I have had experience selling hand-painted accessories to a
major department store (Bullocks) and, as with most retail
stores, the terms were net 30 (you’re paid 30 days from the
invoice date). The jewelry departments may work differetly,
however, these payment terms are typical.
If you’re working with expensive gemstones or concerned about
fronting the costs, I don’t think it would be unreasonable to ask
for a 50% depostit–it can’t hurt to ask. I have not heard of an
account paying full costs before receiving a product. You may
want to run a credit check on the company to get an idea of their
credit history. You may also want to look into a company to
factor the account (they finance the order, collect the money,
and take a percentage of the profit).
As far as exclusivity, you may want to lock them into a written
agreement that guarntees a specific dollar amount for a specific
time period on a design. There are ways around this too; if your
product has a stone color that you can offer to them as
exclusive, you can continue to market the same item with a
variation of stone colors. Just make sure you make the stone
color(s) specific in your agreement. Also exclusive can mean a
territory, say within 10-20 miles from their competition.
And finally, to contact and sell a buyer, the key to success is
persistence, persistence, persistence! Do some market research
and know there products and customer. Tell them with a lot of
enthusiasm about your product and based on your research of their
store, your item is unique to any other and it will generate
incredible sales. If they don’t answer or keep putting you off,
send them an impressive package of your product registered mail
with an invoice. You may want to enclose a self addressed
package to insure return. If they say they’re not interested
after you send the product, ask them to please return the item
(follow with a letter). If they do not return the piece, call
their credit department to collect payment. When you meet with
them to sell your product line, offer a product knowledge seminar
to their sales people. When the sales team knows and loves your
product, everyone reaps the rewards, including the customer.
I hope this helps. Good Luck.