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#1 Laurène

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 04:56 PM

Hello all, 

 

I've been asked by a shop owner if I sold wholesale.  I'm still new at selling my ceramics, and never even thought about this possibility.  I've asked around, and read the forums on wholesale pricing and whatnot, but I'm still not sure how to approach this.

 

I'm a small batch potter, having had only the ability to hand build until now.  She inquired about my mugs, which I sell for 30$.  They are slab built, with sgrafitto design on them.  That said, it would be hard for me to justify making a bulk load of hand built mugs for half the price.

 

I had one potter friend give me a breakdown of prices, but he is a production potter and sells his logo mugs to cafés etc....  another potter friend told me it would be better to do consignment at whatever percentage the boutique would be willing to do.

 

I'm not sure how many she would like to purchase, but I'm sure a boutique won't be buying 20-50 mugs.   

 

I would hate to lose this possibility as this would be my first time selling my ceramics in a shop and it's very exciting!!  I've only ever sold at markets and via etsy.

 

She's waiting on me to get back to her.  Hopefully some of you experienced potters here could provide some insight to a newbie! 

:) 

 

Thanks!! 

Laurène


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#2 Stephen

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 05:44 PM

I think what you have to do is try and honestly add up your time and see if $15 works out financially for you. Selling at markets has additional cost such as booth fees, travel and labor hours selling to consider so your not really getting 100% when you sell in that venue either. At the end of the day you can blend the various ways you sell and see what your overall average is. I find that pots I sell myself easily cost 25-30% for me to sell when truly everything is factored in.

 

For instance if it takes you 30 minutes a mug to build, trim, fire and glaze then that's $30 an hour minus materials of probably a buck or so. If on the other hand it takes an hour for the whole process then your at $15 an hour. I suspect you will probably have to work on streamlining your process so you can hit reasonable times. It is very likely that what takes you an hour now could be reworked to take 35-40 minutes if you evaluate what your doing and think of ways to speed up the process here and there. Maybe time each step for a few mugs. Just timing steps will often speed things up. batching helps a lot.  

 

Wholesale has its advantages in that its really to order so the product your building has already been sold and is guaranteed income. It is usually steady as well in that once the account is established they tend to move about the same number of pots month over last years previous month ie; Jan of next year is likely to be similar to Jan of this year and you can somewhat anticipate your orders each month from your long term accounts. it can of course take a few years for the account to really settle into this process because on top of the 13 months to get year over year it also may take a while for your pots to find their market within the shops customer base. You may have to adjust your mix of styles and glazes to see what is selling best at a particular shop. 

 

consignment is often a 70-30 split if encouraging wholesale a more normal consignment is 65-35 if you want to be more aggressive.

 

Are you going to manage the stock or are they going to?

Display, who supplies?

Shipping, who pays?

Contract or handshake?

 

I require the first wholesale delivery be COD and then move to net 30 after. Shops like net thirty because they can cash-flow before paying thus making it easier to order which is good for me.

 

Think it through because these things will come up and don't just assume anything, talk to them about every point you can think of and determine up from how it is going to be handled.

 

Congrads on the account opportunity, let us know how it goes.



#3 Joseph F

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 06:00 PM

I am not a fan of wholesale. I have never done it happily in any business I have been in or a part of. I have helped several people get their business of the ground and they always ask me about wholesale and I always say the same thing. It isn't any cheaper or faster for you to make 1 mug as opposed to 50. They all take the same amount of time per mug. 

 

Wholesale of handmade goods is a confusing place to be. In the industry world, whole sale is possible because machines can do the production and factories can be built to handle massive wholesale orders. Factories can be built based upon those contracts and future revenues, thus discounts can be given. That isn't the case in handmade products. However people still want you to massively discount your items so they can sell them at a profit much easier. 

 

I always think of it this way: You want to work X amount of hours for Y amount of dollars per day on average. What ever you can do to achieve that goal is what you should do.

 

An example: a potter wants to sell $200 dollars a day on avg of pottery no matter what that is. If you sell mugs for $50 each this means you need to make 4 mugs a day and sell 4 mugs a day on average. This of course is a really simple way of looking at things. Which is why I recommend most people doing it. Look at how much you want to make each day in your work week, and think about how much more work you will need to do to make your goal at the prices you will be discounting to. 

