24 September, 2019

What Is a Line Sheet?

You’ve created a product you’re truly proud of. From the initial concept through the brainstorming process to the painstaking design and refinement of your sparkling bit of brilliance you’ve worked your hind end off. Now you’re ready to share your masterpiece with the world, and that means getting it on store shelves and onto the websites of some of the biggest retailers out there.
You may even have dozens of buyers on the hook already, but before they give you the go ahead (and the purchase order to match), they want to see a line sheet.
Cool.
Just one problem… what is a line sheet?

What Is a Line Sheet?

A line sheet, also known as a line sheet or sell sheet, is sort of like a mini catalog that’s uber-focused on a particular style, collection, or even a single product. It’s can be just one page or much longer, with dividers separating seasonal merchandise from best sellers or highlighting bracelets and necklaces individually.

Imagine a piece of paper — virtual or otherwise — with images, specs such as color and size options, and pricing organized to spectacular effect. It’s a layout that lends itself to fashion — and indeed, fashion is where sell sheets thrive — but these days line sheets are useful in a way that explodes beyond the boundary of a single niche or industry.

Face-to-face sales meetings are nice when you have the time and proximity to make them happen, but line sheets represent your brand when you physically can’t. Download and mail them to vendors or print them out. 

Line sheets are also:

  • An exercise in specificity, reeling in buyers who already perked up just browsing your full-length catalog
  • Sent in either digital or hard-copy form, allowing you to conduct business on a global scale at the touch of a button
  • Economical — create in minutes what previously took you hours and hours in meetings to explain
  • An ingenious way to empower buyers, guiding them through the most pertinent pieces of your inventory so they’re inspired and enthusiastic rather than confused and exasperated
  • Customizable, so you can tweak a sheet to reflect a buyer’s request for a specific color or design flourish
  • The cure for the common sale pitch

For many businesses, line sheets are required. Most buyers won’t take you seriously without one. Want to pitch big-box stores and major chains? Better get your line sheets in order or you’ll be old news before you even land a phone call, let alone a face-to-face meeting.

Think of a line sheet as your closer; you’ve already warmed up your prospect and they have a vague idea what you’re about, but now it’s time to showcase your products and the very best parts of your brand. You can schedule wall-to-wall one-one-one sessions and watch your week dwindle into a pile of inefficient chaos, or you can find a better way.

Which Industries Use Line Sheets?

If you can sell it, you can probably put it on a line sheet. That said, you most often see line sheets in the fashion and beauty industries. Product sell sheets lend themselves to clothing and jewelry that have to be seen to be fully understood. From anklets to parkas, strappy sandals to engraved pendants, what you put on a line sheet helps you bring your brand to life.

You can also use a retail sell sheet to share furniture, craft supplies, art, stationery, office supplies, greeting cards, sporting equipment, perfume, and home goods.

Catalogs vs. Line Sheets: What’s the Difference?

While catalogs and line sheets are both valuable sales tools, catalogs are more about aspirational language and making the consumer want to buy into the lifestyle a brand represents. They’re wonderful for creating a positive first impression and establishing your brand as an authority, but they’re also bulky and hard to adjust if you make changes to your products, update your own inventory, or want to customize something to reflect the needs of a particular buyer.

Linesheets, on the other hand, offer a pared-back look for buyers who are more interested in practical information:

  • Your logo. Any chance you have to brand you marketing collateral, you need to take it. Put your logo at the top of the page and make ownership obvious.
  • Name of the collection. This element isn’t always applicable, but if you’re grouping items for a reason, make that reason known.
  • Item name, SKU number or other unique ID. Customers need to know what they’re buying and you need to know where to find the product they choose. This is an integral part of getting and staying organized through every step of the supply chain. Remember, shorter SKUs and ID numbers leave less room for typos.
  • Sizing information. Let customers know whether your vintage dress comes in XS through XXL or if sizes are limited.
  • Color availability. Just like sizing, except in addition to listing colors you can choose to include Pantone numbers (ideal for eliminating screen-specific color deviations if you’re sending your line sheet as a PDF), custom color blocks or even fabric swatches.
  • Images. Don’t force customers to dream up a rendering of your product. Manage expectations and create anticipation with a picture that’s heavy on accuracy and light on “mood” — in otherwise, you don’t need a supermodel and set design team on retainer but neither do you want a wrinkled pair of pants tacked to a mannequin.
  • Custom blurbs. These may be short product descriptions, info about a collection, quick captions, or other details, but keep text tight and to the point.
  • Price. Include both wholesale pricing and suggested retail price so customers can consider their budget and their potential profit margin.
  • Min/max order amounts. Be upfront about how many items you require per order, if you have pre-pack quantities, and whether you have limited inventory.
  • Any important dates. If an item is seasonal or subject to a limited-time promotion, include those details on the sell sheet. Most products aren’t evergreen and neither are line sheets; be clear about expiration dates and you’ll curtail confusion down the road.
  • Terms of sale. This is where you slot in return policies, shipping information, satisfaction guarantees and similar legalese.
  • Contact information. Company name, specific contact name, address, phone number, email address and website.

You’ll also want to include your logo, company name, and contact information as well as product images. While there isn’t as much room on a line sheet for a product description as there typically is in a catalog — depending on the layout there may not be any room at all — some line sheet templates do allow for a few lines of text per image. Take advantage of the space to include whatever information might help seal the deal.

Given the slimline profile of line sheets, they’re far easier to edit and print on demand and they’re small enough to hand out at a tradeshow without weighing down shoppers. The compact size saves you money on printing and shipping, too — and trust us, no one wants to download and search through a 500-page catalog when they can just open an emailed line sheet PDF and find what they need in seconds instead.

Where Do You Get a Line Sheet?

You don’t “get” a line sheet so much as you make one. This is often the biggest stumbling block for entrepreneurs and wholesalers who might not know how to use or even own complicated and expensive design software like Photoshop.

The first option is to suck it up and learn how to make a line sheet in your spare time — assuming you have any spare time. Expect a lot of long days with a hefty side of frustration. The second option is to hire help, but graphic designers and data entry freelancers cost money, and all those billable hours add up.

The most efficient, affordable, and sensible approach is to take advantage of line sheet templates you can then customize to your liking. Linesheets is a web-based app that offers professionally designed sell sheets in a variety of layouts. Choose the one that best suits your needs, uploads all the relevant details (you can often use a CSV file taken straight from your existing website), edit as needed, and you’re good to go.

It’s fast, it’s easy, and it gives you what could quite possibly be the most powerful sales tool in your arsenal to date.

For more information on taking the next step in your sales campaign, check out our plans and pricing or sign up for Linesheets today.

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Photo Credit: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com

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