Happy Thanksgiving

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

Malcolm and I are empty-nesters — with our kids being gone or celebrating Thanksgiving elsewhere. Rather than eating alone, we typically attend our town’s community dinner on Thanksgiving.  Of course, we miss being with family, but it is nice to catch up with the friends we see at the community dinner.

This year we sat with the new library director who is busy with an expansion program for the library.  They currently have the new extension’s outside frame built and are waiting for the funding to finish the inside.  I find this project particularly interesting as they tore down a house I lived in between my marriages in order to build the extension!

Thankfully, Thanksgiving is early this year, giving us an extra long holiday selling season.  With the official start as the infamous Black Friday, the season is over 30 days long!  We have found that the longer the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the more sales we make!  Go figure!!

And of course, this is time to finish off the last of our re-organization of our products, gift supplies, and shipping materials as the biggest sales season of the year begins.

Today (Friday), is a good day to check and double check your inventory and supplies to make sure everything is ready to go!  Since so many people are at the Black Friday sales at the various retail outlets, online sales are typically slow until Saturday or even the following week.

Enjoy your weekend!  From this moment forward, we might all be too busy to think of anything other than filling orders!!








Last Minute Website Tweaks

I was gone most of last week taking care of my daughter and her 5-year-old son after my daughter underwent a minor surgery.  One thing I noticed very quickly is how much energy a 5-year-old has pent up, just waiting to get out!

I wish I could capture all his energy and use it for myself.  His show of energy reminded me of all the things I knew needed my focus as soon as I got back home.  Busy, busy, busy getting the last of our holiday products in stock and on the website.

Over 2/3 of our Tastes of Idaho sales happen between now and the end of the year.  We frequently get additional ‘corporate orders’ which consists of large amounts of products and/or baskets sent out for customer and employee gifts.  Counting all of the orders, phone, website, and corporate, we are usually too busy to do focus on anything else!

So about now, I need to make sure that everything is accurately lined out on the website BEFORE the big rush hits!

Last Minute Website Tweaks

In order to make sure all of my last minute website tweaks are taken care of, I formulated this quick checklist:

  1.  Check all of my products (192 of them this year), making sure those items that are in stock are listed as available and those that are not (didn’t make the sales last season) are removed or hidden.
  2. Update any price increases since the last time I ordered the product (we typically take the wholesale price per item, add a pro-rated shipping amount and double it — rounding to an acceptable retail price)
  3. We track inventory, so I update all the inventory amounts to make sure they reflect what you currently have in stock.
  4. Check all the photos to make sure the product is clearly represented.
  5. Rework any verbiage — especially on the home page and terms pages — for accuracy and ease.  (I don’t want your customers to be confused)
  6. Check shipping rates and update where necessary.
  7. Check all supplies needed such as shipping boxes, tape, bubble wrap and/or peanuts, labels (if needed), and organized these in a streamline fashion (think assembly line).

By this time, your marketing plan should be in place and new product emails are sent to your customers/subscribers at least once a week.  And if you are featuring a Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale, make sure you announce it and repeated the announcement several times.

Anything else?  Did I forget anything?





Don’t Sabotage Your Business!

I love working with producers who are new to wholesaling.  Their spirits are high, and their expectations are low — which can or cannot help them with their business.

I worked with one producer who set up such strict wholesale terms that even I could not sell her products!  Then there are those who are loosy-goosy about everything with no real policies or procedures in place.  Neither option is good.

Jess from Create and Thrive wrote an excellent article addressing this issue:

5 Ways You’re Setting Yourself up for FailureDon't Sabotage Your Business!

1. Giving up too soon

Let’s just get this out of the way straight up. If you’re starting a handmade business expecting to be making a 6 figure profit in the first year – or even 2-3 years – please don’t bother….

Unless you are in the infinitesimal minority who have an absolutely brilliant, unique idea, AND know how to run a brilliant marketing/advertising campaign to get your brand off the ground, it is very likely going to take YEARS before you’re making really decent money from your handmade business….

If you’re not in it for the long haul, don’t start.

2. Focusing on the negative

… If you catch yourself doing this – stop.

No-one is responsible for the success or failure of your business but YOU.

Stop blaming, stop complaining, stop obsessing over your competitors, stop focusing on the negatives, and start focusing on the positives….

Don’t focus on the sales you don’t get – focus on making the customer experience for the sales you DO get absolutely fricking amazing so your customer raves to all their friends about how amazing you are and how gorgeous your product is.

Focus on how you can grow your business in the right direction. See every challenge as a way to grow and evolve.

3. Split focus

… It’s an oh-so-common pitfall amongst creative types, because we have so many ideas, and we get bored easily….

Sales follow your focus….

Give yourself a timeframe to focus on one only (say, 12-18 months) before you’re allowed to start a new venture….

4. Too much ‘research’ not enough action

How long have you been ‘just learning’ about how to do what you want to do?

