Back in July 2009, I posted an article that has consistently been one of my top read posts: Gift Shop Buyers Want Unique Products. In the article I talked about how uniqueness is most important when selling to gift or independent stores:
Gift stores, unlike big box stores (i.e. Wal-Mart, Costco, etc.) or grocery stores, prefer new and unique products. They are not interested, necessarily, in a “proven product” that has great sales volume, but would rather buy locally-made items, the newest item on the market, or something they will not find in every store in town! Because of this, gift stores make a great venue for new or smaller gift producers that cannot or do not wish to “mass produce” their products!
To expand on that theme, I would like to focus on the various different ways to make your products appealing to small retailers and buyers.
Here are some of my tips to entire a buyer to buy your line:
1. Of course, Make your products unique — and not found in a big box store. Like I stated in the quote above, small stores can never compete with the big box stores on pricing, volume or advertising. Gift shops rely on uniqueness or locally made item.
2. Don’t sell your products all over town. It is not unique if several stores in one community also feature it. You may encounter stores or buyers who are interested in exclusivity on your line. Consider this very carefully as it can be a help or a hindrance to your sales — depending on how you approach it.
When I give an exclusive to a store, I makes sure they order at least twice the minimum order — and then reorders come in at least once (or more depending on the product) within a given time frame.
3. Offer to support your retailer. This can be done in a number of ways:
- Supply sales materials, use instructions, recipes or ‘shelf talkers’
- Conduct a live demonstration, taster or in store booth exhibiting your products.
- Offer a custom display unit for your line.
- Tell potential customers where your products are currently available (you may even want to write a press release to the local paper)
4. Don’t compete with your retailers. If you end up doing a craft/holiday fair booth in the same town, make sure to tell consumers that they can buy more of your items in XX store. Tell the retailer what you are doing and work with them as a TEAM rather than a competitor. Some folks suggest you NOT sell online either. But if you decide to sell online, make sure that your online price is NOT BELOW the pricing most retailers charge.
5. Ship/deliver your products as soon as your buyer request them. This should be a no-brainer, but added as a reminder to follow up with your buyers as soon as possible!
6. Offer new products on a regular basis. I recommend new products be introduced twice a year: Once in the spring when buyers start stocking up for the spring tourist season and once in the fall for the holiday buying season. Offering to trade out products that did not sell during a select season will help keep your products fresh and salable!