State Your Terms

Before you take wholesale orders for your line, consider the terms of sale you want to offer. Your policies should be clear and stated upfront.


State your terms


Terms are usually stated in writing on your Wholesale Order Form, but should also be listed on your website for the benefit of your wholesale customers.

Here are some of the most common terms you will need to determine and suggestions:


Minimum order – You will want to state your opening minimum, and your minimum reorder as well. Your minimum may be a dollar amount for the entire order, or a number of items. In addition you may wish to specify minimum purchase quantity per item (for example, six cards in one design).

Payment – “Net 30” is a common term of payment, which gives buyers 30 days from the receipt of the order to pay the balance. Your terms may allow Net 30 with a credit sheet and a check of their references.  However, artists frequently require a credit card payment with the opening order, and sometimes for every order. When your customer gives you a credit card number, it should not be charged until a day or so before shipping, and it is courteous to call the retailer to remind them that you are charging their card.

You may also have a policy on late payments, such as charging a percentage of the balance due on a monthly basis when payment has not been made within a certain period.

Shipping – Indicate any lead times on orders, the method of shipping to be used, and the cost (if known).  You may want to offer expedited shipping for an additional charge.

Order cancellations – Although cancellation charges are not always enforced, you may have a cancellation charge on special orders, or a “restocking fee” if an order is cancelled close to the date it was to be shipped.

Return policy – Do you allow returns on wholesale orders? This is up to you. However, you may want to allow wholesale customers to either return or exchange merchandise in saleable condition within a certain period of time after receipt of the order.

Damage or incomplete shipment – Indicate the way you would like shipping damages to be reported, and your policy on replacement. Likewise, if an order arrives “short” you should have a policy in place and indicate this on your order form as well.

Custom orders – If you take a special order created specifically for a wholesale buyer, it is prudent to get a deposit of 50% at the time of the order to protect yourself from loss, especially in the event that the merchandise cannot be resold to another customer. Consider other terms you may want to include if a customer order is completed and the buyer will not take receipt.

Special Guarantees – Occasionally, a guarantee is given, such as “On Approval” where the artist will allow return of merchandise after a certain period of time (such as 90 days) if sales of the merchandise shipped are unsatisfactory to the buyer. In that event, the buyer would receive a refund of their payment except for shipping and any merchandise that was sold. Terms of this type tend to encourage opening orders as there is little risk to the retailer, but you will have to consider carefully if it is the right type of policy for your own business.

Other policies – Every business is different, and you will need to consider any additional policies you will need to state. Do you offer discounts for bulk orders? Do you allow pickup of orders? Consider your situation and state your policies and terms clearly to avoid any confusion.


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  1. What is an appropriate discount for second or third time wholesale orders from retailers? Also, how do you resolve a potential conflict if a retailer claims an order is incomplete when you know it isn’t?

    • Lauren, Your wholesale price is always the same. Don’t think “discounting” because that is not what wholesale is. You should have wholesale pricing set which is profitable for you, and you do not set the retail price – the store does this.

      As far as resolving any issues about complete orders, I suggest you speak with the buyer on the phone and go over the issue carefully. Did you send a packing list or an itemized invoice with the order, which could be checked off as it was unpacked? It is unlikely that a wholesale buyer would simply lie about this, but to resolve any misunderstanding, work with them to come to an agreement. Wholesale accounts are quite valuable, because of the repeat nature of the business they give to artists. It is in your best interest to find a way to work with them.

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