Sales and Marketing

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A consignment is a relationship where you place your goods with a retailer at no cost to them and when the item sells they keep a portion of the sale and remit to you the balance. You retain ownership of the property. You also set the price the item must sell for. The benefit for the merchant is he has no risk. He has not put out any money for stock. He gives up some shelf space and he only has an upside if the pens sell and he gains by augmenting the quality and breath of his product offering.

Consignments can be negotiated in a variety of shops. Art Studios that feature work by local artists may accept pens on Consignment. Custom picture framers may sell pens and turned art. Local wineries sell turned bottle stoppers from local artists. Another shop that I know sells general items to a discriminating local and tourist clientele. Specialty food items, collectables, crafts or turned bowls and other hand made items could be telltales that a consignment might be negotiated.
Consignments can seem expensive. The shop will want up to 50% of the selling price. This may sound steep but it is fair. Your pens are displayed every day without rent, presented to customers by sales people you do not pay, hopefully secured against theft and sold for cash or possibly a credit card on the shops merchant account.

The merchant may have you sign an agreement for exclusive distribution of your pens. This is not unreasonable as long as it has a reasonable area or distance from their shop. Most merchants have competition and they would not want your unique products sold by their immediate competitor.

Negotiate display space and location if you can. I supplied one studio with a wood chest display case for my pens. The chest is marked as my property and it is stipulated that no other artists pens can be displayed in my display case. The chest forces the merchant to keep the pens on the counter or in a somewhat prominent location.

Visit the shop from time to time, your pens could be pushed to the side as new merchandise comes to the shop. Rotate your inventory to try and get a feel for the taste of the shop’s clientele or to take advantage of seasonal sales. Try to offer a selection in style, quality and price.

Sales aids in the form of descriptive cards or gift boxes can help sell your pens.  This is for the most part a passive sale on the part of the merchants staff.  Any information on the wood or pen material can be of value, even a remark about where to buy refills can help make a sale.  Take the time to explain the pens to the sales staff.  Show them how to open the pen to refill them.  You are actually training them when you outline the materials and designs.  Show them your pens like you were presenting them to a prospect at a show, they may remember your words and use them themselves.

The terms of your agreement should be in writing and a signed receipt itemizing the items left on consignment should include a clear description and the price you set for each item.  Most shops will cut one check to you for all pens sold in the previous month.

Contributed by JBMauser...