Six tips for pitching your products to retailers

Six tips for pitching your products to retailers
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation

Posted: Fri 19th Jul 2013

If you design and make your own products, you'll know how important it is to find sales outlets, whether online or off. But how do you pitch effectively to potential stockists? Emma Coles, founder of online boutique Ji Ji Kiki, explains what she likes to see when approached by designers with requests to stock their goods.

Pitching to retailers | Emma Coles of Ji Ji Kiki

Every shop will have different criteria and expectations when they are looking to stock a designer's work, writes Emma (left). So all of the information and tips given and from my perspective and what I look for when considering taking on a new designer. While looking through submissions is fun, it can also be time consuming, so I've put together these tips to help present your work as best as possible.Â

1. Background research

Getting your work stocked by a shop will hopefully be a long term commitment, so take a little time to do some research. Who owns/runs the shop, what other lines do they carry, are they online, bricks or mortar or both? Check out their social networks by joining their Facebook page and following them on Twitter.

2. Photographs

It's really important to include clear photographs of your products, especially if you're applying to an online shop. They don't have to be professionally taken, but need to show detail and be in focus! If you have a website or portfolio, I would advise sending a couple of photos and a link to the rest so as to not overload inboxes.

"It's really important to include clear photographs of your products, especially if you're applying to an online shop."

Product photography | A brooch

3. Pricing

Make sure you include your prices and that they are right. Too cheap or too expensive can both be off-putting. If you sell your work through other outlets, make sure your prices match. Stockists and customers need to have consistency - if you're having to increase your retail prices by 20 per cent for your stockists, you may need to rethink your pricing.

4. Selling terms

Before you contact potential stockists, you need to decide whether you want to sell your items on a wholesale or on a sale-or-return basis. For wholesale, stockists will want to pay no more than 50 per cent of the retail price. For consignment, there is generally a 60/40 split (with the designer receiving the higher cut).

5. Sell yourself!

Shops that stock independent designers do so because they like the human story behind the pieces. Including a short introduction about yourself brings life to your work. Are you self-taught or did you do an art course at college or university? How did you first get into your craft and is it something you started recently or have you always been interested in it? Are you just starting out or are you stocked by other shops (many stockists appreciate a list of other shops and outlets, such as your website or Etsy, where your work is also sold).

"Think about which products co-ordinate well together. Ranges built around a theme make it easier for retailers to create an attractive display."

Pitching to retailers | Handmade items

6. Product line

Think about your products and which items co-ordinate well together. Bricks and mortar shops may prefer a range of similar products that can be displayed in a cohesive manner. This doesn't mean you have to have matching items, but ranges built around a theme (be it nautical, animal or cosmic) makes it easier for retailers to create an attractive display. If you try to cover too many bases with your products, it can look a bit messy and disorganised. If you're just starting out, it's a good idea to keep your range small so you don't become overwhelmed if you start to receive a good amount of orders. Offering stockists 50 different items may seem like a good idea until you have five shops all order five of everything at the same time! Hopefully these tips have been useful in giving you some ideas on how to approach new stockists. The most important thing is your work and that you are enthusiastic about it. It can take time and not everyone you contact will be interested, but you need to be patience and keep at it! Emma Coles is the founder of Ji Ji Kiki, an online boutique selling clothing, homewares, bags and artwork by more than 50 independent designers from all over the world.

Help small enterprises get funding via Fund101

Fund101 | Past winners

Ji Ji Kiki is among five small businesses currently pitching for a small funding boost via Fund101 - and they need your votes! Check out who they are, what they're asking for and vote for the business you'd like to see receive up to £500 to support a project or business idea. Check out the Fund101 candidates and cast your vote!

Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation
Enterprise Nation has helped thousands of people start and grow their businesses. Led by founder, Emma Jones CBE, Enterprise Nation connects you to the resources and expertise to help you succeed.

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