Saturday, March 7, 2009

Part IV - The Consignment Selling Experience - Inventory Sheets, etc.

Let's get this show on the road. You now know where you are going to consign your merchandise, for how much and you have signed a contract with the shop. When starting a consignment relationship, I suggest taking it slow and starting with a fairly small amount of stock - kind of a "trial run." You can always add additional merchandise if things go well and sales are occurring with no problems in the payment schedule. Now, let's get that merchandise ready for delivery.

Tagging -

At this point, you should have already discussed tagging with the shop owner and know whether you will tag the merchandise or the shop will do this. If you are tagging, you should know what information, in addition to the price, needs to go on that tag. Tags will usually carry some sort of code to identify the product as yours (I refer to this as a "vendor code".) Normally, such code will have been assigned to you by the shop. It may be your initials or a number code. There will usually be some sort of code identifying the item itself and, of course, the selling price. Be sure this information is written very clearly and is easy to read to assure the correct price will be charged and you will be properly credited for the sale.

You should also have already sorted out what kind of personal contact information the shop owner will allow you to include on the tag such as your name, phone number and/or a website address. It is important to respect the shop owner's position on this matter. It is their right to ask that such information not be attached.

Inventory Sheets -

Make sure you maintain good records of what merchandise is delivered to the shop. Be absolutely certain your records agree with the shop's records in this area by keeping an exact copy of each inventory sheet for delivered merchandise.

When personally delivering to a shop, ask the shop's representative to go over the delivery with you and to sign and date each page indicating receipt of the listed merchandise. If shipping merchandise, pay the extra fee for a signed confirmation indicating receipt date and by whom. Also include in the packing paperwork, a written notice to the shop personnel to contact you within 48 hours of receipt if there is any dispute as to the packing slip and merchandise received.

Many stores have their own Inventory Form to use with your delivery. If they do not provide one, create one of your own. This should be done in table form and should include a column for the item's name, the item's code number, the price you will receive for that item, the shop's percentage of that price and the full selling price of the item. You may want to include a column that can be checked off when an item sells. I suggest the selling price column always be the last column (farthest to the right) as this makes it easier for the shop personnel to check the price f there is any question.

I mentioned a code number for each item. This should be done in the form designated by the shop and, if possible, with a system that makes sense to you. For example: "your vendor code+T-01", "T-02" etc. might mean T-shirts with the number indicating different designs.

Miscellaneous comments -

Once a shop has your merchandise, maintain communication on a regular basis. Most shops do have some schedule for reporting to you with regard to sales but if you desire, it is quite appropriate to give them a call or drop an e-mail every few weeks to ask how things are going. If it is a local shop, drop in occasionally to check on your merchandise. (I emphasize "occasionally." Daily would not be appropriate in most situations!) If after a reasonable amount of time (3 - 6 months) your work has not begun to sell, you may want to withdraw your goods and look for a shop that reaches your target market better.

If the shop is local, you may want to offer to carry a flier or business cards for the shop to any local craft shows you are doing or give them out to friends and family. Be sure to tell your customers that your work is also available in that shop. If the shop is not local, you may offer to mention them on your website or in your blog.

Go ahead, try a little consignment. I could be the start of a beautiful (and profitable) relationship.

Good luck and good sales to you!

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