Best Practices for Line Sheets
Now what we're going to talk about is, what do you need to approach a store? And while we're talking about all this, we really want to keep in mind making our buyers lives easier, right? Anything weaken dio to lower that bear barrier to the sale, we're going to do it because they're busy ladies, so we know that, so we want to make sure that we do that. So there's really gonna be two scenarios where were approaching stores with our lines? And so the materials that we need are going very slightly, but they all have their place. So that first scenario is pretty much exactly what we talked about with kelly and giselle, where you are submitting to them your way in the case of both of them, they want you to submit through a very specific process on their websites, and so this is a case where the buyer isn't interacting with your product. You're really doing it all online. So that's one scenario where we're going to need a sort inside of materials and then the other one is, of course, when we...
're doing a trade show and we're meeting with buyers face to face, and we're going to the show and we're gonna have a set of materials there, so we'll talk about kind of. All the things that we're going to need and then we're gonna break down when we need them and in what formats, because that's all going to change, so at its basic, we're going to eat a handful of things. First, we need a sample set and a sample set is literally going to be your product line. Now, obviously, this becomes way less critical if you're just approaching stores outside of a trade show, because as we know, we're not taking our bag of stuff into a store, we're not stopping by the busy saturday afternoon. That is a huge no, no, we're never rolling into that store with our product. So really, where you're gonna need this is when you're hitting a trade show. Now that said, if you've never organized a sample set of your product, I'd really encourage you to do it because it actually goes back to some of the stuff we talked about in that very first segment about evaluating your line. So you've just been telling, on, etc what you're probably doing is you're making an item, right? You're making it, you're photographing it, you put it in the shop, you put it away, and so you're not taking the time to really look at your line together. In that full perspective, that happens when you put together that whole sample set, so putting together samples that looking at it, looking at the whole thing even if you're not doing a trade show can be absolutely useful, but certainly one we're doing a trade show you that sample set and this is the beauty of doing trade shows in wholesale it's just one of everything when I'm going to wholesale show, I'm not bringing twelve of this necklace six of that four of that it's one of everything and that I'm writing orders so that's going to cut down a lot of time because I'm not asking you to make a lot now clearly, if you have variations, you're gonna want to show that so, monica, you guys have its one product but there's a lot of different fabrics that they can get it in and you're starting to roll that other products, so you're certainly not gonna have ah booth with one product, you would have all the different options that they can get in terms of materials for sure, but really it's one of everything. So then we're gonna need ah line sheet or catalogue and we're going to go into super detail about the rest of these, so a line sheet or catalogue, we're gonna have our wholesale policies and they're going to go in a couple of different places and then you didn't need an order form or a system for writing orders, and, well, we're gonna break this all down on and again. What we need depends on the situation so well, you'll see here is that there's? A lot of fluidity sometimes I need an order form sometimes they don't sometimes I need a printed line sheet sometimes it's ok is a pdf so we're going to get into all of that. So the first thing that I want an answer is that line sheet versus catalog question, right? You guys kind of wondered like what's the difference what I need, so typically historically, why it was called a line sheet is very simple and online drawings of product that was the original liberation of a line sheet and that's. Why it's called that this is the line sheep for a products that I don't make any more called the cozy cuff on dso my entire line sheet was literally this one page with line drawings and then a second page, which was just color and material options. So that's kind of the origin and it's a very, very basic line sheet. The catalogue or the lookbook is going to be something that is much more lifestyle, so this is my friend's company, it's, a spot ceo and they're based out of texas and she was really, really awesome and letting us pull a couple of images from this so they did this fantastic catalogue where they did this entire lifestyle shot with their product and then I'm just showing you a small sample then she mixed it you know, images with those lifestyle shots so that is kind of that line she versus catalog difference there is no reason to feel like you have to make a catalogue we're going to look at a lot of line sheet options and I have found that that serves very well additionally I think it's that it makes it so much easier for buyers you know, I think giselle and kelly mentioned that if you've got like, a catalogue with and you got a price list you know kelly was like my monitors small I can't look at both typically in a line sheet clear images clear prices it's all spelled out so if you're looking at this thinking I don't have like an army of austin hipsters to do my catalog right? Like I don't have that so you're like all of their friends in the company, right? I don't have that army of austin hipsters so uh that's okay, you do not need to do this you absolutely do not need this as you go in a wholesale it's something that you may think about in the future but don't be intimidated because it is so not necessary uh so as I mentioned, the importance of a line sheet really varies greatly where you're selling ifyou're predominately selling at a trade show it becomes a little less critical now show you my first line sheet so it shouldn't be this bad but my first trade show this is what I rolled up with I honestly had no idea what I was supposed to have so let's just be clear about that I don't know anything so I just made a price list I don't know what they were going to do with this information