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EBW x INVENTORA | Business Class Ep 2.4 | Becoming Wholesale Ready

Krystal J [00:01:02]:

Hey, everyone. Welcome back to session four of our four-part series with Inventora. Again, Inventora is this incredible small business inventory management system that was founded by Dianna Allen and her hubby and now baby Daddy. But today we have the pleasure of sitting down with Delmith, who's really become like one of the faces of Inventora and she is the head of brand partnerships. And today we are going to be talking about all things wholesaling. So if you didn't catch any of our first three sessions, we talked about becoming a pop-up pro, determining your pricing and of course, managing inventory, because that is what inventory is all about. So today was kind of like this fourth bonus session because wholesaling was brought up in one of our conversations. And obviously, as small business owners, wholesaling can be a really big part of your business. So we wanted to make sure we dove into that topic and shared all the tips and tricks that Delmith has to share.

Krystal J [00:02:04]:

So, Delmith, once Again, thank you so much for joining us.

Delmith M [00:02:08]:

No, thank you. I'm sad that it is going to be our last session. It was so much fun to do this with you. But yes, I know that wholesale, it's a good part of a business. When we start, I think we all think about, like, that's one of our goals to do wholesale. It's a great opportunity to scale our businesses. But I think when we offer wholesale, it's not for everyone. Even if you are just starting, you need to considerate a lot of things.

Delmith M [00:02:48]:

But it is a great way to have an extra income because maybe you're just starting and you're just selling on markets or pop ups. That's something that is seasonal or you're on ecommerce platforms and you have a lot of competition there. So I always say that it's better to not have all your eggs in one basket. So I think one of the really good baskets that you can have in your business is wholesale. It is a good opportunity for you to have an extra income all year round. You're going to have that opportunity all the year. So I think that's why it is so important. And a lot of people, a lot of makers and small business owners have curiosity about this topic, right? So I would love to dive deep into all the details.

Delmith M [00:03:45]:

But first, I always like to start with the basics. If you are not sure what is wholesale. So wholesale is when you sell your products to another business and at a price that it's much lower than you typically sell on a retail store. Right. So this is because the business will then resell your products for you. I love that of doing wholesale because you just do the product, prepare it and give them to them. They pay for it and they do whatever they want with all the selling part. So that's not your business.

Delmith M [00:04:24]:

I love that part. I think it has the pros and cons, but I think it's something that I really enjoy about wholesale. But first, selling handmade products wholesale is not for every handmade business. It's usually best for businesses that are more established. And I would like for you to think about and analyze the stage of your business right now and ask yourself first if you already have experienced some success serving everyday customers. If you have already like a more established customer base and you are having current sales, or have you been in business long enough to know what products are your best sellers? If you don't have that data yet, I think that's something that you should know before offering wholesale. Then if you have standard operating procedures for how to manufacture, pack and ship your goods. So it's the same process every time, because with wholesale, you're going to be selling normally larger amounts of your products.

Delmith M [00:05:36]:

So you need to have those standard operating procedures to be the same for all the things that you're going to make. Another thing is think about if you're already ready to expand your business and reach more customers. And another one that I really like for you to think about first is if you're happy to allow another brand to sell your products. Because when we start, we're so jealous about what we make and we don't want anyone to copy. What are we creating? So if you still feel that way, I think you're not ready to start wholesaling. But if you are, so I'm happy. And if you're like, all the things that I mentioned right now are like, check, check, and you already done that. So I think you are in a good place to start wholesaling.

Krystal J [00:06:29]:

So for those our viewers that don't know, can you give us a little background for you? Because you yourself are also a business owner. You are not just the head of brand partnerships with Inventora, but you also have a small business. So you are familiar with this wholesaling process. In addition to kind know Dianna also, I'm sure she shared some insight with wholesaling from Terra. So can you share a little bit about your experience with wholesaling and maybe how many locations you're in and how long you've been wholesaling?

Delmith M [00:07:00]:

Yes. So I started my business just doing, I was on Etsy, and that was my only platform. And then I started to think, okay, I need to see other ways to scale my business. And my product is like Palm leaf Home decor. I work with artisans, so you have to be very careful about time frames when you offer wholesale, because all this handmade, and it takes a lot of time to make. So I was afraid of that part. But once I received my first order with wholesale, I was, okay, I need to try to make this right. So I have been having wholesale since, I believe, my first year.

Delmith M [00:07:50]:

My first year, I spend it only with direct to customers, and then I transitioned to wholesale, and that has been my biggest part. Right now I have my Etsy store there, but it's not like my main business. I do wholesale because a lot of people ask for personalized products, so I really enjoy to do that with them. So that's my experience. I have been working with rum companies, creating packages for their rum bottles, also for skincare brands, for their handmade baskets, for skincare sets. And everything has been seasonal. Like, I have been currently having clients with wholesale. Yes, but some of them are just like seasonal, right?

Delmith M [00:08:43]:

But it has been a great experience. I really enjoy doing it. And right now, Profundo is the name of my brand. It's in four stores. Each one of Those stores have, like three to four. I don't know how do you call them, but they're in different places. But it's been a very good experience.

