Etan and Emily, from Wholesale In a Box, offer makers a method to get into stores — and tools to make growth easier and faster. You can sign up for a free e-course on their method for growing wholesale (without tradeshows, hassle, or stress) here.
Every maker has different goals for their business. But the most common path to building a sustainable business that we hear makers and designers identify is getting their products into stores. In so many ways, wholesale growth is the key to a sane, profitable, creative business because you spend less time hustling for one-off orders and more time designing. We often hear the same concerns and frustrations, “Reaching out to stores is so hard. It’s overwhelming, time-consuming, frustrating, and a hassle. It takes forever to figure out what stores would be a fit.” “Trade shows are impossibly expensive for a business my size and all the ‘online marketplaces’ aren’t working for me.” “I want to spend more time designing and less time on busy work.” If you want to see your products in more stores, here are four “rules” that we’ve found are crucial for growing wholesale. If you’re not growing in the ways you want to, it’s likely that one or more of these principles is weak in your business.
Four “Rules” For Growing Wholesale
- Make “connecting” your job.
- Craft your story.
- Follow up & follow through.
- Start with “good enough,” then make it better.
Most Common Error
We dive further into these four rules in our e-course, but that third rule — follow up and follow through — is the one that so many people neglect. So we wanted to share three super-simple things that you can do this month to grow your wholesale accounts, and start to master the fine art of following up and following through. 3 simple things you can do this month to follow up, follow through, and get your products into more stores:
1. Schedule follow-ups when you do your outreach.
If you’re anything like us, it can sometimes feel a little hectic and even uncomfortable deciding when to follow up with stores, and staying on top of it all. That’s why we recommend scheduling all your follow-ups with stores at the same time of that first communication with them. Whether they’ve reached out to you, or you’ve reached out to them, put one or two tasks on your calendar to follow up with them — and then you’ve set your intention from the start, and just have to carry it out. Not sure what to say in a follow-up? You can find some easy Dos and Don’ts here.
2. Write thank you notes.
It’s an opportunity to express gratitude without asking for anything in return. Thank you notes can be key to cultivating relationships that last. Consider sending a thank-you note when a store owner places an order, when you spot a store doing something that you love, or when a store “shouts out” your product on social media. Start making it your practice to look for opportunities to say thanks.
3. Follow through after the order.
We sometimes cringe a little bit when store owners tell us how bad many makers are at following through after an order. We hear about hundreds of soaps that all arrive chipped, dented, and without packaging. We hear about stores trying to place re-orders but not being able to reach the brand. The bottom line is always the same: when a store places an order with you, look at that as the beginning of something — not the completion of something. Certainly be thoughtful about shipping and packaging and also consider following through and touching base right after they receive the order as well as periodically after that, to check on how you can support them.
It can be simple tweaks that will really help your brand get into more stores. You just have to be diligent about telling your story, follow up, and follow through. Feel free to reach out if there is anything we can do to help!
Build Your Product
If you’re not quite at the point where you search for retailers, then you can use one of the 10,000 factories on Maker’s Row to start the process on your idea.