If you want to sell handmade jewelry to stores there are various approaches you can take. Some will cost you little more than your time and effort and some will require a larger financial investment. The following strategy shortlist includes cost-effective and practical ways to connect with stores, long-term strategies, and methods that require greater financial investment:
Trade Shows - Trade shows are a great way to generate leads and get orders, and yes... trade shows can be hit or miss as well as cost prohibitive. Some trade shows will have you investing upwards of $5,000 which can be difficult when first starting a jewelry business.
Not all trade shows are created equal, or necessarily suited to your product. For example, you may hear someone rave about how well they did at a trade show, only to learn that it was due to their five-dollar price points, or because their product appeals to a very different clientele.
There are trade shows that attract the souvenir industry, bargain stores, and those that draw buyers from high-end retailers and chain stores. If you want to sell handmade jewelry at trade shows, the best advice I can give you is to do your homework and find out which shows are being recommended in your category.
Finding out which shows have the best reputation for handmade jewelry will mean that you won’t simply be throwing money at the wind. It’s important to remember that it can take a while to build momentum at a trade show. Although breaking even at a craft show is never desirable, you need to look at wholesale trade shows differently.
Coming home with enough sales to cover your costs, and little more, isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially if you are returning home with lots of leads. Remember that wholesale prospects require nurturing and setting up at a wholesale show is very much about finding leads.
Not all buyers make purchases during the show and they also work within budget restrictions. While a buyer may not purchase from your collection this time, with a little nurturing, that buyer might be ready to make an order next season, or even next month. It’s your job to follow up on those leads after the show.
Online Wholesale Gateways - Over the last number of years there have been a number of online wholesale gateways coming and going. Reaching wholesale buyers online can be a difficult task and these gateways will provide you with valuable connections you might not otherwise find.
Again, it’s a good idea to do your research before committing to any annual fees, or high-percentage takes, as not all of these gateways are promising. Some of the more popular ones include indieMe and the newest kid on the block is Stockabl.
Email Marketing - My personal favorite way to sell handmade jewelry to stores is through email. Once you have started collecting a list of stores, you will begin to see momentum. Email is an effective way to create promotional offers, update prospective buyers on new collections, and to create a human connection that will have buyers more involved with your brand.
Use email to both make contact with new stores and use a bulk email service provider such as Mailchimp for your marketing efforts. While you may feel much more comfortable with the written word than with approaching potential customers on the phone, or in person, this is one area where it's preferable to make the call and get permission before reaching out by email.
Your Own Website - Depending on how much time and money you’re willing to spend, having a wholesale website is always a good investment in the long run. There are various ways to consider representing your collection on your own site.
Using a standard website builder, you can either create a password protected area for your wholesale customers, or you can simply offer a fifty percent discount code to qualified wholesale buyers.
The trouble with mixing retail with wholesale is that you must list the same items for both if you want to offer the wholesale discount across the board. This means that you won’t have room to retail some items that you don’t necessarily wholesale.
Secondly, using password protected pages can be confusing for wholesale customers unless you have a way of hiding your retail navigation menu. Some website builders will offer that ability, some won’t. You also have the option of hiring someone to custom design a website, finances permitting.
As a solution, you may find it easier to simply have a separate website to sell handmade jewelry to stores. I have found having a site exclusively for wholesale clients to be preferable to combining retail and wholesale in one place. It gives the freedom to create a different experience for each intended audience, while maintaining a clear focus.
I have included a link for you at the bottom of this article for the website builder I have used since 2008. Please note, I am an affiliate for this website builder, which means that I receive a commission should you decide this is the right platform for your needs. I stand behind this recommendation 100% and I won't recommend a product that I personally haven't used. I love my website builder so much that I've stayed with the platform for 12 years and continue to do so.
The following are a couple of screenshots of both my retail and wholesale websites. What I love about this platform is that, for a nominal fee, you can have your retail site duplicated to get your wholesale site up-and-running. Then all you have to do is go in and tweak copy and pricing. It will save you loads of time.
Creating a wholesale website is a great way to sell handmade jewelry to stores, but there is a reason it’s not number one on the list. You'll need traffic! Not just any traffic, but very targeted traffic and for that we need to look at ways to make contact with prospective buyers.
Having said that, in today's socioeconomic climate, creating your own website is a long-term strategy that can't be ignored. As you build out your client connections, you will be glad to have somewhere to send prospective buyers without having to pay out a percentage of your sales.
Your own independent online space, where you can sell handmade jewelry to stores, puts you in control of how and when you reach buyers, making this strategy a wise investment for your business. While you won't see immediate cash flow via your wholesale website, in times like these, building a dedicated wholesale site will mean that you are seriously good-to-go when the economy ramps up again.
This leads us to the number one way to sell handmade jewelry to stores.
Make the Call - I know, I know, cold-calling can feel intimidating. I don’t like it either, but it doesn’t have to be that complicated... really. It’s as simple as making contact with your stores of interest and introducing yourself. Although cold-calling is the number one strategy on our list, keep in mind that being in tune with the current economy, before venturing out to sell your collection to stores, is key. Understand there will be a waiting period while the economy rebuilds.
When the time is right for outreach, start by obtaining the names of buyers, or store owners, before making contacting and getting permission to email your information.
Having that go ahead will make it easier to send your line sheets and follow up with stores. An important note on emailing prospects is to never add names to your bulk email marketing list without first getting permission. One of the easiest ways to do that is by including a link to your sign-up page in your email, or by simply asking if they would like to be included on your list.
Cold-calling gives you what you need faster and better ensures that potential clients are open to hearing from you. Store owners are busy and making a warm connection is the best way to open the door to potential sales without running the risk of turning off prospective buyers.
That's my list of five ways to sell handmade jewelry to stores... wishing you much success!
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