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    16 Replies Latest reply on Sep 7, 2008 3:36 PM by Iwrite

    How do I design a retail source sheet?

    bittybabys Newbie
      I'm probably not naming the item correctly so let me try to describe what I need to make:

      I am an online retailer of baby clothing and accessories. I have a couple of products that I would like to sell in local US military post exchanges and through the Army and Air Force Exchange Services (AAFES) website. These are niche products I know they don't carry, but should offer their customers. Doing this would change my role from retailer to distributor.

       

      Question: How do I design a one page sheet to send to the store's buyer that would explain who I am, what I am offering to sell (with photos), and any other standard information for this type of proposal? Does anyone know what I am talking about and what it is called (other than a brochure)? The military has standard forms to be competed when a small business wants to do business with them, but I'm going for the glitz here. I need to be able to design this sheet from a template or by using basic office software. I need to convince the buyer to pick me and look at my products over the thousands of others out there. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks a bunch...

      www.bittybabyshop.com
        • Re: How do I design a retail source sheet?
          LUCKIEST Guide
          How do I design a retail source sheet?, Welcome

          I do not know and if as you said, you are probably not naming the item correctly, it is not helping

          HOWEVER I have a great suggestion.

          Go to SCORE "on line". You can find thousands of experts in hundreds of fields.
          Why re invent the wheel, if you can get help.
          You can search by AAFES, Supplies to the Army, Maybe Buyers ETC.
          Pick 5 counselors (or more). Ask them all the same question. They MUST answer you
          and you will get great answers.

          Good luck, LUCKIEST
          1 of 1 people found this helpful
          • Re: How do I design a retail source sheet?
            Iwrite Pioneer
            Try contacting a local freelance art director to get them to help you develop and produce the sales sheet. Your local advertising club should be able to help you find someone.

            Here are some things you'll need to do:
            1) Ask to see the art director's portfolio - if he or she does not have one, run. What you are looking for here is talent. Do you like the design? Does the work look good? Is there a strong and clear mesage to the work?
            2) Ask for references and check them before entering into an agreement.
            3) After explaining what you are looking for, ask for a written estimate that includes the scope of the work to be done. The estimate should include a timeline and payment schedule. Make sure revisions are included. Never pay the entire balance up front, never.
            4) Ask any and all questions you think you need answered. If the art director does not like this, then there is going to be a porblem done the road.
            5) Ask to see roughs before settling on a final design - three samples is the industry norm.

            This should help you get started. A good art director can deliver a high quality design that will make your product sing. Please feel free to ask if you have questions. I hope this helps.
            • Re: How do I design a retail source sheet?
              Lighthouse24 Ranger

              The format for a seller fact sheet is basically just "Who? What? Where? Why? How?"

              In pitching to a retail buyer, the most important thing to show up front is that their customers really, really need and want your products. Also important, for your type of product (baby clothes and such), is safety (for example, being in compliance with regulations and consumer guidelines, having something like the Good Housekeeping Seal, etc.). Equally important will be your company's ability to meet all of their vendor requirements (and the bigger the retailer, the more demanding those requirements are). The fourth major issue is packaging -- and I've seen a lot of retail buyers who loved the product being pitched and the company pitching it, but passed because the packaging and/or labeling just didn't work for them. So while a glitzy pitch is fine, I wouldn't spend a lot of time and money on it unless or until you have all four of the above issues positively covered.

              Good luck!
              1 of 1 people found this helpful
                • Re: How do I design a retail source sheet?
                  Iwrite Pioneer
                  If you were going to present your product in person would you wear just anything? No.

                  As important as the basic information is, the look and feel of the presentation does matter. If you can afford to, it only makes sense to put your best foot forward. This is done with annual reports, sales sheets for doctors, and press kits for everything from ice cream to politics. I am working on a project directed to doctors and guess what the company has discovered? Doctors like snappy headlines and cool designs. Imagine that. Why? Because when it is all said and done they are still human beings, and human beings are visually driven.

