Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wholesale Shows, How?...Part 2

So you've applied to a wholesale show....and you got in! Congratulations. Now it is time to start preparing for the show. If you have done retail shows in the past, it will be a fairly simple adjustment. How is a wholesale show different?

First and most important, at a wholesale show, you only need to bring samples. At a retail show, it is cash and carry. At a wholesale show, people will be placing orders based on the samples you have at the show.

In addition to having samples to display at the show, you will need to have a catalog or some sort of handout that will provide information to interested buyers about your work and your product lines. This may be four color printed material, or it could be simple copies of line drawings. It could be a collection of postcards, and some supplemental information about your work. How many? The advice I received before I did my first show, was to calculate how many sales pitches could I do per hour. Then multiply that times the number of hours the show will last. If over three days, there are twenty hours, and you can do 3 sales pitches per hour, you should have at least 60 sets of your sales literature.

Along with the sales literature, you will need a price list. I print my price list seperately from my catalog. That allows me to make any necessary changes to prices and terms easily and quickly. Have a copy for each set of your sales literature.

You will need to think through how you will want to display your work. There are not dramatic differences in display for a wholesale show and a retail show....except for pricing. You want to make your prices very visible. The buyers will be walking a large show, and will be making many, many decisions. You want to make the process as easy as possible when they come to visit your booth. Your wholesale prices need to be clearly displayed with your work.

You will need some way to write up your orders. This could be a customized order form that you can get printed up, or it could be a standardized order form that you purchase from an office supply store.

At a wholesale show, there are fewer numbers of buyers walking the aisles. But those buyers are going to be spending much more money than the buyers who are walking the aisles of a retail show. They are not there to look. They are there to buy. They have a budget. But they want to buy.

Does this mean that if your sales presentation is brilliant that you will be able to sell your work to any buyer who approaches you? No. They will be assessing your work with how it will fit with their shop, gallery, or catalog. They will be evaluate the workmanship, the price points, and the appropriateness of the work for their shop. So you want to learn what you can about their needs. You may quickly find out they like your work....personally....but don't see it as a good fit with their gallery.

But, let's suppose that your work is a good fit. Then you need to be ready to answer the questions you are likely to get. What is your story? Why do you do what you do? What do customers like about your work? What are your best sellers? What is your minimum? Will you accept terms? What would you recommend as an opening order? These are the kinds of questions you need to be able to answer quickly and easily.

And when it comes time to write your orders, have a calendar. You will need to know when you can deliver the work, and determine when the buyer wants the work. As you commit to deliveries, mark off the necessary time on your calendar. You need to be able to plan your production schedule as your recieve orders.

One last thing. Bring your press kit. Kits, actually. There will be people from various publications who will also be at the show. The money you are spending on the show will be nothing compared to the free publicity you might be able to get from this one move. So far, I have had my work featured in New Age Retailer (at right), and Gift Shop magazine since the ACRE show this spring. Simply because I brought along my press kits. This was exposure I could not have afforded.

Those are the essentials. Definitely doable. Most importantly, don't forget the comfortable shoes!


Janice said...

This post was very insightful. It gave me a very clear idea of what to expect, how to prepare, etc. Thank you for the info!

Cathy said...

Is there anywhere where we can see samples of press kits, catalogs/brochures, price lists, order forms, etc.? I'm an old pro at retail shows but a total newbie wannabe at wholesale shows.

Judy said...

Cathy, great question. I will see what I can do in future posts to go into each of those items in more detail, addressing each, one at a time. Thanks for you question.
Thanks for your comment Janice!

Cris Melo/Meloearth said...

Thank you for posting this!

(found this from a post on