8 responses on “Ten Ways to Keep Your Wholesale Accounts Happy

  1. Victoria

    Hey Lela,
    Great tips – my biggest challenge is actually getting the wholesalers from ‘interested’ to ‘ordering’. Unfortunately as makers of our products, we have a very narrow profit margin, so we can’t give wholesalers the 50% discount they’re used to receiving. Our product mix is varied, and some products are discounted by 15% all the way through to others that are 50% – it entirely depends on the product and how much time/materials it takes to make it vs. what it can be reasonably sold for. We’ve found that wholesalers seem to lose interest immediately when we tell them about this – but realistically we can’t see a way around it. Raising our prices means we would be way out of market range, but selling at a further discount means we’d actually be losing money and better off without the wholesale accounts. Any advice on this?

  2. Lela Post author


    I appreciate your feedback! Your pricing dilemma is one that frequently plagues makers of all stripes. Here’s the problem: you’re essentially competing for shelf space with lots of others makers. Those makers can offer 50% of their recommended retail price to shopkeepers for wholesale. If you can only offer 30% or 40%, then the shopkeeper will naturally be inclined to bring in product lines which offer more profit potential. That means you’re the underdog each and every time you pitch. Even if a buyer LOVES your products, they can’t afford to bring in a line that only offers a 15% margin. Since we’re all in business to make money, you’ll have an uphill battle securing wholesale partners. Industry standard is a 50% reduction (or better) off retail prices, so you’ll be beautifully poised to compete on a wholesale playing field if you can get your COGS down. A few ideas…

    1. Streamline your production process. Can you make bigger batches? Automate some part of the process? Purchase raw materials which already have some of the “finishing” completed? Reorganize your work flow or batch tasks in order to make the entire affair more efficient?

    2. Consider an intern to help control labor costs. Interns should always be a reciprocal relationship- you provide skills + training, they provide labor.

    3. Shop competitively for the raw materials & services you purchase. Price check at least twice per year and aggressively seek cost savings.

    4. Consider joining a buying co-op to reduce the cost of raw materials. Bulk materials deliver lower costs- can you find or bring together a group of collaborative makers who need the same materials in order to harness your purchasing power as a collective?

    5. Use the economy of scale in your favor. The economy of scale represents the cost savings that companies enjoy when expanding. Here are a few examples:

    A spa orders 10 sugar scrubs:
    • You probably buy your sugar from the grocery store
    • 5lb. bag of sugar costs $4
    • $ .80 per pound

    A spa orders 100 sugar scrubs:
    • You probably buy your sugar from restaurant supply company
    • 25 lb. bag of sugar costs $14
    • $.56 per pound

    Or, suppose you rent a commercial studio at a rate of $600 per month…

    • 1 person working 30 hrs per week = 5,000 bars of soap. Each bar “costs” the company $.12 in rent.
    • 1 person working 40 hrs per week= 6,250 bars of soap.
    Each bar “costs” the company $.9 in rent.

    Your ultimate goal should be to operate as fiscally efficient as possible in order to price your products competitively while safeguarding profit margins. Perhaps you might consider offering select pieces for wholesale distribution while reserving others exclusively for retail clients. Those that can’t sustain a 50% wholesale pricing structure are best left off your line sheets to allow the focus to remain on offerings which are viable in that market.

    Your bags are beautiful and the workmanship is evident…I wish you much success as you build a wholesale program that works for you. If you need assistant building that program, you know where to find me! 🙂

  3. Stacia Guzzo

    This was really helpful Lela. I can’t wait until LMU starts in July and I can really dig deeper into this. I’m bookmarking this link in the meantime!

    1. Stacia Guzzo

      I mean LBU! Ha! Unintentional shoutout to my alma mater, Loyola Marymount University. Oops! I definitely meant LBU–can’t wait! 😀

  4. Lauren

    Hi Lela,

    I was wondering if you have any suggestions on a good program to create a easy ordering form for my wholesale clients. I get emails from them however, I would like to make things easier for them.

    Thanks so much in advance.

    1. Lela Post author

      Hiya Lauren,

      I highly recommend setting up an e-commerce platform that can accept both wholesale and retail orders. It streamlines order intake on your end, reduces errors, and boosts convenience for your buyers, too. Online ordering will revolutionize your life and platforms like Shopify have made it blissfully easy to get started!

  5. Casey

    Hello Lelya,

    Thank you for your wonderful article and very helpful suggestions. I am new to a growing company in the CBD industry (a market that is quite saturated at the moment). I’ve moved from Client Care/Operations to Wholesale Management in just 1 year and have so much to learn! We have changed and tweaked our program many times and I’m finding it difficult to keep our wholesalers ordering after being in constant communication via direct email and by phone and I can’t get many responses! I really want to showcase my ability to communicate and manage these accounts and need advice on how to drive sales without drastically lowering MOQs or MPQ, and without scaring customers away with obnoxious emails/calls.

    What courses could I take to help boost wholesale orders/tighten wholesale partnerships? What systems are your favorite with regards to managing/organizing/tracking Wholesale Orders specifically alongside an ecommerce site open to the public as well? We currently use Shopify and individually manage accounts via email/spreadsheets and it’s a nightmare!!!!!! Please help! I’d like to really make professional growth this upcoming year and prove my worth to my company! (hopefully to eventually make more money myself) 🙂

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