via discoveryimages under licence

via discoveryimages, used under licence


Are your designs retail ready?

(guest post by Helen Roe)

There are a lot of milestones to reach before your product passes the test and gets accepted onto a retailers’ shelf.

So maybe you sell online and are a regular at markets. But what about getting your products listed and stocked in shops and galleries? This is wholesale, selling large quantities of goods to merchants for the purpose of resale. The retailer then sells your product on to the customer. In retail (think Etsy, Madeit, markets) you sell at a higher price and smaller quantities. In wholesale (think galleries, shops, boutiques, local artisan shops), you sell at a lower price and in larger quantities.

Now let’s take a look at the six essentials that ensure your products or designs are Retailer Ready.


1. Quality and performance

This is self explanatory however it does not necessarily have to mean you use the most expensive or exclusive materials but rather the product is created or assembled with skill and finished to a very high standard. This is reflected in the product’s true and inherent value. It should not look like it’s going to fall apart and it should not fall apart.


2. Branding

The big B and backbone of marketing. It’s not just the Nikes and the Coca Colas that do branding; you can too.

Customers like branding and therefore Retailers like branding. It makes buying and selling easier. Your brand is the heart and soul of what your product is. It can be tangible (a logo or tagline) or intangible (an emotion or aspiration) but ultimately it is a set of emotions or experiences the customer recalls when they think of or buy your product. A person can also be a brand in their own right and we see this with celebrities, thought leaders and experts.

How do you decide what your brand is? Well if you know who your customer is that’s half of the battle. You need more than ‘women aged 25 -44’. Where does she socialise, live, shop, what’s her style, interests etc? Once you have your target customer you can tailor your product and your communication personally for her.

You cannot sell to everyone, you’ll just be a jack of all trades and master of none.


3. Pricing

Pricing is a biggy and one most of us leave until the end. But getting it right in the beginning really can determine the success of your business.

Here’s the basic formula:
Cost Price = Your Hourly Rate + Cost of Materials
Cost Price x2 = Wholesale Price
Wholesale x2 = Retail Price

If you get your Retail price correct in the beginning it’s easier to expand into wholesale and grow from there.


4. Packaging

From a customer’s perspective it’s about pretty, eye-catching and fabulous. A retailer loves all that too but also needs to consider how durable your packaging is and if it will withstand packing, stacking and handling. The packaging must protect the beautiful product inside but allow the customer to handle and admire.


5. Amazing photographs

Nobody is expecting you to turn pro with your photography skills here. This is about getting you or someone else to take the best photo of your product so you can sell it to retailers. If you need to brush up on how to position your product to look its best there are some great resources out there. Try The Crafters Guide to Taking Great Photos by Heidi Adnum for simple, practical advice.


6. Legal Responsibilities

If you manufacture your own products it is important to find the correct labelling standards that you need to comply with. This will depend on your type of product you sell and your location. You may also need to take legal advice on product liability insurance as retailers cannot risk their customers getting hurt by products they’ve sold.
Here are some Australian links to get you started but it’s important to research the legal requirements for your product category in your part of the world. (The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission)


Helen Roe is the founder of The Orange Lantern which helps creatives successfully sell their designs in the marketplace. Helen is a marketer, strategist and retail coach and loves working with creative, passionate and authentic entrepreneurs.

If you want to sell your products in shops, and are not sure where to start, or if you need some support with your pitch and finding your sales voice, The Orange Lantern is currently enrolling for My Retail Academy, an online program to help you sell your designs to shops, successfully. Click here to learn more.