                  I recognize that some things need to be dry and boring like contracts. But this is not a contract, and bittybaby indicated that they had filled out the paperwork required, this is a document presenting the product. Why small business owners refuse to grasp this amazes me. I have been a part of building brands for way too many companies that have recognized a huge upswing in sales and inquiries from creative advertising. In the end, this sheet is another form of advertising. But not us small business owners, we continuously find excuses to dismiss the need to better advertise our business. Doing more creative advertising does not mean you have to leave any of the important information out, it can be both informative and attractive.

                  I am sorry, but this pisses me off to no ends.

                  If no one knows you are there or doesn't like you or thinks your product is cheap the result is all the same - they do not buy from you. Advertising can counter all of this.

                  Some businesses do not need to advertise as heavily as others but no matter the size of the business they do need to start thinking more seriously about how advertising can help them grow into a bigger business.

                  We dress up for meetings with bankers and investors. Why would we not dress up the information we present?

                  We say, "you only get one chance to make a first impression." Either we believe this or we don't.

                  I am not responding to Lighthouse as much as I am responding to the variety of comments that I have read on this forum that undersell the importance of doing better quality advertising or dismiss it entirely.

                  I am stepping off of my soapbox.
                  1 of 1 people found this helpful
                    • Re: How do I design a retail source sheet?
                      Lighthouse24 Ranger

                      I can only offer my perspective -- which is that advertising is targeted at consumers, and that when a buyer at major retailer makes a decision regarding a new product or vendor, it is usually very pragmatic. (After all, there's only so much space in a store. If the buyer passed on something yesterday that turns out to be the hottest seller of the holiday season, she might be out of work in January. If she bought something yesterday that's still jamming the shelves on December 26, she might be out of work in January.)

                      With an established vendor, yes, promotional efforts (glitz) and relationship "politics" can influence a retail buying decision (ask anyone who has worked with Disney as a vendor/supplier) -- retail executives understand that fact and are a little more forgiving when a purchasing "mistake" involves a major/established supplier. No so with all the new vendors who are trying to get in the door for the first time -- the decision making process (at least at the buyer meetings I have sat in on or facilitated for major retail clients) is an extremely analytical one.

                      I didn't say, "Don't dress it up" -- I simply suggested that time and money only be spent on "glitz" if all those analytical bases are covered.
                        • Re: How do I design a retail source sheet?
                          bittybabys Newbie
                          Thank you both for excellent answers and equally valuable perspectives. Lighthouse24, you were right on the money- I need to know the ABCs of entering this new arena. I'll only have "one bite of the apple" so to speak. I want to make sure my mechanics are right on target because I am doing this by my "bootstraps" with a very meager cash budget. I'm trying to find some sample FACT sheets online to use as a boilerplate.

                          Iwrite, thank you so much for explaining how important advertising and especially branding is in today's market. I so appreciate your passion and spirit in this area- especially since creativity is definitely not my strong suit. I will take you message to heart and really beef up this area. I'm getting a new logo and business cards made as we speak. If you would be so kind as to peek at my webpage, perhaps you know of a direction I can start to move in. It is at www.bittybabyshop.com I need all of the brain power I can get.

