Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How to approach Retailers

Scottish Mumpreneur Network speaks with Evelyn Smith of

My business is named Pollyanna Pumpkin and I sell handcrafted gift plaques for any occasion.

I started the business in August 2009 as I'd accidently fallen upon modelling clay and wondered what I could do with it!!

I ordered everything I thought I might need to create unusual gifts and then began making "test" gifts for friends and family.

These proved to be so popular that I then sourced some local Christmas Fairs and booked myself a table at 3 events.

The Christmas events proved to be massive! My stall was crowded the whole time and people couldn't get enough.

All of the products have my contact details on the reverse, and one woman had bought 3 personalised door hangers for her boss's sons.

Her boss contacted me and asked if I could visit her shop with some samples. She now has a display cabinet filled with Pollyanna Pumpkin products.

She suggested I visit another local retailer, which I did, and she too now stocks my products!

Having got a buzz from the idea of proper shops stocking my merchandise, I then made out a list of shops that I thought might be interested in stocking.

I have only got round to visiting 2 of these shops! One of which was demanding exclusive rights to the product!!

Another stockist at Braehead Shopping Centre contacted me as she too had been given one of my plaques as a gift and wanted to stock them in her unit at the shopping centre. I have been very very fortunate that my plaques have landed in the hands of retailers wishing to stock!!

My advice to anyone visiting shops with their merchandise is to be yourself. I approached the first shop dressed smartly and with a good supply of samples and a wholesale price list, and of course a friendly smile!

I asked if they might be interested in stocking and on seeing the product they did! I would advise anyone doing this to make sure you have your proposal fixed in your mind and not to be swayed. One shop owner almost bit my hand off for the plaques but she wanted exclusive stocking rights to my products and was also looking for my name to be removed and her name on back of product instead. Needless to say I walked away from that one! I wouldn't say that this was a difficult situation, but it certainly made me realise how protective of my products I am and that I wasn't going to have done all the hard work just to hand it to this retailer on a plate! You have to be 100% about what it is you are offering stockists and remember that every retailer will try to get themselves a better deal.

I would suggest that as far as costing your product is concerned, you have to work out exactly how much each item is costing you to make. I totalled the cost of each without adding on hourly rates or anything, and I then doubled that cost to make my profit. So for example if something costs you £5 to make, you would wholesale for £10. Retailing at £15/20. Retail prices can vary enormously depending on stockist and stockists location!!

If a retailer is buying in bulk then 1-10 units would be £10 each. 10-20 units £9.50 each. 20-30 units £9.00 each, and so on.

I am currently waiting for my website to go live and once that happens I will use a different approach with possible retailers. It still means I can visit with samples, but leave the web address for a wider range and also ordering facilities.

My only other piece of advice is that in order to promote your product you must work tirelessly! How on earth are the public going to know that your products exist if you don't draw them to it?Also make sure that your product is labelled with your business name and contact details.

I've learned alot along the way but I think the most important thing is to believe in what you do and have a passion for sharing it with the world!

I remember my first ever massage at a beauty salon and thinking "Why is there anyone in the world who hasn't experienced a massage?!?!" the treatment to me was so amazing that I felt everyone should be treated to a massage. I then promoted massage to everyone and anyone who would listen!!

That's the kind of advertising you are looking for!!!

Your product/service should be so amazing that anyone purchasing it will be telling the world about it!

Good luck!!


  1. Thanks for sharing this advice. I hope to use it pretty soon!

  2. Your advice is fantastic. I've kinda just started out, but now want to focus on my baby and pamper products. Going to approach some retailers asap

    Thanks lots, great advice!

  3. pleased that my advice has encouraged you both and wish you all the very best of luck with your business.
    Remember too, that link exchanging and public forums are a very good platform for free advertising.
    I use Facebook and Netmums and of course link exchanging will be a part of the website once it is finally up and running!!