23 Wholesale Terms Every Maker Should Know

Learn essential wholesale terms from Katie Hunt on the CreativeLive blog!

You’ve been hustling to create a solid product line, strong brand and you’ve seen success selling your products online and in craft shows. You’re making a name for yourself and you’ve started getting inquiries from retail shops (big and small) that are interested in carrying your products. You’re not sure if you’re ready and frankly, some of the words these shops are using sound like a foreign language. It’s time to get up to speed and learn wholesale lingo.

Back-order: Products that have been ordered but have not shipped, typically due to a manufacturer’s lack of inventory.

Big Box Stores: Also known as Chain stores, big box stores are part of a larger retail establishment. Big box stores often have multiple locations carrying the same type of inventory. Examples include Target, Anthropologie and J. Crew.

Boutique Shops: Independently owned retail shops. Each boutique carries its own product mix and boutique buyers are frequently the storeowners. Think mom & pop shops, not tied to a retail chain.

Catalog: A digital or printed booklet detailing a wholesale product details, terms & conditions and general sales policies. Catalogs serve as a sales tool but also a branded marketing piece and typically include photographs and digital images of products for sale.

Consignment: Sales agreement wherein a manufacturer will provide product to sell in a retail store and a retailer will pay for products once they sell. Retailers do not purchase the products outright, instead they take a smaller percentage of profit (30 – 40% rather than 50%). The retailer may return or the manufacturer may claim any unsold merchandise at any time.

Drop Shipping: Arrangement between a retailer and manufacturer in which a manufacturer will ship products directly to the consumer. In this instance, a retailer will not keep products in stock. As orders come in, the retailer will send the details to the manufacturer who will then ship the order to the customer; common when working with online retailers.

Learn essential wholesale terms from Katie Hunt on the CreativeLive blog!

Exclusivity: Some retailers may ask a manufacturer to refrain from selling single products or an entire product lines to other retailers within a specified geographic region. It is up to the manufacturer to decide if they want to offer exclusivity to a retail store.

House Accounts: An account that a manufacturer reserves for selling direct, rather than allowing a rep, broker or distributor to service the account. Sales reps do not receive commission on house accounts.

Keystone: Also known as keystone pricing; the act of doubling the wholesale cost to determine retail cost. This is a standard mark-up in most industries but there are some instances where retailers will more than double wholesale pricing – mainly geographic areas with high overhead.

Line Sheet: Typically a 1 – 2 page document that details all of the products in a manufacturer’s product line. Line sheet is an abbreviated version of a catalog, with all the pertinent details a retailer would need to order.

Manufacturer: A person or company that makes goods for sale. Also known as maker, producer, creator or designer. A manufacturer may sell to the wholesale market and / or direct to consumer.

Manufacturer’s Representative: Independent sales representatives or ‘reps’ who call on retailers to sell products for one or more, non-competing manufacturers on a commission basis. Reps are typically paid monthly and commissions range from 15 – 30% depending on the industry.

Minimum Order Quantity: Also known as MOQ; refers to the lowest quantity of a certain product that a retailer must order. In addition to meeting Order Minimums, a retailer must also purchase a certain number of each SKU to meet ordering requirements. Each industry has different MOQ standards, do your homework to make sure you know what they are.

Net Payment Terms: Pre-approved payment terms that enable a retailer to pay for product after they’ve received it and had an opportunity to sell it. Offering Net Terms is most common when working with reps and/or with repeat wholesale customers.

Example: Net-30 would require payment 30 days after delivery; Net-60, 60 days after delivery.

Order Minimum: The overall dollar amount a wholesale customer is required to spend. Typically there is one amount for first-time orders and a slightly lowered amount for retailers placing re-orders.

Purchase Order: A filled out order form detailing which products and quantities a retailer wants to purchase from a manufacturer.

Resale Tax ID Number: In the US, wholesalers do not charge sales tax for items purchased by retailers, provided the retailer has a valid resale tax ID number. Manufacturers / wholesalers should request Resale Tax ID Numbers when selling to new retailers and keep them on file.

Retailer: A fixed location, including brick & mortar stores, online shops or pop-up shops that sells products to the end consumer. Retailers typically purchase goods from wholesalers or manufacturers, and then resell to the end consumer. Boutique Shops and Big Box Stores are retailers.

Samples: Physical examples of a manufacturer’s products that are sent to a retailer before they purchase enabling a retailer to feel, touch and experience the product first hand. It is not necessary to send multiple samples. 1 – 2 will do.

Stocklist: A list of retailers that sell a manufacturer’s products. A manufacturer will often include a ‘Stockist’ list on their website to tell customers where they can purchase

Stock-keeping Unit (SKU): Also known as an item number, a SKU is a unique code or series of numbers assigned to each product in a line. SKUs are most often used when a manufacturer has a large inventory to manage. The manufacturer determines the SKU number and it is best to keep SKU numbers simple, include a mix of numbers and letters and allow room for growth (don’t use codes that limit your numbers). SKUs are different than UPC codes.

Turn-around time: Also known as lead time. Refers to the amount of time a manufacturer needs before shipping products to a retailer. Turn-around times should be included in a manufacturer’s wholesale terms & conditions.

Wholesaler: An individual or company that sells a product to a retailer and does not sell directly to consumers.

Check out Katie’s classes to learn more about wholesale sales

Use the hashtag #createtomake to find other viewers and post about what you are doing to advance your business!

Whatever you are doing to grow your business, you can use #createtomake to share your progress on Twitter and Insta! Search for others who are using this hashtag and build your maker community.

Katie Hunt FOLLOW >

Katie Hunt is the founder of Tradeshow Bootcamp and a business strategist focused on helping product-based businesses. Katie has a passion for creating, a mind for business and a strong desire to help others succeed.