Handmade Wholesale – How to communicate with buyers


You have your catalogue, be it digital or physical and you’ve found the retailers you’d like to pitch your products to. So what now? Well it’s time to get in touch and let them fall in love with your gorgeous products.

But how..?

How to approach a potential stockist

EMAIL YOUR CATALOGUE

95% of retailers who participated in my handmade wholesale research said they would prefer new suppliers approach them with an email rather than turning up on their door step. That’s a pretty big number right? That means ALMOST ALL retailers would rather see your work in an email before meeting you in person.
If you choose to start here be sure to include your catalogue, relevant images as well as contact and ordering details.
An email is a great place to start but don’t stop here. Follow up is key to landing the sale.

If you haven’t heard from the retailer within a week give them a call. Don’t be pushy, just check in with them and see if they received your email. If they did and they’re not interested take this as an opportunity to get some feedback. Tell them you’re looking to expand your wholesale business and ask if they have any feedback/constructive criticism for you. It might not always be nice to hear but their negative feedback could help you land the next sale.
If everyone you approach says they love the product but the price is simply too high, that’s really valuable feedback. If they say they have a few products on range already that are quite similar, that’s also great feedback. Work out how you could mix things up a bit to give your products a point of difference.

If they’ve seen your email, are interested but just haven’t had time to get back to you (brilliant!) offer to email it to them again to save them digging back through their inbox to find your catalogue. You could also follow this up by sending them a sample of your product.

SEND SAMPLES

On that topic, giving retailers samples of your product is a great way to get their attention and allows them to see just how good your products are.

Where possible take the sample products to the retailer in person. If you’re geographically challenged and can’t get to the store to personally deliver the pieces, package them up beautifully with a handwritten note and send it in. The hand written note is important. Let them know you would be honoured to be considered for their store and let them know how they can get in touch with you.

Once again, follow up is super important.
After about a week, if they haven’t been in touch with you, give them a call. Chat to the buyer or store owner, make sure they received the package and offer to answer any questions they have. Don’t be pushy and ask for their order, simply let them know they can get in touch with you if they want to know anything else.

If you really want to impress them, leave them with enough samples for their staff too. If their sales team love your product, they could also help to convince the owner/buyer to pull the trigger and make the order.

BE MEMORABLE

Retailers get pitched to a lot, sometimes several times a day. No exaggeration. You want your brand to stand out from the others. You want the retailer to remember you over your competitors. It’s the little things like the hand written note mentioned above that will help to create a lasting impression. Get creative. Have fun. 🙂

TIMING IS IMPORTANT

Almost all retailers surveyed said they buy all year round but it’s still very important to be aware of trade fair season. There are two main fair seasons in the year, these can fluctuate slightly but they are usually around February and August. I know this is the case for NSW and VIC, other states may vary slightly. If you pitch your product to a retailer the week after they’ve been to the fairs it’s highly likely they won’t have the cash at that point to take on another product line and your competitors may have beaten you to it at the trade fair.
Retailers will buy all year round but there are a few key times in the year that you might have a better chance of them taking on your products. You want to approach the retailers before each of the fairs and a few months before major retail sales events like Christmas, Mother’s Day or Valentine’s Day. You want to get in while they are still making plans for these events. This doesn’t just apply to new stockists either. You should be aiming to get in touch with your existing stockists at these times too. Most retailers are starting to think about events like Christmas about 3 months before (or more!) so be sure to give your stockists enough lead time. If you send them your range of Christmas cards on the first of December, they will already have their stock sorted for Christmas and you could miss that sale.

how to communicate with buyers

IN STORE VISITS

Every retailer/buyer is different. Some would like you to pop in every couple of weeks and check up on them, others would prefer a simple email every three months.
From the retailers surveyed 52% said they want to hear from sales reps quarterly.
To find the happy place for you and your retailers, all you have to do is ask. Talk to them and see how often they would like you to check in. If they don’t want to hear from you very often make sure they have your contact details and you’re easy to get hold of when they need you.
Just because they don’t want to see you very often doesn’t mean they won’t order from you. From my experience I’ve seen retailers place plenty of repeat orders with companies that never had a rep pop in. If the products sell well for them, they will place another order. Simple. You just need to make sure you’re available when they need you.

CALL AHEAD

A lot of sales reps tend to pop into stores unannounced and hope to catch the retailer at a free moment in their day. If you want the retailer to feel like you value them and their time pretty, pretty please call ahead.
Having been in the position of the retailer who has to drop everything whenever a rep feels like a visit,I can personally tell you how frustrating it can be.
Give your stockist a call and book a day/time or even just call with an “I’m in the area today and I’d love to pop in if you have a few minutes? What time suits you?” Give them a chance to organise something that works for them. You’re far more likely to get the sale when the retailer is prepared to talk to you.

EDMs

EDM – electronic direct mail. Marketing jargon for an email newsletter.
Start an EDM list purely for your stockists. You can use this to promote new lines and give them product updates quickly and easily.
Let them know you’re adding them to this list and give them the chance to say they would rather not receive your emails.
Don’t call it a mailing list or a newsletter. This is your stockist update.
In these emails be sure to include an easy way for the retailers to contact you with questions and *fingers crossed* to place an order.
Email marketing is still one of the most important forms of online advertising.
If you’re interested we can look at email marketing at a later date.

I hope this was helpful!
Please feel free to leave a comment below or join in the conversation in our Crafted Makers Facebook group.
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Do you have any tips for communicating with buyers?

Dominique
About me

// maker // blogger // designer // Dedicated to promoting and supporting Australian creatives.

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