It’s essential for artists, makers and other entrepreneurs who are seeking to wholesale, or increase their presence in retail stores, to understand the buyer’s priorities. They need new product on a regular basis, and here’s why.
Most retail stores depend on repeat customers. Those shoppers come in to see the latest and greatest new merchandise that the store has to offer. If they keep seeing the same old merchandise, they move on to new pastures.
Stores also need to replace slow selling lines that they no longer wish to carry. This means the store must keep moving forward with updated designs and new lines on a regular basis. As one of their vendors (or as a prospective vendor) you must keep this in mind and have new collections for them.
Does this mean you are constantly retooling your whole line? No. Absolutely keep your bestsellers. Get rid of the slow sellers. As a small business person, you have the advantage of being lean and mean. Large vendors invest tons of money in product development and large inventories, and those products may end up being discontinued. But since your small business is nimble, you can easily change course if anything in your new collection produces less than stellar sales.
You must plan to design and produce new items on a regular basis throughout the year. These are called “product releases” and may coincide with buying times for an upcoming selling season. Your new release may build on bestselling designs from the past, with a new twist or different elements. That release should be large enough to create excitement for the customer, and to fill your minimum order requirements.
When you develop new releases, you might want to keep your wholesale price point range consistent with existing prices, or expand to include a higher or lower price point range, to test the market and draw new customers.
Your new release marketing materials must be ready to go when you announce the new collection, or at your wholesale trade show event. Line sheets, brochures, and new pages on your art website should show the newest designs in your collection. What inspired your new designs? What are the benefits to the customer? Be able to talk about the release, and why it appeals.
Often new product releases will coincide with trade shows, although you may have seasonal and holiday releases, too, depending on your market and your concept.
Wholesale buying goes in cycles – and that cycle will depend on your industry. Is Christmas a big selling season for your line? The new release for fall and winter should be ready to display and take orders in June or July at the trade shows, when those orders will be placed.
January is another perfect time for new product releases, as the buyers must fill their shelves after the holiday season – and they will be on the lookout for fresh merchandise! The next time a buyer asks, “What’s new?” you will have an exciting collection ready to present, and sell.