like there's no pictures there's nowhere they could go and look um but because I was at a trade show I could actually get away with this I think I got away with it for two shows actually because people were coming they were writing orders at the show and so and I wasn't so concerned with the follow up at that point so don't do this but know that I started from something way worse than anyone here is showing all right, so what makes a good line sheet person foremost and kelly anne giselle both said this super important good images good images are so essential because if a buyer can't tell what it is, they're not going to buy it then we need clear information things like materials sizing if that's not clear options, you know, so if it comes in different sizes or it comes in different materials, we really want to make sure that we are communicating all of that effectively. It should also have a strong visual brand and good design. It should be a reflection of your company, your fonts, your colors, your logo's it should feel like an extension of your brand, and then it needs to be clearly organized and what that organization looks like it's going to be different depending on your product category. So, you know, for instance, as a jeweler, and we'll take a look at my line, she you know, I don't always group everything like not all the earrings sometimes end up together actually, all the hearings end up together, but not all the necklaces end up together because there's a couple different collections, so it should make sense to the buyer, but don't worry so much about, like, is everything perfect? We just want to be really clearly organized, so we're going to take a look at my line sheet now because so one of the things about wholesale is thies air super proprietary people make them, you know, it's your thing you share with your wholesalers it's, not something you're putting on the internet for everyone to see, so we're working off of my line sheet because quite frankly, I can't show you lots of other people's line sheets even if I have access to him it's not my information to share, so we're gonna look at mine and I really appreciate the couple other people that will take a look at who did let me do that, but so I want to be clear this is not the only aesthetic for a line sheet, but we're looking at mine because I'm here and I said we could look at it so one of the things that I do with my life, she and just to let you guys kind of see this I did bring physical happy's too, so we'll take a look at some of these throughout so you can see this is the kind of how a pdf translates into physical, so one of the first things that you'll see is that there's different cover images but it's pretty much the same cover layout, so one of my strategies is I do put out a new line sheet typically twice a year, you know, once for each trade show season, but I'm not reinventing the wheel. I'm pretty much using the same format I swapped my cover image out so that I know really quickly and buyers not really quickly that it's a new line sheet but I'm not trying to do anything crazy, so now we go into product pages and here's, where we want to make sure that we've got the really clear information. So here I've got a little bit of a description about the collection, and that tells us a little bit about the materials and the material options, so I've got two different codes here, then I've got my item numbers. So this is what we would call our skew right or stock keeping unit. I don't use anything that auto generates this for me. I make them up myself, and I make them up in a way that I remember. So I actually have a system that makes sense to no one but me and maybe my assistant, but it means a lot to us, so I'll actually explain it to you. So we look at something that says bl and three eighteen it's this necklace right down here. So I actually use my first set of letters to tell me kind of material and major collection. So for me, b l stands for bronze leaf. You see sl that steely for silver leaf? If you see s h l that's the silver and steel shift collection. So I use that first part to tell me what material I'm looking at. Then the second category for me that end three that tells me it's a necklace so there's always my product type you guys don't have to do it this way but I want to give you a really clear example of how I do it so that you can figure out what that logical system looks like for you so I'll use n or s o d is drop hearing so it's always gonna have the end the b for bracelet are for ring and there may be other things in there that indicate a style number so and three is just a type of necklace and then if I need the last set of numbers this is an three eighteen that usually tells me you know how long something is for the most part it's how long so that's an eighteen inch chain super easy thirty six inch chain there's a fifty two inch version too so I just hacked those numbers on it the end so it's a system that when I'm trying to write an order at a trade show there's some logic to this I'm not trying to remember like that necklace twenty seven or necklace sixty four oo one to five I'm like the eighteen inch bronze chain I know exactly what that should say so and this makes a big difference when you're trying to write in order quickly because as we talked about with giselle treacher's air super overwhelming for buyers, right? They have got a lot going on so they can get in and out and get that order right in quickly that really helps them eso using a system that you can remember it doesn't have to make sense to anyone else in the world but it should make sense to you so I've got my item numbers on there and then I've got my prices and you can see here I always labeled the bottom all prices listed or wholesale I don't want there to be any confusion now one change that I am going to make in future line sheets is adding that msrp it's not something I've done in the past but you know I mentioned before that with more stores selling online I want to start to get that consistency and we heard that reiterated with kelly and giselle they like seeing that msrp they like knowing where they should be so that's the one change I'll make it I'll add that just below each piece now for something like the necklaces I don't do a ton to communicate size other than giving you the length and you can see I just continue on a little bit more of the same and I tend to break things up sort of buy loosely by collection and then item so that kind of bronze and steal