When Wholesale Customers Don’t Buy

Unsure as to why you’re not closing the sale? There are many reasons that wholesale customers won’t sign on the line. Here are a few.


Looking at a wood booth


You just know the gallery would be a perfect place for your handmade line. You’ve checked them out, you’ve spoken to the buyer, and you’re dying for that opening order. But, it just doesn’t happen. What gives? You may never find out the real reason, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t keep trying. Consider the following list, and how you can work smarter to close the sale with your dream gallery in the future.

1. It’s not their buying season. This is a common mistake that artists make, especially if they are new to wholesaling. If you plan to launch your wholesale line in November, for instance, you are far too late in the Christmas season to gain orders. Take a look at the typical “buying season” for your industry. These can vary. For example, a retailer at a ski resort will have a very different buying season than many mainstream businesses.

2. Their available budget is already spent. If their stock is full, and the budget is blown, you are out of luck. Sometimes, the buyer will tell you they are not buying again for a certain number of months. Mark your calendar to follow up when they will need to refresh their inventory.

3. They already have a very similar line. If your work bears a close resemblance to a successful line they already carry, they don’t need you. In that event, they most likely have a good relationship with their current vendor, who won’t be replaced. When prospecting, look for stores with merchandise that complements your line, but doesn’t too closely compete.

4. They haven’t seen your line before, or consistently enough. You have to be seen and seen again before many retailers are ready to write an opening order. They may have had a bad experience with an artist who “disappeared” or never shipped, and need reassurance that you have a seasoned business before they order. It also takes time to become memorable to buyers. They are barraged constantly with different lines to review. You must follow up regularly to become known and remembered.

5. Your line is not a fit. You think they should carry your line, but perhaps they don’t share your opinion. They may have stocked a similar line at one time that didn’t sell well, or just feel their customers are looking for something different. In that case, you may not be able to gain their business. Store buyers are keenly aware of customers’ tastes, and buy accordingly.

6. They want to see your work develop further. Maybe they stopped in your booth or reviewed your collection, and feel that it holds promise – but they want to see a more diverse line, a higher skill level, or other artistic development. You may be on a “watchlist” but haven’t gotten to the top tier yet.

7. They are having internal issues. Perhaps they are having financial difficulties that are not apparent. Or, the owner is retiring and planning to close the business or sell the business. Maybe a new buyer is coming onboard, who wants to place their stamp on the look and feel of the store’s brand and merchandise.

Many times you won’t get any explanation, and if the store is in transition, it can take a lot of time. If you feel the store is a perfect match for your work, keep them on your list and reach out to the buyer on a regular basis. You may still land that account yet!


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