For businesses trying to push products into retail stores, having a well organized retail line sheet to present is critical. The line sheet is a document that the business can hand over to a retail buyer that quickly and easily presents all the information needed to determine if the products are a good fit for the retail location. Here are three things about line sheets businesses should keep in mind during design.
1. “They are basic and to-the-point, no frills.”
You want to avoid what CEO of StartUp FASHION Nicole Giordano calls “frills” in line sheets. Frills generally show up in these documents in two ways: in structural design or in product description. You want the buyer to immediately see what the product is, how much it costs, and where to order it. Any deviation from that criteria could be perceived as frilly. Take a look at this outline provided by Indie Retail Academy. Notice that there are clearly eight products, their listed price, and the website to order them. The only excess on this page are the “new” stickers. Some suppliers add this tag or the “best-seller” tag to catch the attention of the buyer. Suppliers should only use these tags if the highlighted products better align with the specific needs of the retailer more so than the other products and can be used as leverage in the pitch.
2. “Customization really helps to personalize your inventory information.”
Another important point about retail line sheets has been identified by Zelma Rose designer Lisa Anderson Shaffer. By customization she is referring to the different versions of a line sheet you will likely need to give to suppliers. A “one size fits all” approach does not usually work with line sheets because different retailers have different needs and expectations from suppliers and their products. For example, a jewelry business may pitch conservative pieces to an established retailer like Kay Jewelers, yet may pitch more creative pieces to an independent jewelry seller. Developing customer line sheets will send a message to the retailer that you can identify what in your collection is a good fit specifically for their store. Notice the difference between these two custom line sheets made by the same company. The first may be for a conservative retailer while the second may be aimed at a more creative retailer.
3. "Line sheets that make selling easy are actually line sheets that make buying easy."
Simplicity is a major factor in a successful retail line sheet. After all the purpose of the document is to enable the retailer to answer their questions immediately. Retail coach Clare Yuille’s quote is indicative of the power of a truly simple line sheet. The simplicity of the document makes the pitch process painless for both the seller and the buyer. Yuille suggests a few ways to make your line sheet as simple as possible. First, suppliers should consider horizontal printing, since many retailers file them in this fashion. Additionally, suppliers should make sure to include every item on Yuille’s bullet point list: product name, item number, wholesale price, suggested retail price, and most importantly, information on where the retailer can order product. Looking at this example, a critical eye can see one huge, red flag mistake. The flow is easy to follow, the product information is there in an organized fashion, but this line sheet is missing one critical element: a place for the retailer to order the products. It’s a great example to show how even a great design needs to be critically analyzed before a retailer gets their hands on it.
Erin P. Friar
Erin Friar is a Content Marketing Journalist Intern at Repsly, Inc. and is completing a Journalism degree at Suffolk University. She is a master of grammar and is passionate about creating fresh content to help foster efficiency and overall success in small businesses.