Recently, we wrote an article with some of our quick tips & advice on selling wholesale to large retailers. We put it in our free 6-day email course, Retail Rundown, so make sure to check it out if you haven't yet!
We talk about the importance of your email pitch and attaching a line sheet or wholesale website link to get the buyer interested.
If you’re new to the term “line sheet”, let's explain it in layman’s terms.
Everyone who sells wholesale uses line sheets. This is true across almost all categories, from apparel to accessories, jewelry to shoes, toys to decor, and so on. This is not something that is just for "beginners".
The details on your line sheet will usually include your company name, your contact info, sizing, color options, case packs, and any other important details like that.
“Line sheet” vs. “Look book” vs. “Catalog”
We often get questions asking us to clarify the difference between these 3 marketing materials. And the truth is, it can be confusing but a line sheet is not quite a “catalog” nor is it quote a “look book”.
A look book is usually very heavily image based – it’ll show more editorial or lifestyle photos that convey the “feel” of your brand. Most times the look book does not include much detail (or text) about the products. Look books are much more prevalent in the fashion categories like apparel, jewelry, handbags, shoes, and so on.
A catalog is somewhat of an in-between point between a look book and a line sheet. Like a look book, a catalog is heavily image based with lots of lifestyle photography but it will also include a few more product details like style number or even description.
A line sheet on the other hand exists almost exclusively to "present facts" about the product and its details. This is where we usually depart from the lifestyle photography and focus more on straight product shots. More importantly, the line sheet has got all the information that the buyer needs to fill out an order form such as pricing, minimums, and more. It’s a critical buying and selling tool.
You don’t need to pay for Photoshop OR hire a graphic designer to make a great line sheet.
From our experience, what we've seen is that business owners lack the know-how and experience to know what is (and isn't) important to include on their line sheets.
What you do need is the proper guidance to get it done right the first time so that you're showing the buyer you are a capable, legitimate business.
if you're interested in checking out our wholesale line sheet templates & tutorials, click here!
so, why do you need a line sheet anyways?
Buyers use line sheets to place orders with the brands they want to buy from. A line sheet is a reference guide for the buyer to find product details, pricing, and more.
Your line sheet is the bridge that will take the buyer from overwhelmed to organized.
Time and time again, we see business owners focus on more of the “aesthetic” stuff in their businesses – photo shoots, look books, business cards, website imagery, social media posts… the list goes on.
But nothing in your business is as directly related to the ordering process as a line sheet.
line sheets are your #1 selling tool.
Remember, and at the end of the day, you want to make the ordering process as frictionless as possible for the retail buyer. You also want to ensure you come off experienced, well-rounded, and capable of handling the business the retail buyer gives you.
That’s why downloading a generic line sheet off the internet is never the best option.
We did an experiment on our own, scouring the internet to find a really good, trustworthy free line sheet template.
We’ve found that almost all of the line sheet templates out there are missing critical ordering information.
(Stuff that we would have looked for when we were working at a major retailer, using line sheets to place orders from small and large brands).
Please be sure you are using a line sheet template that meets the standards of retail buyers today.
It is not enough to trust a "free" template from a website you've never heard of before, especially if the website owner has never sold to major retailers before.
Remember, line sheets are more than just pretty, designed marketing materials. They are legitimate SELLING TOOLS that need to be built for the purpose of SELLING.
Wholesale Terms & Conditions
When we talk about setting wholesale terms & conditions, we usually like to start with an example.
Is there anything in your life that you do rather routinely?
Maybe you attend the same workout class every week. Or maybe you go to your favorite restaurant all the time. And in both situations, you probably notice the people who seem “comfortable” and “with it” – those in the workout class who understand what they should be doing; they don’t seem lost. Whereas a newbie kind of, hesitates? Or looks around a bit for reassurance?
Maybe you notice a new waiter at a restaurant who says something the wrong way or doesn’t know the menu as well. Even if it’s the tiniest little cue, you can just tell they lack some experience? Or that they’re pretty new to this?
It’s these subtle nuances in life that can signify a lot in a business transaction too.
And just like those examples, retail buyers can usually tell when a business owner lacks experience.
An unprofessional line sheet is often the first clue, but a scattered or unclear wholesale term & condition policy tends to really be the giveaway.
Be sure you are setting a solid foundation for the future of your business. Think about your business' wholesale terms (remember, this is not the same as your e-commerce terms & conditions!)
Wholesale Terms & Conditions to think about"
- Opening order minimums
- Re-order minimums
- Return Policy
- Custom Order Policy
- Payment Policy
- Late-Payment Policy
- And so on!
HOW TO CREATE A GREAT WHOLESALE LINE SHEET
To make sure you are FULLY prepared to make a great first impression in your initial conversations with your dream retailers, following the following tips:
ORGANIZE YOUR ASSORTMENT. HOW MANY SKUs DO YOU HAVE? HOW MANY FIT NICELY ON EACH PAGE? it'll never be an exact science, so use your creative eye to see what looks clean & neat. don't over clutter.
Always use a line sheet template that has your product organized the way the buyer would want to see it. Does the buyer purchase by delivery date? by Classification? do your due diligence here.
Ensure ALL pertinent details for the order writing process are located visibly on your line sheet. “Style Number, Wholesale Price, and Retail Price” alone are not enough. include all other details that are important to your category. for example, in jewelry, buyers usually want to know country of origin & materials (to NAME a few).
ESTABLISH a strategic, thoughT-out wholesale terms & conditions process for yourself. what are your order minimums? Payment terms? Returns? Shipping costs? SORT THIS OUT NOW BEFORE ANY HICCUPS.
SAVE YOUR LINE SHEET AS A PDF. Do not send the buyer a word document, excel document, or anything of that sort. pdf is the most professional way to share your line sheet digitally.
If you've got these details nailed down, your line sheets should be locked and loaded to go. If you're someone who is thinking, "I need help so that I can be sure I do this right the first time", then you should definitely read up about our Ready, Set, Wholesale course -- it might be the perfect fit for you.
What line sheet questions do YOU have about your brand and products? Let us know in the comments below!