Delmith M [00:09:12]:

I love because with them, I'm doing more retail, and I love to be part of educating their salespeople. So I try to give them a brochure of what Profundo is. How can they sell my products? I always try to be intentional because I'm not just selling a product and that's it. I'm sharing and selling a story. So that's why I love about handmade products, because you have a lot of people behind the product that you are purchasing. So that's honestly one of the main things that I love about what I do and that's mainly my experience. Maybe later. I have some stories that I want to talk about of how I started reaching out to people for wholesale, but we can talk about that later.

Krystal J [00:10:05]:

Yes, I definitely wanted to dive into that, like how to properly pitch yourself. So I'm definitely excited about that portion. But go ahead and I'll let you do your thing and I'll just continue to interject when necessary.

Delmith M [00:10:19]:

Sounds good. So I think I already mentioned some of the benefits, but let's talk more about that benefits of doing wholesale. So you can increase your sales because you're selling multiple items at a time and you are going to have that secure sale. You are not waiting for the product to be bought for someone. You already make the product and you're going to have that money come from you right away. Then you're going to increase your yearly income because you're going to be selling to local businesses all year round if possible. Then you can also have potential for building a long lasting partner. I think that's something that wholesale can bring to you. Maybe they are just going to start with like a tiny quantity of your products, but once they have a good experience with your products, they are going to be reaching out to you again and again.

Delmith M [00:11:19]:

Then you're going to be able to reach larger audience. You can take advantage of that. Many stores have a more established customer base and you can take advantage because you're going to reach out more people with that. Then you're going to have less marketing cost because their companies have already their marketing strategies and all of that. So you're not going to be thinking about what to do to sell the product. And the other one is that you are going to be able to purchase your supplies in bulk. I think that's something really good if you make your products because if you have small batches right now, but you want to purchase, I don't know, 1000 pounds of wax and you're going to be able to do that with wholesale because it is going to be more cheap and you're going to use the product or the ingredient so I think that's something really good as well. So after that I think maybe you're thinking how should I start, how to organize myself to start offering wholesale.

Delmith M [00:12:33]:

So I think you will need to have a way to keep all the paperwork, including your potential clients. So you can do your research and see which stores or companies are a good fit for your business and just write down their contact information, where they are located, social media website, all of those details that are going to help you reach out to them later. Then you can have a product line sheet. I highly recommend for you to look out on how to do this because they want to see your product and they want to have all the information, price description photo so with the product line sheet you can include it in your email when you reach out to them. So you should be prepared with that too. Then you can also look for suppliers that offer larger for you to buy in bulk. So maybe your suppliers right now are small as well and they don't offer you to buy a lot of quantities from them. So you have to make another list of suppliers that can offer that to you.

Delmith M [00:13:49]:

Then you can keep track of your sales, your inventory and delivery dates. I think delivery dates is something really important. You need to really know how much time does it take you to make the product package, shipping and all of that in order to give them estimated times. Because of course that's the first thing that they are going to ask you after you say, okay, let's make the deal. They want to know when are they having the product ready. So I think with those things, the sales, inventory, delivery days, productions, Inventora can help you with that. I think it's a great resource for you to start planning and preparing to do wholesale. You can keep track of your products, your stock levels, your suppliers information, your clients information, all of that information in just one place.

Delmith M [00:14:45]:

So I think that's something that you can really use to make this process easier.

Krystal J [00:14:50]:

I'm glad that you brought that up because I was going to ask. So for Inventora, is there like a dedicated space for specifically wholesale clients so that you can differentiate which products you have for direct to consumer? If you're doing markets and things like that and which products you're designating specifically for wholesaling, are you able to differentiate that?

Delmith M [00:15:12]:

You cannot differentiate the products, but you can differentiate the clients and the type of sales. So you can keep track of your ecommerce platform, ecommerce sales. You can keep track of your retail and wholesale sales. So you can keep track of all of them and you are going to be able to see them by category and also your clients. So that is going to be easier for you to know and have everything separated.

Krystal J [00:15:44]:

Got it. Awesome.

Delmith M [00:15:45]:

Okay. So now, after you are done with that, with your research and having everything organized, I think you can start pricing your products. You know that pricing your products for retail and wholesale is different. And remember that not all of your products are going to be a good fit for wholesale. So for example, if a product costs you $20 and it takes you 3 hours to make each item and you are selling it for $40, maybe you don't want to offer that for wholesale because the profit margin will be too low and a lot of time that you have invested. So that's why I mentioned at the beginning that it's very important for you to see which ones are your best sellers, which products are taking you less time to make. And also the ingredients that you include in your products are cheap. If they are cheap and all of that combination is good, you can offer them to wholesale.

