How I started selling to retailers

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My journey into wholesale was anything but intentional, it was more desperation and survival. I didn’t start off interested or even knowing what the heck wholesale is or was. I wanted to start a beauty business and had anticipated only for B2C (business to consumer) sales, it was all I knew, find product sell it to people who wanted that product. And so, I had imagined that I thought I would sell my beauty products which were nail wraps at the time to as many people as I could. So, I did what every excited budding start-up does, I set-up a website set up and I waited, and waited and waited for the sales…..cue crickets….

To say that the sales were slow, would be a huge understatement

I had 0 sales and a box full of 3,000 units of nail wraps. As the month went on I of course became more and more worried about my non-moving stock. And you know what happens next, fear and panic sets in. It was a horrible, anxiety provoking time, I did try marketing my website through google ads and facebook ads this helped a little in gaining traffic but didn’t really have the affect on sales that I had hoped. 

I was determined not to give up. So my next thought was, where could I find a mass of crowds to buy my products? I came to the conclusion that I must hunt for consumers and decided to start selling at family fairs and weekend market shows. This was great push for my business and I started slowly and surely seeing my products move, I would have people buying from my stall wherever I pitched up. However, I was still dissatisfied with the number of units going out.

I wanted/needed to sell all my 2,000 units and that's when a thought crossed my mind, to try selling to businesses that would appreciate my product.

My thinking was that they, surely businesses would buy more and I can clear at least sell my first box of nail wraps quicker than selling at markets and fairs. And to my surprise it worked! I targeted and pitched up at numerous salons in my local area, me and my nail wraps and I started selling consistently to salons for the next few months. I had regular orders of 50 units and sometimes 100 units at a time. It was a real turning point in my business.

My next thought was surely I can increase my orders if I partner with bigger businesses, so I set myself a goal to get an order of 1000 units. I was so focused on getting an order of 1000 units and I wrote a list of all the big beauty retailers in the UK that I thought could buy 1000 units. I listed retailers, Selfridges, Superdrugs and Boots. And off I went to pitch my products. (more about how I tried and failed in my book)

Of course, wholesale is not just making a wishlist of retailers and the next day landing an order. It is hard work, it is sending samples, pitching at head office’, creating a retail marketing strategy, just so many things to juggle. Anyway, after a month or so of running around to all the head offices, I could find. I had a retailer interested in buying from little me. I was so excited! I could just see the red tick next to my accomplished goal, oh the satisfaction I would feel getting that 1000 unit order. 

The retailer, asked for numerous things much of which I had never heard of, so I would have to google and then answer or call those smarter than I for advice. After several weeks, of backs and forth’ the buyer for this 300+ retail chain said, she would in fact be placing an order and to look out for the purchase order. And boy did I look out for that purchase order in my inbox. I literally could not take my eyes off of my laptop, I was sitting and waiting by my laptop, thinking any minute now, I remember praying to God, please let this be an order for 1000 units(I had no idea just how big a major retailer could order). Then late that Friday afternoon in pops the email I had been waiting for.

And the order was not for 1000 units, not 5000 units but for 15,000 units. I could not believe it. I needed to touch this order, so I rushed to my local computer shop (I didn't own a printer) and printed out this order. I was totally over the moon. 

I felt so many emotions, relief at my first major retail order, excitement for what lay ahead and proud that I didn’t quit when the orders of my products were non existent. I also realised that wholesale was the best move for my business.

Since my first wholesale order, I have not looked back, I have sold beauty, fashion and food products into retailers and I love getting these orders. I love seeing products, I have worked with on the shelves of retailers. There is a whole lot that I have learnt and I now work with other brand owners to help you fast track your retail orders minus the mistakes I made.

I share this story, because I love retail, I believe every product based business should have a wholesale side and because I want to help as many brand owners as possible to kick start or revamp their wholesale business and thrive selling their products to retail, no matter where in the world they are. Check out my 'How to sell to Retailers guidebook' or book a one on one with me now, so that I can get you ready for wholesale and your products into retailers.