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Greeting Cards; Approaching Retailers

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by Mr Rock, Jun 15, 2010.

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  1. Mr Rock

    Mr Rock UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    11 1
    Hey Guys

    I'm setting up a greeting cards business.

    I've got all my designs but haven't printed them yet.

    Should I approach Retailers (Clintons, Card Factory, Tescos) before I have any hard sales?

    I mean, should I sell on my website, target local shops first, and then approach the major card retailers? This way there's evidence that the cards sell.

    The reason I haven't printed them yet, is because if retailers take orders, they'd require barcodes on them. I do want to add barcodes if its not necessary at present.

    Basically all I'm asking is, whats next for me?
    Posted: Jun 15, 2010 By: Mr Rock Member since: Apr 3, 2010
  2. jamesmd

    jamesmd UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    123 7
    Posted: Jun 15, 2010 By: jamesmd Member since: May 4, 2010
  3. lww

    lww UKBF Regular Free Member

    359 66
    Greeting cards are incredibly competitive and turnover of designs and stock is incredibly rapid. Not only do you have the high street chains like Clintons and Paperchase, but you have DSAs like Phoenix Cards.

    As for the barcodes, there are different ways to barcode a greeting card without printing the barcode - you could apply barcoded stickers to the card or to an external cellophane wrapper. But I assume your lead times will be quite short, so it would make more sense just to get samples made up and worry about the barcoding once someone has placed an order and told you if/how they want them - you don't know whether they will insist on cellophane wrappers for example.
    Posted: Jun 15, 2010 By: lww Member since: Jan 20, 2010
  4. jamesmd

    jamesmd UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    123 7
    you can probably get on just fine without going to retailers... get a website built with an ecommerce shop, talk to small online retailers to see if they'll be interested in stocking your products, go to other little shops and see if they'll do a trial...
    Posted: Jun 15, 2010 By: jamesmd Member since: May 4, 2010
  5. Jeff FV

    Jeff FV UKBF Big Shot Staff Member

    3,683 1,753
    It is a tough business - dots and spots began on the kitchen table about 2 years ago and has grown enormously in that time and I've learnt more! The last few months have seen us really start to grow and we are now supplying more and more shops.

    Getting your cards to market will be your biggest hurdle. I don't know what your designs are and what your target market is, but you are clearly going for the big boys (Clinton's, Tescos etc.) right from the start. We don't target this market - partly because our cards are not right for this market (we target the high end, design led independent and small chain home & gift shops) - but if you do succeed in getting into these shops you will find that you are selling to them at a very low price (albeit with a high volume.)

    We don't have barcodes on our cards, but if a major player (say someone like John Lewis) placed a big order with us and insisted upon bar codes we could easily have a new print run done with bar codes to meet this requirement.

    I'm happy to help in anyway I can,

    Posted: Jun 15, 2010 By: Jeff FV Member since: Jan 10, 2009
  6. deniser

    deniser UKBF Legend Free Member

    8,100 1,702
    Is it not easier to sell the designs than make up cards yourself?

    To do it properly you would need to take a stand somewhere like Top Drawer and take orders. But cards is something that one would expect to be immediately available; it's not really a forward order item except I guess for certain seasonal ranges such as Christmas.
    Posted: Jun 15, 2010 By: deniser Member since: Jun 3, 2008
  7. Mr Rock

    Mr Rock UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    11 1
    Jeff, what would you do differently if you just started now?

    I am targeting a very niche market.

    I'll PM you very soon
    Posted: Jun 15, 2010 By: Mr Rock Member since: Apr 3, 2010
  8. warnie

    warnie UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    523 245
    I run a couple of traditional sweet and gift shops, and I am crying out for something a bit different to the norm, i dont want to compete directley against Clintons etc, I want something unique, but I struggle to find anyone offering anything like at a decent price.

    The best way to go if you are trying to get into small retailers is to offer the cards on a sale or return basis, with the retailer only paying for what they have sold. A lot of card companies offer this, so if you cant it may or may not be a stumbling block
    Posted: Jun 15, 2010 By: warnie Member since: Sep 24, 2007
  9. Jeff FV

    Jeff FV UKBF Big Shot Staff Member

    3,683 1,753
    Much the same, but maybe speed up certain things we did.

