or just be slow sellers. Allow a percentage (typically 10%) of stock to come back to you as a credit on the next order. Buyers sometimes ship these back or the rep picks up the return for you (obviously this is more popular). It’s typical for the rep to destroy those returned items, as many times the value of the product doesn’t justify the shipping charge.
Do you know other “tricks of the trade” to get wholesale buyers to try your line? Please comment and share your experiences!
Many thanks to Scott Austin of Snafu Designs for the photo. Visit his site to see the full line and the great offers he has for retailers.