Starting a Catalogue

Looking at a few catalogues it will become obvious that there are several items that most organisations can market, such as tea towels, T-shirts, re-use labels and Christmas cards.
Trading adds synergy to a charity’s relationship with supporters by cementing loyalty, spreading the message, giving an easy way for everyone to assist financially and helping local groups earn funding and reach the public.
With a new catalogue it is important to choose the best designer that can be found and to only use good quality materials. Art colleges can be helpful, but students needs careful direction and sub-standard work must not be accepted. Shoddy goods will reflect badly on the charity and it will not be possible to build up repeat purchases, which are the foundation of future sales. For example, running a competition offering the winner the chance to have their T-shirt design printed in the catalogue invariably produces awful designs that no-one would be seen dead in.
A certain proportion of stock will not sell. Some stock will need to be written down at the end of the year (say 10%) and an allowance made for shrinkage (say 5%).
Old favourites that sell well should not be dropped, but updated by changing the design slightly.
Stocks can be kept down by buying for only one catalogue at a time.Ordering small quantities repeatedly, whilst ensuring they arrive on time, will also keep stock costs down (as long as the small manufacturing run does not cost more). This is important as money held in stock can not be used for anything else and is therefore a waste. ‘Just in time’ delivery is best, but stocks must arrive in time for people to post them on successfully for Christmas – people do not forgive or forget if their present giving has been messed up.
Catalogues should start small with a few items until more knowledge is gained on the kinds of items goods the charity’s supporters will buy. A premium can be charged on branded items as these are unique! The usual mark-up is around 2.5 times the purchase price.
Good catalogue layout can be vital in increasing sales.