Wholesale? 4 easy steps to find stockists for your product

Ready to find stockists for your products?

Are you a product designer wholesaling your products to retailers?

Maybe you’ve been exhibiting at trade fairs, and believe you can find more retailers by spending a lot less money?

Have you already started wholesaling but  aren’t getting the repeats orders you were hoping for?

I’ve walked in your shoes.

In my previous business – a women’s handbag and accessory design – I wholesaled my products to shops in Australia, as well as had franchises in the USA and the UK. I exhibited at gift fairs, and also at Mercedes Fashion Week. I  sold my products to shops myself, as well as hiring agents and distributors to sell them for me.

I’m sharing with you some tips that I picked up along the way, and ones that I wished I had known when I was wholesaling.

Tip #1: Know your best customer

Know your customer inside out. Who he/she is, and why she buys your product.

Don’t underestimate the importance of this step. If you know who loves your product you’ll have the ability to understand more about her, and you’ll be able to communicate that knowledge to the future retailers. They’ll appreciate it.

 Tip #2: Know where your best customer shops

The more you know and understand who she is, the more likely you’ll know where she shops.

​Know your best customer and know where she shops.

Start local.

Put together a list of  the shops that you think your best customer would shop at.

I like to open a spreadsheet and collect these details. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you’ll collect a lot of information, and you need to have it well organised from the beginning.

​Tip #3: Visit the best shops

Visit the shops that you expect your best customer’s shop.

It is time to do some sleuthing at these shops, and best to start local to get a good look and feel for the shops and important details.

First step is to look around at the people shopping there. Do you think they resemble your best customer? If not, you may be in the wrong type of shop.

Next step is to look at the products in this shop.

Are there products that are similar to yours in the shop? Are these your competitor’s products?

What percentage of the shop shelves are lined with products from your competitors?  If a large percentage of the store has your competitor’s products, this is a good sign that you are in the right shop for your products.

Make a note of this percentage of shelf space for your type of product. It might be 20% of the shop is comprised of your type of product.​

What other products are in the shop? These are products that are not in competition with you. For example, if you sell jewellery, then these might be handbags.

Collect details of a few other brands of products that are not competitive to you (for example what brands of handbags are there).​

Tip #4: Build your database of best shops

While you are at the shop, collect the business card, and also find the owner’s details. In particular you want the name, email address and phone number.

I don’t recommend selling your products at this point. You are simply in research mode, and if you jump into your ‘spiel’ too quickly, you probably will lose the chance to make a professional and organised approach.

Head back to your office armed with the details you have collected. The details of the shop owner as well as the competitive products and complementary products.

It is time to build up your database.

Armed with the list of other products stocked in the store, do a search online of those products. You’ll probably find their websites.

Search through the website and find a list of stockists. This list is a good basis for your database. If your competitors are stocked in these stores, then these are probably good stores for you to be stocked as well.

Enter into your database all the details of the shops that match your initial criteria – where your best customer shops.

I like to call these your Best Shop.

​To find these shops, look at the stockists lists on your competitor’s websites.

Add the contact details including email and phone number for each of your best shops.

Include other information in your database, including which competitors are currently stocked in the store, along with an example of some other types of products in the shop.

This gets your database started, and gives you a target group of retailers and potential stockists to start targeting.

I’ve put together my database. I’m ready to make contact. Eeek!

 

This is probably the hardest part of being a product designer.

Making contact without being ‘salesy’.

You get one chance to make a first impression, and retailers are often too busy to give you a second chance. Regardless of how terrific your products are.

It is why I’ve written real email scripts and templates, easy phone call scripts and meeting walk throughs that really work. For product designers. For non-salesy people.

Where can you find these templates and scripts?

If you’d read this far, I’m guessing that this is the step you really need help with?

To be an effective wholesaler, you need to have a great sales catalogue. For a swipe file full of FREE wholesale catalogues, go to the Line Sheet Swipe File.

 

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