What’s the deal with wholesale?

October 30, 2015

stock-laptop-october 2015

I’ve given you some business plan writing tips, I’ve written about the shop’s design preference, and now comes the fun stuff. What will we sell on Commun?

I’m currently reaching out to designers and I’m feeling more and more optimistic about finding what I want the more I browse their past collections. I’ve been amassing a list of Canadian designers for a year or two now. I found them through Google, referrals, social media posts (Instagram is great for this) and INLAND. Sara Power, founder of INLAND has done an incredible job putting together a popular show to highlight great Canadian design. She’s since become a strong source of designers for the shop and I am forever grateful to her.

The task of going through each designer on my list and picking my favourites is at hand and it’s pretty dang great. Window shopping for clothing is never a chore, but I have to admit, there’s added pressure now that I’m buying for my customers, not just moi.

letter-mail-mailbox-postboxDrop-shipping

In case you were wondering, buying inventory out right at wholesale isn’t the only option for online shops. I explored the concept of drop-shipping, because I had never heard of it before, but I decided it wasn’t right for this type of business.

What is drop-shipping? Instead of buying clothing at wholesale prices and housing inventory in your own home office or warehouse, thereby accruing more costs and taking on more risk, sellers also have the option of having someone else house the inventory and take care of shipping for them. As a seller, you just have to post product images and information, but when a client makes a purchase, the order is processed out and taken care of by a third party.

The benefits are that you don’t have to carry your own inventory, saving you money, space and time. The cons are that you get a smaller percentage of the sale, less money for you, and you don’t have any control over packaging, branding, shipping or customer service. This is why drop-shipping isn’t for Commun. We will have branded packaging, hand-written thank you notes for all of our customers, and we want to be in control should any issues come up. Exceptional, personable customer service is important to us and we just didn’t want to take the risk of losing out on quality.

photo-1445205170230-053b83016050Wholesale

So what is wholesale? Most designers no matter how big or small choose to not only sell their clothing on their own sites but also have sellers offer their product in their stores too. Sellers take on more cost up front, paying about half the sale price (what we call the wholesale price). For example, if you buy a sweater wholesale for $50, you can then sell it for $100. Please note that designers usually have their own suggested retail price and you have to respect that price. Designers wouldn’t appreciate it if you sold their product at a lower price than what they suggested. This means that you would be competing with them with their own product, not cool.

The benefit of buying wholesale instead of drop-shipping is that you, as a seller, make a sizeable profit. The risk is that you don’t sell all of your products and you’re left with thousands of dollars of inventory that you can’t sell.

Thankfully, there is now a great online service called Garmentory. A friend of mine, Jess Hunt from Rose & Fig told me about it a while back but I haven’t looked into it much further. From what I understand, sellers with leftover inventory can sell their stock to Garmentory at a reduced price and Garmentory takes on the responsibility of selling it off for you. The unique aspect of this arrangement is that Garmentory invites potential buyers to offer a price, so there’s room for negotiation. It’s basically an online auction for remaining stock.

When you’re looking to buy wholesale, there are a few basic questions to ask designers:

  1. Do you wholesale? (seems obvious but not every designer does)
  2. Do you have a minimum order? (some designers ask you to order at least $500 worth of product, for example)
  3. What is the deadline for orders?
  4. What is your delivery date?
  5. How quickly can you fulfill second orders? (good to know if you sell out sooner than expected)
  6. Can you send samples before we put in an order? (you may live too far away to visit the designers studio but it isn’t a bad idea to get a sample of the clothing you’re thinking of ordering so that you can approve the look, fit and feel)

In addition to these questions, I like to get a feel for the designer herself (or himself). Commun is only as successful as its relationships and so it’s important for me that we build strong relationships with our designers as well as our customers. We have to be able to vet for our designers before we can properly promote them.

What look are we going for?

  • Classic design
  • Timeless style
  • Minimalist aesthetic
  • Versatility
  • Comfort

Environmental and ethical criteria:

*We understand that not all designers can meet each and everyone of these criteria, aside from ethical manufacturing. We will have a more in-depth description of our official criteria on our site in the coming months.

  • Designed and manufactured in Canada (textiles can be imported, however)
  • Made in an environment that meets Canada’s workplace standards for health and safety;
  • Made by workers who are treated with respect and fairly compensated;
  • Made out of renewable materials;
  • Made out of environmentally friendly materials;
  • Made out of recycled materials;
  • Dyed with environmentally friendly dyes;
  • Made to last;
  • Made out of natural materials.

 

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