If you’ve been following along with me for a little while, you might be wondering why you keep seeing the little M+K symbols all over the place.
You may have guessed (correctly) that I’m the M (Michelle) but why the heck am I adding a K?
It’s not a weird formula or a nerdy math joke - the K is actually my sister Karla.
Together we have 10+ years experience building businesses for big name retailers (you can look us up on LinkedIn if you want proof) and we’ve joined forces to get battle tested, results driven information into the hands of product-based business owners.
If selling wholesale has been on your “to do” list, Karla is your go to gal. She’s personally sifted through a ridiculous number of wholesale line sheets in an effort to build the perfect assortment every season.
So, without further ado, Karla’s pulled together her top 5 tips for selling Wholesale:
One of the most important things to understand about selling wholesale is that you’ll need to setup a line sheet. Without one, you’ll struggle to get the attention of any retail buyer and many of them will straight-up ignore your submissions if you don’t have one. Want to know the secret to setting up a great sheet? It is simpler than you think and I am here to walk you through it!
But first, if you’re not sure what a line sheet is, it’s not a catalog or a lookbook. Think of it like a simple document that gives buyers a quick overview of everything you have to offer. Which brings me to my first tip:
The line sheets that you send to your buying teams should only include pertinent information. Extra fluff can become redundant and draw the buyer away from continuing to read about the product. Since this is their first glance at what you have to offer, they are only looking for key information to get their first impression.
And please (please!) make sure each item picture shows the full offering (don’t take a picture of part of a set and expect the buyer to figure out that additional things are also included.) An example would be a special value bundle where more than one item comes in the configuration. Include ALL of the bundled items in the picture, don’t make the buyer try to guess.
Over the last 5 years I’ve spent endless amounts of time sorting through unorganized line sheets and product information. Trying to make sense of messy sheets takes so much time out of the workday, when it only takes a little extra effort to eliminate the extra work, making your buyer’s life a whole lot easier and your chances of getting a meeting so much better.
Don’t be afraid to ask each buying team if they have a format they like best or certain details they can’t live without. The easier it is to work with you, the more interested they’ll be in looking through the products you offer.
Each item needs to have a picture + all of the details right next to it (or below it). This is important so the buyer can physically see everything in your sku or style number. It is also critical to make sure all information for each item is accessed on the same page. Otherwise, this can become like a puzzle trying to piece together what belongs where. Don’t make your buyer dart between pages trying to put the puzzle together.
In a lot of instances, you won’t get to meet the buyer in person so consider this line sheet your first impression. If you come off disorganized on paper and make them jump through hoops to figure out what you have to offer, they’ll assume you (and your products) are just as disorganized in person.
For initial submissions, PDFs are most common but I also liked powerpoint presentations if the product selection was minimal (usually around 15-25 items). If you have enough products to create a catalog than you have too many to put in a powerpoint presentation.
Once initial product is selected, it is important to ask your buyer if they would like to see what they narrowed down in a different format.
This is a SUPER IMPORTANT PIECE to showing your buyer you are listening and want to make the process as seamless as possible. They’ll often ask you to send over an excel spreadsheet with just the items they chose.
The reason this is such a big part of the line sheet process is because once they make initial selections, they’ll begin to work on the financials. This allows them to decide what they can bring in and when they can bring it in. Budgets are a key function in their everyday activity so the quicker they can work through the financial information, the quicker you will receive a purchase order if all of the numbers work out like everyone hopes.
When I got to the point of looking at spreadsheets, I would request sku / style number (also sometimes referred to as the VPN) UPC codes if applicable, cost, MSRP (minimum suggested retail price) and minimum order quantity for the cost provided.
BONUS (I know I promised 5 but I thought up a 6th and didn’t want to leave it out)
I talked about this in Tip #3 but it’s important enough to say again - make your buying teams job as easy as possible and if in doubt, ASK them what they need / want. They want great product and vendors who are easy to work with (and don’t make their job harder) and they have hundreds of line sheets to sort through.
Standout by listening to what they need and then giving them what they asked for. This will leave you with more opportunities for the buyer to come back, looking for more products because they know you listen to their needs and a trusting relationship is able to be formed.
If I can leave you with just one thing: extra effort goes a long way.
Taking it one step further to get your buyer information in the format they need expedites the decision-making process. It also shows your buying team that you are willing to do the extra work, making them more inclined to reach out to you for future buys. Make your buyers life easier and listen to their feedback. This will only bring more orders at a faster rate.