How to Get Started in Wholesale

Today's guest post is from Carolyn Keating, the Owner of Wholesale for Creatives. Carolyn teaches  product based businesses how to start and grow their wholesale business, connect with retailers & sell to stores. 

Below Caroyln is sharing about how to get started in wholesale...

Raise your hand if you’ve ever walked into a store and pictured seeing your product share the shelf with some of your favorite brands?

Running a product based business is both exciting as it is overwhelming. Regardless if you plan to sell directly to customer or offer your products at wholesale, you’re going to need to spend more time creating + designing, connecting with customers, and shipping products in addition to implementing new systems. Wholesale is awesome, but it’s a big commitment! Because I’m a big believer in examining the big picture before jumping in head first, today, I’m going to outline the 6 steps you should take to get your wholesale business up and running!


1. Start with some research:

When you are thinking about diving into wholesale you are going to want to test your product offerings with strangers to see how they feel about your product. If you have an Etsy shop or online store you probably already have a good idea about how people feel about your products based on orders, re-orders and feedback. Is there an item that stands out from the rest? Is there something that isn’t selling? Getting to know your customer base and getting feedback from people who aren’t friends or family will help you decide which retail stores would be the best fit for your products.

2. Think about what you want to offer at wholesale:

Do you plan to offer every product in your line at a wholesale price? Only some of the styles? Do you need to add more items to your line? It’s important to have an idea about what your wholesale collection will look like so you can start working on each item to make sure the pricing and strategy works. If you plan to reach out to stores you will need a line that is full of options!  

3. Examine your pricing:

In order for you to run a successful wholesale business you need to be profitable! This is where many businesses run into problems because they sell products without making sure the numbers work. You may find that some of the styles you’ve created aren’t the best fit for wholesale because there isn’t enough room in the pricing for you to turn a profit. When that happens, you may suddenly have a gaping hole in your product assortment because one of your product categories is now off the table!

When it comes to pricing there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Your wholesale price will typically be half of your retail price

  • Your cost of goods/cost to produce should be half of your wholesale price (the lower you can get this number the better!)

  • Your MSRP is the suggested retail price. The stores ultimately get to decide on the right retail for your product.

The best way I’ve found to set your prices is to work backwards from the retail. To figure out the best retail for your products do some comparison shopping to see what similar products are retailing for in the marketplace. I bet that you’ll find a pretty broad range of prices out there! Use this information as a guide in setting your own prices. Note the similarities and differences between your product, the competition’s and the retail price for each. For instance, you may see a journal at TJ Maxx for $4.99 and while you may sell journals too, yours is bound with foil printing and currently retails for $15. You visit a local boutique and find a journal that’s similar in style to yours that retails for $20. There are so many different options when it comes to setting your retail prices!

4. Determine your target customer:

Your pricing should be in line with your target customer. If you are positioning yourself as a luxury brand your prices will be on the higher side. If TJ Maxx is your dream customer you’re going to want your retails to be more in line with the examples you are seeing on their sales floor. Find yourself somewhere in the middle? Look for stores that carry products at similar retails. I really believe there is a place in the market for everyone! You just have to find your sweet spot.

5. Make a catalog or line sheet:

A catalog or line sheet visually tells your brand story and highlights your product assortment, making it easy for buyers get to know your business and the different products you offer. I recommend having two versions on file-a digital copy and printed version. A digital copy is perfect for emailing to buyers or influencers while a printed copy is great for in person appointments or sending with a box of samples.

 Your catalog should include:

  • Clear images of your products (on a clean, white background)

  • Your product style numbers along with a brief description

  • Any specific or special details (sold in packs of 8, letterpress printed)

  • Your Company Information (a logo in the header, contact information in the footer)

6.Make a dream store list and start putting yourself out there:

One of the most challenging parts of wholesale is reaching out to new customers. Whenever a buyer decides to either buy from you or pass on your products the feelings are always personal. When a buyer says yes, you feel like you can conquer the world! When they say no, you question everything you’re trying to achieve. When you do feel the sting of rejection, try not to take it personally (easier said than done, I know!) The timing may be off, their budget may not be accommodating of new vendors or they may already feel your products are too similar to something they are carrying. A no today doesn’t mean no forever! Keep working your way through your dream list and eventually, you’ll get that yes! In the meantime, leave the best impression with the buyers you make contact with by always being gracious and appreciative of their time and feedback. You never know, something may change and when it does you want to be the first person they think about

Thank you Carolyn and Wholesale For Creatives for sharing your wisdom with the Ringlet community!

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Carolyn is offering something SPECIAL for you readers - her Wholesale Terms + Conditions template at 25% off with code RingletBFF.

(Click Image Below For Link)


MEET caroyln with wholesale for creatives

Prior to launching her business, Carolyn spent a decade in sales with an NYC-based women's accessories company where she developed and sold products to retail chains throughout the country. Her mission is to educate small businesses about the industry’s best practices so they can successfully compete in the marketplace and avoid making costly mistakes. 

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