 

For example in the above math, you would need to make 8 mugs instead of 4 to make the same amount if you discounted your prices by half. 

 

The next thing to look at is this: Are you currently selling at your goal? If your not then you are eventually going to have to 1. start marketing more aggressively, which means more work anyways. 2. lower your prices, which means more work anyways.  3. some other method to generate income to stand by while you build your business, also more work. 

 

So unless you are making your production goals and profit goals per day on avg currently, then you should seriously consider taking the wholesale account. (as long as everything checks out on the business agreement and contract side, make sure you read the forum post about all the horrible stories and the good stories. there are good and bad things to this). If not time to start aggressively pursuing other options to generate profit, which might not be as simple as the current solution you have in front of you.

 

It might seem like an injustice to sell your work so cheap, but the end goal of a business is profits. If your not meeting your profit goals you have to find some solution to get to that goal. This could be one temporary solution until you find a better one. Another solution could be to accept the wholesale contract and make a less complex mug for this particular outlet, one that could be made in half the time of the previous one but is still close to as nice. Maybe only carve the top half of the mug and leave the bottom half simple? There are a lot of things you could do to appeal to the price cut, and still sell a very nice product. Maybe if you go into making many many mugs you could setup a better system to cut down on time. 

 

Good luck and let us know how it goes. We are always learning here.

 

EDIT:

 

I just wanted to add a few other things. It never hurts to try a deal and see how it goes. Start small with the wholesale and do like 10 mugs or something and see if you think everything is going smoothly. I would never start a deal with something massive like 100+ mugs and get burnt.

 

Also in the other businesses I have helped people with. I always told them to turn down most of the wholesale deals and instead create more products and do more advertising. Currently none of them have any wholesale accounts and are happy with their profit levels. So it is possible not to have wholesale and do fine. You just have to work a lot harder to get business if your going to turn down easy places to sell products cheaply. Which you choose to do is up to you. 



#4 Mark C.

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 06:36 PM

Hello all, 

 

I've been asked by a shop owner if I sold wholesale.  I'm still new at selling my ceramics, and never even thought about this possibility.  I've asked around, and read the forums on wholesale pricing and whatnot, but I'm still not sure how to approach this.

 

I'm a small batch potter, having had only the ability to hand build until now.  She inquired about my mugs, which I sell for 30$.  They are slab built, with sgrafitto design on them.  That said, it would be hard for me to justify making a bulk load of hand built mugs for half the price.

 

I had one potter friend give me a breakdown of prices, but he is a production potter and sells his logo mugs to cafés etc....  another potter friend told me it would be better to do consignment at whatever percentage the boutique would be willing to do.

 

I'm not sure how many she would like to purchase, but I'm sure a boutique won't be buying 20-50 mugs.   

 

I would hate to lose this possibility as this would be my first time selling my ceramics in a shop and it's very exciting!!  I've only ever sold at markets and via etsy.

 

She's waiting on me to get back to her.  Hopefully some of you experienced potters here could provide some insight to a newbie! 

:)

 

Thanks!! 

Laurène

This is not a one size fits all question or answer-since you are hand building mugs that means that take lots of time .

so a better question is how much time do they take???

Never is it written in stone wholesale is 1/2 price of whatever you are asking.

Foe example I have a bottom line that I can and will sell a mug for and it higher than 1/2 my retail my own mug price. 

Things like location in country also factor in as well as how much detail and time is spent in your mugs

I would need to hear how long they take to make-are they especially time consuming  glaze? Are these expensive commercial glazes you use or homemade bulk bought material glazes???

Maybe your $30 mug you could whole sale for $20 and still make profit-these are all things that only you know-the more we know the more say I can help you price them. Right now all I know is they are handbuilt.


Mark Cortright
www.liscomhillpottery.com

#5 Laurène

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 06:41 PM

 

Are you going to manage the stock or are they going to?

Display, who supplies?

Shipping, who pays?

Contract or handshake?

 

I require the first wholesale delivery be COD and then move to net 30 after. Shops like net thirty because they can cash-flow before paying thus making it easier to order which is good for me.

