Episode 031: Show Notes
Today on the podcast we have Katie Hunt with us, and it is going to be an absolute showdown — tradeshow showdown! Katie knows all the secret stuff about this whole secret universe that they call “wholesale”. Now although neither of us live in this parallel universe, Katie definitely does, and she has a ton of knowledge to share with us. Katie has been wholesaling and dealing with the wholesale world since 2009 and has always had the entrepreneurial bug, even back in the day selling friendship bracelets to all her friends.
Katie shares how she first got started in the wholesaling industry, going from making wedding invitations and cards for all of her friends, to a full-blown Etsy shop of her own. She has spent the last 16 years coaching large corporations and entrepreneurs on marketing and business development strategies. Her strengths lie in connecting with people and bringing ideas to life – brainstorming, making plans and executing them. Katie has a passion for creating, a mind for business, and a strong desire to help others succeed. So if you want to soak up all her knowledge, then you’d better listen in!
Putting Your Best Foot Forward
In Katie’s first year of running her company, Kelp Designs, she decided to take it to the National Stationery Show — her first year! Now she does NOT recommend this for anyone who is just starting out, however, she learned a lot of great lessons by doing it. At these tradeshows, each company sets up a mini boutique pop-up shops to showcase their products. If you are a designer or somebody looking for inspiration, attending these shows is a must! The day before the show started, Katie’s booth was shut down by the fire marshal because she forgot to bring all of her fireproofing paperwork with her. After having a good long cry, she put on her big girl panties, made a plan B, and worked until the early morning hours to make it all come together. The next day she put on a smile, put her best foot forward, and despite everything, absolutely just made it happen.
Getting Started Selling Wholesale
You really need to take a hard look at your product line before you even consider wholesaling. To get started, you need to have a significant amount of product in your lineup. You cannot really wholesale with five or six pieces. You want to have a significant amount of product to showcase. You also want to know that your pricing is in line with the market and that your product size and packaging is hitting industry standards too. The product line also needs to tell a cohesive story about you and your company. It needs to be totally on-brand and unique to you. So before we can even start talking about selling wholesale, you need to know that your product line is extensive, it’s cohesive, and then you also need to make sure that you’ve got the scalability with the way you’re producing it and the costs associated with that.
Words of Wisdom on Consignment vs. Wholesale
Selling on consignment is when you as a product maker give the store your product and only get paid for it once they sell through it. If that product does not sell or if it becomes shop worn from people picking it up and handling it, that is a cost you are going to have to absorb. For Katie, she much prefers the wholesale model where you sell the store the product and then if it does not sell through, it is their burden to carry. Consignment also requires a lot more tracking and monitoring, which just gets really complicated and messy. Even if you just want to “test the market”, consignment is not the best option. Instead, focus on your retail channel, understand what your customers are drawn to, and gather data on your bestsellers, that can then help you to sell wholesale to retail stores.
Understanding Sales Strategies For Different Client Groups
It is really important to differentiate your sales strategies when it comes to selling to the wholesale market versus selling to your retail customers. Your wholesale buyers are interested in the numbers and looking at their store from a square footage to dollar perspective. They want to know how much money they’re going to make, and they are interested in how much space your product is going to take up on their shelves. They want to make sure to have the right mix of products for their customers so that their store has variety. However, your retail customers are the ones that are actually using the product, so they are mostly interested in the aesthetics, or the function of the product. Their concern is with how it makes them feel, so your sales approach will be entirely different.
Applying the Tiered Outreach Approach
The first thing you want to do when using the tiered outreach approach is to introduce yourself and your products to the new buyer. This could be via email, which includes a little about your company, a link to your catalogue, perhaps a few styled images of your products. Remember to always keep your buyers in mind when you are reaching out. Do NOT make it about you. Let them know how they can benefit and what they could get out of working with you. Explain to them why your product would be a good fit for them, and, depending on the type of product, send out a sample package to the buyer. Include a personalized note and a hard copy of your catalogue, and then follow up a couple of weeks later.
The Backup Box That Will Save Your Tradeshow Tooshie
When it comes to getting ready for the tradeshow, there are so many things to remember, and so many unforeseen things that could potentially happen. To make sure that you are always prepared for any emergencies, Katie recommends the “backup box” method from Rachael Hetzel of Pistachio Press. This is where you put backup documents, products, and anything that you may need in a box with a pre-addressed FedEx slip on it addressed to your hotel. This way if anything happens to your product during transport, or it is damaged on site, or you forget anything, the backup box is ready to be sent on express!
- Learn what it means to put your best foot forward and do everything you can to make it happen. [0:03:21.8]
- How to get started selling wholesale and the strategies behind it. [0:09:01.6]
- Get Katie’s insights into the differences between consignment and wholesale and which is preferred. [0:15:14.2]
- Understand the different sales strategies used for wholesalers versus retail customers. [0:17:24.2]
- Learn how to reach out to new buyers using the tiered outreach approach. [0:24:19.6]
- What is the backup box, and how can it help save the show in case of emergency? [0:36:49.6]
- Focus on your product first; product line, industry standards, pricing strategy.
- Do not underestimate the importance of your wholesale sales tools; terms and conditions, catalogue.
- Selling wholesale requires a completely different sale strategy than selling retail.
- Start small and focus on quality over quantity, and reaching the right audience.