Why Stores Like to Work With Greeting Card Reps





This is an excerpt from Get Your Greeting Cards Into Stores: How to Find and Work With Sales Reps (Updated 2017 paperback) If you like to make greeting cards, this book explains how to get your cards into stores and sell them nationwide.  Learn about changing trends in the indie card market and niche opportunities available for artists. Book includes detailed guidelines on pricing cards for a profit, getting professional feedback on your designs, finding sales representatives, pitching your card line to them, approaching stores, and the industry standards you should follow. Information is also applicable to gift items, such as magnets, journals and calendars.  



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When you are thinking about greeting card sales rep to carry your line, here are some things you might want to know about working with reps.

Every rep is different, but I have found these things to be common with almost every rep I've worked with.

1-The rep does not pay for the artist’s card sample deck.

2-Reps expect all cards in the sample deck to have a code, either preprinted or hand written on the card, that is unique for each design. So, for example, if you have a card line of 50 different kinds of flower images, the artist needs to assign a code to each one, so when the rep writes up an order, they know #45 means the red rose card.

3-The artist is primarily responsible for the cost of all promotional materials, such as brochures, catalogs, and store signs.

4-The most important thing you can do in your relationship with reps is to pay them on time.

5-Normally, the artist pays the sales rep once a month for all the prior months’ orders, independent of whether or not the stores has first paid the artist. This is referred to as “paying reps by ship date.” Some artists pay reps after being paid by stores, but I believe reps sell more, and are happier with artists who pay by ship date.

6-Reps sell cards in dozens and half dozens. A typical beginning order for an artist might be 12 dozen cards of 12 different card designs, or 144 cards.

7-Independent artists usually pay the rep a 20% commission on the wholesale price the cards. Therefore, if you receive an order for $200 wholesale (the price you sell it to the store for), the rep’s commission is $40.  Some reps might accept 15%, but that is usually for larger companies that have high sales.

8-Reps expect the artist to discontinue slow selling cards and replace them with new designs. A good plan is to add new designs 3-4 times a year: January, May and August, and seasonal items approximately 6 months ahead of the holiday.




There are several reasons why stores also like to work with reps:

Reps Offer Unique Products
Reps are often good at finding specialty items, which gives smaller stores an edge over chain stores.

Reps Save Time
Stores also save time by viewing many card lines in one appointment. This is more efficient than requesting catalogs from individual artists and manufacturers.

Reps Bring Samples
Another advantage is the store can hold items in their hands and evaluate their quality.

Reps Prescreen Items
Lastly, stores trust reps to prescreen quality card lines, which reduces financial risk. If a card line does not sell very well, a rep will be hesitant to carry it, and protect the store from a loss.

In order to find and work with reps, you want to get professional feedback on your designs, set appropriate prices and follow industry standards. We will discuss this in the next several chapters.

Mail Art Show

I've never entered art into an art gallery call-out, but thanks to two friend's encouragement, I entered a piece of "mail art" art to the Milk Gallery in Sacramento. I was quite surprised someone bought it and sent me a check! It's not a big one, but it taught me to consider applying for artist call-outs. I used to think call outs were only for professional artists who framed their work and shipped it to galleries (that can be quite complicated and expensive), but now there are a lot of subversive, grass root art shows popping up all over.

For me, mail art is the most fun type of art to make because it travels. If you want to see more mail art that has been submitted to this blog, see the mail art gallery page.

And a special thanks to Marie (letterpress art) and Lesli (dog humor) who is helping me find and submit to call-outs. Marie and Lesli also sold their pieces too!


8 Advantages of Working With Greeting Card Sales Reps





This is an excerpt from Get Your Greeting Cards Into Stores: How to Find and Work With Sales Reps (Updated 2017 paperback) If you like to make greeting cards, this book explains how to get your cards into stores and sell them nationwide.  Learn about changing trends in the indie card market and niche opportunities available for artists. Book includes detailed guidelines on pricing cards for a profit, getting professional feedback on your designs, finding sales representatives, pitching your card line to them, approaching stores, and the industry standards you should follow. Information is also applicable to gift items, such as magnets, journals and calendars.  



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Why Artists Like to Work With Reps
Besides generating orders, there are many benefits to working with reps. Here are just a few:

Quick Access to Stores.
Reps offer quick access into the marketplace. Once a rep has a sample set of your card line, they can start showing it to stores immediately.

Reps Sell More Than Artists.
Reps usually have years of sales experience and personal relationships with hundreds of stores. Therefore, a rep is able to sell more cards than an artist could.

Reps Know What Stores Want.
Reps know store owner’s personalities, what kind of products they like, and what types of customers visit each store. Reps build bridges between the artist, the store and the customer.

Reps Are Industry Experts.
Sales reps have valuable information on buying trends and can advise an artist on how to explore new directions.

Easier to Distribute Risk.
An artist can avoid financial risk if they have several independent reps throughout the country. For example, if you put your entire card line in the hands of one middleman, store chain or distributor, and later they drop you, your business will end overnight. On the other hand, if you lose one sales rep, it is only a temporary setback until you find a replacement.

Cost Savings.
One of the biggest advantages of working with sales reps is the artist pays a commission to them instead of a salary (usually 15-20 percent of the wholesale price). Therefore, reps have an incentive to sell more of your cards, because the more they sell, the more money they also make.

Avoid Regulations.
Another benefit of working with reps is that since they are not employees, the artist does not have to deal with state and federal employee regulations such workman’s compensation, disability and social security taxes.

Reps are Invested in the Artist’s Success
When a rep decides to carry a card line, they have made a personal investment in the artist’s success and has confidence the cards will sell. It is a win–win for everyone.
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