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Now as a skilled artizan crafter you may find that your really good products are suitable to go into various other shops who become one of your valued stockists. Now this was a question from an organic soap company based in Scotland that already have a number of stockists for their products.

“Hey guys, I’ve got a question. well, a wee dilemma really, and I want to pick your brains if that’s ok?
I supply products to shops, and there’s a new stockist who I’ve never met, they seem really lovely. Their order is ready to go, thing is it’s a good 2 hour round trip and I am so busy catching up after lockdown. Super duper busy. By the time I’ve parked and chatted to them, that could be my whole morning away from the workshop. It’s just me. Would you deliver and introduce yourself, which will build a better relationship, or send a nice email and stick the order in the post and suck up the cost, to save time? Your wisdom is appreciated!”

Now we all know getting to know our customer’s is really important, perhaps even more so the stockists of our products, so that they know how to place and more information about your product. But we mustn’t forget that its important to be practical with deliveries. As such I suggested the following:

“By all means go, but i would say try not to make a habit of it every time they order, as that takes you away from your business more and more, perhaps you could even invite them to your workshop to collect an order that way they can see where everything happens. If in doubt phone them up and chat with them to see what they would prefer, give them a few options such as personal delivery by you and also delivery via courier. Don’t forget to add in some prices for it when you chat with them so that you cover your delivery costs. Also don’t forget to blog about it and get a photo with your new stockists, that way you can both win from it in a positive way ”

Which got the following reply:

“I’ll pop in and meet them tomorrow, hand deliver. It might lead to more orders, having met them in person. A drive to the centre of St Andrews is quite pleasant anyway. Thank you!”

There’s lots to think about here that could help you when it comes to delivering the goods, it not just a case of oh I’ll pop down and see them.

Firstly you need to look and see if you can afford to loose that time away from the workshop? how many orders do you need to fulfil? Are you Super duper busy? Have you enough “free” time to go and deliver your orders? Is your new stockist going to be able to have the time to deal with you whilst also trying to serve their other customers? Have you got any other products you could take along to upsell the order or tempt them with next time they order with some freebies for them? Etc

However if your local to your new stockist or customer then you could consider adding in a delivery service provided by you for the first order only, something like; Free delivery within 5 miles then £5 for 5 to 10 miles, then £10 over 10 miles away. After that you then get a decent courier service in place. But you must remember to get these prices in when quoting for any order. Your time is valuable as you need to spend time working your business, while your out you could miss a really important order, especially if you don’t have any phone handling service in place for example.

As I mentioned in my reply, if you do decide to go to meet your new stockist, make sure you get a good happy photo of yourself and the new stockists outside their shop with your product being “handed over” this is good for publicity for both you and them as you can then create a blog post and add them to your trusted stockists page on your website, and they can do the same. You could even get the local press involved. It’s an opportunity to be really proactive and help both businesses.

End of the day you just need to ensure that your trip out is going to be of decent value to you and your business long term.

In reflection personally I wouldn’t have gone unless I really did have the free time available or if I was due out that way to deliver to a few other stockists or suppliers, therefore making the trip more worthwhile as your “passing” and can drop in. I would also ensure that any delivery costs are in the order quote either by courier or in person. This is a handy way to ensure that that side of things is covered, you may want to introduce a free postage at a certain order cost limit (ie spend £60 or more and get free postage). Its always good to meet your suppliers and stockists if you can do, but sometimes its just not practical to do so. But if you do, make sure you get that photo for publicity and both of you market it in the right way for both businesses.

Also don’t forget to follow up a few days later, send them a nice letter in the post in a bright coloured envelope to say thanks for your order, and that you hope they are enjoying the products etc. A simple thank you card or letter can go a very long way to establishing a good relationship with any customer and stockist, this does usually result in more orders.

Image from: Photo 147722564 © Ammentorp | Dreamstime.com

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