One question that comes up a lot from makers working to grow wholesale is: How much should I set as my minimum wholesale order?
You may well have some great thoughts about this -- so let us know! But we’ve put together what we’ve seen work, and some pros and cons of different approaches -- to hopefully save you some headaches down the road.
When it comes to building your wholesale accounts, it’s important to make it easy for stores to order with you. So, many makers ask: Why do I need to set an order minimum?
It’s a great question and it comes down to two things: exceeding expectations and sustainability. First, when a store places an order with you,they want to see if your products will sell and if you deliver professionally. When you ask for a reasonable minimum, it gives you the financial breathing room to produce quickly, attend to order details thoughtfully, and exceed expectations. Second, you are trying to grow, but in a sustainable fashion. If you stress your business with too-small wholesale orders, you won’t be supporting the long-term sustainability -- or sanity -- of your business.
So what should my minimum be, then?
There is quite a bit of variation by product type, price point, and store type. That said, we find that $250-350 is a good place to start for most of the makers that we work with and seems to be something of standard.
Another way to think about this is: what order you would not be resentful of? If someone called and placed a wholesale order for $23, you’d likely feel a little taken advantage of -- not a good foundation for providing the store excellent service or building a long-term relationship.
But what about maximums!?
The flips side of this is getting such a big order that it would mess up your production schedule or overwhelm you. If you, like many businesses, are making things to order, you can consider adding something like this: “Each of our products is handmade from start to finish, so we ask that you don’t order more than 20 of a single item in each order.”
- Don't worry about…
Getting it perfect. You will certainly shift your policies over time to meet your evolving needs. So take a stab at what you think will work for you, and change it as soon as it doesn’t work anymore.
- For a quick-and-dirty 3-minute fix, just…
Adjust your line sheet to reflect what feels like a reasonable order to you, something you would be thrilled boxing up for the retailer.
- Or to really dig in, consider…
Ask yourself how else might you entice a new customer? What barriers could you remove to make it easy for them to order? What have stores told you in the past about what they’re looking for? When you meet stores needs in other ways, you can ask for higher minimums.