 

 

 

 

Thanks for your advice!  Would you mind explaining what net 30 is??  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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#6 Roberta12

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 06:47 PM

I have a small wholesale contract with a local business.  I put their logo on the things I make for them.  I figure out what I need for $$ from them and what they charge for it on resale is their business.  We have a contract and it is a 6 month contract.  The owners and I sit down every 6 mo and talk about how it is all working for ALL of us.  If they have a specialty item they would like me to make, we discuss that to arrive at a cost that benefits ALL of us.  Just like Joseph and Mark pointed out, your agreement doesn't have to be carved out in stone, but you do need to figure out what will work for YOU before you launch into a contract or agreement.  And you also have to take into account if it is something you truly want to make. 

The upside of wholesale is that the business takes care of the sales taxes........just a thought. 

But make sure you are taking care of you.  (I can say that from experience....I haven't always been so wise!)

 

Roberta



#7 Laurène

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 06:50 PM

 

Hello all, 

 

I've been asked by a shop owner if I sold wholesale.  I'm still new at selling my ceramics, and never even thought about this possibility.  I've asked around, and read the forums on wholesale pricing and whatnot, but I'm still not sure how to approach this.

 

I'm a small batch potter, having had only the ability to hand build until now.  She inquired about my mugs, which I sell for 30$.  They are slab built, with sgrafitto design on them.  That said, it would be hard for me to justify making a bulk load of hand built mugs for half the price.

 

I had one potter friend give me a breakdown of prices, but he is a production potter and sells his logo mugs to cafés etc....  another potter friend told me it would be better to do consignment at whatever percentage the boutique would be willing to do.

 

I'm not sure how many she would like to purchase, but I'm sure a boutique won't be buying 20-50 mugs.   

 

I would hate to lose this possibility as this would be my first time selling my ceramics in a shop and it's very exciting!!  I've only ever sold at markets and via etsy.

 

She's waiting on me to get back to her.  Hopefully some of you experienced potters here could provide some insight to a newbie! 

:)

 

Thanks!! 

Laurène

This is not a one size fits all question or answer-since you are hand building mugs that means that take lots of time .

so a better question is how much time do they take???

Never is it written in stone wholesale is 1/2 price of whatever you are asking.

Foe example I have a bottom line that I can and will sell a mug for and it higher than 1/2 my retail my own mug price. 

Things like location in country also factor in as well as how much detail and time is spent in your mugs

I would need to hear how long they take to make-are they especially time consuming  glaze? Are these expensive commercial glazes you use or homemade bulk bought material glazes???

Maybe your $30 mug you could whole sale for $20 and still make profit-these are all things that only you know-the more we know the more say I can help you price them. Right now all I know is they are handbuilt.

 

 

 

I have never actually timed myself, but if I had to ballpark it, I'd say about an hour per mug - thats assembly, detailing, underglaze for sgrafitto, and handles.  That is a very rough estimate.  glazing will take longer - I use commercial glazes, and usually blending two glazes, so the drying time takes long... sound 3 hours or so from start to finish if I'm doing about 8 mugs.

If I do sgrafitto, I'm not doing intricate designs, so one mug might take me 5-10 minutes.  

 

I could try it out wholesale at 65% instead of 50%  I'd feel better getting at least 20$ per mug than 15.  


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#8 Laurène

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 06:53 PM

I have a small wholesale contract with a local business.  I put their logo on the things I make for them.  I figure out what I need for $$ from them and what they charge for it on resale is their business.  We have a contract and it is a 6 month contract.  The owners and I sit down every 6 mo and talk about how it is all working for ALL of us.  If they have a specialty item they would like me to make, we discuss that to arrive at a cost that benefits ALL of us.  Just like Joseph and Mark pointed out, your agreement doesn't have to be carved out in stone, but you do need to figure out what will work for YOU before you launch into a contract or agreement.  And you also have to take into account if it is something you truly want to make. 

The upside of wholesale is that the business takes care of the sales taxes........just a thought. 

But make sure you are taking care of you.  (I can say that from experience....I haven't always been so wise!)

 

Roberta

Thanks Roberta, 

 

I think I'll give it a try, and as it was mentioned in a previous post, not to go as low as 50% off.  

 

I wouldn't know how to draw up a contract though... are the examples online that I could follow?  


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#9 Mark C.

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 07:18 PM

I think from what you said you need at least $20 per mug.This would be the smallest figure but you may need more $.You need to think about making them for that and paying some attention to time spent doing this.

This is where hobby stuff turns into business stuff.

I have several hobbyists who loose their shirts in pricing and making work. They are just happy to get something back. I suggest getting more serious about time management on your making of these. Its the only way to see if this will be a success .  

