How to Sell Wholesale to Retailers
For the Makers

How to Sell Wholesale to Retailers

As an artisan, have you ever wondered how to get merchandise into stores? If so, this guide is for you! We’ll walk you through the necessary steps for selling your products wholesale to retailers including which retailers to target, how to create a catalog and pitch your creations and how best to follow up. We’ll also cover some of our top tips for successfully leveraging marketing products online and at live events.  

While it may seem intimidating to approach retailers, remember that they depend on securing quality products like yours to keep them going—here’s how to get started! 

Step 1: Decide which retailers you want to target

The first thing you will need to ask yourself is who is your ideal buyer? Once you have this decided you can begin targeting the right retailer to get to them. You will want to choose retailers that are a good fit for both your products and your brand alike to ensure they align with what you make and who they are selling to.  

When considering this, a top tip is to avoid the urge to go straight to the big box-chains that may seem like the most profitable option. Smaller, more independent shops may provide easier access to your ideal customer and might even be willing to pay more than bigger ones for your products and creations! It can also pay off to think outside the box and explore options outside the traditional retail environments! For example, some artisans have found their wholesaling success on platforms like Etsy! Sites like this could help you access new markets with a wider reach, while giving your customers more choice at lower prices!  

Step 2: Create a catalogue of your products

A catalogue is the perfect way for your products to speak for themselves! Creating a catalogue is a crucial step in the process because this is how retailers will learn all about what you’re selling and see what your products look like before they buy them. Some wholesalers hire third-party graphic designers to create this for them—however, that’s not a requirement. If you choose to design yours yourself, here are our top three tips for producing your catalogue:  

  1. Make sure your catalogue is in a digital format. This way you’ll be able to send it to multiple retailers without duplicating your workload or racking up a pricey printing bill. 
  1. Keep it simple! Don’t add too many photos or too much text, this will only make it harder for retailers to go through your work—especially if they’re busy!  
  1. Make sure the photos you use are high quality. Your products can’t shine if the pictures don’t do them justice. 

Step 3: Now it’s time to reach out to your target retailers!  

There are a few ways you can approach this step. You can contact retailers through:  

  1. Social media. Social media is an easy and informal way to reach out to potential retailers and spark a connection. 
  1. Email. Most retailers will have their contact information available online! If you choose this route, make sure your subject line is catchy to grab their attention and stand out! If you don’t receive a response, you can follow up as chances are you might be lost in their inbox but be careful not to send too many emails— this may turn retailers off from wanting to work with you.  
  1. Traditional mail. This could offer a more personalized approach and means you won’t get lost in an inbox! Some retailers do prefer psychical catalogues to look through rather than digital ones. However, keep in mind that this option will be more costly, makes following up harder, won’t have a visible chain of correspondence and requires more labour.  

Step 4: Attend in-person events and trade shows  

Attending in-person events and trade shows can be a great way to network with retailers and show off your products. You can find out about the next event near you by looking online, flipping through industry publications, and checking sites such as your local chamber of commerce. Post-event, asking the organizers when their next event is and if you can be added to their preferred vendor list is the perfect way to stay in the loop, plan and ensure you’re optimizing your opportunities to meet with potential retailers!  

Top tip: prepare for events by making sure you always have samples of your products available and, if possible, bring along promotional materials like business cards and your product catalogue so potential buyers can see all the other amazing things you offer!  

Finally, don’t get discouraged if you’re not an overnight success. Following this process and believing in your products will get you selling wholesale to retailers in no time! Even though it may seem like a lot of work, selling wholesale is a great way to support your business—you just need to know the right steps!