Dealing with the big boys
I’ve gone on record before….never negotiate anything that you’re not afraid to walk away from ! Listen to what your customer requires, do your sums properly (not hopefully), read the supplier terms and conditions, and if you can’t do it, walk away and live to fight another day.
It’s all too easy to get embroiled in your own ego of wanting to be associated with a multiple retailer, but you’re running a business and you have to make a business decision. I certainly remember one company that was broken by the decision to deal in a way that they really couldn’t sustain. Basically they were being very optimistic in what they hoped for, rather than realistic. Don’t fall into the former camp.
Basically, a multiple retailer has to be sure that they can get consistent supply from you, as they really can’t afford to have gaps on their shelves where your product should be. They still have overheads and landlords that need paying, and they don’t make a profit from empty space. And they’re not there to do favours for you, and of course they’re going to try and get the best deal that they can. Often you’re faced with a supply at X price, or don’t. That’s ok, but just think about it carefully.
There can be loads of other terms and conditions that will have an effect on your business, so beware and cost realistically.
One of the biggest issues can be sale or return. Depending on who and which department you want to deal with, the retailer can hold you responsible for lack of sales. Beware of this big time. The retailer won’t want to take the risk if they can help it. It might be better for you to start off small and make sure you have a proven consumer demand for your product. A bit boring maybe, but I’m just trying to save you a few tears if it all goes wrong, and it can easily.
Take a risk for sure, but not a gamble. A risk is educated, and a gamble is the roll of the dice, and not the way a business can be run. I take risks constantly, and everyone in design does, but it’s educated based on all my previous knowledge and experience. It can still go wrong of course, but only risk what you can afford to lose !