If you plan on selling on a wholesale basis, you will need to develop a catalog. Unlike buyers at retail shows, wholesale buyers expect to be given written information about your products as they won’t be taking any of your products back from the show. They will be placing an order to be sent at a later date.
I have been working with a program here in Montana called MAP (Montana Artrepreneur Program). The program focuses on developing a critical mass of market-ready artists through the work of cohorts (groups) of artists. In addition to paving the way for these artists to gain “market ready” status and move their work into larger, national markets, this program allows for small, regional pockets of artists to eventually grow into a network. Recently, I worked with Kris Kramer, a MAP participant, on developing a catalog, order form and terms for wholesale markets.
Kris is a jewelry artist whose pieces are 99.9% pure silver. You can see her work at her website. She has kindly agreed to letting me show you her catalog and wholesale information here so you can see an example of a wholesale packet that would be appropriate to give to a wholesale buyer. Just click on the PDF links to see her forms. Kris spent numerous hours working on her forms and made many different attempts before deciding on the best layout. Each person’s catalog and order form will be different but all should include certain items. You need good color photographs of the items you are selling. If a wholesale buyer takes your information but has no photos to remember your work, they may not return to place an order. When I am at a wholesale show, I cruise the entire show the first day and pick up catalogs of interesting work. If I’m not interested in a particular artist’s work, I won’t ask for a catalog. Then at the end of the day, I go through all the catalogs I’ve picked up and decide what to order the next day. Without photos, it is really hard to remember all the different artists I have visited. Photos are a must, in my opinion.
Other items that should be included in a catalog are wholesale prices of each item. It works best to have a price sheet separate from your photos because if the store or gallery wants to show a customer more of your work that perhaps they didn’t order or have run out of, they don’t want their customer seeing wholesale pricing. Your order form and price sheet can be one and the same. It should include a list of items which should note if there are different color options, size options etc. Your name or company name with contact information should be prominent at the top of the sheet. Include a snail mail address, telephone and any other way that buyers can contact you to place an order. You should either have a separate sheet with your terms or it can be included on the order form. Terms are how the buyer pays for the products such as credit card, net 30 or proforma as well as minimum order and reorder amounts, return policy and how shipping charges are figured. Many artists request to have the first order be paid by credit card and then offer net 30 terms with credit references. Net 30 means that you will send the order but won’t get paid until 30 days after the ship date or invoice date. Most wholesale buyers expect net 30 terms. Proforma means that the buyer will send a check and once the check clears, the products are shipped.
Try to keep your wholesale information concise and as short as possible. Buyers do not want to have to page through multiple pages and your items should be organized so they are easy to find. If you have lots of items, listing what page the photo of the item is in the catalog on the price sheet is very helpful. It is also good to offer a package deal. Make a couple of packages of your products, one at your minimum opening order and one about twice that much. This makes ordering simple for the buyer. So if you have 6 products that you are selling, the package might include 10 of a lower end product and 2-3 of each of your other products. This gives a the buyer a nice set of your work to sell without having to pick out individual items.
Selling on a wholesale basis takes work to get started but many artists like the freedom of only having to do 1-2 shows per year and then being able to work in their studio the rest of the time filling orders. Again, as I have said, you need to have the production of your items worked out so that is feasible to sell wholesale. One of a kind products that take many hours to make generally are not suitable for selling on wholesale basis.
Please feel free to ask any questions that you may have and let me know what else you would like to learn about marketing your work.