By GreenHouse17 Staff
I think we’d all agree that supportive guidance is one of the best perks of being part of the Grow Appalachia family. Goodness knows we’ve benefited from all kinds of best-practices from the family while building our farm program. Recently, when it came time to test our new retail sales process, our Grow Appalachia friends were there to help again!
Although we launched online sales of our Handmade By Survivors products last year from our shop at Etsy, selling our value-added products at local retail stores always has been part of our vision. This part of the plan has taken a little more time to implement. Just when we were feeling ready to begin testing the process, Candace from Grow Appalachia reached out to ask if we might like to sell some of our products for re-sale at the Grow Appalachia store.
Talk about great timing!
We jumped at the chance to go through the retail sales paperwork and process with trusted partners who would give us much-needed feedback. And we learned some important things along the way. In case any other farms in the family are thinking about starting retail sales partnerships, we’re sharing some of these lessons here:
• Start talking early with local shops about your retail partnership planning. Ask for their input and let them know they’ll be top on the list when you’re ready to begin.
• Build a spreadsheet to tally your per piece manufacturing expenses. Remember to include raw materials, packaging, label printing, workforce time, and your profit to establish an accurate wholesale cost and manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP).
• Assure your products meet the federal and state labeling requirements for re-sale. This publication from Kentucky Public Health really helped us.
• Become familiar with Sales and Use requirements in your state. For example, we’ve learned that we must have a current Kentucky Resale Certificate on file for each retail partner who purchases our products for re-sale.
• Consider the delivery and/or shipping of your product to your retail partners. How much would it cost to ship a large retail order? Are you able the deliver the products to the stores yourself to save money?
• Will you provide your retail partners with point-of-sale marketing materials, such as signs or product inserts?
• Think about what marketing and tracking tools you’ll need to manage the retail partnership sales process. We decided on a partnership letter, one-page catalog of product descriptions, retail rate sheet, retail sales agreement, and a combination purchase order/invoice form.
• Since we planned to visit each store that expressed interest in a sales partnership, we printed our sales agreement and purchase order/invoice forms in triplicates. This way all of the paperwork can be completed at the store during our meeting with the manager. Then, the carbon copies can be routed to staff for fulfillment and financial tracking back at the office. See image samples below.
Getting ready for retail sales takes time, and you might feel like you’re never going to be ready. At some point, though, you have to trust your process, take the leap, and keep learning along the way! We’d love to talk shop with others in the Grow Appalachia family who are thinking about wholesale and retail selling. Send us a note or give us a call. Let’s share and learn together!