In my last post I asked you to consider whether public or private B2B marketplaces are better for your business. Now, it’s time to start looking into deciding which retail stores are worthy of carrying your products.
There’s two parts to today’s post: First, we’re going to find out how we’re going to get your products on the shelves of some sweet retailers. Then, we’re going to talk about terms and conditions - or how to separate the wheat from the chaff when it comes to retailers.
Retailers are always looking for the next big thing - that could be you! - but they’re also constantly besieged by queries from other wholesalers looking to get their products out there. So how can you cut through the noise of the internet and make retailers drop everything else they’re doing and focus on only you?
Visit their store - Do your homework!
Every time you head to that neighborhood, you make it a point to drop by that store. You know, the one with the gorgeous window displays, where you want to buy everything inside and know all the shop staff by name? The same one you’ve daydreamed about having your products stocked in, but are just too shy to ask?
That’s your ideal customer profile right there. Make notes about their shops covering everything from their size and customer base to their overall aesthetic - it’ll make it easier to shortlist shops to approach.
Matching things like a store’s customer base and aesthetics to the nature of your product means that you’ve a higher chance of getting them interested in your items. After all, if you’re selling organic handmade soap bars, you’ll probably have better luck approaching eco-friendly skincare retailers than a museum shop. But if you’re selling quirky products specific to your city’s history and lifestyle, museum shops will be right up your alley!
Once you’ve outlined your ideal customer profile it’s time to start pitching your store to retailers. Look for gaps in their product ranges and start tailoring your introduction to suit every individual store you reach out to by highlighting what your brand can bring to their stores.
Go to trade showsThe good thing about trade shows is that you’ll be in front of retailers who are eagerly looking to buy new products. But if you’re just starting out, forking out thousands for a booth can put a massive strain on your finances - especially if you’re still testing the water. You’ve still got to consider traveling and accommodation expenses, along with transporting and installing your display… and that’s not to forget stuff like name cards and other printed materials to give away to visitors.
So a trade show’s a big investment, and one you want to prepare for - it’s definitely not an express pass for finding new retailers! When researching for trade shows to attend, you want a show that’s growing bigger (and more ambitious) every year, and one that’s suited to your niche as much as possible.
Sure, you may sell apparel - but apparel covers everything from contemporary fashion like Magic, to fields as specific as alternative subcultures. Google is always a great place to start looking, and if you’ve got a trade show in mind, sign up as visitor and check it out! And start talking to the people you meet there - they can be exhibitors or even other visitors - and exchange as many name cards as possible, following up with your new leads once the event closes. Ultimately, attending a trade show will give you an idea of how trade shows work and if they’re suited for your business!
If you’re interested in learning how to rock a trade show like a boss, stay tuned! We’ll have some exciting tips for you on how to make the most of your trade show experience in the weeks to come.
Put yourself out there - Try a public eCommerce B2B marketplaceLast week, we talked about public eCommerce B2B marketplaces. These could be a great way to jumpstart your B2B business since they’re home to a large pool of prospective retailers you can reach out to… all of whom are actively searching for new products to add to their store’s range!
But remember that the success of using these seem to vary between extremes: there are wholesalers who’ve seen a massive jump in customers after starting on Etsy Wholesale, but there are also many who’ve experienced the opposite.
Once you’ve collected a pool of prospective retailers, it’s time to make sure they check out. After all, you only want the best for your business!
Trust me, you don’t want to fall off the deep end!
Watching out for warning signs is really important, especially if you’re new to wholesale, since you’re likely to be more accommodating as you want to keep all your accounts happy. This means you’re more likely to be flexible about your sale terms… which you shouldn’t be! So we’ve come up with a few common red flags when it comes to potentially problematic buyers:
Paying after deliveryWholesaling forums are full of stories of wholesalers who agree to requests for payment after delivery in order to cultivate a good relationship… but the buyer soon turns uncontactable, leaving the wholesaler stranded without goods and payment.
The safest bet is to ensure that your buyers pay you before your goods are shipped out - especially if you’ve only just started dealing with them. After all, as an eCommerce retailer, you’d never ship out products before receiving payment, right? And it’s only fair to you that the same principle should hold true when it comes to wholesaling.
In the future, as your relationship with your retailers progress, you may decide to be a little more flexible with your payment terms once trust has been established. But until then, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Sale or returnIf you’ve done consignment before, well, this is pretty much the same thing. Your retailer ‘purchases’ a certain amount of stock, but they can return everything that didn’t sell after a set period of time. It’s great for the shopkeeper, but really bad for your business. You’re providing them with stock to sell, and they don’t even have to pay you until it actually sells.
It’s great if you’re experimenting with a new product line in a whole new country. But come on. Your products are pretty hot, and you know it. After all, that’s why you even decided to give wholesale a shot in the first place. Because you knew they would sell. So why accept terms like this?
The point of wholesale is to move a higher volume of goods and enjoy better cash flow, so remember that when customers ask for sales or return. Refuse them politely, direct to your minimum order quantities, and let them decide if your products are worth investing in.
Disregarding minimum order quantitiesYou’ve just got your first wholesale order… congratulations! But wait. Let’s look at the purchase order. Just two pieces? With the total value of $30 (due to wholesale pricing)? You’ve got to be kidding!
Here’s another common horror story of a wholesaler who met buyers online through a public eCommerce B2B marketplace… only to learn that they’ve been buying these products for their own use. While these public B2B marketplaces try their hardest to vet buyers, buyers like these who possess a valid business ID can easily slip through the fence and do their personal shopping online at wholesale prices. In order to avoid situations like this, setting and sticking to your minimum order quantity is a must.
Setting a minimum order quantity means that in order for a customer to place a purchase order with you, they’ll need to order a certain number of products before you’ll approve it and start the fulfillment process.
We’ll be back next week to delve deeper into the role of minimum order quantities in wholesaling, so stay tuned!
And once you’ve found the right retailer, send them over to your private B2B eCommerce portal to do their shopping!
I hope this post has given you an idea of where to find retailers for your products, and what to look out for when you’re filtering your pool of would-be retailers. I’ll be back next week to write about setting minimum order quantities, so see you then!