Bravo! Your sweat, blood and tears are paying off as you’ve grown a successful brand of products that your customers love season-in and season-out. You’ve taken the proverbial leap and decided to expand your business into the realm of wholesale and, quite frankly, you’ve been more than ready for this ball to get to rolling already! Your goal now, is to sell your product (and yourself) to the right retailers.
While exploring your target options and possibly even interacting with potential wholesale customer, you’ve probably come across the term “linesheet” and have been told that you probably need one. If not, we’re here to assure you that you do. “Linesheet” is a term more commonly used in the fashion and garment industries, but can also be called “product catalogues” in other fields. This sheet is a master tool that you will use to showcase your product and one that will serve you well during the entirety of each season. It will encompass every single item that you intend to sell within a given season as well as all of the information your customers will want to know about each product. Think of it as a compressed version of the traditional catalogue.
Buyers will request your linesheets for multiple reasons; they may want to quickly browse your assortment prior to scheduling a meeting with you to view it in person, they might need it as a guide during their buying appointment with you, or, they will need a visual reference when the time comes to place their order. Some buyers may even purchase right off of your linesheets without an in-person buying appointment; this will most likely only happen if they are already familiar with your brand. Your linesheets should be clear, concise, informative and will include only the key aspects relative to any particular product you are selling.
Now let’s look at the 2-D building blocks of a linesheet
1. Sketches vs Product shot (flat or on model)
When it comes to presenting this tool to prospective or existing customers, there are a couple of ways that you can visually represent your product. Adequately representing a three dimensional item in two dimensions on a sheet of paper is not impossible, but you will want to stack all the odds in your favour as it is definitely not easy. You will have to choose between sketches or photographs, depending on your needs.
Sketches are less suitable for certain industries as they may fail to entice your customer in the way an actual photograph would. At April 47, our expertise is based on our combined experiences within the fashion industry and we can confirm that sketches have proven to be rather unappealing and even a tad frustrating for potential and newer customers. A sketch will never do justice to your product in the way a photograph can. However, you can definitely use sketches to fill in the blanks within your linesheets should photographs of certain items be unavailable, but sticking to photos will help to give your customers a more accurate idea of what your product looks like in *real life*.
A clear photograph of your goods over a crisp white background will showcase your product in its best light, as long as you remain consistent with your choice of lighting, image size, angles and other visual characteristics. Once your photo-shoot is done, you will be lining theses images along your linesheet (hence, the term “line-sheet”).
2. Style Number or Unique Identification Code
In addition to each product having its picture taken, they will all need to have their own unique identification code. If your already have a code system set up for your retail business, you should definitely use these same codes for your wholesale chapter as well. If you don’t have a pre-existing system, you’ll want to create your identification codes in such a way that you will be able to recognize each item just by reading its code. These codes will also be critical for inventory management purposes and order processing, but, for now, let’s start with how you should compose each code.
Being able to identify each product according to season, category, style and gender (if applicable) will be the key to creating the most efficient codes possible.
Let’s use the context of fashion for this example:
The broadest characteristic of your product identification code will be the respective season a particular product belongs to: The Spring/Summer season of 2019 could translate to “SS19” and the Fall/Winter season of the same year could be referred to as “FW19”.
In the fashion industry, identifying whether a certain item or style belongs to the men’s or women’s collections is helpful. You can simply abbreviate “Men’s” with “M” and “Women’s” with “W”.
Next, the category under which each product falls can easily be identified with a number. Let’s say we’re talking about tops, bottoms, or jackets, assigning numbers from 01, 02, 03 to infinity gives you an (obviously) infinite range of category options to help you classify your products.
Finally, using a second number to identify the specific style of your product, be it an amazing pair of denim jeans or a beautiful tailored jacket, will help zero-in on the exact item you are referring to.
Let’s render an imaginary code just for fun:
Fall/Winter season of 2019 (season: FW19) / a women’s (gender: W) / jacket (category: 03) /
floral peplum top (style: 02) would be identified as:
Voilà! You have successfully pinpointed the necessary components for the creation of your identification codes. Keep in mind that this example is merely that, an example, and that you should develop your identification codes according to your brand’s needs.
Now that you’ve shot and identified your products, it’s time to put a little more flesh on the bone and help your customers better understand what they are looking at.
3. Product description
Remember that adding a description to your images shouldn’t entail the same kind of in depth detailing as you would provide your customers at the retail level. Your linesheets will already look nice and snug once you’ve lined up your sketches/photos and identification codes, so make your descriptions short and sweet. Focus solely on the essential and stick to direct descriptive words.
For example, your description could read “Grey oversized ribbed turtleneck sweater”. Noting all essential elements will help buyers quickly determine whether or not a particular item or style is of interest to them.
4. Size availability
Along with this information, you will want to provide the size or format runs that your products are available in. Working with simple abbreviations like XS-XL or number runs like 0-12 usually do the trick. You’ll notice that when placing an order, your customers will most likely do so according to a size curve formula. This means that they will break down how many units of a certain item or style they will need in each size. Most buyers will not purchase the same number of units in each size;
For example, orders will usually look more like this:
1 (unit) /XS (size), 2 (units) /S (size), 2/M, 1/L, 1/XL.
If you are offering the same style in a selection of colors, patterns or prints, make sure that you include a list of these colors or even small (but clear!) color/pattern/print blocs to illustrate the different options your customers can choose from. In cases where you will have multiple colors available, your orders could look like this:
Black: 1/XS, 3/S, 2/M, 2/L, 1/XL
White Floral: 1/XS, 2/S, 2/M, 1/L, 1/XL
5. Price (Wholesale/MSRP)
The price for each product should also be included on your linesheets. Generally speaking, you should provide both the wholesale and the MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price). You can simply list each set of prices as $XX/$YY, starting with the wholesale price first. Offering this information up front is very important because it allows buyers to immediately determine whether a particular product at a particular price makes sense for them. In other words, buyers will know right away what discount they will benefit from (or what your markup is) and whether they will be able to make the necessary profit margins should they buy into it. If you’d like to know more about how to price your product for wholesale, we’ve compiled an easy “how-to” guide for you right here.
Finally, depending on which industry you work in, you might want to consider including a short description of the composition or materials for each product. In the fashion industry for example, this is absolutely relevant. Briefly specifying the garment’s components as you would see them listed on a regular care label works just fine. For example, indicating that a particular sweater is made of 95% merino wool and 5% spandex will give your customer the opportunity to imagine the hand-feel of your product. In doing so, you also help them focus on fabrics that perform well with their clientele and steer clear of those that don’t. In addition, fashion buyers will appreciate seeing the fabric content next to the price of an item because they will be able to determine whether the price of this item in fabric X is one that their customers are willing to pay.
Creating a linesheet is really like creating a cheat sheet that both you and your customers get to work with. We’ve just summed up the main building blocks to assemble this strong and useful tool and we hope that our tips are helpful!
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