Wholesaling is without a doubt the best thing I have ever done for my shop. While it is not ideal for labor-intensive products with slim profit margins, it is an absolute game-changer if you sell mass-producible, high margin products. If you sell things like stickers that are pretty locked-in at a $3-5 sales price, increasing your margins as you grow will come entirely from getting your per-unit inventory costs as low as possible. When you sell your products in bulk via wholesaling, ordering inventory in higher volumes becomes much more doable, resulting in lower per-unit costs that improve your margins across all sales channels. Girlbossed ✔️
Pricing - the general rule for wholesale pricing is half of retail (MSRP) So if you sell stickers on your website for $4, you will want to wholesale them to retailers for $2 each. There is some wiggle room with this, but this is the rule you will want to keep in mind when analyzing what products you can viably wholesale. Websites that facilitate such sales will often take a 10-25% commission on each sale which you will also need to take in to consideration. Wholesale is only worth it if you can make money off of it, even if it's just a little bit.
Packaging - the way you package products to send to customers is sometimes going to be different from how retailers will want to display them in their shop. Pay attention to this next time you are in your favorite boutique. While it may make sense to ship a print to a customer as-is in a stiff mailer, this is not sufficient for retailers who will likely have your prints standing in a bin for customers to flip through, and instead should be packaged with at least a 0.22 thickness chipboard backing in a cello sleeve for protection. You will also want to make sure that each product has your brand name on it SOMEWHERE so that customers know where they can get more of their new favorite brand.
Line Sheet - if you are not using a wholesaling platform like Faire, you will need to create a line sheet which is a simple catalog of your available products from which retailers can shop. You can be as creative or simple with this as you would like, but you should always include: clear photos of the product, wholesale per-unit price (optional: include the recommended retail price or MSRP), size, materials, and any other relevant details.
Where To Start - local businesses LOVE to stock local artists! Start there for a big leg up! Checking out the "stockist" list on other artists' websites is another great resource for shops to reach out to (check out mine HERE)
What To Say - You can go in-person if you feel comfortable (I personally love making that connection) but all retailers will want you to email them to actually initiate an order. Introduce yourself and give a little bit about your brand, highlighting what makes your work unique and a must-have for their shop. Once you have a message you like, save it and just copy/paste it for all emails you send. Below is the email I used when starting out.
*Updated 3/29: after reading THIS incredible post from Clare of the Indie Retail Academy, I have these added notes for you:
Put yourself in the mindset of the buyer. You are doing part of their job for them (ie new artist/brand hunting). Don't ask for permission to send your line sheet, just send it! Give them the info they want to know from the jump - if you have one, tell them your minimum order and re-order quantity as well as your products' price range.
Clare also really stressed the importance of personalization in your pitch emails. Use their name when you can. Swap generic flattery for specifics of their store (I know, not the most efficient, but you could always write templates based on the type of store you are pitching to) What about their store makes you the *perfect* fit? They will want to hear what THEY will get out of stocking your products.
Other things to consider including are testimonials from other retailers and honestly I may start to really put myself in the buyer mindset and flex some of my strongest profit margins that they too can seek to benefit from.
Selling On Faire (use my referral link!) - despite passing me up when I applied for their accounting position years ago (not bitter) and having pretty steep commissions, I am STILL a ride or die for Faire.
They provide and subsidize great incentives for you to offer retailers like free shipping and $100 off if they join Faire, and host seasonal markets where they will match discounts offered in your shop. While they do take a 25% commission on new orders and a 15% commission on all reorders, you CAN upload your own contacts and utilize their platform to facilitate sales with ZERO commission. If you ever get a new order from a shop that you have reached out to on your own, they can update the commission for you to lock in your 0% rate. Even if you emailed them loooong before and they never responded, you can still show Faire your pitch email and it counts (also counts as a fun "look how far we've come" moment).
If you purchase shipping through them and the package gets lost or damaged, Faire will reimburse you up to $100. My general rule of thumb is to buy through them for orders $100 and below, and through Pitney bowes and buy insurance on any above $100. It is infinitely easier to get that $100 from Faire than it would be to even get $20 from USPS.
Any issue you have is worth asking them to reimburse you on though. I recently had a retailer report that 90% of their order was missing (among several other bizarre circumstances) and while I wasn't going to accuse them of lying...there's just no way. Instead of putting a bad taste in that retailer's mouth, and not wanting to swallow the loss, I contacted Faire explaining the situation asking them if they would be able to still pay me out for that order - and they did!
Yes, that 25% commission is ROUGH, but I think it's a fair price to pay for the dozens of returning retail customers that have been introduced to my shop on their platform. Also! Becoming a "top shop" is based on much more attainable and reasonable metrics than Etsy's, and will get you a boatload of free advertising from Faire. I can guarantee you that a good 95% of all of the cute little stores you know use Faire - their eyes always light up when you ask if they use it because of how easy it makes things. You can also integrate Faire with your Shopify inventory levels which is helpful! And free!
thanks so much for sharing this! do you have any tips or advice for a small business preparing to apply to Faire?
Hi Elizabeth! I love your posts, your products and your messages!! I have not had the same luck with Faire. My items are bigger and pricier, so that seems to be the problem. I think I will try the direct contact method! Any other advice? Thanks so much for all that you do.
Thank you for sharing this, I’m going to send it to my discord too!