Tips: Taking Your Business to a Whole(sale) New Level

Posted By on Feb 17, 2014 in Creative Business

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to walk into a trendy boutique store and find your items on display? If you think it might be time to make your dreams of wholesale business a reality, read on for some tips we’ve assembled for you.

photo credit: B€rn@rd via photopin cc

photo credit: B€rn@rd via photopin cc

1. Take a hard look at your finances. If you want retailers to sell your products, you’ve got to sell those products to them at wholesale value. In the retail industry, the standard wholesale agreement is 50% (meaning you sell them your products at half the value of your retail price). Can you afford to give a discount like that? If not, it may be time to increase your retail prices to make it work. Remember, too, that with wholesale orders YOU get to set the minimum quantity that a shop has to buy in order to get half off, so tweak your numbers to find out how many items you’d want to sell in order to make that discount worth your time and effort.

2. Pick the right products. It may be that after you do the wholesale math from Tip 1, you find that some of your products just won’t work out for wholesale pricing. That’s okay – just find other products that will. You don’t have to offer up your whole inventory to wholesale customers; you can choose the products you want to put into retail stores. If you make jewelry, for instance, it could be that your extra-long necklaces take too much time and too many supplies to go for a wholesale price cut, but maybe you’ve got a less-expensive style of earrings that you can work into the wholesale price formula more easily. Then the earrings become the product you sell to retailers, and not the necklaces.

3. Establish policies up front. Before you enter into an agreement with a retailer, you need to know what you’re agreeing to. How much do they have to order up front? In general, they will expect to pay you half of the money up front and the other half when you deliver the goods, so spell it out if that does or does not work for you. How will you ship the items, and who’s responsible for paying that shipping cost? What happens if your items get lost in the mail, or if they become damaged or stolen once the retailer receives them? List out all of these policies and come to a consensus with your retailers before you sign on any dotted lines.

4. Line up a line sheet. A line sheet is a document that contains small (but high-quality) images of the products you will offer to retailers along with a description and the wholesale and retail prices for those items. You can also include your wholesale policies on this sheet, and then save the whole document as a PDF so you can easily e-mail it to retailers when the time comes for you to start a wholesale conversation.

5. Keep the relationship going. Remember, entering into a retail/wholesale agreement is like a business partnership. You and the shop owner can continue to work together to get the most out of that relationship as time goes by. You might list their shop on your web site and promote the products you offer through them, and they in turn will market you to their customers. Remember that you will both be selling some of the same items, so keep your own retail prices in line with what you quoted them in your agreement to avoid any resentment or breach of contract issues.

Once you’ve finished with these steps, you’re well on your way to getting your products into the hands of retailers everywhere! Start with local shop owners, who you can visit in person, and approach them about a wholesale account (take your line sheet and some product samples with you, and book an appointment first!). Once you’re established in one or two local shops, use those relationships as “street cred” and apply for wholesale agreements either via Etsy’s Wholesale site or by contacting shops yourself. Good luck to you!

Want more wholesale goodness? Check out these articles:

Etsy: Wholesale 101

Etsy Wholesale: Tools for Success

Handmadeology: Pricing for Retail

Handmadeology: Selling to Retailers Made Easy

Going Home to Roost: Wholesale Accounts

Got any tips for wholesale success? Share them in the comments below!

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