Preparing to retail

Last year was an odd one in so many senses of the word.  We creatives were hit hard by the closing of so many of our selling forums such as shops, galleries and markets. 

For many of us, after a year of working in a different way, our mindset has changed to focus mainly on online marketing and sales. 

It is only now when looking to reopen markets and shops that we realise how much our focus has changed in our daily working, planning and scheduling.  

This isn’t going to be a normal year by any stretch of the imagination; however, there are going to be more opportunities open to us now restrictions are lifted. 

So what we do now to prepare for the re-opening of shops and galleries?  

Design/Product Planning

Many of us have a lot of designs and whilst this is great to offer for print on demand (ie.  only have printed and sent to a customer when they have bought it) sometimes for stocking shops and galleries you may wish to streamline things a little.

A plan to have a set number of designs and product types can really help with your stock management and keeping things simple.

Whether you are wanting to break into selling to shops/galleries or already stock retailers this is the time to create your plan.  A retailer who is considering buying from you needs to know clearly what’s on offer and what they would pay for it.

Consider creating a basic catalogue showing your designs and the products on offer.  This can be as little as just one or two pages long showcasing your designs/products available.

You can use this design catalogue to send electronically to potential retailers to go alongside your price list.  I always recommend doing the two separately – this way it is easy to tweak your price list plus you can use your catalogue to showcase your products for other reason such as:

  • Showcasing to sale or return shops or galleries
  • Event applications
  • Taking to markets/events to showcase your full range.
  • Popping in with orders

I personally have my design catalogue printed onto A4 flyers.  I take them to events – customers can pick them up while browsing the stall or buying.  This is also great visual to send out as a hardcopy to retailers with a price list.  Often when visiting my retailers, I would notice my design list on the pinboard above their desk.  For the sake of pennies to have printed you are providing a constant visual of you and your offerings!

Set or Review Pricing

Taking the time to set up a price list is an invaluable task and something you won’t regret doing.  

If you do have a price list and have not updated it within the last year, make sure you schedule in a review.  If your supplier prices or material costs have increased you need to factor this in. 

If you are creating a price list for the first time, your first step is to calculate the price it costs you to produce an item. Don’t forget to include the little things like if you add a sticker, tag or presentation packaging of any sort – these pennies add up and need to be visible in any calculations you are making.

If you are already selling an item you know what your recommended retail price could be, however, if not, do some market research and see what similar items are selling for.

Once you have your two figures of 1) cost to you 2) retail price you then have your potential profit amount and you can clearly see where you want your prices to fit.

One of the next blogs will be all about creating your price list so if you are unsure about this part don’t worry!  In advance I would suggest you work out the above figures so you can deep dive straight into your trade pricing calculations when you read it!

Connect with Retailers

Your retailers have had a hard time over the last year but are likely excited to get back to some sort of normality and reopen their doors.

Check in with them and see how they are doing and whether they may need any restock for opening up again.    Even if they have stock left from before, making that connection and sending them your updated list, is a great way to refresh your working relationship after `the great pause’!

Research potential retailers – doing the leg work of creating a `potentials’ list is a great exercise.  Even if you don’t have your designs and prices finalised yet, it will save you time in the long run.    Consider calling a shop or gallery and ask if it would be okay to send some information through to them about your range.  This a great way to obtain a contact name and send a personalised email rather than a generic one.

There are a whole host of blog posts on their way to help you with all aspects of managing your creative business but in the meantime, here are your take away points from this post: 

  • Have a clear design and product list. This will help with stock management and in turn your finances.
  • Create a catalogue sheet showcasing your designs. This can be used electronically and in hard copy.  Creative Forge can do this for you if you wish to outsource the task.
  • Review your pricing.
  • If creating a price list for the first time calculate your costs and retail prices so you know what figures you are working with for the next step.
  • Reconnect with your retailers
  • Compile a list of potential retailers

I hope you have found this post helpful. As the creative community is full of awesome, supportive people please feel free to comment with any other helpful suggestions that you can think of.  Thanks for reading!

Zoe, Co-founder of Creative Forge 

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