Opportunities In Wagon Jobbing And Rack Merchandising
Wagon jobbing and rack merchandising are very similar businesses
that are often intermingled. The "jobber" sells outright while
the "racker" places his own display racks in client stores and
usually consigns the merchandise they hold. There are definite
advantages and disadvantages to each, as we will see.
The term jobbing come from the old fashioned drummer who drove
his horse and buggy or wagon from farm to farm and town to town
in the early days, plus the fact that wares are usually purchased
from jobbers as opposed to brand name supply houses.
Today, a wagon jobber usually operates from a van or small truck
and the merchandise includes but is not restricted to brand name
Most wagon jobbers handle a mixture of standard and brand name
items, a line of merchandise they can buy at very good prices,
plus a variety of products they have obtained at especially
The standard and brand names are the "staples" - they are
recognized good sellers and are quite helpful in getting new
accounts but they are not the most profitable because they
involve the most competition.
Retail stores buy from catalogs, jobbers, route order taking
salesman, and from company trucks that deliver standard "brand
name" products (like the Coca Cola truck) to replenish their
brands on account.
Note that only two of these deliver their products now, and the
wagon jobber offers any variety! Many other salesman drop by from
time to time, but few are able to interest the store owner in
additional products to the cost, the "unknown factor" (the store
owner doesn't know them or the product) and often there's no
place to put the additional merchandise anyway.
When wagon jobbers call on prospective new accounts, they usually
have two primary offerings.
The first is a standard product with a known brand;
the second, a product with an unusually attractive markup.
The standard product is to demonstrate that the jobber carries
realistic merchandise that will sell; the second is an example of
how the client can make extra profit -- and of course both of
these are offered at especially attractive prices.
The wagon jobber several advantages that are hand to ignore:
immediate delivery, useable products, name brand items and
very few retailers have access to close-out and liquidation
offers because with the same suppliers most of the time, many
whom are under contract to handle certain brands or lines
When these retail merchants see bargain priced merchandise and
realize the potential extra profit they become good customers!
For example, you might offer sunglasses that normally wholesale
for $2 per pair for $12 per dozen. Most retailers will recognize
the good price and take advantage of it -- and the wagon jobber
(who paid $7 per dozen) will also be well compensated.
The "real" profit in wagon jobbing is in merchandise that you can
buy at considerably lower prices than comparable "name brand"
A successful wagon jobber is always on the lookout for bargains
-- from sales, close-outs, foreclosure, liquidations and have
several "favorite" houses that can be relied upon to provide good
products at drastically reduced rates. Actually, companies that
offer these "deals" find ways to let you know them once you get
the reputation of being a buyer.
Since you are not under contract to any single supplier or brand,
you are free to buy your merchandise at the best rates, offer
your customers excellent prices, and make a nice profit for
remember that it really doesn't matter which particular
nationally recognized brand you offer, so you you are free to buy
( and offer) the best deal--something the brand name salesmen
A fairly nice looking, secure (one that can be locked) van or
station wagon, a storage place and an office (or juts a phone for
business calls in your home) is all that is required for the
wagon jobbing business.
The vehicle should have selves to accommodate the merchandise you
handle -- so it won't fall or shift in travel and it should have
business signs. A pair of 12 x 24 inch magnetic signs would do,
but painted (or self-adhesive vinyl) would be more "permanent"
looking. Business cards and a rubber stamp (to stamp your
invoices) are also necessary.
Your records keeping system show show each purchase, each sale
and periodic summary for you to review and evaluate your
Your system MUST include a route book with a separate page for
each client.. -- arranged in route order. As you make each call,
review that customers' page to refresh your memory of the last
visit and sound as if you really remember!
This little trick does wonders. As you leave each client, jot
down something about the conservation on that client's page while
it is still fresh in your mind. Then you will "remember" again
The stock you handle will to some extent, be governed by what is
available at close-out prices, however, you will soon discover
that there are some items that you should always keep on hand.
A wagon jobbers not necessarily required to handle any special
type of merchandise, but most tend to specialize in categories
such as clothing, office supplies, novelties, jewelry or sporting
equipment. This way, the jobber develops an expertise the field
and is able to concentrate on certain types of stores.
As your business grows, you will gravitate towards products that
your clients buy best, whatever the category. Even when you spot
that special sale, your first consideration will be which of your
clients can use that item.
