How to Sell to Major Retailers, Part 3

Artists, are you ready to do business in the big leagues? Start planning ahead of time.


Trade Show Sale


Small creative entrepreneurs such as artists and craftspeople usually work alone, or perhaps with a partner, but selling to major retailers will force you to start thinking big.

What do you need to know to be prepared to take orders from large chains?

You will need to scale up your production. Give careful thought to your time frame. Can you produce the volume needed to ship orders on time to your chain customers? (if you need to write smaller sales, see ideas for this in “How to Sell to Major Retailers, Part 2”) Do you have the space to store supplies and inventory as orders are being made?

You will need sufficient materials. In order to dramatically ramp up production, you will need more materials. Make sure your current suppliers can ship what you need to produce your orders. Ideally, you will also have backup suppliers lined up in case your main vendor can’t help you. Lack of materials can lead to missed ship dates, which can lead to cancellations from the buyer, so this is a crucial factor.

You may need studio assistance. If you cannot produce the entire order by yourself, you may need help in the studio. How much training will you need to get someone up and running as an assistant? If you are the only person who can do the hands-on studio work, consider hiring someone to pack and ship, do bookkeeping and ordering, or even a Virtual Assistant to keep your office work from backing up while you focus on your big order.

You will need to control your costs.  Extra materials and paying for assistance can get costly pretty quickly. Large retailers won’t give you a deposit or credit card up front, so you must be able to manage your expenses, understanding that they may pay late. Request Net 30 terms with your suppliers rather than loading up your credit card.

You will need to manage your time effectively. Focus upfront on putting business systems into place to scale from a micro to a small business. This is working on your business rather than working in your business. How can you make production run more efficiently and smoothly? Analyze your process to save time, space and effort so that each piece takes less time, and ultimately will produce more profit.



Need assistance in scaling up and thinking big? Consider a strategy session with an ABI mentor. Check out our consulting services.


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