collection then I get into my steal in silver collection but we're dealing with all the necklaces and I really showed you guys all the pages are the whole thing um then I break into other categories, so bracelets and and I do have some style options so silver and then gold filled or broads and then steal in silver, and I'll indicate those in the line sheet as well. So you do want to think about where there's typical confusion with your buyer? So for me, one of my confusion areas comes in in terms of the size of earrings, so if you need to indicate size that something that you do want to think about on a line sheet and for me, what I realized was easier than trying to give inches because let's face it, it was really thinking about that and translating it. I like to do a few things that are actual size, so, you know, I can't put everything actual size in this page, but this here shown actual size, and then these little guys shown actual size. Obviously they're not as big as they look on this screen, but if we're printing, if we're looking at the printed copies that's, how big they are in real life. So when we look at that page, there is no question about how big those earrings are. I measure it's like I measure and then I measure again in photo shop there's no like magic to that I print it out and I hold up the hearing and I make sure that it's right yeah, totally no matter uh yes so then I do it like this is an earing style where I have it's basically the same hearing in four different sizes and I noticed I was getting a lot of confusion so I just went ahead here it is my stores can actually keep this on hand so when they go to order and they're like I don't remember they're gonna lay there ing on there and match it up perfectly. So you want to think about how you can clearly communicate information, especially when there's confusion that's a great opportunity when you start getting stores, you could talk to them and ask them or you just notice where they're getting confused you send them earrings and they say but I wanted the other size but you ordered this size so china really minimize that will make it so much easier on them. Um and then the last page of my line sheet is going to be a little bit of biographic information about me and then my wholesale terms and these are actually not my most current wholesale terms will look at those a little bit later you're also going to want all of your contact information I just redacted it from all of the line sheets for obvious reasons. So any time you say see a gray box assume that there's some critical contact information that a store is gonna want um so you can see how I also carry this same thing through to the textiles line sheet now I do split these up into two separate line sheets so I used this one and I used the textiles on ly because when I'm dealing with shows this guy's pretty thick to begin with and I don't want to make buyers who are just interested in the textiles have to carry around a big thick chunk of jewellery if they don't want it if they want both I'll give them both but if not I let them split that up but I would never split like my jewelry line into shoe catalogues um so you can see I am really all about not reinventing the wheel so this looks exactly like my jewelry line sheet but I stuck scarves in there and then I stuck some pillows in there now one of the things that I did do for this line sheet that I haven't yet done for the jewelry line and I think of it it's really great as faras communicating that story to the buyer is I added this little process and about paige with some great graphics you know so with my textiles everything starts is an original painting, and then it gets digitally printed on the fabric that's a process that I knew you needed, a little explanation to my buyer and I knew they were going to want to tell it to their customer. So right in that line sheet. Now, I have not just this, but I have given them some images because we talked about before people not always read, so this gives them this really great graphic representation of the process, and then they can turn around and talk about it with their customer. So this is something that for my next iteration of the jewelry line sheet, I'll be doing this for the jewellery as well, because I think it tells a really great story that buyers can and communicate, and then the same thing terms conditions, these are my new our terms and conditions, so and you can see in this case, I took out the bio part about me in terms of conditions because I'm covering that story here in a much more interesting. Why? So obviously with all of my line sheets, I'm using images on a white background I do in my own photography is just not because you have to, if you're not good at photography, hire someone it's ok, just hire someone. I haven't really like product photography, a kind of geek out about it a little bit, so I do all of my own so you notice that all of minor on white background, but you wouldn't have to do that for your light and sheep. So this is megan ackman from studio may some of you know, meghan, I know hi, megan, if you're watching, meghan is also hanging out in our private facebook group that you guys conjoined when you purchased the class, so you'll see her in there as well, and she is awesome. So meghan has obviously does not use a white background, but she does this so well in her line sheet is you still feel like it's cohesive there's a brand and so she's still making that work, and then she does that with these two, so, you know, she wanted to give her products a little bit of context, she wanted them to feel like, okay, here it is. I see it, I understand it, so don't feel like you have to cut that white background in your line sheets if it does not work for your photography, because clearly this works really well now I will say, though, that one of the smart things that meghan did is that even though you know her images might have the dark background the rest of her line sheet is still white because if you're going to email this is a pdf to a store and they want to print it let's not kill suck up all their ink like let's not kill their printer s o just because your image of probably images have dark backgrounds doesn't necessarily mean that you're hold line sheet should in fact it should not all right, so let's talk about some options for designing a line sheet how do you make this so I use some funky combination of photo strapping illustrator I really can't tell you exactly somethings are there