Are you that person who has all the theoretical knowledge… but are yet to do anything about it?…

That said… there is definitely such a thing as too much research.

There comes a point where you just have to take the leap.

Stop planning and start doing….

But until you actually step into the arena and start failing and succeeding, you’ll never make real progress.

5. Waiting for perfection

This is closely linked to number 4. Too often, people hang back from taking action because of fear.

They’re afraid of not being perfect. Of not having a perfect product, or perfect packaging, or perfect photography.

Nothing is ever perfect….



Do You Charge Enough for Your Products?

New wholesalers don’t seem to charge enough for their products!  Of course, this is not true for everyone, but I see it too often (and can tell you some horror stories of dealing with producers who low-balled their product, then complained because no sales rep would take them on!)

Pricing does not need to be difficult.  If you are new to retailing or wholesaling, I suggest you check out my free e-course on the subject.  Sign up here:  “HOW TO PRICE YOUR PRODUCTS” 9-Lesson E-Course!

If you’ve wholesaled for awhile and are wondering if you need to increase your pricing, here are a few guidelines from Claire with Indie Retail to help you determine if you are underselling your products:

Charging what you’re worth

You’re hardly making a profit when you sell wholesale.

Your wholesale price is the smallest amount of money you’ll ever accept for your lovely thing.

But that doesn’t mean it’s a rock-bottom, bargain-basement, welcome-to-debtors-prison kind of price. It shouldn’t weigh your business down.

A healthy wholesale price is like a helium-filled balloon – it covers your direct costs, your overheads and your time and labour, but it also contains a significant shot of profit. That extra element is what gives your business lift….

You’re hardly making a profit when you sell retail.

Your retail price is tied to your wholesale price, so if the former’s out of whack there’s a good chance the latter is too….

You’re putting something wonderful out into the world and getting very little back. That’s not a business; it’s an expensive hobby….

You’re working all the time and still aren’t making much money.

…If you’re constantly working at maximum capacity – but still don’t have much to show for it – something has to change. The most valuable asset in your business is you. To function at your best you need rest, comfort and time to think…

Your prices are low compared to your competitors.

Closely pegging your prices to your competitors’ isn’t a great plan, but there should be some correlation….

In comparison to mass-market companies, your stuff will always look expensive – they can produce goods for much less than you ever could. But when you look at other designers, craftspeople or makers in your field, people at a comparable level who make and sell something similar, and discover they’re charging significantly more, well, maybe it’s time for you to catch up.

You’re pricing according to costs, not value.

At the end of a long day of making, when you turn to look at your work and feel a surge of pleasure and satisfaction, what’s the source of that feeling for you? Is it:

a) The deep joy of channeling your imagination, skill and experience into a unique object which shines with quality, personality and presence.

b) You saved your customer the trouble of putting it together themselves.

It’s the first one, right?

This is why your prices must reflect the value you create for your customers. You’re not simply assembling raw materials like a robot in a factory. In your hands, those materials become much more than the sum of their parts….

If your current prices are based simply on what it costs you to make your product, you’re not taking that extra value into account.

Now, before the big holiday buying push, is a good time to make sure your pricing is appropriate and you charge enough for your products!







Are You Just Starting Out Wholesaling to Retailers?

Working in the business of wholesaling to retailers for over 15 years, I think I heard the following question more frequently than I remember:

“I am just starting out wholesaling to retailers.  What do I do?” (or something along that line.)

The question is way too general for me to give any kind of effective answer.  I don’t know what their product line is, what you have done already or what your plans are for your business.

In order to give a respectable answer, I wrote this article on starting out wholesaling.

  1. First, I suggest you look at what products to plan to offer a store buyer.  If you have a line of one product, you are wasting time selling wholesale.  Buyers are looking for a line of products — at least three items that compliment each other, are different colors, flavors or scents of your original product.
  2. Sign up for my email list and receive a free copy of my reports which will help you understand the wholesale/retail terminology and help you get the appropriate systems in place to wholesale.  (If you are already on my email list and do not have a copy of these reports, reply to this email and I will get them to you):
    • Quick Start Guide for Setting Up Your Wholesale Systems
    • Glossary of Industry Terms:  Wholesale/Retail Industry
  3. Once all your systems are in place (listed in the Quick Start Guide), you are ready to focus on your first wholesale account.  Start with a local retailer where you can check out the store, meet the buyer/owner, and begin the process.  Don’t try to be everything to everybody because you are not!  Focus on accounts that sell similar products to your own.
  4. Listen to what the buyer is telling you.  The information you can glean from your first buyers can be very helpful in feedback on your product line, your sales materials and your presentation.Are You Just Starting Out Wholesaling to Retailers? Wholesale Business Consulting and Coaching

If you need further help, please check out my 1-on-1 Wholesale Coaching and Consulting Program where we explore your personal situation in more detail and work out a strategy that works best for you and your line of products!