You’ve gotten a wholesale order from a local retailer. Congratulations! How do you make the most of this opportunity and build a strong relationship?
So you’ve started prospecting and calling on potential wholesale accounts yourself after reading DIY Wholesaling – Part One and DIY Wholesaling – Part Two. Now you’ve gotten traction, and some orders!
Opening a new account is cause for celebration, because it may be the beginning of a long and mutually profitable business relationship. Repeat business is what grows business. Plus, once you have landed an account with a wholesale customer, it is much easier to sell to them again and again.
As you build your wholesale account base, and can count on regular reorders coming in, your income will tend to stabilize. That means planning is easier because you know what to expect. And, you may be able to get off the road and stop doing as many retail shows and fairs if you have been traveling a lot and are getting a bit burned out.
But maintaining and supporting your wholesale account base means more than just shipping to them. To make the most out of any ongoing business relationship, you must understand what makes your customers tick and how to help them sell your work. That may mean giving them information, merchandising tips, or even providing displays if needed. Check out this article for more on how to help your galleries sell.
Even as you gain new accounts, though, some of your customers will drop off each year. The “80/20 rule” in sales reminds us that not only do 20% of your wholesale accounts give you 80% of your business volume, but that about 20% of your customers will cease doing business with you each year. They may close, change ownership, or discontinue your line. That means that you will need to replenish your accounts (and add more) by continually reaching out to more potential wholesale customers, either through calling on them directly, doing trade shows or even hiring sales reps to sell for you.
Those existing wholesale customers will need new designs and products from you regularly, because their own retail customers love to see and buy new things. Each year, plan to design and offer 30% of your line as new products to keep your collection from getting stale, and to keep displays fresh and new.
If your sales are strong with particular accounts, speak with them about increasing your presence in their store. As you work together with them, you may find that you end up with profitable business relationships that last for years and years. Many artists do.
If sales are slow, or your wholesale accounts aren’t reordering regularly, take a look at this article which will give you some ideas on how to jumpstart a slow account to help increase sales.
Businesses are built on relationships, and the ones you make as a creative entrepreneur should help you to grow your sales and your income. Wholesale is a great model for production studios and artists who choose this model to make their businesses thrive.