Let’s get inside a wholesale catalogue and take a spin through all the information retailers want to see about the lovely thing you make.
At this stage, we’re not thinking about how we’re going to display any of these details in your catalogue. That will come later.
For now, let’s just figure what needs to be in there.
1. The names of your products and collections
Some artists give their items very specific names like Silent Ocean: On The Edge Of Forever, or Crimson Moonrise (He Said He’d Call.)
For others, Happy Birthday Grandma is more than enough. Wherever you are on that spectrum, retailers need some way to identify individual items in words, as well as by a code.
The same goes for collections of products within your wider range. So if you make bath products, you might have a Meadow Collection. If you make evening dresses, you might call that collection Silver Screen.
2. The SKU of each item
SKU stands for stock-keeping unit, and it’s a shorthand way of describing each product using a code that’s unique to your company. Unlike barcodes, SKUs can be read without a scanner.
Here’s an example. Yours may not need to be quite as long as this, but it’ll give you the idea:
The WIL stands for Wilde Designs, the name of the supplier in this instance. WP stands for wrapping paper. PEN means it’s the wrapping paper with the penguin design. UR means it’s the unrolled or flat version of the wrapping paper (rather than the kind which comes in a pre-rolled tube.) P25 stands for pack, which denotes this item is for a trade customer (since only retailers can order packs rather than single sheets), and it’s a pack of 25 sheets.
Unlike a string of numbers, an SKU is an easy way to identify items which belong in the same group. So all of this supplier’s wrapping paper would have an SKU that begins WIL-WP.
By the same token her greetings cards might begin WIL-GC, with further letters to define the precise item.
When it’s time to carry out our annual stock-take, this level of clarity can be very helpful for retailers. It also helps to prevent slip-ups and mistakes when they’re placing an order, and when you’re packing it up.
By double-checking the SKU, you can both be certain which items are required. If you’re smart about your SKUs, they’re also extendable. You can keep using them to identify families of products as your range grows and develops over time.
If your prints come in two sizes or three colour-ways, make that clear in your catalogue. The best thing to do is make sure that all the available versions of your work get equal billing, but if space is tight there are other ways to handle it.
See an example on the variants page of my Canva line sheet template.
Even if your products are of a standard size, it can be helpful to give the measurements.
5. Materials and manufacturing process
Tell the buyer how your products are made and what they’re made from. You might say, for example: “My cards are letter-pressed onto sustainably sourced card using environmentally friendly inks. They come with a matching envelope, wrapped in a clear, bio-degradable cellophane bag.”
6. Wholesale price and RRP
This one’s slightly tricky – for reasons discussed here, if your catalogue is printed you might put these details on a separate line sheet.
Even if your catalogue is digital, you may not want to put your wholesale prices inside – most likely because you’re planning to host it on a public site like Issuu and don’t want competitors to have access to proprietary information.
In this situation, a line sheet is once again your friend.
But if you’re like most makers, your wholesale prices should go right inside your digital catalogue, possibly alongside the RRP (which stands for recommended retail price.)
7. Minimum quantities
If your cards can only be ordered in packs of six, or if your cushions come in twos, that should be clear.
8. Where your items are made
This one’s often overlooked by suppliers but it can be important to retailers.
9. Gift boxes and special packaging
If you can supply gift or display packaging for your work, either for free or as an additional cost, say so. This is especially important for items like jewellery which is often bought as a present.
10 – Testers
On a similar note, shopkeepers are always keen to display testers of bath and beauty products and candles for customers to try. Can you supply smaller versions for this purpose, or full-size items at a discounted rate?
11. Special features
If an item has noteworthy qualities, let the retailer know. Perhaps it’s made from fairtrade materials, it’s eco-friendly, vegan, cruelty-free or has recently won Gift Of The Year.
12. Aftercare advice
This applies to any information a customer might need to fully use or enjoy your item. So if you make clothing, retailers will want to see a note on washing instructions somewhere in your catalogue. If you make fine silver jewellery, they’ll want to know how it should be polished. These are questions the retailer will be asked by their customers kit them out with the answers right off the bat.
13. Product descriptions
You’re unlikely to need full-blown, website-style descriptions for every product in your catalogue, but it’s a good idea to have a few up your sleeve. Use snippets from them on header pages or to highlight particular items.
So that’s the information retailers want to see in your catalogue about your products.
Next up, let’s have a chat about what we want to know about your business.
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