Working with the Big Boys
Heather Schuck is a passionate entrepreneur who lives up to her "Lil' Firecracker" nickname. While she may joke about her "fun sized" 5'1″ petite frame or her nationally celebrated 4th of July birthday, she's serious about bootstrapping, inspiring mom entrepreneurs, and the power of content marketing.
She is well known for using innovative and cost-effective strategies to secure high profile media placements including mentions on Oprah, The Today Show, Early Show, USA Today, and an appearance on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. She is an expert in utilizing celebrity product placements as a tool for catapulting sales. Celebrity fans include Demi Moore, Oprah, Britney Spears, Kate Hudson, Angela Bassett, Holly Robinson Peete, Tia Carerre, Lisa Rinna, and Brooke Burke to name a few.
Heather Schuck‘s journey into entrepreneurship is a classic rags to riches tale of overcoming all odds. Despite her lack of fashion or business experience, Heather was able to turn her failed eBay hobby into a multi-million dollar company with distribution in national retailers such as Target, JCPenney, and Sears. As an early adopter and believer in the power of community, Heather Schuck has immersed herself in online outreach such as blogging, social media, and video broadcasts since 2003. Her strong identification with the mom audience and sincere appreciation for supporters led to the launch glamaLIFE.com in 2010. She is also the Host of the web series Fit and FearLESS Files that inspires women to overcome mom guilt and embrace their dreams.
Recognized as a strong advocate for small business, Heather welcomes the opportunity to help fellow entrepreneurs replicate her successes. She has spent the last seven years as a bootstrap entrepreneur and has developed numerous best practices for working smarter-not harder. As a business coach, Heather can train you to utilize her tactics and strategies while providing heartfelt encouragement and support. Areas covered include business strategy, company branding, leveraging celebrity marketing, social media integration, influencer outreach, achieving marketing ROI, media outreach/PR, creating work/life balance, and optimizing your operations for maximum efficiency. If you are losing hope in your small business and need a seasoned expert with credibility and a proven track record of success, click here to hire her. Heather Schuck can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Latest posts by Heather Schuck (see all)
- Top 3 Apps for Entrepreneurs - July 12, 2012
- Survival Tips for Attending A Celebrity Gifting Suite - September 1, 2010
- Inspiration to StartUp: Should YOU Follow Your Passions? - August 25, 2010
Landing a large account can be an exhilarating experience for a young company and you can’t help but daydream about the possibility of “overnight success”. Just around the corner… redemption for all those long hours spent fine-tuning your product, reciting your elevator pitch in the mirror, and packing orders until 2am. While getting an initial order is the first major hurdle, there are many more to come. The “big boys”, like Target, Wal-Mart, Nordstrom’s, Macy’s, etc., are a different breed and dealing with them requires new procedures, policies, and a really big highlighter when reading through their 1,000+ page compliance manuals.
I’ve been fortunate enough to receive an order from Target.com recently. (click here to see the line) As I’ve been muddling through all their compliance and routing guides, I couldn’t help but think my fellow Startup Nation readers might get a kick out of hearing how it all comes together. This will be my first post in a series, so please let me know if you have questions as we move along and I’ll be happy to answer them the best I can!
First things First…
It has been my experience that the majority of these “big boy” retailers shop the tradeshows in New York and Los Angeles. If you’re exhibiting at a tradeshow in either of these locations, be on the lookout! Also, don’t be surprised if their name tag isn’t strategically placed so that the store name can’t be easily read. They’ve learned to keep a low profile to avoid being bombarded with sales sheets and elevator pitches. If you’re able to get their attention they will ask (at least) three questions:
- Are you EDI compliant?
- What is your liability insurance coverage amount?
- What’s your turnaround time?
(Other popular questions are, “How much will you discount us?”, “Do you drop-ship?”, and “Who are you currently selling to?”. These usually come a little later though.)
Are you EDI compliant?
If you are not currently EDI compliant, don’t panic. Before I was set-up on EDI I usually just said something like, “yes, we are in the process of setting that up right now.” You just don’t have to mention that that “process” started 2 seconds ago. They aren’t going to ask you for a membership card, ID number, or anything like that -don’t worry. In case you’re not familiar with EDI, let me explain.
EDI: Short for “electronic data interchange”. By using a product’s UPC number (Universal Product Code) manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers can communicate between themselves information such as submission of production orders, purchase orders, ship notices, and inventory statuses to name a few. EDI is a standardized database which ensures that everyone is using the same system protocols.
Becoming “EDI” compliant can happen several ways and I will explain all of your options in the next post including how to come up with your UPC’s numbers in the first place. They can be a little tricky.
What is your liability insurance coverage amount?
At this point you should have general liability insurance coverage already. If you don’t, call your Insurance provider ASAP. What you might not have is an insurance policy with general liability coverage for $3-5 million. Most small business owners just start out with $1 million in coverage, so be sure to check your policy. If you need to increase it, give your insurance agent a call and they should be able to raise the liability limit without it increasing your costs terribly. If the costs do seem dramatically higher, it might be a good time to shop around for a new business policy. There are several insurance companies out there that offer “umbrella” business policies that can cover everything from slip and falls, lost tradeshow samples, and a shipwrecked freightliner all in one easy to read policy. Just ask your agent. If you don’t have the correct coverage amount, let the buyer know and explain that you will call right away to increase your coverage. They are usually fine with this as long as you follow through. You will be asked to send proof of your coverage amount during the vendor set-up process.
What’s your turnaround time?
Buyers attend tradeshows with a mission. For example, they may have shelves that need to be filled ASAP, need products for next season, or they want products that can tie in with the latest trend. They need to know turnaround time to see if you will be able to fill their needs. They might like your product, but if they have empty shelves and you need 6 months to produce- it’s not going to work. Be honest about your capabilities. While it would be unfortunate to miss out on a big order because of a tight deadline, it would be far worse to lie about your production timeline and miss your delivery window. They will probably cancel the order and you will be left with the excess inventory. The trust is gone and don’t expect a re-order. Keep the goodwill and just be honest. If it doesn’t work out this time, stay on their radar by sending new product updates and inviting them to see you at future tradeshows. You just might get a second chance.
This is Part one…the next post will cover becoming EDI compliant including how to find a provider, assigning UPC numbers to your products, and an overview of how the system works start to finish. Stay Tuned!