Dear Design Doctor
I am doing the CRAFT trade show this weekend. It’s my first trade show, and I just wanted to know if you’d advice putting my prices next to products on display or just having them on a separate sheet to show and give to buyers.
I feel the second option may be more professional but as I’ve never done a trade show before, I just don’t know!
The answer to this real life question is given by Patricia van den Akker, Director of The Design Trust:
‘To be honest … I would do both!
Both have got some different advantages.
Let me explain:
It’s good for potential buyers to have an indication of your prices.
Especially at crafts fair attended by consumers I would strongly advice to have your prices with your work – as many potential clients are too shy to actually ask you, and you might have lost sales if you don’t show your prices clearly.
But even for a trade show (even trade buyers can be shy! Or they are in a hurry …) I think it is useful to show your prices with your work.
If you show jewellery or other small objects then I suggest that you present your work in small collections, and that you have price/title cards stating for example: ‘hand-made commissioned wedding earrings in platinum from £850’ or ‘acrylic bangles between £35 – £85’.
If you show visual art, prints, photographs, wall coverings or paintings then I would also include the title of the work, the year you made it, the measurements and materials.
Did you see what I did there?
Include more details then just your price!
That’s an easy, but very effective way to increase the value of your work!
The presentation of the larger works can be similar to the presentation within a gallery or museum context just by using the label in a clever way.
You can even include red dots to show they have sold!
If you get the wording and presentation of your labels right it can really add professionalism and value to your presentation.
But as I said … I also would provide separate price lists.
But don’t have any boring kind of price list …
No, create a visual and professional price list.
I have seen too many boring price lists in my life, please don’t create another one like that.
So, what am I talking about?
A professional, colourful price list with wonderful collections that show that you really understand your clients.
The kind of price lists that Clare Yuille from the Indie Retail Academy (Please check this website out if you want to really learn how to sell to shops. Clare is one of my favourite experts!) talks about all the time:
See what I mean?
Look at your products from a buyer’s perspective and group similar work together in collections.
Then for each collection create a separate visual price list.
Clare explains on her Indie Retail Academy website in much more detail how to sell to retailers, but you might especially like this blog post on how to create line sheets (that’s what the Americans call price lists!) to make selling easy, and to help you create a professional one for you.
I recently had a client on the Get Clients Now! Coaching programme. She creates beautiful woolen scarves, and like you had never done a trade show before.
She had already beautiful images and managed to create a set of 5 different price lists like this in an afternoon (just in time for the show!). She created a simple layout, wrote short but clear texts and printed them on high quality printing paper. She handed these out to specific buyers during the show.
After the show she was so excited! She really commented on how much more professional and confident she felt about approaching buyers at her stand with this new price list.
I also suggested that she followed up with an email and specific price lists a couple of days after the show. Trade shows are changing in nature, and often decisions about buying are no longer made at the stand, but in a (team) meeting a couple of days after the show.
It is crucial that you follow up very soon after a trade show!
A friendly but professional reminder email accompanied with the right price list can really help you get more retail sales.
And also it turned out that many of the retail clients kept her price lists. They used them as a brochure, and bought from her at a later date.
(You will find that many wholesale buyers will take a little time before they will purchase from you. Often you’ll need to be at shows for a couple of years. They will talk to you, follow your progress from a distance, and then purchase when the time is right for them. Professional presentation and following up is essential to build your profile with professional buyers.)
So, that answers your question, but I have got one very important question for you too:
What prices will you put on your labels? Wholesale price or recommended retail price?
It’s up to you!
In fact you can include both as Clare’s visual example shows above.
But most importantly you need to be very clear about the difference between your wholesale price and recommended retail price. And you need to state which price you are charging (either on your price label or price list):
- The wholesale price is what the buyer will pay to you
- The recommended retail price is what the consumer pays to the retailer
What you need to be very aware of when selling to retailers is how their markup or commission works. If you wonder why shops and galleries charge so much commission then you need to read this blog post first (click the red link).
In short the wholesale price terminology is:
- Your cost price is what it costs you to design, make, market and deliver 1 product to your clients
- Your wholesale price is what your retailers pay you. As a rough estimate this is about 2x as much as your cost price (If your cost price is very low than this multiplication would be lower too).
- Your recommended retail price is what the consumer pays (either to you for example at a craft fair or in your online shop, or to the gallery or shop owner). This is normally 2 to 3x the wholesale price again.
In principle: the retail price stays more or less the same.
Basically consumers would get really annoyed if they realise they could have bought it much cheaper elsewhere.
There might be a little bit of difference (e.g. clients buying at your Open Studios would like a bargain and you can give them 20% off or so) But it is really important that you do not undercut any potential trade clients as you will lose them very soon (obviously)!
Many new creative businesses struggle in the first couple of years to get this pricing right, as they very often are too expensive when they include the wholesale markup in their retail price.
Therefore you might need to sell first directly and to consumers only before you can start selling wholesale. It is very common. Just keep working at getting your cost price down by becoming more efficient or increase the value of your work.
But unfortunately …
You can recommend a retail price to your retailers, but the reality is that once they have bought your products they can do whatever they like e.g. offer a discount, do a sale, or increase the price much higher for their clients.
Also, if a retailer would approach you for a very big order they would expect to get a discount on the wholesale price. That’s fair enough.
Or you might get an online retailer approaching you, who have lower overhead costs, and therefore should have a lower mark up …
So back to my question about will you show recommended retail price or wholesale price …
The principle is that your recommended retail price should be more or less the same.
So if you want to negotiate on your wholesale price (due to different type and size of your potential wholesalers) then I suggest that you mention only your recommended retail price on your price lists or price labels, not your wholesale price.
Another advantage if you show your recommended retail price list is that you then can give your price list to the press and media. They only should see your retail prices. (I have seen it more than once that they published by accident the ‘wrong’ wholesale prices e.g. less than half the price that they are for sale for in the shops!)
If you are getting all confused about the price terminology then read this blog post (click the red link)
It is crucial that you understand the difference between these pricing terms, but more importantly that you understand the calculations behind them.
If you want to learn much more about selling to retailers than I strongly recommend the Indie Retail Academy website which is full of free blog posts and some very practical tool kits and online programmes. (The Design Trust is an affiliate partner of the Indie Retail Academy, which means that we get a commission for recommending Clare, but we love recommending her as she is so wonderful and knowledgeable. I just really love how she explains how to sell to retail successfully in such a fun, creative and visual way.)
Good luck with your first trade show!’
How do you present your prices? Do you have a price list or price individually? Have you used Clare’s example of a visual price list (or line sheet as the Americans call it!) Share your experiences and tips with us in the comments box below: