A step-by-step guide to selling your products to shops and boutiques
Are you a maker who is looking to sell your handmade items to stores? If so, you’re in luck! In this blog post, I’ll share everything you need to know about wholesaling your handmade items. We’ll cover topics such as how to find buyers, how to price your items, and how to package your products for sale. Whether you’re just getting started or you’re looking for more tips, read on for the best advice on handmade wholesale selling!
Pricing for Handmade Wholesale
Before you get too far into your journey as a wholesaler, it’s time for a reality check. Not every handmade item is a viable wholesale product. If there isn’t enough room in your profit margin for both you and your stockists to make enough money to support your businesses AND cut you a paycheck, then wholesale may not be the right option for you. Don’t know if your margins are cut out for wholesale? That’s OK! I’ve created a handy calculator to help you figure it out.
Before we begin, you need to gather a little bit of information about your product. You’ll need to know:
- how much your supplies cost (list the full price, even if you bought your supplies at a discount)
- how long it takes you to make each item (be generous with your timing here)
- your hourly labor cost, or what you pay your production team if you have one (Don’t be tempted to put $0! Leave yourself wiggle room to hire help if you haven’t already)
- the margin you’ll offer your stockists (Keystone margins of 50% are standard in most industries, but some may offer less. You may need to research your competitors on this one)
Once you’ve gathered up all your numbers, type them into this handy pricing calculator and let the magic begin:
Once you’ve added all your numbers to the calculator, it will pop out an MSRP, or “Makers Suggested Retail Price” for you. This should match the retail price you offer on your website, at craft fairs, etc. If it’s less than what you typically sell your products at, congrats! Your product is perfect for wholesale. If it’s much more than your typical resale price, you have some decisions to make.
What To Do If Your Product Doesn’t Support Wholesale Pricing
If your current retail price doesn’t support selling at wholesale, you can do a few things:
- Raise your retail price to include your wholesale margin
- This option is great because it puts a little more money in your pocket whenever you make a sale. If you have to significantly raise your prices, you’ll want to check out your competition to see if it’s likely that you’ll be able to continue to successfully sell your products at this higher price point.
- Decrease your costs
- Is it possible to decrease your materials cost, or add efficiencies to your process so you can make your product faster?
- Decrease your wholesale margin
- This option is tempting but proceed with caution. Some wholesale marketplaces require a 50% margin for wholesale listings, and it will be harder to compete with retailers offering similar products if your margins are much lower than theirs. Remember, your prospective stockists are running businesses with high overheads. If they can’t cover their expenses and earn a paycheck in the margins you’re offering, they won’t be placing an order with you.
- Don’t sell this product at wholesale
- You don’t have to wholesale every item you make. It’s OK to select a few higher-margin items to offer to retailers while reserving your lower-margin items for your direct customers only.
Set Your Wholesale Terms
If you’re feeling a little queasy about your wholesale price, it’s time to start thinking about what will make it all worth it – selling in bulk! In addition to your wholesale price, you’ll also need to determine your minimum order size. There are a few ways you can do this:
- Case Packs
- This is especially ideal for consumable items like cosmetics and candles. You’ll group similar items into packs that will help your retailers put together a cohesive display for their customers. For example, you may choose to wholesale your candles in packs of 4 by scent and size.
- Quantity Minimums
- Ideal for items with lots of SKUs in a similar price range (like clothing with sizes), you can allow your retailer to mix and match any items they like as long as they buy a minimum total number of items.
- You can set separate MOQ’s for first-time and returning customers
- Minimum Order Value
- Similar to the minimum order quantity, you can also allow your retailer to purchase any item assortment they wish as long as they spend a certain dollar amount on a single order.
- You can set separate MOV’s for first-time and returning customers
As you determine your minimum order size, you’ll want to keep two things in mind. First of all, what is the smallest order you’ll need in order to make selling wholesale worth it? Second, you’ll most likely be working with small boutiques and mom-and-pop shops that don’t have large budgets or unlimited shelf space. What is the smallest assortment of products that will allow them to create a cohesive display for their customers?
You may also be asked for payment terms like net 60 or net 90. If you offer these terms to your stockist, they’ll have 60 or 90 days after they order to remit payment. If you aren’t able to support net terms, it’s OK to say no. If you sell on marketplaces like Faire, they will handle this for you and you can choose to be paid immediately.
Where to Find Handmade Wholesale Buyers
There is no shortage of retailers looking for unique, handmade items to sell in their stores. Now that you’ve got your pricing and terms ready for wholesale, it’s time to make some connections. The easiest, and least time-consuming way to meet potential retailers is on wholesale marketplace sites like Faire, Handshake, and Tundra. If you’re selling on Etsy, you can also add “wholesale” to your tags and descriptions, and let potential retailers know that they can contact you for your wholesale pricing and terms. If you have your own website, you can also create a separate wholesale portal exclusively for your stockists, If you’re on Instagram, start adding #wholesale and #handmadewholesale to your posts. Boutique retailers love browsing social media for unique, new items to offer their shoppers. Finally, you can research retailers that you’d like to work with and approach them directly. This is the most time-consuming approach, but it will allow you to pick and choose the stockists that excite you most.
What to Include in Your Handmade Wholesale Product Listings
When you create wholesale listings for your products, you’ll want to keep in mind that these listings should look very different than your regular website or Etsy shop listings. Be sure to include
- Your MSRP and Wholesale Markup
- Your minimum order size
- Net terms if you offer them
- How your products will be packaged for sale (retailers want to know what their shelves will look like with your items on them)
- Relevant information that will help the retailer sell your item (display tips, expiration dates, which sizes sell the best, etc.)
- Lead times – are your items ready to ship, or will they be made to order? Be sure to leave yourself ample time to fill a large order. It’s obviously better to ship early than late.
You Got Your First Wholesale Order! Now What
Now it’s time to make your products if you haven’t already, pack them up, and ship them out. Make sure your packaging matches the photos from your listing, and that you box your order up nicely. If your retailer enjoys the unboxing experience, they’ll be more likely to place a reorder with you. You’ll want to include a packing slip, and any relevant safety information (like a CPC for children’s products) It’s also a good idea to include a friendly note for your new stockist and any tips or tricks that may help them sell your product faster.
Following Up With Your New Retailer
As soon as you ship your first wholesale order, the work towards earning a reorder begins. A week or so after you ship your order, reach out to your retailer to thank them for their order. If there is any information you can provide that will help them display or sell your items more effectively this is a great time to share that information with them as well. Whenever you release new items, it’s a great opportunity to reconnect with your stockist to encourage them to refresh their shelves. If you don’t release new products often, you can still reach out to your existing wholesale accounts a few times a year to see if they have any feedback or questions and assist them with restocking their inventory. If you sell on Faire, you can take advantage of their marketing automations to keep up with your clients.
That’s it! I hope you’re feeling confident about selling your handmade goods at wholesale now, and that you found some helpful tips along the way. If you’re looking for more resources, be sure to subscribe to my email list below. I send out regular updates packed with information and advice specifically tailored for handmade businesses like yours. And of course, if you have any questions or need help getting started, don’t hesitate to reach out to me or drop a comment below. I love connecting with small business owners and I’m always happy to offer advice and support.