some things where they're but ultimately what I'm doing is I'm pulling all together using adobe so if that's something that's in your skill set totally use it there's no magic formula I am not a huge fan of something that's going to force me into a grid because what I don't like is taking products that are this big and this big and compressing them all to the same image size because you lose that scale so when you look back at my necklace pages even though the necklaces aren't to scale they're roughly and scale in relationship to each other and if I was doing something that forced me into a grid you know I wouldn't have this here you wouldn't see that this one is longer so this is why I like working on basically the blank slate of something like photo shopper illustrator, if those programs are a little bit scary to you, actually, one sheet that I really like is you can use keynote, which is apple's version of power point, so it gives you a horizontal format and I actually love the horizontal format because its screen friendly so printing lies it doesn't matter right if it's, horizontal or vertical, but if I'm a buyer and I'm gonna open this up on my computer screen and it's this way, I'm not seeing the whole thing. I'm not taking advantage of the screen horizontal takes advantage of the screen, which I think is really good for a buyer because you're kelly mentioned she's got a small screen so let's, fill it and give her all that information. So keynote, you can sit there just like you'd be designing a power point, but you can drop your images in you can add text super easy to deal with and then you could export. It is a pdf. So for those of you horror like, oh well, show a pollster, I don't know that's a really great place to start. If this is super scary to you, hire a graphic designer. Now, if you're really focused on your brand or, you know, shale is already working with a great graphic designer, so absolutely have them work on your lines, she'd have them work on those materials that's what they're there for it, it keeps your branding consistent so that something really great to dio the other thing that you khun dio is you can use an online platform that auto generates. This is not my favorite method, but again, if you are totally designed, challenged, if graphic design is not in your wheelhouse or you're not married to a graphic designer, not all of us are then some on online platform that auto generates might be really fantastic. This is one that I have heard great recommendations on. I haven't used it yet. It's called brand boom. So brand boom, I believe it's, just brand boom dot com um, so it is both an online platform. You can go and you can create your online platforms. People can order from there. Um, but then you can also auto generate a line sheet. That prince of pdf. The reason that I don't love these is because it again uses that system where then all your images become the same size, and so you lose that sense of scale in your products, but using this and having a clean organized easy to read line sheet is better than having a hot mess because you're not a graphic designer or spending fifty hours fighting with something because it's not in your wheelhouse so clean organized line sheet way better than if you can't the other cool thing that brand boom does I have not utilize this yet but I just noticed they have this service is they do product photography for I think pretty reasonable rates so you send them your product they shoot it on a white background they send it back to you so if product photography is not in your wheelhouse this could be really great option for you on and I believe it's like you set up the account for free and then you send in the products and they charge you per piece so definitely something to consider so while we're talking about brand boom and other places let's answer that should I use an online wholesale platform and do I need an online wholesale ordering system because I think most of you are asking this because I know it came up is a question we was just allen kelly so this is one of those cases were first and foremost think about your customer on the type of store their shopping at and the type of buyer that you're encountering so thus far in my business I actually do not have an online system set up because my buyers in my stores tend to skew a little older sometimes I write orders at a trade show and then they give me their business card I look at it later there's not even email address on it so my buyers aren't using email they're probably not gonna order online uh but if your buyers or younger if your buyers or tellier giselle and they can go online and jump on absolutely you certainly want some kind of online platform something that's going to make it easier um now they talked about etc wholesale and etc wholesale is definitely a platform that can work for you so it's the same thing it's an online password protected online ordering system you put your products up with as a wholesale you can also auto generate um she helped get you know that line sheets you know I have to think about it this is a case where again you really want to think about who your buyer is and is this going to work for them? My vier quite frankly is not going to go on here to them that's he's not a brand that they want affiliate with they might go to a place like brand boom because at the end it's kind of bread in your own space um they might you know the other thing that you can do is depending on your online shopping cart you can actually turn that into your own wholesale shopping cart s o I use shopify for my online retail shopping cart shopify has a couple of plug ins that you can use where you can actually set it up to let you also have wholesale pricing and wholesale ordering with a specific platform so if you're already using something like shopify, I haven't done it yet but it's truthfully on my very soon to do list just turn that function on and then problem solved no reason have kind of fight with two different systems um at the very least give people a way to get more information on your website, so if you go to hold the mega dome and dot com slash wholesale on my website, you'll see this so what I do is list my upcoming trade shows and then I have a form that buyers fill out and what this is going to do is let them give me very specific information and request my wholesale materials eso I ask them their business name, their contact name their email phone number, the type of store so type of store I