I keep wanting to blog as I'm learning more and more about the paper industry, but I just can't find the time. I'm going to make it a goal to do short blog posts that will document what I'm currently learning and not obsess about them being superbly well-written ;)
Today I'm going to blog about my wholesale process: Getting retailers, invoicing, and shipping.
After spending months putting together a wholesale catalog, I ordered a couple hundred of them earlier this summer. They are GORGEOUS and I flip through them every so often when I need a mood boost. I am super, super proud of them.
After I printed the catalogs, I shipped them off in a neat little package, which included....
- a couple business cards
- a sample of two different cards
- a handwritten note about how I found them, what I liked about their store, and why I thought A Jar of Pickles would do well in their brick and mortar
- our catalog (of course!)
I am super proud of every part of these packages. I was crazy excited each time I dropped of a whole pile of packages at the post office.
But all that said- it was an extremely expensive investment. Printing a couple hundred, especially at such an odd (but awesome!) size (8"x8") + buying envelopes + buying stamps to ship them out + all the hours researching potential retailers + writing each of them a personal note— yeah. It was a lot. I am super proud of what I created, but upon reflection, I don't think I would have jumped the gun and printed so many catalogs without contacting retailers first via email or phone. My response/order rate isn't too bad- not terribly low, and I'm so happy and grateful for the accounts we've opened, but I have definitely learned things through this process. Being in the paper industry, it's only logical you'd want to send mail vs email, but I probably wouldn't have gone all out like this.
After email follow-ups to each of the shops (sometimes it took literally 3-4 follow up emails upon a span of 2 months!) and a retailer decided to place an order, they'd send me a list of cards they'd like with SKU's and quantity. My invoices were made by creating a custom form I'd edit every time an order came through, and then sending an electronic invoice through Square. I like this process- the more "traditional" way to take in orders is by calling and taking down a CC number, then charging when you ship, but this allows more security for the retailer because I never know their CC number, and I don't risk misplacing it.
I know, the invoice forms are so pretty right? But this started to take way too long as the orders came in; now I just invoice through Square, even if it's more plain ;)
After the retailer pays their invoice, I order a label off USPS.com (it's so easy- and they can pick it up with your regular mail the next day!) and package the order. In each box, I include
- their order
- a copy of the invoice
- a sample of two cards they didn't order that I think would fly off their shelves
- a handwritten note thanking them for their business, and expressing how crazy thrilled I am to have my cards in their shop
Then I send them an email with the USPS tracking number, noting the expected delivery date. I always follow up the day via email after the package was delivered to make sure everything was correctly delivered.