The relationship between a store owner and a rack merchandiser is
different than with other "salesmen" because this one is also
"investing" in the business by furnishing a place to display the
merchandise and guaranteeing its sale.
You only have to place and then re-fill the display rack -- sales
from that point are virtually automatic. All that is necessary is
to drop by periodically, relacing missing items, present a bill
to the clerk and receive your payment!
The initial order for each client can be prepaid or it can be on
consignment. Some wagon jobbers routinely place racks full of
merchandise on consignment in order to place larger assortments
If the client only wants to try an assortment, he may take the
smallest (cheapest) possible display -- which limits your sales
potential and may not be especially convincing. And you will have
to keep trying to "upgrade" him to a larger assortment.
If, however, you put the order in on consignment, he has nothing
invested and is more likely to put in a nice assortment.. If you
can afford it, the consignment system is highly recommendation.
You cannot sell unless you place merchandise in client stores --
and the more that is on display, the more you will sell.
Since the client store signs a receipt for both the display rack
and the merchandise, the store is responsible for both. If items
are lost, damaged, stolen OR sold, you collect for them!
Note: Do not get into conversations about this particular aspect;
just ASSUME all missing items were sold. If the client has a
pilferage -problem, that's his affair ( and he usually has
insurance for that).
The other major reason for recommendation the consignment method
is the additional control it gives you: since the merchandise
belongs to you, you are free to re-arrange, substitute and even
remove slow sellers (giving proper credit to the store, of
A rack merchandiser has a built-in conversation starter -- sales
of things on the display rack, which is a relationship between
the buyer and seller in this case.
each visit, a new product and/or "special" for another rack can
be mentioned, but no more than that unless the customer asks
(otherwise, you sound "pushy."
Leave an updated price list whenever the old one is lost or
outdated, and be sure to send each client a notice of important
new products so they will be "on the agenda" for the next visit.
Note that when you "run out" of one product, you can simply
replace it with a substitute (often one you can buy cheaper or
make more money on).
As long as the products are similar, there is PROBABLY no need to
even mention it to the client (unless you think that particular
client wants to know). If you change the product completely,
however, the client should be notified.
One of your strongest points is that you "guarantee" that your
merchandise sells -- something that very few other salesmen or
companies would even think about.
This practice, however, is as much to your advantage as it is to
the client! When you note an item that isn't selling at one
location, simply pick it up,, replace it with something you think
will sell -- and place the merchandise at another location where
it hopefully will sell.
When you do this, the store that you take the item out of will
see that you mean what you say; they will appreciate your concern
for their interests!
Building a route is simply a matter of getting in your van and
calling on potential client stores. Have a suggested display rack
and assortment of merchandise ready for each client, so all they
have to do is say yes-- at which time, you carry in the rack and
In preliminary discussions, inform the potential client who you
are, what you handle, what kind of profit he can make, our
prices, and how often you will be around... if you do not place a
display the first time, make it a point to be back WHEN YOU SAID
YOU WOULD to ask them again (and prove that your word is good).
Some accounts may take several visits -- but when they see that
you are dependable they will be more apt to place your racks. For
the record, there are MANY sales people out there that TALK
reliability, but store owners who have been "burned" in the past
may want to make sure before placing their trust in you.
Once a client trusts you, he will make promises to his customers
based on your performance (when you will be in with the next
order). It is very important that you help your clients keep
those promises by showing up when you are due and stocking
merchandise he needs. If you have to miss an appointed day, call
the clients and let them know in advance. They may not be happy
about the delay, but at least they won't think you have slighted
You can buy, make or have your display racks made. They can be
wire, masonite or any material, so long as it is neat and
professional looking. The racks should be custom-made for your
line of products -- that is, have hooks for carded merchandise,
slots for books, or inserts for packages. They should be
decorated tastefully, but not gaudy and should have your company
name, even if it is on the back.
They are your property and are not to be used for other
(especially competing products).
if applicable, have two or three different models; floor models
for the aisles, counter top models, and perhaps one to fit
against a wall. If you would like to make your own check some
that are already in stores (or buy one or two), then take the
measurements, make your adjustments and build your own.
Some stores may want to buy the racks -- if so, be sure to quote
them a handsome sum (say that's what you have to pay) because you
lose all exclusive rights to display your products only when you
sell a display rack.
