6 Ways to Know if Your Business is Ready for Wholesale

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Most crafters want to sell their handmade goods   You might be waiting until you have a bigger client base or more professional contacts or higher sales numbers, but by stopping to ask yourself some core questions, you might discover that you’re ready to start wholesaling today. But how can you tell whether or not your product line is ready for wholesaling? To answer this question, designer, maker, and entrepreneur Megan Auman encourages freelancers to consider six key aspects of your product line.

It’s cohesive

A strong wholesale line — whether it’s jewelry, knitwear, metal goods, or something else — has a clear aesthetic or overarching theme that tells a cohesive story. “Have someone else with a fresh set of eyes look at it,” Megan advises. “Ask your friend that’s got impeccable taste…look at it and see if it makes sense.” In particular, look for products that don’t fit with the rest. Can those items be eliminated, or altered to fit in with the rest of the line?

…But diverse

Do you only sell one type of product? Are there other product types you can create that fit in with your brand? When Megan started painting again for fun a few years ago, she realized that her work as a painter could translate into textiles, an endeavor that fit in with her existing jewelry-making business.

“Even though they were totally disparate, adding in that textile line, focused on wearable goods suddenly made the whole picture of my wholesale line make sense to my clients.”

The price is right

Expanding into wholesaling doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to alter your prices, but it’s important to come into the transition into wholesaling with a strong knowledge of why your items are priced the way they are. What are your least and most expensive items? Are most of the items in your line around a similar price point? How can you adjust prices to create a fuller range, which attracts more customers?

You can handle the volume

Are the materials you use to create your products consistently available, even if you needed more of them in a hurry? How would you feel if a client ordered ten of something? 100? 1,000?

The knitty-gritty details of expanded production can be overwhelming to a first-time wholesaler — feel free to reach out to been there, done that entrepreneurs for help and support. And be sure to consider whether there any products in your line that are too labor, time, or cost intensive to sell wholesale, too.

You’ve done the research

When you present a wholesale collection to prospective buyers, you have a fine line to walk. Are you putting forward enough products that the buyers feel like they have choices? At the same time, be careful that you’re not presenting too many products at once, which can make buyers feel more overwhelmed and less likely to purchase. Also, be constantly aware of your best sellers — buyers will want to know which of your products have been most successful.

You’re ready

Finally, before you take the plunge, ask yourself some final, essential questions about your readiness to wholesale. Do you have at least twenty designs in your line that you feel fully confident about? Don’t be afraid to take extra time to tweak and perfect your line if you need it. Do you have ideas about products to continue introducing into your wholesale line after it’s launched, to keep it fresh? Do you have the resources to introduce those new or updated products at least once a year?

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Want more great advice about how to get your business ready for wholesale? Check out Megan Auman’s full class. Or, if you’re in the Seattle area, join us for our upcoming craft wholesale Q&A with zulily! You can RSVP here

Lauren Hoffman FOLLOW >

Lauren Hoffman lives and writes in Seattle, Washington. By day, she's a freelance writer and editor; by night, she's at work completing a book-length non-fiction project, Up High Down Low.