ask them are they brick and mortar? Are they online only or do they have both? Um I asked for their store website I leave that one not required because again some of my stores and I'm email so some of them may or may not have websites um then I asked them for a few other details about their store how they heard about me I do have a how do you know? How did you hear about me button or field on there? Because I'd like to know how they found me on down the last one is actually an option do they want to opt into my wholesale email list because, you know, I'd like to know if I can go back in and and hit him up later? S o this is at the very least something you khun d'oh all right, so before we talk about you've designed your line sheet, I want to go back and see do we have any line sheet questions? Everyone's good online sheets were going to get to critique wear certainly not done with line sheets were going to come back, and we're actually gonna look at we have got, um, a number of lines sheets from our studio audience and from our online audience, we're gonna look at those shortly guideline packaging we put our product in a box, would they want to see every side of that box? I don't think so, so what I would do in that case is the example I showed you of megan ackman's is a really good one one image shows you how it's packaged and then the rest just show you the product so they don't just see every side now if you give them very different information on, say, like the front and back, then I would maybe show both, you know, shale out with yours. You've got information on the front and a story on the back show both sides of that packaging, so they know completely what they're getting samples for something that's, it seems like something that they would want to be able to touch and smell and try or whatever. So again, I think you kind of go back to what we talked about, challenges out you would never just send a sample, but in your case, because your product is it's less expensive and because it has that kind of smell thing, I would put a caveat in your line sheet that says, like samples are available upon request, I put some kind of system in place, like we will send no more than two or three or something because you don't want them to ask for samples that end up amounting to entire wholesale order, right that's totally not good. Um, so you could put that in there and then say, you know something like, you know, if you choose to order, we'll include the cost of the samples in your order, if not here's the return postage. Any questions from our online audience? We've got some very basic ones and that's how I recognize that you what they're asking why do you ask doors for ian? Is it to verify it's a store for off duty for some other reason and do you require resell numbers from buyers? Yes, so I actually dio ask in that form for a resale number and then typically asking for the er is just asking because if you have someone giving you money, then you have to issue tax forms these are things that I would have you clarify with your accountant, so I'm just gonna put that out there. I am not an accountant. Um and so you want to check with your accountant or your bookkeeper to make sure that you are getting the right information for your country, your local area on that you're getting the right stuff from stores but typically use you ask for resale number just to make sure that they have it on that they're operating as a real store. But honestly, if you you know, if they have a functioning website where you can see images of their location now we have fantastic things like yelp so you can find out, are they a good store? You know, first of all, are they are they still open, you know, second of all, like, is it are they really saying what they're what are they really what they're saying there are yelp is going to tell you that so there's a lot of stuff we could do it on the internet to check up on stores to make sure they're legit, right? I should have said those questions came from th andrea muffins, so thank thank you. All right, so we're going to go back in and look at all, all from good line she's in a minute, but let's, talk about we've designed it right? So now what you gonna do with it? So if you're doing an actual physical line sheet that you've designed, you're gonna create a pdf and hosted online somewhere. This as a file is giant. I don't know how many megabytes it is, but it's huge! I am not sending this is an e mail attachment, so this is a case where we're going. Teo put this on drop box, I use amazon s three some kind of file sharing system so that you can send out a link. Here is the link to download my line sheet as a pdf so that's one thing they're going to do if you're going to a trade show or if we want to do a mailing where we're actually sending stores line sheets, probably not all five hundred on our list but maybe we're doing a targeted ten twenty fifty even you know, particularly if you're not doing a trade show, then you're gonna want to get it printed. I also think it's nice if you can send stores something printed because then they're not having to print it on their dollar. But again, you want to save this for your really strong prospects don't send out five hundred line sheets that's not good for trees, so be nice. Be nice to the trees, senate just to the really clear ones so you know, a couple options I actually print these myself on my home printer. I run him off now I'm pretty smart about it. Clearly, there's not a lot of ink usage works well for my product. I'm pretty decent quality printer and that's worked pretty well for me, but you can certainly use a lot of other online places a couple that do like catalog brochure type printing p s print dot com jack prince, j k prince dot com on and if you wanna really reduce the number of trees greener printer dot com uses a lot of yeah recycled paper better inks, that kind of thing so you can certainly get them printed as well your again you're really only printing these if you're going to a trade show or you want to do it, man into a store. Now I know one of the questions that's going to come up, and we can talk about it more. When we talk about trade shows is, how many do I bring to a trade show? I do not go crazy anymore. I think I used to run off like a hundred or so, and I realized that was super insane. Now I typically run, I would say, anywhere between twenty five to fifty. Figuring worst case scenario. If I run out, I'll take their card, I'll send it to him later.