Interested in the world of wholesaling? Here are a few ways you can sell your art or craft to retailers:
1. Trade Shows – A traditional and proven way to reach retailers, including galleries, museum shops, boutique owners, catalog buyers and more, is the trade show. These shows come in different categories and reach different audiences. From gift shows to accessory shows to hospitality shows to shows specifically for handmade, these events draw attendees who have a dedicated budget and come specifically to buy. In fact, many retailers plan their yearly buying around attending trade shows.
One thing buyers are looking for is something new to offer their customers. Artists and craftspeople just entering the wholesale marketplace through trade shows offer those new products, and should make a pre-show marketing effort to introduce themselves and invite buyers to visit their booth at the show.
Trade shows offer artists a chance to meet buyers in person. Plan to grow those face-to-face opportunities into long-term profitable business relationships based on repeat sales and profits.
2. Sales Reps – Most reps these days are seasoned, and tend to be older. Reps can be hard to acquire because they are targeted by many companies looking for representation for their lines, and competition is fierce.
But there is a reason for that. Having sales reps selling your line can be an excellent way to get exposure for your work in ways that you never dreamed of. With an existing book of business, sales reps can approach accounts in their territories and get placement for your collection. Reps may also have connections with large retailers, which can get your work into the big league.
Reps are paid on commission. They are looking for lines that are compatible with their existing lines, and will sell through quickly. Make sure you have a good match before working with a sales rep.
3. In-Person to Retailers – The easiest way to start wholesaling is to approach stores yourself. Although it can be a little intimidating at first, selling wholesale directly to store buyers is good experience in how to do business.
Do a little research first to find local stores that would be a good fit for what you make, both in merchandise selection and price points. Don’t walk in cold with samples of your work, but check each store out in person first if possible to understand them better.
Contact the store owner by email or phone, and be persistent in following up if you cannot reach them at first. The goal should be an appointment where you can present your line. Be completely prepared for that appointment, with line sheets, price sheets, samples and good marketing materials. Then, follow up some more if you don’t get the order at first.
If you approach ten stores, and get a wholesale order from one, you have done well. Stick to your plan, learn from experience, and you should be able to get some results in opening wholesale accounts.
4. Wholesale Websites – Selling your work on third party websites is one way to reach an existing audience, but your work must shine through the competition. Make sure you have outstanding images of your line to show on your artist page.
Follow directions explicitly to make sure you comply with requirements and that your work gets enough exposure. These websites should provide statistics and other information on how many Meylah and Etsy Wholesale are examples of online wholesale marketplaces for artists and craftspeople.
5. Your own Website – In today’s world, artists must have a website, or risk being invisible to customers. Your website should give an excellent presentation of your work, be easy to navigate and inviting to visitors.
Many artists offer a complete look at their line for wholesale buyers to consider, and usually state that they sell wholesale. Often, there is a “Retailers” page on the website with information on galleries who sell the artist’s work.
A password-protected section of your website can be used to share your wholesale prices with retailers, and for accepting online orders.
How to get retailers to visit your website? Advertising helps. So does promoting your line on social media to spread the word. Get attention by approaching the press, and use drip marketing techniques to keep those visitors coming back.
Want more information on how to market your handmade line? Check out our bestselling e-course “Marketing for Artists & Craftspeople.”