Working Through Wholesale Obstacles

Selling wholesale creates a whole new set of rule and obstacles.  Your sales materials are different, your shipping methods may change, billing your buyers are not the same …. a whole new set of skills and resources are require to work through wholesale obstacles.

But it is not impossible!  And once you are set up, you can use the same Working Through Wholesale Obstaclessystems over and over again.  But you need to be prepared before you approach your first retail buyer.

Dear Handmade Life outlines some of these obstacles in their recent article and few that I want to share here:

14 wholesale obstacles for handmade lines — and how to move through them:

 You don’t have a line sheet.  If you don’t have a line sheet, and if you’re reaching out to independent store owners outside of trade shows, you have two options….. Option 1: create a simple line sheet from scratch, using a program like Powerpoint or InDesign to do your layout…. Option 2: use your existing website, Etsy Wholesale page, or wholesale shopping site as the online representation of your products.

You’re not sure how to connect with stores. If you don’t have any stockists (retail store buyers) yet, my main suggestion would be to start with reaching out to a local store or two. The feedback and confidence you’ll get from local connections is often very valuable. If you already have a couple of stores you’re working with, then I recommend creating a list of shops you love around the country. Start with reaching out to a handful via email or package and gauge which store types seem most interested, so you can build on that. Followup is key! Store owners are busy, so don’t forget to circle back with them….

 You have wholesale accounts but they don’t place multiple orders.
Not every store is going to place multiple orders with you, but …  Be in frequent touch; send samples of new products for free; offer to provide any missing packaging or marketing materials; make it easy to reorder and provide display materials to make that a no-brainer; … In other words: take care of them and they will take care of you.

You aren’t sure how much to make your wholesale “discount” (or retail markup). …If you have a quality, handmade product with a compelling story or production method, then your retail price should usually be 2x your wholesale price. … If your product isn’t handmade, with a compelling story and production method, then stores may want a 2.2x or 2.5x (or more) markups. Are the exceptions to both of these rules? Absolutely. Every store and every maker has different costs and realities so ultimately, you have to do what’s right for you (within acknowledgment of what’s reasonable) — even if that doesn’t work for every store.

You don’t know whether the store owner should pay for shipping or you should.  The easier you can make it for a store owner to place an order (in terms of low minimums, free shipping, easy process, etc.), the better, for getting new orders. But you never want to offer more than you’re able to swing financially. … Regardless of what you choose, the most important thing is that you make your policy clear before the wholesale order is placed.

You are not sure what your wholesale minimum should be. … The key thing to keep in mind is … don’t create a high minimum just because you think you’re supposed to. …The lower you can place the entry point, the lower their risk is. Which means that a lower wholesale minimum is usually good when you are starting with wholesale, as long as you don’t make your minimum so low that you’ll resent the sale (or not profit from it.)

Excellent list of ways to remove wholesale obstacles.  I highly recommend you read the full article.