Build Your Wholesale Accounts/New Product Releases

By Carolyn Edlund

What do Retailers Want?

In Part One of this series, let’s take a look at the most-often asked question your wholesale buyers have – “What’s New?”

It’s essential for artists, craftspeople and other entrepreneurs who are seeking to place their product lines or broaden their presence in retail stores to understand buyer’s priorities.  Buyers need new product frequently, and here’s why.

Courtesy Scene East

Most retail stores thrive on repeat customers, and those shoppers come in to see the latest and greatest new merchandise to purchase.  Stores also need to replace slow selling lines that they no longer wish to carry.  This means that the store – and you – need to keep moving forward with  updated designs and products on a regular basis.

This doesn’t mean you are constantly retooling your whole line. Keep your bestsellers and  dump your slow sellers. As a small manufacturer, you have an advantage here.  Large vendors invest lots of money in product inventories that may end up being discontinued. Being lean and mean, you can easily change course if your new products turn out to be slow sellers.

It’s a lot of work to design and produce new items, but this is achievable with a good plan.  At least 2 to 4 times a year, plan to offer a “new release” – a collection which is thematic and balanced, and large enough to create excitement for the customer.  Keep your wholesale pricepoint range consistent for the collection.  Have sales materials ready to go with your new release.  This could be great copy on the packaging, stickers, signage, a POP (point-of-purchase) display,  or  “about the artist” materials with your photo and brief description of youself and your work to personalize and promote your work.

Often new releases will coincide with trade shows where they are debuted.  You may want to also consider seasonal releases, depending on what you are selling. Consider two major releases per year, with perhaps one or two smaller releases in mid-season.

Courtesy Scene East

Wholesale buying goes in cycles – and that cycle will depend on your industry. Is Christmas a huge season for your product to sell?  Then you will want to have your product designed and ready to promote for ordering in July at the latest. That’s right – buyers will be placing orders for fall in the summer (and some as early as spring).

Likewise, if you are selling product that is popular in summer resorts, you will be taking orders as early as January for product to be shipped and on those shelves by the start of high season in your stores.  Be prepared early to promote through email, social networking, direct mail, trade shows, phone calls, postcards, sell sheets and on your website. Don’t miss out. This is what your competitors are doing.

Successful manufacturers (that’s you!) become very important to their store buyers, because they “get” the retail climate, provide what is needed, and strive to become an essential line to their accounts.  At that point, you become more of a partner to your retailers than a vendor. A skillful sales force can magnify this relationship, but the manufacturer will set the tone. Let your wholesale buyers know that you are professional, responsive and prepared, and that you have new product ready to go for their customers.

Photos of greeting cards provided by Scene East. See owner Melissa Cook’s profile and story here.

Comments

  1. Great article! Anyone trying to sell their products to retail stores would be to create a line sheet for your products. Thanks for sharing!

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