If you import or manufacture a retail product, wholesaling is an important piece of your growth strategy. Some clients we work with get overwhelmed by how to approach wholesaling, but here’s how you can break it down in eight steps.
- Build a list. Capture information about as many retailers as you can – Canadian and American, brick-and-mortar and online. Since your success rate with “cold leads” will be limited, be as wide reaching as possible.
- Start with the lowest hanging fruit. It’s always easier to make inroads where you have a connection. If you know anyone who can make introductions to store owners on your behalf, now is the time to leverage your network.
- Divide and conquer. Divide your list of leads into two camps: stores outside of your area and local stores. For that first group, put together a great looking email. Your open-rate will likely be low – it’s hard to get people’s attention – but it can’t hurt to try. It may also open the door for a follow up phone call.
- Hit the road. For the local retailers, pack up your samples and ‘hit the pavement.’ You can make appointments to see the store owners, but in our experience, it might be more effective to simply show up. If these stores operate independently, chances are you’ll find the owner/operator working behind the cash.
- Follow up, follow up, follow up! Use a spreadsheet or any software that allows you to keep track of your leads: when you contact them initially, when you follow up with them, and what is the result of the call.
- Market research. Store owners hold a wealth of information, and we encourage you to get in front of as many of them as you can. Ask questions and you’ll quickly learn what you need to know: When does the store do its buying? Who does the buying? Do they carry any other products similar to yours? Even if they don’t place orders, you’ll learn a ton.
- Sales reps. Consider reaching out to sales reps as a strategy to help get your product into stores.
- Pricing. Make sure that your product pricing works for wholesale. Selling direct-to-consumer via your own website is a very different business model than being a wholesaler. The retailers will expect to make a 100% margin on your products, so make sure that your costs align with your wholesale pricing.
- Be ready. Set yourself up to properly process and fulfill orders. You’ll also want to develop terms and conditions. You might land orders from businesses that are bigger than yours, and you’ll want to put your best foot forward.