How To Speak Wholesale
It's easy when you know how.
If you’re going to sell your work to shops like a total pro, it’d probably be useful to speak the language, right?
When a shopkeeper asks what your minimum order is, you probably shouldn’t reply “Well, I always get the stuffed crust with extra cheese.”
That’s a no-no, an uh-oh and a wah-waaaaah rolled into one.
But what if you said “My minimum’s £300 for first orders, but I’m so excited about my lovely thing being on your shelves that I’d be willing to give you a little movement on that. How about we get on the phone and work out the details?”
Now you’re talking. That’s some serious woo-hoo you’ve got going on there. The difference?
Understanding wholesale vocab, knowing how it applies to your business and confidently using those words to help build relationships with stockists. Shall we dive in?
Your buyers’ pack comes in three main parts: an introductory letter or email to the retailer, your wholesale catalogue and your price list or line sheet. If your catalogue is digital the last two might be combined into a single document.
Every time you reach out to a new store or follow up on a previous submission, write a personalised email and link to or attach your catalogue and line sheet.
This sounds scary and complicated, but it’s actually all about simplicity. Your line sheet is a streamlined version of your wholesale catalogue. It shows all the items you have for sale, their wholesale prices and your major terms and conditions.
Essentially, it’s a cheat sheet for retailers. It has everything they need to know about doing business with you, all on one handy bit of paper. Read more about line sheets and catalogues here.
Terms and Conditions
Another phrase that can strike fear into a creative person’s heart. Terms and conditions are a way of saying to potential stockists: “This is how my wholesale business works.” They set out things like how much shipping will cost and what happens if items are damaged in transit.
This might seem deathly dull but setting your terms and conditions can actually be one of the sexiest aspects of wholesale.
THAT’S RIGHT I SAID SEXY AND I MEANT IT.
Let me explain…
Oh, minimum orders. Beautiful, wonderful minimum orders.
When you make a sale on Etsy or at a craft show, you have no control over how much a customer spends. Sure, you can use upsells, promotions and your dazzling smile to increase the value, but ultimately it’s not up to you. The customer decides how much he or she is willing to shell out.
The opposite is true in wholesale.
You get to say to retailers: “If you want to sell my stuff in your shop, you have to spend X every time you make an order.” And that amount is entirely of your choosing. £50, £100, even £500 if that makes sense for your business.
Yes, there are caveats and yes, you have to think about it very carefully, but come on. By setting a minimum order, you get to say exactly how much money you want retailers to spend.
Don’t tell me that’s not the tiniest bit…stimulating.
For most artists, it’s one of the biggest reasons to get into wholesale in the first place.
We’re going to wrap up our little glossary with one of the most confusing wholesale terms. Carriage-paid sounds like something out of Pride And Prejudice but it’s actually all about incentivising stockists to buy more of your stuff.
Retailers hate paying for shipping. It feels like throwing money away. It also means that we have to charge our customers more for your product once it’s on our shelves. But until someone invents a teleporter and licenses it for retail use, we need to get your lovely thing into our shops somehow, and there’s always a cost attached.
This is where carriage-paid comes in. It’s you saying “You know what, I’ll take care of the shipping costs – but only if you spend over X.”
Again, setting your carriage-paid level needs careful thought, but it should allow you to absorb the postage costs and still make a decent profit. As a result, your carriage-paid level should be higher than your minimum order – perhaps significantly so. Working it out will probably involve a lot of research into delivery options and companies.
The major upside, however, is that retailers will often obediently make up an order to your carriage-paid level without batting an eyelid. You’ll find more on this here.
See? It pays to increase your word power.
Hello, I'm Clare Holliday. I'm a shopkeeper who's helped thousands of creative people sell their work to stores, galleries and regular customers all over the world. Now it's your turn.