<Selling to catalogs.
This article gives advice about selling to catalogs. It advises
start-up or one-product companies to initially sell to a small
catalog. Production capacity should be a minimum of 2,000 to 3,000
pieces a month. However that capacity may not be needed for six
Often a catalog will test a product initially and only make an opening
order of 25% to 30% of what they expect to sell. Around 500 to 1,000
pieces in inventory may be enough to fulfull an opening order. The
level of inventory will very much depend on the price of the product
with lower priced items being needed in higher quantities.
Finding catalogs to pitch to.
There are between 8,000 and 10,000 catalogs ? many of them small,
niche catalogs. Online directories can provide initial contact
www.catalogs.google.com is a directory of catalogs divided into
different product groups.
Making the pitch.
Telephone the company and find out who the buyer is for your product.
Put together a written proposal and send it to the buyer. Include
pricing, product description and good quality pictures.
Negotiating a deal.
Often the catalog will ask for volume discounts, exclusives and other
concessions. They will attempt to negotiate a lower price. They may
request that you pay freight costs or fees for advertising and
Products that are most likely to succeed are those that are:
new and unique products,
have a year-round market,
can be easily shipped via UPS channels without a high breakage rate,
priced between $5 and $100.
Source: Making it with Mail-Order. Karen E. Klein. BusinessWeek Online.
Get a copy of the catalog to check that your type of product is sold.
Check that your price point is comparable to other products in the
catalog. You should also select what would be the best pages/section
for your product to appear in. You could also consider making up a
mock page of the catalog that will show exactly how your product will
look in the catalog. Presenting three or four different designs
increases the chance that a buyer will like at least one of the
You should be persistent and continue to call even if you get turned
down. Buyers are constantly changing and your product may appeal to a
different buyer. A situation may also arise where a supplier is unable
to deliver which may give you your break.
Source: Break The Chain by Don Debelak. Entrepreneur Magazine. May 2000.
Ensure that you protect your profit. When pricing your product ensure
that you factor in volume discounts, advertising costs, freight costs
and photography fees. Also take account of returns. Try to avoid an
?exclusive?. If a catalog asks for an ?exclusive? try to keep the
period as short as possible.
Check the rules and shipping requirements closely. A catalog may
impose a penalty for late shipment.
Ensure that you can keep up with orders.
Avoid doing business with late payers. If an invoice is more than a
month past due you should consider holding shipments as it could
indicate that the catalog firm is in financial trouble.
Source: Pitfalls of selling to catalogs. Tilberry Direct Marketing.
This article gives a detailed step by step approach to selling to catalogs.
You need to research as many catalogs as possible.
Two sources for publications listing catalogs are given:
Interstate Publications , P.O. Drawer 19689, Houston, TX 77224
Lists hundreds of catalogs in all field. Free.
Oxbridge Communications Inc
150 Fifth Ave,
Telephone (800) 955 0231
Includes 800 pages with thousands of catalogs including address,
personnel, product line, circulation figures, general information and
selling tips. Updated annually. $225.
When you find a catalog you are interested in, request to be put on
their mailing list so that you will be sent a copy.
Review the catalogs you are sent and select those most appropriate for
When you phone the catalog company initially ask if they have written
submission guidelines. If they do ask to be sent a copy. If not ask
what their submissions policy is. Ensure that you get contact
information for the correct person who deals with submissions.
Source: Jeffrey Lant
Be aware of the delay between supplying the product and getting paid
by the catalog company. You may find it profitable to give a small
discount for prompt payment. For example 2% for invoices paid within
Source: Work at home.
Most catalog companies purchase wholesale from the manufacturer, store
the product in their warehouse and ship to their customers.
They will be wary of large items that take up too much warehouse space.
Some companies will charge for advertising space. This technique is
basically a combination of paid advertising and consignment selling.
The benefit is that you will earn approximately 80 percent of the
retail value of your product, as compared to 45 percent when you sell
One advantage of selling through a catalog is that you don?t need to
use expensive packaging as you don?t need to catch a customer?s eye as
you do in a traditional retail outlet.
Source: Wyoming Business Tips for April 2-8. By Cindy Unger, Business
Counselor, WSBDC Region III.
