What You Can Do to Improve Your UK Sales

Recently we’ve been focusing on sales and distribution in the UK. In previous posts we introduced sales and distribution in the UK, talked generally about how to choose and distributor and sales agent, gave some specific tips on choosing a distributor and sales agent and went over product information and subject classification.

Today, we’ve got a few tips from publishing expert Peter Kilborn on how you can improve your UK sales.

Although it is clearly right that you should leave the detail of your UK sales and distribution in the hands of trusted commercial partners, there may well be grey areas where you own intervention may be of help. Product information is clearly one of these. Making sure your sales agents and the wider book trade are provided with the latest information about your books—changes in cover designs, new reviews, prizes won, and so on—is not something which will happen automatically; and you cannot assume that because your sales agent has undertaken to provide product data to Nielsen that will include all the ancillary information that you would want the book trade to know about. In more practical terms, however, it is worth knowing that until all the particulars of your titles mandated by the BIC Basic standard are listed on the Nielsen database Waterstones will not place an order.

Finding the best way to deal with Amazon.co.uk is equally—or more—important. Amazon is by a substantial margin the most powerful retailer in the UK market and, although it will be happy to list and supply your titles it will only do so if the end customer order can be quickly and efficiently fulfilled. You will need to work with your distributor and sales agent to ensure that that can be done.

Dealing with Amazon.co.uk will differ very little from your existing experiences with Amazon.ca. Specific UK guidance on listing, amending metadata and selling programs is available on the Amazon.co.uk website. Most distributors will already have signed up to the Amazon Advantage program and you can benefit from their participation in terms of stock availability and automatic reordering. This is, however, something you should talk through with them.

Amazon takes regular data feeds from Nielsen, but some publishers nowadays enhance their presence by supplying supplementary data directly. You will see from Amazon’s site that publishers are able—and are encouraged—to make changes to their data online. This may be a sensible thing to do but you should be wary of the dangers of inaccuracies that can come from reliance on too many data sources. At the very least it will be well worth your while to make regular checks on the data currently made available to Amazon customers and take steps to amend it if necessary.

All booksellers depend on early information about your titles and improved sales will follow from setting and keeping to a conservative critical path when you publish in the UK. This will be appreciated by your sales agent and distributor as well. It is generally well worthwhile to delay selling your titles in the UK until your data is complete and accurate, advance material has been submitted to chain head offices and subscriptions from booksellers are well advanced. As emphasized throughout this guide, your reputation as being a reliable supplier will be amply repaid by higher levels of sales.

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07/23/2015 | Distribution