                          I appreciate y'all...
                            • Re: How do I design a retail source sheet?
                              Lighthouse24 Ranger
                              Looking at your website, you appear to be a retailer, reselling other vendor's brands/products. To place a product in the Exchange system or a major retail chain, you generally have to be the manufacturer or a licensed wholesaler/distributor. Regarding the specific product or product line that you were hoping to place -- is it one that you manufacture yourself (and that carries your brand), or is it produced by a manufacturer whose products you are licensed to wholesale/distribute to retail outlets?
                                • Re: How do I design a retail source sheet?
                                  bittybabys Newbie
                                  Lighthouse24, thank you for looking at my site. You are correct I am currently a retailer, and my role would switch in this situation. I would be selling some items I currently purchase at wholesale and would mark them up slightly to resell to the Exchange. These are not items I manufacture. This is one way the Exhanges can offer name brand items to our service people- at times they purchase large lots directly from the manufacturer, and other times they purchase specialty items from resellers such as myself. They try to buy as much as possible from small businesses. It is possible to sell items in one or two of their retail stores so it's not like I must supply the military worldwide. As far as being a licensed distributer, I'll have to see exactly what that means. I'm already licensed by my state to purchase wholesale, tax free and resell and collect sales tax. I believe, I've applied for every license I need, and I'm sure the federal government will make sure I am in compliance before doing business. Thanks for the heads up. If I need to formally change my status to sell to the military- believe me it would be a small price to pay in comparison to having a large customer! I'm trying to do things slowly and carefully. Thanks again.
                                    • Re: How do I design a retail source sheet?
                                      Lighthouse24 Ranger
                                      You're welcome! What I meant by licensed distributor is "authorized" by the product manufacturer or importer. Most products like yours that are sold in U.S. retail chains are handled through wholesalers, distributors, merchandisers, and jobbers who have protected contractual and territorial agreements (licenses) -- i.e., they are the only ones allowed to wholesale/distribute a product line within a given region and/or to a specific type of retailer. (You are probably getting many of your products from someone who holds an exclusive wholesale license for on-line, MLM, dropship, and similar retail providers -- not directly from the factory.)

                                      Assuming that you had the necessary license or authorization (or that it wasn't an issue for the products you have in mind), placing certain items in military exchanges or major retail outlets can still be tricky. In the case of your local BX for example -- a buyer there is still required to follow GAO and Defense Management guidelines. So if an apparel product is manufactured overseas, regulations may require that you (or the manufacturer or the importer) have paid for and obtained site inspection reports to confirm suitable working conditions in the factories that make it, that child labor is not being employed, etc. I'm in no way trying to discourage you here -- only re-emphasizing the point that not having a flashy enough pitch is unlikely to be one of your major hurdles in the overall scheme of things.

                                      Again, best wishes!
                                        • Re: How do I design a retail source sheet?
                                          Iwrite Pioneer
                                          Ligththouse, the comment, "the point that not having a flashy enough pitch is unlikely to be one of your major hurdles," is what I am talking about.

                                          Being creative does not mean a presentation or an information sheet has to lack substance or thought. The logical presentation of a product's benefits and attributes can help make the difference when being reviewed. Advertising is not pretty pictures and catchy words, when done correctly it is so much more than that. It is getting into the mind of the target audience and communicating a key benefit that meets the perceived need of that target, whether they be moms or buyers. No one is immune to advertising, no one. We say we are but we buy certain brands of cars, TVs, cell phones and everything else based on what we have heard or seen about a product. That's advertising.

                                          Standing out or geting notice also demonstrates an understanding of marketing, which IS a criteria in the federal government approval process for both the Post Exchange system and the Commissary system. The government does not want something on the shelves that will not move. Packaging and marketing support are also part of the grade.

                                          With the volume of products they have to review, a business owner should do more, not less to make sure their product garners as much attention as possible from reviewers. Some of the most successful products are not the best products, they are the best marketed. The decision to place a product on a shelve is going to be made by human beings with likes and dislikes who are asked to determine a product's ability to sell. They must by the definition of their jobs get into the head of the consumer and predict the probability of success for the product.

                                          If you can fill out the forms and provide a simple, clear sheet that highlights all the benefits of your product and get it on the shelf then great. But after filling out the forms, you realize that you can do more to get your product notice, by all means do so. Either way, good luck.

                                • Re: How do I design a retail source sheet?
                                  bittybabys Newbie
                                  Please don't step off of your soapbox. Your wisdom is invaluable. Thanks for the insight...
                                    • Re: How do I design a retail source sheet?
                                      Iwrite Pioneer
                                      I worked for RadioShack for three years in their internal advertising department. I sat through the buying presentations for tons of toys and electronic devices. And then there was my time at Toys R Us. You would be surprised how interesting some of those were.

                                      I have been fortunate to see both sides of this issue. I think you might need to look at what others are doing. Research is good.