Selling To Shops: What’s in a Buyers’ Pack?
Are you interested in selling your handmade work to shops? In our new ‘Selling to Shops’ series, Clare Yuille from the Indie Retail Academy talks you through how to pitch your products, how to put together a catalogue, answers FAQs about selling wholesale, and looks at what not to do.
In this first post Clare looks at Buyers’ Packs. What is a buyers’ pack, what should go into it and how can it help you sell to shops?
Can you build confidence?
Some people don’t think so. They believe you’ve either got it or you don’t, and saying “Go get ‘em, tiger” to the bathroom mirror every morning won’t make a blind bit of difference.
I think that’s hogwash.
Well, maybe not the tiger part. But I think confidence is a skill – something that can be learned and improved over time. And I’m not just plucking that idea out of the air. I teach creative people how to sell their work to shops. At first, many of my clients and students can’t imagine anything more intimidating. Nevertheless, their instincts are telling them that if they could just get in front of the right shopkeepers, and talk to them in the right way, something wonderful could happen.
So even though they’re scared, we get to work. As an indie retailer, I spend thousands on stock from creative businesses every year. I know what retailers expect, what we need to make a decision, and what makes us say “yes”. That means I can dismantle the process of wholesale and lay it out in front of my students. They get to prod it with a pencil and ask questions. After a while, they start to understand what each bit does and how it makes them money. Suddenly, wholesale feels a lot more do-able.
Want to see what I mean? Well, let’s start with the basics…
What is a buyers’ pack?
Your buyers’ pack is the bundle of information you send to a retailer about the lovely things you make. It consists of three parts: your wholesale catalogue, your line sheet and a pitch email or letter. Now, if you’re not already selling to shops, getting your hands on these documents to see what goes into them can be tricky. Since they contain prices and other potentially sensitive details, artists generally don’t want their buyers’ packs in the public domain. So if you’re just starting out, how the heck are you supposed to know what’s expected?
Luckily, you know a retailer who’s willing to spill the beans.
I’ve made up some examples using the templates I give to my students at the Indie Retail Academy. They contain dummy text and images, but they can still give you an idea of what you’re aiming at. First, here’s the inside of a wholesale catalogue:
Your catalogue’s job is to show your product in the best possible light. White box and lifestyle photos come in very handy here. The first type of image, a white box image (also called a cut-out shot or white background photograph), is factual – it shows detail, texture, colour and size. Lifestyle photography is all about storytelling. It shows your product in context, being used or worn, and how it makes people happy.
A persuasive wholesale catalogue also contains details on how you do business, along with anything else the retailer needs to know. If you’re interested in selling to stores, one of the best things you can do is sign up to receive catalogues from companies like Boden, Anthropologie and Toast. Ask yourself how they use design, images and text to make people want to buy.
Line Sheet & Pitch
The next two elements in your buyers’ pack are a line sheet and pitch email. Let’s take a look:
A line sheet is like the cheat sheet version of a catalogue. It boils everything down into a lighter, handier form. It also gives your wholesale prices and recaps your major terms and conditions. If you make a digital buyers’ pack, as many artists do, you may decide to combine your catalogue and line sheet into a single PDF. That can be the easiest option for the buyer. If your catalogue is printed, however, it’s a good idea to keep your line sheet separate.
Your pitch email (or letter) is the very first thing the shopkeeper will see. It has only one job: to persuade them to open up your catalogue and consider stocking your work. Writing a great pitch email can be eye-squinchingly difficult. You have to sum up what you do, show that you know something about the store, draw the retailer’s attention to your catalogue and sign off in a confident way. Easier said than done, but a stellar pitch email can unlock the door to years of repeat wholesale orders. It’s worth taking the time to get it right.
We’re going to take a closer look at a wholesale catalogue next time, but for now let me leave you with this idea:
You don’t have to be scared of selling to shops.
If wholesale is calling to you, there’s no reason why you can’t learn the ropes. Yes, it’s a challenge, but you’re an artist. You’ve got lots of experience in overcoming those.
I have every confidence in you. Hopefully, one day, you will too.
Bio: Clare Yuille is the co-owner of Merry + Bright, an award-winning fashion and gifts boutique. She’s also the founder of Indie Retail Academy, the site for creative people who want to sell their work to shops.
Through Indie Retail Academy’s free resources, online classes and consulting, Clare’s warm, down-to-earth approach has helped creative people sell their work to indie retailers around the world. She’s been called “a fresh, funny, endlessly encouraging voice” with a “spot-on understanding of the doubts and fears of creative people.”
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