Initially you won?t need to send a sample product. A brochure or sales
flier and price schedule will be sufficient. If they are interested
they may then request a sample.
Include a mock-up of a typical page from the catalog that features
your product alongside other complementary products already in the
catalog. This shows how your pricing and product features are a
perfect fit. Match the style of copy on your sales materials to the
style of each catalog.
Find out when decisions are made about the new catalog. Typically this
will be only once or twice a year. The decisions are often made four
to five months before the catalog is printed. Send your proposal twice
once before the initial decisions are made and again a couple of weeks
before the deadline. The second mailing will ensure that you are
considered again if there are any gaps that need filling.
Catalogers don't want products everyone else has. You can often get a
foothold in the market if you tell buyers your product will only be in
one or two catalogs the following year. This gives them a little more
incentive to buy, and it allows you to ask the buyer for a response by
a certain date so that you can contact other buyers if the first
catalog doesn't want your product.
One of the biggest advantages of catalog sales is that you have few
expenses other than manufacturing costs. There are minimal sales and
marketing expenses, which in most other marketing channels consume 20
to 40 percent of your sales dollars. You will probably make money as
long as you can sell your product for 50 percent more than your
Often you may be asked to pay part of the printing cost which should
be no more than 15 percent of your projected sales volume. If the
printing costs are too high, you can frequently negotiate a better
deal. Tell the cataloger you'll pay with free goods; for example,
you'll include 15 percent extra merchandise with each shipment to pay
Ask for credit references, and don't pay for printing before the
catalog is printed-pay only in free goods or discounts off your
Expect to be dropped from a catalog if your product is not a top seller.
Create strong relationships with buyers and try to find out their
intentions for the next issue of the catalog.
Continually market to new catalogs.
Ensure that your product quality is good to minimise returns. Give
consumers a toll-free number to call for questions and problems, and
provide instructions on returning a product to you. You want to clear
up every problem on your own to avoid conflicts with the catalog.
The Catalog of Catalogs VI: The Complete Mail Order Directory by
Edward L. Palder (Woodbine House Publishing, $25.95): Lists more than
14,000 mail order catalogs in nearly 850 different categories.
Available at www.communicationcreativity.com or (800) 331-8355.
The Directory of Mail Order Catalogs by Richard Gottleib (Grey House
Publishing, $275). Available at libraries or by calling (800)
The Directory of Overseas Catalogs by Leslie MacKenzie and Amy Lignor
(Grey House Publishing, $165). Available at www.greyhouse.com.
National Mail Order Association (612-788-4193): NMOA occasionally
features new products in its Mail Order Digest, which is sent to
Source: Mail Call. By Don Debelak.
According to catalog merchandise consultant Andrea Lawson Gray,
president of Aesthetics Marketing in San Francisco, the best
mail-order products have a clear function but also invoke an ?Isn?t
that neat!? from the customer.
Conventional products with a twist do well. Lawson Gray recently
placed a T-shirt with a robin?s egg decal in one catalog. It was a
basic shirt but had a gimmick ? it rolled up into a wooden basket that
looked like a nest. ?It was unusual enough that customers assumed they
wouldn?t find it easily at the local mall,? says Lawson Gray.
Catalogs like products that can be sold using just one photograph.
Products that need models are also more difficult to place.
Ways of getting attention for your product:
Use an independent sales rep. The Manufacturers? Agents National
Association (www.manaonline.org), a trade organization for sales reps,
offers a helpful Directory of Manufacturers? Sales Agencies ($94).
Call (949) 859-4040.
Display at trade shows.
Seek Media attention.
Pay for product placement.
Source: Catalog Crazy. By Victoria Clayton-Alexander.
Americans who shop from catalogs are loyal mail-order shoppers, making
an average of 15 catalog purchases each year, according to a new study
from the Direct Marketing Association (The DMA).
In 2001, 30 percent of catalog shoppers made between six and 10
purchases, 31 percent made between 11 and 25 purchases, while 11
percent placed 26 or more orders. On their most recent catalog order,
shoppers spent an average of $135.
Source: Direct Marketing Association.
<The Direct Marketing Association.>
<"selling to catalogs">
<catalogs "your product" percent>
<catalogs "volume discounts" "your product">
<Hope this helps.>