Part 3: Defining terms, order forms, and other things I needed to think about prior to the show:
Order forms/ contracts (in duplicate):
Although several vendors had their own custom-made purchase orders with the information they needed, I did not have time to pre-print my order forms. So, I decided instead to invest in Purchase Order Books from Staples. These books had 50 order forms as 2pt carbonless forms. I printed my terms on small labels and attached these to the yellow copy of the form. (This form was given to the buyer.) I kept all my information on the top white form. The information I needed included: phone number, ship to address, contact name, date ordered, date requested, payment type, shipping preference, items purchased and amount. You will also want to determine shipping costs. (Either include it in the wholesale price, ask the buyer to pay shipping, or offer some sort of shipping discount for the size of their order.) Something else to consider: Get reseller numbers for purchases within your home state. (This is because there will be no tax charged to the buyers within your home state as long as they have a valid reseller license.) In the future, I'll also get the buyers to sign the purchase order. This would have been useful when one of my orders exceeded my credit card limit. (I had to request an increased limit to authorize the customer's credit card and they requested the customer's signature which had to be faxed. A signed purchase order would have been sufficient.)
Define your terms:
Minimum Order: Determine if you will have a minimum order. I requested minimum order of $200.00.
Payment terms: For wholesale orders, Net 30 appears to be the industry standard. Although I talked to several vendors that charge to credit cards upon shipping the order. I decided to request credit card information for the initial order and offer Net 30 on repeat purchases. In most cases, the buyers gave me the credit card information at the time of writing their order, or asked me to call for credit card information prior to shipping. A few galleries requested Net 30 and provided credit references or names of other vendors in my aisle with whom they have worked in the past. This was a quick way to achieve references for galleries/shops that wanted to place their order with Net 30 payment option.
Specify your shipping dates. Allow 15-30, or 30-60 days depending on the size of the order and how much has to be created for the buyer. You definitely want to ship quality items by the dates they request. But don’t overbook yourself. Having a production calendar handy at the show is a great idea. Be realistic and plan out how much you can do over a given period of time. A production calendar keeps you organized and lets you plan out your days after the event ends. I noticed that many buyers had calendars with them too. Some had specific dates during which they wanted to receive shipments, others simply requested ‘asap’.
Damages/Returns: In your terms, mention how returns or damages will be handled. My terms requested that damages or returns be requested within 7 days of receiving shipment.
Shipping: Mention how shipping will be paid. (include in prices, buyer pays, split between you and buyer, etc.)
I ended up specifying the following terms:
Min order of $200.00. Qualified resellers only. Credit Card, COD or pre-payment for initial purchase. Buyer pays shipping costs. Most orders ship within 15-30 days of order date. Returns or damaged items must be reported within 7 days of receipt of package. Claims after 7 days will not be honored.
I printed these on labels and stuck them to the buyer’s order receipt.
Show only wholesale prices. Don’t confuse the buyer by having retail prices listed. Show only wholesale prices, but be prepared to let them know at what prices your galleries or shops are selling the items. Also suggest bundled prices if some of your items sell well ‘bundled’.
Know your best-sellers. You know your items better than the buyer who might be seeing them for the first time, so highlight your best-sellers. Either put stickers on them letting the buyer know about your best-sellers, or show items that are exclusive to the show you are doing. The BMAC had small table cards that drew attention to “Buyer’s Market Exclusives”. This let the buyers know that they were purchasing something not available at other wholesale shows. I had a few buyers who simply ordered ‘assorted best sellers’. They let me decide which items to mail to them….but they specified a quantity. Many buyers were in a hurry to move to other booths….lots to see in the 4 days and time was of the essence. So, be ready to help and quick in writing your orders.
Bring lots of promotional materials. I had canvas bags printed with my business name. Postcards and business cards printed by Vistaprint.com and small brochures printed by the UPS Store. I kept a few postcards on the table and some information about the artist. I left these with other promotional materials on the press table. (There weren’t any left at the end of the show, so hopefully all the members of the press got one!)
It was recommended that I not leave promotional materials out for people to just grab as they were passing by the booth, but to instead share them with potential buyers with whom you also exchange information. Some vendors ran contests in exchange for getting business cards.
Other things to have in your booth:
Have a place for the buyer to sit down. They get tired too and having an extra seat is a nice gesture and makes them feel comfortable when writing the order.
Have candy, water, snacks, etc. available to the buyer. Understand that if you are tired from standing all-day on the trade show floor, imagine how exhausting it is to a buyer who is zooming through 800+ vendors. A bit of chocolate (thanks Lauren), or a bowl of candy from which they can grab a tweet, or a bottle of water gives them a pick-me-up. One of my booth neighbors even had wine, music and martinis! How cool is that!!??Next up: Part 4: Other 'notables' and observations
Read Part 5: Pictures from February 2010 BMAC and additional advice from 'those in the know'