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Monday, May 11, 2009

National Stationery Show - Hot topics: Press Kits, WiFi, and Taking Payments

 via @CarriePony
Who's doing press kits for #NSS? How many are you bringing?

   via @emmajCARDS
QUESTION #nss- Is there WiFi in Javits? Can we bring laptops?

via Denise
What is your opinion on payment....since we are small....we do not have the ability to do credit buyers....write checks there....what is the protocol on that....or do they make an order....then send payment? 

My Replies~

Press Kits
I suggest bringing as many as you can create, if that is 5 or 25! Keep a few in your booth because inevitably you will find an opportunity to hand them out. In the past I have have brought 15 or so (the most I had time to put together) and they were always gone when I returned to the Press Room to see if any were left behind. Drop them off early, because everyone always has a list of last minute to-dos in the morning. I cannot claim to be an expert on Press Kits, but I have dug up a few links that are helpful from the always resourceful Design*Sponge Blog:

Internet Access
The Javitz Center does have Wi-Fi Internet access.. for a price. I found it slow. My hotel wasn't much better. Between the two I wished I had an Internet enabled phone and went immediately out and bought one when I got home.  Now I couldn't live without it, my phone is my second computer, my camera, my everything. {sigh}

Buyers will expect to write the order at the show only. Payments are handled later. The buyer will either provide you a credit card number (to be run at the time of shipment) or request NET 30 terms to be paid by check. When providing terms, an Invoice should be included in the package at the time of shipment-with the terms starting from ship date. Another option is COD (check on delivery), and it is worth noting that there are extra fees associated with COD--so make sure you include that in the shipping charge on the Invoice. If you are running a "Free Shipping show special", my policy is that extra fees, rushed shipping, international shipping do not qualify.

I cannot urge everyone enough, get setup to take credit cards. It is much easier than you expect and the fees are worth it to protect you and ensure payment. Cashflow in a small business is fragile, and to accept a credit card for an order means that you charge the card BEFORE you ship the product. If the credit card doesn't go through, you don't ship the product. Then you never have to worry about trying to get payment later--because you already have it. There are many credit card merchant services out there, and as long as you can enter and run the credit card without the other party having to confirm anything (sorry, no PayPal), you are good to go. I'm sure others can suggest some services they use. I use and accept only Visa and Mastercard (not AMEX). 

Of course the devil is in the details, and in this economy it is not uncommon to have at least one instance where the credit card will not go through and the store does not respond to you... kind of a "back door" way of canceling orders. So my reps always tell me to fill immediate orders as soon as possible after a show--first to charge gets the order. Sounds terrible I know... but it is a lot better than sending product with terms and never getting paid and having to spend countless hours being frustrated and making unpleasant phone calls. Don't be surprised to get orders that are months out from the ship date. Do not ship these orders early or charge their cards more than a few days prior to their requested ship date.

Got a question or a great suggestion? Contribute in the comments below or chat me up on Twitter! 

Saturday, May 09, 2009

National Stationery Show - Pre-Show New Vendor Question & Answer

Denise asked- 
First timer this year at the show....alot to do....but does anyone have advice on how to handle the shipping cost associated with a sale. Do you just set pricing...Order $25.00- $50.00...shipping fee is $10.00 for example. Any help on this would be so great! Thanks.

My answer- Hi! Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog! Different companies are allowed to handle this differently, however there are some trends that buyers like to see at the show- normally I would add the cost of shipping regular ground (via any carrier) to the invoice BUT during the show I have had success with a "show special" that offers free shipping on orders that meet a minimum order amount (usually between $100-250 dollars depending on the what most of the items cost. It is important not to price out small stores that will be loyal customers and in this economy high minimums are frowned upon b/c it is the one place where people can be flexible. I hope this helps!

Denise replied-
That is great advice...thank you so much. I read your blog every day and it has been a HUGE help to me. I week out..and piecing things together..already finding mistakes in our ideas but the beauty of that is learning you can manage....HOPEFULLY! Do you allow other vendors to visit your booth.....or is that frowned apon. I love looking at all the great things out there and how talented people is amazing. If so..I hope to meet you....know it or are really helping first timers like me....looking for any help...any is great! Thanks, Denise

I am very excited that my postings have been useful. I remember that it was helpful "strangers" that answered a lot of my questions in the beginning. The show process was something I could never have planned for in a vacuum! I love to meet other vendors and I have even had extensive discussions with lines that directly compete with mine about the challenges that our businesses share. However, just as often I encountered unfriendly folks.. like in life, not everyone is into making friends. It is expected that you will never enter another vendor's booth without permission. I usually hover on the outside to start a conversation and see if they seem receptive.
Having long missed Summer Camp, this is a close second with a Science Fair competitiveness about it. Don't miss walking the Licensing show and The Supply Side as well. 

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