Understanding the options you have to sell your artwork. In Part Two of this series, retail and wholesale selling, and using sales representatives are presented.
Ways to sell your work retail include participating in art or craft fairs, selling your work in an Arts Walk or Open Studio event, selling through referrals, taking private commissions, and private selling events.
Another option is to sell your work to retail customers online, either through your website or a third-party site. Because you are doing the selling yourself, you have control over the process, and the marketing. Selling online also has the benefit of reaching a global audience.
Your presence in the retail marketplace gives you several more advantages. You receive the retail price for your art, and get cash in hand. When selling in person, you meet the public, and begin to understand the type of customer who is interested in your work. Hearing their concerns, needs and objections will help you tailor your sales and marketing approach. It also benefits you to learn to talk about your work to your target customer so that you can perfect your selling skills, not to mention choosing the right venue for your work.
Could selling wholesale work for you? The majority of art or craft that is wholesaled is created in multiples in a production studio. You have to be willing to design a cohesive collection of work that will be made over and over. One-of-a-kind work can be wholesaled, although it is generally more difficult to do. This is because a streamlined production process is leaner and more cost-effective.
Artists who successfully wholesale create ongoing relationships with store owners and buyers, and make most of their income through repeat sales. Work that is wholesaled is priced at approximately half of retail, and is sold outright (not consigned.) The average markup to retail is 2.3 to 3 times wholesale. If you wholesale and also sell retail, never undercut your wholesale customers on your retail prices.
Artists who wholesale often exhibit their work at trade shows, where they meet and sell to store and gallery buyers. They may market and promote their line to stores themselves, or hire sales reps. They tend to be serious businesspeople with a business structure built to profit from a production studio, and they usually earn more than artists who do not wholesale. If you choose to pursue wholesale, make sure that your prices earn you a profit at that level.
If you don’t want to be involved in production work, marketing, sales, shipping and customer service, wholesale probably isn’t for you.
You can use sales reps if you wholesale your line, and create production work. They will help you reach areas and customers whom you could never reach on your own, and can be instrumental in adding a lot of volume and income to your business. Reps call on independent stores and sometimes on large retailers. They often earn about 20% commission on sales they make for you. You must take this expense into consideration when setting your wholesale prices.
The rep business is challenging due to a slow economy, and some reps have gotten out of the business entirely. They have substantial travel and office expenses, which they must cover themselves. They are also approached frequently to represent different lines, so they must be very discriminating and often turn them down.
Artists and craftspeople quite often are very interested in hiring sales reps to grow their businesses. Although it can be challenging to find the right person, having a sales rep can be very beneficial to your business.