Selling Retail versus Wholesale

Most producer sell at retail shows until the moment a store buyer finds them and asks the question that every producer and crafter should be ready with an answer:  Do you wholesale your line?

Of course this is a blog about selling wholesale, so you can find lots of articles about the mechanics of selling wholesale.  But I don’t think I have ever addressed the subject of selling retail verses wholesale.

What are the advantages of selling wholesale.  Here is a list, not exhaustive, but a place to start:

  1. Selling retail typically consists of selling one or two items at a time; whereas wholesale buyers purchase in case lots (whatever you determine that to be).
  2. Most retail consumers buy your products once or twice; whereas a wholesale buyer will order again and again (assuming you have a great selling line).
  3. Most retail customers buy from you at shows where can you spend days setting up, exhibiting and tearing down; whereas a wholesale buyer can be sold via a one-time visit (or not), online or through other contact — meaning more time producing and less time traveling!
  4. Retail sales can be very unpredictable — especially if the major of your sales come from shows; whereas, wholesaling will be much more regular and predictable.
  5. Retail sales can be tough if you sell out of your main items at a show and cannot sell anything else you created; whereas wholesale orders can be taken ahead of time and you are only producing what you have pre-sold.

When we started out our wholesale line of gourmet foods, I had the advantage of already having wholesale accounts in place (via my sales rep business), so wholesaling right out of the chute made sense for us.

On the other hand, we also retailed our products to end consumers.  Back during our peak production days, we rented a kiosk in the local mall during the holiday season.  Of course, with our Tastes of Idaho booth, we also featured other products around the state.

By the third year of these shows, we could have sold only our own inventory, as we had several products by then.  And like you probably have done, we exhibited in other shows around the area and had fun doing it!  As time went on (and we aren’t getting any younger), exhibiting at shows got to be too much work verses the online and wholesale orders that were coming in.

During that time, however, we established several wholesale accounts through contacts we met at  our booths.  A few buyers visited our holiday kiosk to inquire about purchasing our line(s) for their store.  It was a win-win for everyone!

So, in conclusion, there are many pros and cons to selling retail versus wholesale, but one does not need to be exclusive of the other.  Selling both retail and wholesale can have its benefits to your business.

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