    We sold (and still do) direct to small, independent shops. At first it was a case of putting together a portfolio, taking a deep breath, and walking into a shop to see if they wanted to take our cards.

    We then aquired a couple of agents to sell on our behalf in a couple of geographic areas - useful in approaching shops in regions we just couldn't reach.

    But the biggie is the trade shows - we spent a year visiting all the big trade shows - NEC Spring Fair, Top Drawer etc. and have taken the plunge and will be exhibiting at Home & Gift fair in Harrogate in July. Its quite a bit of cash, but its already paying dividends before the show as we're in the pre-show bumpf and buyers are already contacting us and placing orders. So, if I were doing it again, I'd maybe look to do a trade show earlier.

    Don't know where you are based, but if your anywhere near Yorkshire in July, drop by the Home & Gift show and have a chat.

    Thanks for the pm - later on I'll pm you, the other critical factor is pricing, and that's not really appropriate for a public forum.

    Posted: Jun 15, 2010 By: Jeff FV Member since: Jan 10, 2009
  10. lww

    lww UKBF Regular Free Member

    359 66
    I'd be interested in hearing how you got your agents, we have failed to find any but are not sure of the best way to go about it to be honest!
    Posted: Jun 15, 2010 By: lww Member since: Jan 20, 2010
  11. fieldsalesguy

    fieldsalesguy UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    15 0

    I have a post on here as I am looking for some freelance field sales work so maybe you would be interested in having a chat with me? Please feel free to PM me if you do.


    Posted: Jun 15, 2010 By: fieldsalesguy Member since: Jun 14, 2010
  12. Jeff FV

    Jeff FV UKBF Big Shot Staff Member

    3,683 1,753
    We cultivated very good relationships with a couple of shops that stocked our products - I would say the owners have become friends as well as business contacts.

    They have been full of useful advice - being up front with what they want as retailers etc. When we started talking to them about agents, they agreed to recommend our products to some agents who came to their shops to sell to them. The agents liked what they saw and took us on. Having a shop owner recommend us was a real help in securing agents who, I suspect, get lots of unsolicited requests every week.

    Posted: Jun 15, 2010 By: Jeff FV Member since: Jan 10, 2009
  13. Fuzzy

    Fuzzy UKBF Legend Free Member

    5,365 506
    Great advice!:D
    Posted: Jun 15, 2010 By: Fuzzy Member since: Oct 20, 2007
  14. lww

    lww UKBF Regular Free Member

    359 66
    Thanks for the info - this is actually something we're trying, so we'll keep pursuing this line!
    Posted: Jun 16, 2010 By: lww Member since: Jan 20, 2010
  15. chiggs

    chiggs UKBF Regular Free Member

    301 46
    There are companies and websites specialising in agents, too- I've no personal experience of them as the 2 agents I've used found me by seeing my cards in shops local to them- fortunate for me, and of course the more shops you get in the more chance you have of this happening :D

    These agent companies advertise in trade mags such as Greetings Today, I don't know if you subscribe- and, to the op, subscribing to trade mags such as this may also help to give you an insight into the greeting card industry.
    Posted: Jun 16, 2010 By: chiggs Member since: Sep 21, 2007
  16. Funny Business Cartoons

    Funny Business Cartoons UKBF Regular Free Member

    269 94
    Website, blog, retailers, Trade shows, you'll need to try every avenue possible for maximum exposure. You are obviously not interested in just selling your designs, but in building up an enterprise for the output of your cards thus cutting out the middle man. You can supplement your website by setting up shop on sites like: and whereby they take care of all the printing and distribution for a very modest fee. Another one is but I find this one a bit hard to get my head round. Get a funky and recognizable identity and logo (I can help here) and advertise on the many free sites.
    Pimp up your site with neat little widgets from sites like Here you can choose greetings card themes and have flash animations to display a showcase of your designs.
    You simply upload the pictures you want to use (about 6 to Cool add some short text, select a picture to highlight, then when done, you can select music from the sites selection or upload from your own computer. It takes a couple of mins for animoto to process your selection and make your video! You can then embed this video on youtube, facebook, your blog site, myspace etc.
    All of the above are free services. You should take advantage.:cool:
    Posted: Jun 16, 2010 By: Funny Business Cartoons Member since: Mar 22, 2010
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