Before we go any further, if you’re interested in line sheets I have a free guide for you. It’s called Line Sheets – A Straightforward Guide For Total Beginners. Click here to grab your copy.
Now, let’s talk line sheets. This is something we’ve looked into before on Indie Retail Academy and it’s a big subject.
But first, clear your mind.
Stop thinking about how much you like fish tacos and whether your car is haunted.
Stop thinking that the disgraced politician on the news is actually kind of hot.
Line sheets are shy creatures who crave order. If your head is full of noise they might be too scared to draw near.
Ah, I think I can hear a couple stirring in the undergrowth. Let’s see if we can make them come closer.
Imagine a clean, white piece of A4 paper.
If you’re picturing it portrait-style, spin it round until it’s landscape. Retailers often file line sheets so a landscape layout is handy.
Now imagine your logo onto your bit of paper. Put it somewhere along the top edge with your contact details underneath – that’s your name, email address, phone number, website address and street address. Your tagline, if you have one, wouldn’t go amiss here either.
Oh, this is excellent. Two line sheets just emerged from the bushes over there.
No, don’t look at them directly!
They see that as a form of aggression.
Don’t let their mild exterior fool you. These guys can give you a paper cut so deep that your grandchildren will ask why you wear that eye patch and walk with a limp.
Let’s just keep going.
Think about your products. We’re going to put the items you sell onto your page in the cleanest, most ordered way we can.
Let’s say you have eight products in your collection. An easy, organised way to display them is in boxes. Make two rows with four products in each. Group similar types of product together.
Now go ahead and imagine pictures of your products into the boxes.
What we’re looking for here is simplicity.
The retailer needs to be able to identify your products from these pictures. That means they have to be clear and free of distractions. They should also be in colour. Don’t use lifestyle shots which include props or people. Keep those for your wholesale catalogue. White box photos, which show just the item against a plain background, are ideal.
Don’t look now, but those two line sheets are edging closer. I think the one on the left is attracted to your keen sense of order.
Hang on, I’m sure I’ve got some staples somewhere. Yep, here they are. Line sheets love staples with a passion.
Throw a few into the grass and see if you can get their confidence. But don’t make any sudden moves, okay?
Next, we need to imagine some more information onto your bit of paper.
Underneath each box I want you to put:
- the name of the product
- the item number if there is one
- the wholesale price
- the recommended retail price
- whether it comes in different sizes or colours
These are the essentials, but other information about your product is also important. What it’s made from, for instance, or the fact that it’s eco-friendly. Retailers want to know these details too, but put more general information like this elsewhere. If you try to cram too much onto a single page your line sheet will become cluttered, and that’s not good for you or your potential stockist.
There are two more things that need to go underneath each product picture. The first is the minimum quantity for your items. That’s the smallest number a retailer has to buy of each design if they want to do business with you. If it’s the same for every item, stick this somewhere near the top instead.
Now we’re going to add a bit of merchandising.
Merchandising is a subtle mix of art and science, but it boils down to making the stuff you have for sale look even more appealing to buyers. Pick three or four highlights from your collection. Maybe they’re brand new products or best-sellers.
Retailers really want to know this inside information because it helps us make an informed choice. So let’s draw attention to it. Add a banner to some of your boxes which says “New” or “Best-seller.” And don’t be too tasteful about it.
Sure, we want your banners to look like they belong on your line sheet, but their job is to leap out and grab the retailer by the eyeballs. If you make them too small or subtle, they’ll just blend into the background.
We’re very lucky to witness this kind of uninhibited behaviour from line sheets in the wild. It’s tremendously rare. Wait, wait. I want to try something.
Here’s a handful of staples.
See if you can get that one to eat some off your finger.
Go on. It probably won’t bite. Encourage it to come over by adding the final touches to your imaginary line sheet.
In one of top corners, I’d like you to imagine:
- your overall minimum order amount.
- your carriage paid level.
If you’re new to wholesale, you’ll find more on these terms here. For now, though, let’s consider what you’ve accomplished.
You’ve created something that looks like this:
You’ve also got a real, live line sheet eating out of your hand.
If you keep being this clear, simple and organised, you’ll soon have retailers doing the same. Because here’s the point.
Line sheets that make selling easy are actually line sheets that make buying easy.
The more you can get out of your own head and see things from the retailer’s point of view, the more money you’ll make. Line sheets aren’t about convincing a potential stockist to buy. That’s the job of your pitch email and wholesale catalogue. Line sheets are about making the process of buying as straightforward as you possibly can.
Hey, just look at those cute little jaws go! That one really likes staples, huh?
Um, I don’t wish to alarm you but I think that was the last one.
Maybe just…put him down now. Gently.
Now let’s back away very quietly.
Nice and easy. I’m just going to slip these hi-tech running spikes on. No reason.
For Pete’s sake don’t make eye contact, okay? Seriously. Don’t do ever do this.