What is Wholesale?
To review, wholesaling is when artists sell their original works at a reduced price to retailers, who market and sell them to the public at a marked up, retail price. This process—in theory—allows artists to focus primarily on the making of their art while leaving much of the selling side of things to the retailers.
As we mentioned last week, the key to wholesaling is producing multiples of your artwork. You must find a way to create your product in bulk, in a lean and cost-efficient way, that allows you to sell in greater volume to the wholesaler at a lower price. If you aren't willing or able to mass produce your work, wholesaling is probably not for you.
ADVANTAGES OF WHOLESALING – they are big!
For many artists, the primary advantage of wholesaling is the time that is freed up for you—the maker—to concentrate on what you love most: creating and being an artist, not a marketer or salesperson of your own work. There is, however, no way around some degree of recordkeeping. You will still have to keep track of your sales volumes and stay on top of delivery deadlines, but the day-to-day process can be much more focused on being an artist instead of a business-person.
Another huge advantage of wholesaling, when done correctly, is that this process can provide a consistent stream of revenue for the artist. Particularly if you garner repeat customers—those who want to continue to buy from you on a regular basis—this can mean a steady business for the foreseeable future.
Wholesaling can introduce your product to entirely new audiences. People who might never think to attend a trade show or art fair might venture into a shop or gallery where your artwork is sold and be exposed to (and love!) your work. For artists, that unexpected exposure can be critical to developing a loyal base.
DISADVANTAGES – there are a few…
If your item takes a very long time to produce, and you cannot lower the wholesale price to make it worthwhile selling in that setting, it might not be a good product for the wholesale market. Streamlining the production process is key to successful wholesaling.
Though much of the business side of wholesaling becomes the retailer's responsibility, the administrative work involved for you can still be overwhelming, particularly if this is not your strength. Aside from the lost business opportunity (and revenue!) that can occur from keeping sloppy records, dishonest retailers could take advantage of artists who are not organized and consistent.
To avoid this, maintain up-to-date and accurate inventory to meet delivery deadlines. It's vital to keep consistent and current tools for your work such as line sheets, catalogs, and invoices. These same resources can prove to be helpful in tracking your inventory and responding to changes in demand so that you can use your production time more efficiently.
SOME PRACTICAL TIPS FOR WHOLESALING SUCCESS
Once you've considered the pros and cons of wholesaling for your business and decided that it's something you'd like to pursue, what do you do? Here are some pointers to succeed and make yourself stand out:
Maybe now that you know a little more about wholesaling, you're thinking this might be a great way to sell your artwork.
Stay tuned... Next week we'll discuss how to put a number on your pieces and determine fair and accurate pricing for your wholesale items.
Written by: Beth Wineland, Senior Writer & Editor, firstname.lastname@example.org