This is a guest post from Nicole Reyhle of Retail Minded.

Clothing rackThere are many roles a store owner has and likewise, there are many roles a designer or wholesaler has. Surprisingly, one of the roles that overlap is their use of line sheets. Though their purposes are different when using them, their desire to have effective line sheets are typically the same.Both retailers and wholesalers benefit when using effective line sheets. Unfortunately, not all line sheets are created equally and as a result, many retailers and wholesalers struggle to review them, often resulting in decreased sales, poor marketing presentation and time wasted.

Based on countless conversations with successful retailers and wholesalers, their top three line sheet must haves are:

1. Line Sheets should be visually appealing, making them easier to read.

2. Line Sheets must offer detailed information in a concise format.

3. Line Sheets should have great images, preferably floating, without lifestyle details getting in the way of product.

Visual Appeal

Line sheets can be a cluttered mess. There is a lot of information to sort through and images to match, so formatting these details can be overwhelming both mentally and visually. But visually, it’s an absolute must to get this format clean and crisp in appearance. Horizontal versus vertical formatting is used less, though both offer the opportunity to be effective. The key is to be consistent in what details you offer per product, how you format these details, and the size / layout of the image included. Make sure to use matching fonts and font sizes, as well. Typically, three items in one row on a horizontal page is good to go. Based on your image size, you can likely get at least nine items on one page. Sometime more, sometimes less. This said, every product has unique circumstances so create a few options to determine what visually looks best for your business. And always remember who your audience is – retail buyers.

Details Matter

Without effective details, the visual layout means nothing. What to incorporate into the visual layout are necessary details that wholesalers and retailers alike need to know. This includes, but it not limited to, your product name, wholesale price, retail price, availability, size options, color options, style options and case pack details. Remember that every product and every business is unique, so your line sheet must represent these unique features for everyone to feel as if they have been communicated with effectively.

Image Impressions

First impressions leave lasting impressions. This isn’t a  surprise to anyone. Yet surprisingly enough, line sheet images aren’t always that great… though they should  be. The images you use in your line sheets are often the first time a buyer has seen the product, so make sure the images look good. No – correction – make sure they look amazing.

Floating images, where the product is the only image and has no background to blend with it, are typically the best received image from a buyer’s perspective. This is because it allows the buyer to really see the image without other things getting in the way. Often a front and back view of your product are necessary in communicating your product details effectively. In addition, make sure they are strong in color. Black font is okay, but your product images should always be in color. If this isn’t your forte, hiring a photographer may be a good idea.

Lifestyle images do wonders in creating an overall image for products and brands. But lifestyle images aren’t best suited for line sheets. Instead, use them on your cover page, throughout other areas of your buyers packet and in various other marketing materials.

An effective line sheet will take time to prepare but if done correctly, will save you time later. Updates and changes from season to season will be easier to insert as you move forward, so really it’s just that first time that can be daunting. The time invested will be rewarded with appreciation from retailers and with the right product, sales as well.

Have other tips on how to create a great line sheet? Let us know! Please leave comments below.

Still don’t know how to create your own Line Sheet? Reyhle can help! Email her at nicole@retailminded.com

Nicole L. Reyhle is the founder of Retail Minded – A Boutique Blog and Support for Retailers and Wholesalers – including designers, boutiques, online stores, artists, and more! http://retailminded.com/





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