Let them figure out what they can sell them for.You could suggest starting at $35 for them to price them at and see if they sell well there.

The question is can you afford to sell them for $20. You may not know this answer yet so its a start.

I suggest you just be honest and suggest a price you think you can live with and tell them you will try an order-the net 30 is they pay in 30 days from your first bill. I suggest they pay you the 1st time then you will do the net 30 days, on the second reorder. That way you know they are serious and they know you are serious.

Reberta brings up the best business practice of talking with them openly and often to fine tune the price points and details-Its a two way street, meaning it has to work for both parties.

It does nobody any good if you cannot make them at a profit and it does them no good if they cannot price them to sell well. So work with them and suggest tuning this as you go forward.

Being new at it is ok just be honest with them from the start.


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www.liscomhillpottery.com

#10 LeeU

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 07:24 PM

Consignment is, in my opinion, too akin to thrift store thinking, where the shop owner has little incentive to display your wares to their best advantage, and may let them sit around forever, plus you have to check back frequently to keep an eye on how it's going. Someone here noted it's like renting shelf space, with no guarentee of getting the best shelf!

 

With wholesale, the shop owner is likely to be motivated to move the product, since they have invested in it and now own it. Handshake deals are not attractive to me...too much can go wrong, with only memories of verbal details. A contact specifies the details and documents mutual agreement. I just wrote out a shipping policy and a return policy, for a pending website, after looking at 5-6 policies on other sites---I was surprised at how much I would never have thought about, or thought was important enough to mention, had I not done that. The written doc can be very simple and still address the key elements and protections of the sales transaction. I have not sold wholesale, but I have thought it through and decided I could not justify investing my time & talent for any less than 60% of retail.

 

In my state, I have the NH Small Business Development Center and SCORE (Service Core of Retired Executives) as well as the Chamber of Commerce and the Better Business Bureau. All have free and online resources to starting a small business, and some have sample forms. I write my own and then go trolling to find other examples and just fine tune mine...a little logic, some common sense, and not too much legalize seems to be sufficient for transitioning a hobby into a business, at a low production scale. Services like Legal Zoom or Rocket Lawyer may also be helpful, as well as your state's Dept. of Commerce or Sec'ry of State. After checking out my state laws I found I actually did not have to do half the things I thought I had to do (or pay big fees) in order to sell my wares.  Also search the Forums here by topic/key words as there are great threads with tons of practical info posted by experienced potters. Also see if there is a potters guild in your area-another possible source for info from others with hands-on experience in the business world.


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#11 GEP

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 07:27 PM

Laurene,

If you are fairly new to selling, then I think you should accept every opportunity offered to you. There's only one way to find out if the wholesale format works for you. It works for some potters, and not for others. It does appear that successful wholesalers have one thing in common: very fast production speeds. So pay attention the the advice "speed counts" and "time yourself." I sold my work wholesale for about 9 years. I wasn't a particularly fast potter when I started, but I became one out of necessity. It's great training. So even though there are some aspects of wholesaling that I didn't like, I would do it all again anyways because it trained me for fast production. Those skills are incredibly valuable to any potter.

Net 30 means that your work is delivered with an invoice, and the payment to you is due 30 days later. A very common wholesale payment standard is for your first order with a new account to be paid upon delivery. If you are delivering the work in person, you get paid before you leave. If the work is going to be shipped, you call the customer when the order is ready, and they pay you before you ship the order. If this first payment goes smoothly, then you extend Net 30 credit for future orders.
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#12 RonSa

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 07:28 PM

As been said before, there is no reason to wholesale at 50% your normal price, there is nothing wrong with selling it @ 60% to 75% of your normal cost.

 

My 2 bits worth of advice.

 

1) be upfront with the shop owner and tell him/her that the mugs are hand made and there is little wiggle room to mark down your product.

 

2) Its easier to lower your price than it is to raise your price, start at 75% off if they agree to purchase X amount of mugs.


Ron


#13 Laurène

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 07:34 PM

Thanks for help everyone!  Much appreciated! This really clears things up!

 

I definitely need to start timing myself and start working a bit faster.  I'm going to contact them and see what we can work out.

