Friday, July 13, 2012

:: Wholesale 101 ::

{ by guest writer : kristen shearon | Havok Designs }

Wholesale can be quite tricky if you are new to the process. There are a lot of steps that go into a wholesale order. Setbacks will happen, but if you make a checklist at the beginning, you will reduce the possibilities of forgetting materials, using incorrect information, or anything else that might make you miss your deadline.

As a new shop, we have had the wonderful opportunity to have some fabulous wholesale orders. Each time I learn something new and important that I add to my list for the next time. Some important things to be aware of when handling a wholesale order are:

1.) breathe - while it is always exciting to receive a large wholesale order, you must stay focused and will make it a lot easier on you, trust me!

2.) make lists - write down EVERYTHING you will need for each item your client has ordered, and I do mean everything. Need rubber earring backs? jewelry cards? fabric? business cards to include with each unit? write it down.

3.) order extra materials - like I said earlier, setbacks will happen. One of the worst problems you can run into when filling a large wholesale order is to run out of materials needed for your items. I recently went thru this and while the client was very understanding (since we were on a very short time frame) you want to make sure your client knows that they can count on you to deliver the goods...literally.

4.) double check your math - when making your lists of materials you need to complete each project, double check your math to make sure you will be ordering enough materials or that you have enough already to fulfill the order. Adding up the amount of materials you will need will allow you to have a better idea of what supplies you actually need to order and will help keep costs down.

5.) get all your answers up front - sometimes your client may leave out some info regarding style, size, shape, color, or may leave out the time frame in which they need the order, whether or not they cover shipping, whether or not they will handle returns or damages to products or you will, etc. Make sure to get all the answers you will need to complete the order up front. It will save you time and hassle, plus it will make you look more professional and in touch with your clients' needs.

6.) know your limits - do not agree to a one week turn around time for an order you know you cannot fill within that amount of time, agree to create an item with materials unfamiliar to you, or give too much of a discount leaving you with no profit. A wholesale order must work for both you and the customer. Be upfront with what you can and cannot do, and never agree to a deal you don't understand or believe in. Anything you put out has your name on it...don't tarnish your name.

7.) do your research - it is important to remember that you need to feel comfortable with the establishment that will be selling your products. Do some research as see what kind of place it is, what else they sell, how long they have been open, etc. Make sure it is compatible with your work.

8.) contract - having a contract between you and the wholesale buyer is important for many reasons. Having them sign a contract prohibits them from using your work in any other way besides selling your items wholesale under your name. This will be another guarantee that your work will not be going into the wrong hands. My friend Lizzy at Odd Ball Art Co. often sells wholesale and provided me with this wonderful contract sample to give you a better understanding of what to include. You may even use this as your standard contract. Just input your information when necessary and get on hand for when you are approached for wholesale.

Wholesale Agreement

It is also extremely helpful to be prepared prior to receiving a request for a wholesale order. There are several ways you can go about this.

1.) create a catalog - design a catalogue with all of your products you offer on wholesale each with their product specifications, materials used / available, size, weight, styles available, and prices for both retail and wholesale. Including photos for each item in your catalog is great way for the potential client to understand what they will be ordering and the available options they have.

2.) create a customized line sheet - rather than creating a catalogue with all of your items, when receiving a wholesale request, you can ask the customer which items they are interested in purchasing and how many of each. Then you can create a customized Line Sheet with photos of each item and the same info as stated for the catalogue (size, materials used, weight, available options, etc) that is specific to what the customer is looking for. Plus, you can add other products that are similar based on the items the customer asked for in the first place. That gives them more options to choose from, and may entice them to order more while allowing them to feel that you are going the extra mile to please them.

Here is a link to a sample book of optional Line Sheets to use I found awhile back:
Wholesale Line Sheet PDF

3.) tiered line sheets / catalogues - you will come across customers with different budgets and spending limits. To cater to each level of clientele, create tiered line sheets / catalogues providing different discounts depending on the amount they intend to purchase. For example: you receive a wholesale request for 50 items from one customer, they would receive tier 1 with the lowest discount; then you receive another request for 1000 items from another customer, they would receive tier 3 with the highest discount.

Doing everything you can to make the wholesale order process as easy and as professional as possible for both you and your client will not only put less pressure and stress on you, but will make the customer more willing to make another large order! Getting our work out into the world thru brick & mortar shops, online retailers, or large department stores is a dream for any designer/artisan. So being prepared will only allow you to be a better seller and creator of your goods. The quality will be better and your clients will be more apt to spread the good word about your products and you as a company. Following up with your clients a few weeks after the order is also a good way to stay in their good graces, too.

That's all for today, class. Raise your hand with any questions...