March 31, 2006.
I get asked all the time how I decided to sell my products to the retail industry, and how I did it. Deciding where to sell your products and how to sell them are two of the biggest questions you need to ask when starting a business. Not to say that the answers may change as your company grows and matures. Finding your audience is key....
Our first sales plan was to print up a brochure at home, on a color printer, with our own digital photos and my limited graphic design knowledge. I would call local stores and either offer to ship them a sample or meet with them in person and show them our products. After awhile this got exhausting and the time spent on the phone and traveling around the bay area got tiresome.
This was a slow process, but really worked for understanding what the store wanted and how much people were willing to spend on wall art. Our business model and sales plan continued to change as we grew (websites, catalogs, sales reps) and as we got more sophisticated (professional brochure and photos a must) our sales continued to grow.
Whether you are selling retail or wholesale, you need to do figure out how you are going to do it. Are you going to get sales reps? Or are you going to do it yourself (being the expert and the entrepreneur...who knows the product better than you?) Are you going to do a trade show?
Even after 3 1/2 years I still pick up the phone every once in awhile to try and get a new channel. Now most channels find us, but it's still fun to hunt.