Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Developing a Line Sheet

You're ready to enter the wholesale market. You've categorized your products and developed an inventory system. Now it's time to develop your line sheet.

What's that? A line sheet is a one or two page document which conveys information about your company, your products, as well as your payment, delivery and return policies.

Following are the key items you'll need to include:


  1. Your contact information - As with your stationery and all your marketing materials, include your contact information, especially email address and telephone number.  This is not the place for your Facebook or Twitter addresses! They goal is to make it simple for the buyer to contact you, not for them to be impressed with each and every one of your social media efforts. If you are working with a sales representative, consider replacing your contact information with theirs.  Your rep will thank you for this simple gesture!
  2. Basic information on your products - Wholesale pricing, colors, and sizes available are key elements here. If you have developed your inventory and have a unique identifier for each item, include it here.
  3. Minimum quantities - What is your minimum order? Make it realistic yet encourage your buyer. Remember, the goal in wholesale selling is to sell a larger quantity of items - in doing so, you can lower your supply costs and increase economies of scale and time! For example, I have a minimum order of $100, which is fairly easy to achieve.  Using easy numbers, selling a case (12) of candles for $10 each is $120.  the quantity makes sense and it achieves the minimum order I require.
  4. General information about your product - What are your materials? Do you have a unique assembly method? Are your supplies eco-friendly? This is the spot to turn your features into benefits.
  5. Payment terms - Here's an area you may need to beef up your accounting terminology. Are your terms net 30 (payment due 30 days after receipt of product), upon delivery, or up front? I offer a combination - I just don't have time to do a credit analysis, so first time orders require a credit card payment, and following orders are net 30. 
  6. Turn around time - How long can the buyer expect between date of order and date of receipt of product? If your turn around time is four weeks or more, you really need to be thinking in advance regarding the seasonality of your product. If you're able to have product inventory on hand, consider a two week or less turn around time.
  7. Shipment - Answer questions such as who pays? Which carrier do you use? Think creatively as to whether you can offer a discount on shipping for larger orders.
  8. Damages and returns - This was the hardest part for me. If you're going to play with the big guys, you need to be prepared to offer refunds and returns like the big guys. Know what your competition is doing, even if you're reaching for the stars. But make sure your return or refund is something you're willing or able to lose. You may be able to write in a restocking fee here, but always be prepared to accommodate a 100% refund!
As I've mentioned before, I use Stitchlabs for my inventory management system. One of the reasons I chose it was because it could take the information I developed on each product family, the inventory and stock photos and create a .pdf file for me. While I'm not endorsing nor encouraging use of this product, I do recommend you research whether the inventory system you're considering can do this for you as well.

So those are your key elements. If you foresee selling wholesale in your future, I highly recommend you begin working on these elements now! In future posts, we'll discuss how to take this technical information and turn it into a marketing piece.

As always, I welcome your feedback and questions.  Until then, happy sales!

Dorene

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