 

:)


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#14 bciskepottery

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 07:35 PM

Some excellent advice can be found at these links from forum members. The first is Chris Campbell's advice on marketing, including selling wholesale. The second is Mea Rhee's writings on selling, pottery as a business, and her hourly earnings project.

http://www.ccpottery...rk_to_gall.html

http://www.goodelephant.com/

#15 Chris Campbell

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 08:02 PM

Thanks for the recommend bciskepottery ... I was just about to post it!

I did 100% wholesale for many years and enjoyed it a lot.
I figured out my costs and knew what $$$ I needed to get. I loved never having to do shows and 'one of' sales.
But one size does not fit all.

The basis of ANY success in wholesale lies in making a good piece, setting a fair price, delivering it on time ... and making sure you get paid on time.
Thus the Net 30 deal .... the first order to any customer is pre-paid. No options. With a re-order you can offer them the option of Net 30 which simply means you are giving them 30 days to pay. If they do not pay on time, they go back to pre payment before you ship.
Another note is to beware of "nice" people and the natural desire to want to help ...
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#16 Joseph F

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 08:07 PM

So much good advice on Chris's website about this. Thanks for that link. I had never seen that I don't think.



#17 Laurène

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 09:06 PM

Some excellent advice can be found at these links from forum members. The first is Chris Campbell's advice on marketing, including selling wholesale. The second is Mea Rhee's writings on selling, pottery as a business, and her hourly earnings project.

http://www.ccpottery...rk_to_gall.html

http://www.goodelephant.com/

Great!  Thank you for this!!


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#18 RonSa

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Posted 04 January 2017 - 09:11 AM

 

Thanks for your advice!  Would you mind explaining what net 30 is?? 

 

Net 30 is payment in full is expected within business 30 days.

 

There is also 2/10 net 30 which means 2% discount is payment is received within 10 business days.

 

Its been my experience that there are some, not all, that will abuse this. I had one long time customer that would cut the check before 10 days, take the discount, then wait 60 days to mail the check. I solved the problem over time by raising their price 20%. Yes, I was that annoyed. But I figured I would raise their price until they didn't annoy me anymore.

 

Another thing I used to do before I retired was to offer a 5% discount if they paid upfront when the product was to be shipped or payment in full (COD Cash On Delivery) if it was to be hand delivered. This work out well for me.

 

There is no set rule saying you must charge all your wholesale customers the same price. The ones that were easy to deal with, that is those who paid quickly and where pleasant to work with, received a better price than those that where difficult to work with.


Ron


#19 GEP

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Posted 04 January 2017 - 10:01 AM

2/10 net 30 is not very common in the wholesale craft world. There are some large retailers who buy handmade work (eg Uncommon Goods) who will ask for such terms, so it's helpful to know what the terminology means. But most craft retailers are small, locally-owned businesses, and suggesting those terms will seem out-of-place. The culture of wholesale craft shops is actually very respectful and responsible. They want to earn your trust, and they will pay you on time. If you have a customer with a tendency to pay late, offering them a discount is not appropriate in this culture. Instead you should ask for payment on delivery, or just walk away.
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#20 RonSa

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Posted 04 January 2017 - 05:05 PM

With respect Mea, business is business and people are people. Its not only how you present it but how you say it. I never met a person that didn't like a discount and never met a person that wanted to pay a penalty. After 30 years in business I've learned that it greatly helps your bottom line if you get people willing to pay you sooner rather than latter.

 

99.9% of my former business was selling to other businesses and at least 70%+ where small locally-owned businesses. Believe me when I say they are aware of these terms from other services they require and many would gladly take a discount if offered. Also I know that trust goes both ways, to infer likewise was a bit distasteful.

 

As I've mentioned before, I'm into woodturning, not as a business but as a hobby. I have a few craft shops that sell my woodturnings on a regular basis. When I was first approached by one of my customers who happen to notice my work and was asked if I would be interested in wholesaling to her to sell at her craft shop. I told her I was intrigued and would get back to her.  I worked up my prices and offered her my standard terms, 5% discount for COD, 2/10 Net 30. Her response was "Its to bad that other crafters don't understand about discounts." For the last 10 years she has eagerly paid me in full each time before I left. The others take the 2% that sell my work.

 

Yes, there are times you need to break a relationship with a customer. But in any and all business cultures its smart to figure out how to retain a customer rather then walking away just because they consistently are late payers. If you only come up with one solution you haven't really solved the problem.

 

Ron





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