Making a Sale to a Boutique: Part III of Selling to Boutiques
Following your initial contact with a boutique or gift store, give the owner about a week to explore your website or any other information you provided. Then make a phone call to find out if the owner has found anything in that information that you might bring by the store. Do not expect the store owner to call you. Often, the person has not thought about or looked at the information you supplied. Your phone call is a chance for you to say that you understand how busy things get, but to say that you really wanted to let the person know about the new pieces you’ve done since you were in the store. Just talk about what you’re making and the enthusiasm you’ve received in other venues. Hopefully, the store owner will realize that you should bring your product to the boutique. If so, ask if there is anything in particular that you need to bring. For example, are customers looking for more bracelets or something in a specific color?
Set up a time for a store visit. Call the day before to be sure the owner remembers you are coming and then be on time for the appointment.
When showing pieces, try to determine what the store owner likes and dislikes. The latter is more difficult since many individuals are hesitant to state “why” they don’t like a design. The answers to a few questions such as “would you like this better in another color” or “does this piece seem too long for your customers” may give you insight into the owner’s preferences. After months of bringing pink and blue jewelry into a store, this designer learned that the owner really wanted browns and oranges but didn’t want to hurt my feelings. Don’t try to convince the person that the store can sell the colors or designs they didn’t select for purchase. As you know, it’s very hard to sell something you don’t like and you may end up regretting your strong encouragement for a piece. When the owner is considering a particular piece, it is often helpful to take it for a “store walk”, holding it against garments to see how it works. If the owner is having trouble deciding about a piece and the store walk produces no matches, the piece may not work. Take this opportunity to tell the owner that you have other designs that might work better in this venue. You can gain a good deal of respect and trust from the owner by really trying to determine what will sell at the boutique rather than just what YOU want to sell TO the boutique.
It’s nice if you can get an order for something while visiting the boutique. This provides a reason to again communicate with the owner. If you don’t get an order, suggest that you make a free pair of earrings to match something that was purchased. This gives you the opportunity to mail a package to the store, to call the store to determine if it arrived and to check on other purchases that were made. This works better that just calling for no particular reason.
After about a month, call the store to see how things are going with the purchased pieces. What have the customers had to say about your designs? Is there anything that sold quickly and could be replicated for the store?
Finally, plan to visit the store again every three or four months. Repeat the process of making an appointment, calling with a reminder and having new products ready to show. Once the owner learns that you will be coming for regular visits, he or she will begin to count on you. When it becomes a winning situation for both of you, it’s likely that this supplier-customer relationship will last a long time.
Marketing to boutiques is definitely an interesting way to sell your designs. If you can develop a long term relationship with enough stores and produce an appropriate amount of your product, it may also provide a relatively steady source of income.
Style, price range, what's NOT there
Conversation - - are you the owner/buyer, where do you get your
jewelry/gifts, would you want to see anything?
Give card - direct to blog, website - other customers (ask their
Call - did you look at website? - I'm coming your way next week, may I stop
by? What's a good time for you? Is there anything in particular you would
like to see - is there anything your customers are looking for that you
haven't had - what colors work best for your customers?
Call the day before the appt.
Show up on time - not early and not late
During showing - - you picked up this piece and then decided against it - -
what did you like about it? What didn't you like about it?
Customer picks up a piece and isn't sure - - let's take it around and see
what it does with the clothes - - if it doesn't work, say - - this may not
be your best choice. If there is something that hasn't sold at all other
places, you might discount it or at least tell them about it.
Offer to trade things that haven't sold in 6 months.
After a couple or 3 weeks call store to see if anything is selling - just to
be friendly. Do you need anything else? Let me send you that - or may I
send/email you pictures of the new designs that hatched since I saw you.
After mailing - - call to see that it arrived and see if it was OK
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