If you’re looking to expand your reach and get your products
into some retail stores around your city, province or even country, you need
to make a plan. Here are some areas to think about and 10 steps you can follow to get started!
Set your Wholesale prices –
Selling at a craft show or online is much different than selling through a
boutique. You get to keep majority of your profits whereas retail stores will pay you your wholesale prices, not retail prices. Have a look over our guide on How to Calculate the Price of your Handmade Products so you can be sure you're setting your retail and wholesale prices properly. Typically wholesale prices
are half of your retail price. This means when you sell an item at a craft
show, you get to keep all the money that’s listed on the price tag and
after your costs are covered, the rest is profit. Selling wholesale, you get half the money that's on the price tag and the rest goes to the boutique. When you cut your retail price in half, will you still be happy with your profits? If you’re looking at
selling through boutiques, you may need to raise your prices across the board.
Stick to your prices – it would
be unfair to sell your products at a much lower price on your website, than
boutiques are selling them at. If you decide to raise your prices in order to
make a profit through wholesales, you should keep your prices consistent. You
can still have sales or offer promotions when customers purchase through you
(just as stores may do if they buy your items upfront).
Wholesale or Consignment?
Decide what type of a deal you would like to make with store owners. Wholesale
means the retailer will purchase your products and pay for them upfront.
Consignment means that you will give the store some stock and they will pay you
the wholesale price (or a decided percentage) if they sell. If they don’t sell
after an allotted amount of time, you take the stock back. If you’re the new
kid on the block, consignment may be a good way to get your foot in the door as
it’s less risk for the retailer. Learn more about the differences, plus some pros and cons to each.
Set your policies – make up a
set of policies you would like to follow to be sure partnerships with boutiques will benefit your
business. Think about how far in advance you would like orders to be placed, who takes care
of shipping costs, when you get paid and if it’s a consignment deal: how
frequent the cheques will be and how long your items will stay in their store
in the case they don’t sell. These don't have to be written in stone as it's always good to be flexible when negotiating, but if paying for shipping is going to cut into your profits big time, you'll want to be aware of that before you make any deals.
Get ahead of schedule – once
you get into boutiques, you have to work with their schedule. Buyers will often
do all their purchasing months ahead of a season so even though you’re still in
flip-flops and shorts, they’re thinking about scarves and hoodies. You have to
think ahead and organization is a must. If they send you an order, you need to
be able to fill it by their deadline.
Research some boutiques – find
out which retailers support local vendors and handmade goods. If you can, visit
their stores to get a feel for them and make sure they’re a fit for you. It
won’t benefit either of you if your products don't fit their demographic and will be overlooked by customers. Create a master list of ideal boutiques you could work with in
Choose your A-team - which
retailers would you love to see your handmade products in? Create a smaller list of
boutiques you would like to approach first and try to be sure they’re not competitors
on the same street. Just as you like to be different from other vendors at a
craft show, boutiques want to carry unique products that customers specifically visit their
store for. Buyers will often ask if any other stores are carrying your items to
be sure there isn’t a conflict. Make sure your list isn’t too big either; you
need to be able to fill each of their orders in a timely manner.
Create a Look-book – even if
you're bringing some items in for them to view, you’ll only want to bring a
sampling (unless the owner specifies they’d like to see more). A look-book is a
great way to create a cohesive story and show off more of your product line.
Set up a meeting – call and ask
whom you should speak to in regards to the stock they carry. Generally the
owner takes care of that in smaller boutiques so alternatively, you could ask
to speak to them. See if you can set up a meeting to stop by and show
them some of your items. If you’re not in the same city as the retailer, try to get
the Buyer/Owner on the phone and ask if you can email them some photos of your
work or a look-book. Always try to talk to someone in person or on the phone
first as opposed to email being your first contact (emails are too easy to miss
10) Stay on the lookout – when you’re on vacation or traveling
somewhere new, keep an eye out for retailers that might be a fit. It’s hard to
know which areas and stores are trendy when you don’t know the city but you can
find out first hand when you’re exploring. Keep the same points in mind; ask if
the owner or manager is in, introduce yourself and ask if you can email them
about your products once you’re home from your trip. Bonus points if you have a
look-book or business card you can hand out right then and there.
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