As you can see, these two specialties are different but they lend
themselves well to most any combination of the two. Technically,
a rack merchandiser sells the same products all the time for
essentially the same price while a wagon jobber sells more varied
products that involve good markups.
We have combined the two here because if you go into the
business, you will undoubtedly do a little of both. This type of
business takes a little time to get started and involves more
investment than some others, but it can develop into a steady,
income producing business that almost runs itself.
Expansion is simply a matter of taking on more products and /or
enlarging the route. Once a route is established, it should not
be difficulty to train someone to service it -- and so on!
before ordering your initial supplies (other than samples to
decide on what things you will carry); call on several merchants
in your proposed route area to "test the waters."
Tell them of your plans and ask their opinions -- and leave your
card! Because this is not a business that lends itself to
advertising, this is your way to introduce yourself and pick up
some helpful pointers at the same time... Ask what days would be
best to call, whom to see about specials, what products they
can't get decent prices on, etc... Be sure to write yourself a
memory-jogging note on their route page.
This is where your route book starts; prepare a page for every
prospective customer you talk to,, but keep only those that
become clients in your route book (keep the others in order, but
Of course, you never tell your clients about your sources --only
that you have suppliers for close-outs as well as standard
products, and that you keep working with these sources to be able
to offer the lowest prices.
Your preliminary visit has two objectives: you want them to be
expecting your first "official" visit and you want them to
suggest products will do well at their location. When you include
products they suggested, it shows them that you listened, and
makes it difficult for them to change their mind!
SMD, 3928 Ogeechee Rd.,Savannah, GA 31405. Wholesale merchandise
for wagon jobbers: 5600 products. 56 page catalog with your
PRODUCTS, 6610 Blondo, Omaha, NE 68104. Wholesale carded
merchandise for rack merchandisers.
MARKETER'S FORUM, 160 Eileen Way, Syosset, NY 11791,
800/428-0885. Magazine with hundreds of ads for wholesale and
close-out merchandise ($20 yr.).
RISONA, INC., 135 E. 28th St.,New York, NY 10016. Close outs on
cosmetics, video tapes and miscellaneous merchandise.
ROYAL SUPPLY CO., 156 5TH Ave.,New York, NY 10010. Close outs on
perfumes, cameras and brand name merchandise.
SPECIALTY MERCHANDISE CO.,9402 De Soto Ave.,Chatsworth, CA
91311-4991. Wholesale imported merchandise; membership required.
U.S. SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION, Box 30, Denver, CO
80201-0030. Publishes MONTHLY PRODUCTS LIST CIRCULAR, and many
other small business related publications.
ALL RIGHT SALES, INC., 4201-03 N. Kenzie Ave.,Chicago, IL 60618,
800/258-2223. Wholesale tools, paper goods, kitchen wares, toys,
CLOSE OUT DISTRIBUTORS, 1605 NW 38th Ave., Lauderhill, FL 33311.
Buys and sells close out merchandise.
CREATIVE PRODUCTS NEWS, Box 584, Lake Forest, IL 60045. Magazine
with news of new products on the market.
GALAXY ELECTRONICS, Box 17, Blythbourne Station, Brooklyn, NY
11219, 800/221-8924. Wholesale, job-lot and close out
merchandise. Catalog - $1.
GOOD 'N' LUCKY PROMOTIONS, Box 370, Henderson, WY 89015.
Wholesale merchandise, specializes in job lots.
DOVER PUBLICATIONS, INC.,31 East 2nd St.,Mineola, NY 11051.
Discount books, clip art, stencils, etc.
QUILL CORPORATION, 100 Schelter Rd.,Lincolnshire, IL 60917-4700,
312/634-4800. office supplies.
IVEY PRINTING, Box 761, Meridan, TX 76665. Write for price list.
SWEDCO, Box 29, Mooresville, NC 28115. 3 line rubber stamps - $3;
business cards - $13 per thousand.
REYNOLDS PRESS, Box 125, Gustline, CA 95322. 3 line rubber stamps
OLYMPIA PRINTING, 1282 Monomoy , Aurora, IL 60506. Business cards
- $9.50 per thousand.
WALTER DRAKE, 4119 Drake Bldg.,Colorado Springs, CO 80940. Short
run cards, stationery, etc. Good quality, but no choice of style
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