From my past experience with Suti, pushing my crafts to the Parisian shops…I have decided to come up with a special « how to prospect retailers ». Each experience is different while visiting the shops you love and wishes to see one day your products in there…Sometimes you have surprises and sometimes some disappointments. At the end, you have to work it out and play the game with retailers.
So if you have a brand and wishes to see your products/ crafts in so many shops around the town and also abroad, here are some advises…
Be ready with your materials
It should be easy to identify your brand with the following materials :
- One lookbook which presents the lifestyle or the spirit behind your brand, it should represent your brand identity. You can also have one separate document presenting the story of your brand, about the founder, how did it start and so on… These materials are both very helpful for the shop’s manager who will understand your positioning, how is your brand different from others. The look book can be either presented in a small half A4 size paper or in a small postal card format; it is good to have it in the digital and printed formats.
- Your catalog or the line sheet can be sent later by email. This catalog should be precised with the details of the product code, measurements, great pictures and the minimum quantity order by item. The line sheet is a bit similar to one catalog, it just presents the crafts in a table with clear information.
- Have a « pitch » email ready to present your line or collection and the brand.
- An order form (excel format recommended) which can be sent by email
Go Step by Step and be original
First contact can be tricky. Showing up without taking any appointment on Saturdays on any other of the week, you won’t be assured to get a great welcome…
Step by step as mentioned, you can first send an email with the look book attached, then call to get the appointment and finally meet the shop’s manager. I would also recommend to send something that can be mailed by post, such as cute postcard which presents some pictures of your crafts on it…That look different from what the shop’s manager is used to get, you will make the difference this way and brings some sympathy too.
Be patient and stand still
From my past experience, I would take an appointment a week ahead and would show up on the « said » time and day for the meeting but surprise, the manager would not be present..So what is the point of presenting to the assistant who would only pass on the word and wouldn’t be able to take decisions. The motto is to be patient at this point…
Use your self-control as well when you get some « weird » comment from your collection / crafts. Some people are polite and will tell you indirectly that your line is not for their shop and some others will be very direct; so be ready for both kind of feedback and behaviors.
Be ready to reply prompt
The retailers (depending on which city you are living in) are receiving thousand of proposals and visits from brands so you have to make sure to be prompt in your work and reply on time whenever you get good response from their side. I would say, avoid having back and forth emails. It is better to send one email that has full information, already presenting the « pre-order » form, the « pro-format contract ». With all these information in their hand, the manager will not have to wait for your next email to get the answer.
Make a selection of suitable retailers in your town and else where
The last but not the least, location is key !! After your selection of shops, make sure to ask the shop’s manager about the flow of people and who are the clientele. You will be able to define this point without asking by checking the price selection of the others brands present in the shop…Spend also some time in the area, where is the main road, any subway or supermarket around which will drive people this way, etc…
I hope my advises have been helpful! I will be continuing this « how to » section with some more, how to select your artisans, how to do your look book etc…
Thanks a lot in advance for your feedback!