Many people have asked me about the advantages of selling wholesale versus selling retail. I have talked a little about wholesale but thought I would take the next couple of columns to discuss it in more depth. This information is based on what I know of wholesale shows in the US and Canada. I am unaware of wholesale shows in Europe or Australia. I would love to hear about wholesaling in Europe or other countries if you have experience in this area.
There are many differences in selling wholesale vs retail. You need to have your pricing worked out completely before you attempt selling wholesale. If you’re just beginning to sell your work, it is probably best to sell on a retail basis until you have a full line of products, a solid pricing system and a business plan in place.
Some of the reasons people sell their work on a wholesale basis is that they won’t have as much selling cost, they don’t have to spend their time selling their work or going to retail shows and they can spend more time in their studio. By selling in large volume, they can streamline their processes and make enough profit without having to do numerous retail shows or sell on consignment. Many wholesale artists do only 2-3 wholesale shows a year and get enough orders to fill their entire production schedule for a year.
If you are planning on selling on a wholesale basis, you need to consider the needs of your customer. Your customer base will now be galleries, stores or museum shops. A buyer for a shop is going to think differently than the average retail customer. A buyer is looking for products that will “work” in their store. This is different for each buyer but most who have been in the business for any length of time have a good idea of what will sell for them and what won’t. Buyers are looking for an entire line to sell. Items that either go together or have something in common. You should consider selling package deals with an assortment of your products in various colorways or styles. It is easier for the buyer to purchase and you will then have a simple way for buyers to meet your minimum order.
If you are planning on selling both retail and wholesale, your wholesale line can be different (and often should be different) than your retail line. The items that you sell on a wholesale basis should be ones that can be made fairly easily and you can streamline the process, therefore cutting down the time needed to make the item. Try to develop a line of products that go together in some way so that stores will buy the entire line.
Next time, I’ll continue on talking about wholesale selling. If you have any questions, please ask and I’ll include the answers next time.