Vendor Tips: Wholesale Orders and Line Sheets

Paper-PastriesWith our first ever Wholesale Soiree taking place before our San Francisco Summer Market, we thought we’d reach out to some of our seasoned vendors that are familiar with fulfilling wholesale orders, how to create line sheets, and general tips for some of you attending our Wholesale Soiree.  Margaret, of Paper Pastries, was once a buyer before starting her own business.  She has graciously offered some advice.  Thank you, Margaret! 
1. What resources do you use to keep track of orders?  
I have a graph paper notebook that I write down every order in. Once that notebook is full, I get another. That notebook is always by my computer. My online shop has an “order” tab which I refer to, to make sure I haven’t forgotten any.
2. How do you prepare for your wholesale orders in addition to showcasing at craft fairs?  
I make sure to let my retailers know a realistic time line for getting my orders out. It may be that I’m too busy, or need to order supplies. Even if it’s going to take me a month to get it mailed, I’ve found that when I’m honest, it’s never been a problem.
3. What are some tips you can offer when creating a line sheet?  Are there any Dos and Don’ts you’ve learned in the process?
Before starting Paper Pastries, I was the buyer for a stationery and gift store. I’ve seen my share of line sheets. Make sure all the photos show the product clearly- nothing blurry! Keep the fonts, size of photos, and layout the same on every page. I am not good at pretty much anything on a computer, so my friend Laura, helped me out. She is a whiz at InDesign, and came up with an awesome layout and format for my wholesale catalog.
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Also make sure that your line sheet is up to date when you send it out. There was nothing more frustrating to me as a buyer, when I’d place an order and half the items were no longer being made.
4. How do you find or reach out to buyers?  
I travel a lot and I like to shop.  When I was a buyer, it was always uncomfortable when people would barge in and throw their product on my counter. I’ve never accosted anyone like that. I really think about if my product would be a good fit in the shop. Even if I love the store, my line just may not fit. So after leaving the shop, I send an email introducing myself, and mentioning that I visited the shop in person. Also, a lot of shop owners are friends with each other. Most of my wholesale accounts were started because of a recommendation from one of their other friends who already carries me. I also post my products on social media sites, and say they are available wholesale to stores. I have gotten the attention of some buyers through that.
5. Any tips for some of our newer vendors about “closing the sale” with buyers?
Don’t be pushy. If i did think there was real interest there, I will follow up with one email. Nobody likes a cluttered inbox.  A lot of stores like neighborhood exclusivity. You can offer that you won’t be carried to any other store in the area if they would like to carry your line.
Thank you so much, Margaret, for offering your experience and advice as both a buyer and vendor!  Here is a screenshot sample of what Paper Pastries line sheet looks like.
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See you all in San Francisco soon!