Delmith M [00:16:50]:

Maybe you have more premium products that are not a good fit for wholesale and that's okay. So just keep in mind that you cannot offer all your products for wholesale. And then I think, I'm not going to talk about this too much, but I think that for pricing your products for wholesale, you need to have in mind to take into account all your expenses and labor. And of course, your overheads. Don't forget them. A lot of things can happen, a lot of mistakes. So if you have those three things in mind and you know, how much are you spending to make one product, your labor cost and the overheads, if you put a percentage there for that, then you're good to go and you're going to be determined a great price for your wholesale products. And then I think this is the last thing that I want to talk about.

Delmith M [00:17:52]:

And here's where I tell you, my experience is to start preparing your wholesale. Peach. When you start organizing your wholesale and organizing to offer wholesale, you created a list of a contact information, so you're now ready to start contacting them. So you can send them an email, or if you have them closer to you, maybe you can visit them and give them some samples. That's what I did with my first experience. I was super nervous, but I just went there and it was the great timing because they were looking to add a new section at their store for handmade products. So it was perfect. I went there with my products and I showed them the quality.

Delmith M [00:18:47]:

I told them, I sent them a catalog with the people behind the product, the brand, and I love it. They fell in love with the product. Also the pricing, you need to have that ready in that first meeting because they are going to ask about that. Then they're going to ask about your timing and all the things that you can offer. Maybe if they want a personalized product, can you do that? Are you going to be open to do that for them? Also, if they don't want your label, are you okay with that? Because a lot of people are going to try to put their brand in your products, so you have to take that into consideration. But for me, it was a great experience. I'm still working with them. I think they were my first client, that it was more formal.

Delmith M [00:19:43]:

So it was a great experience. We always make pop ups in their shop. That's something really good that you can take advantage as well for wholesale. For example, I did a pop up for Mother's Day with booktes in my handmade baskets. It was beautiful. Honestly, I really enjoy doing that, but that was one of my experiences, and I do have one that it was really bad and I regret it. But I love to share this as well because you can learn from my mistakes.

Krystal J [00:20:19]:


Delmith M [00:20:21]:

But I was working with a skincare brand, and they were having something for Mother's Day, I think, as well. So they were asking for some baskets, and I was super sure that my artisan team was going to be ready for the estimated time that I say to them. And when we were closer to that day, the baskets weren't ready. And I was like, I don't know what I'm going to say to them because Mother's Day was, I think the next week they were already promoting everything. And I was like, oh, my gosh, we're not going to have that ready. I don't know what are we going to do? But I thought about a solution. I told them, you know what, I'm really sorry. I want to be transparent with you.

Delmith M [00:21:13]:

The baskets aren't ready. I have this amount ready. So what I suggest was that I would be sending them the products. For example, I have 15 right now. I'm going to send them to you. And then two days after that, I'm going to have another 15. So I give them, like, batches. It was not ideal, and I was so glad they say, okay, let's do that.

Delmith M [00:21:41]:

But that's where I understood that I really needed to have my delivery dates very clear. And after that, that error never happened again because I really try harder to make that happen in the times that I suggested at the beginning. So learn from my mistakes, and honestly, that's a very important thing to do. But another advice that I can give you for wholesale, to create your pitch for wholesale, when you reach out to them through an email or when you are with them personally, tell them how you found their business. What do you like about their business? How your handmade goods are a good fit for their business. And how many years have you owned your business? Tell them your story. Why are you doing what you do and offer them that extra value? What can you add to their business? Once you have that ready, and you know all the answers for that, I think you're going to create a great relationship with them. And I think that the first meeting is the one that it's the most important.

Delmith M [00:23:00]:

They are going to know you, they are going to know your brand, and it's the time that you're going to start creating a long term relationship with them. So I think that's one of the things that I really wanted to encourage you to do. Also, if you're not ready to do that, if you're more introvert and you don't want to reach out to people or meet people, you can start also with wholesale online marketplaces like Faire, Abound, Handshake, all of those platforms are doing all the things for you. So I think that's a good way to start as well.

Krystal J [00:23:42]:

I was going to bring that up. Those marketplaces for wholesaling specifically. Do you have personal experience with any of those?

Delmith M [00:23:50]:

Actually, no. I was trying to set up my fair account, but I'm still in the process. I haven't done that yet because I have my artisans working a lot, so I don't want to overwhelm them with a lot of work. But, yeah, that's something that I know that Dianna does that a lot, and I think that fair is a really good one. If you already have Shopify, I think that's a good jump that you can do.

Krystal J [00:24:20]:

Yeah, I think it's a great idea to kind of have both of them hand in hand. Right. And it kind of goes back to doing wholesaling on top of doing your markets. Like, one is a little bit more automated and it's kind of this recurring revenue stream, and there's not so much manual labor behind it. Like, once you've done the deal and you've set up your deliveries and all of that, that's going to continue to run in the background and then pop ups, of course, are very time consuming and labor intensive. Setting up and things like that. And then again with fair compared to just doing direct reach outs or fair or other marketplaces like that, or other platforms like that where you can just list yourself and then have people reach out directly to you. But I do love and encourage the idea of you being the one to reach out also, I'm very much a proponent of pitching yourself and of having that in person contact and introducing yourself in person especially.

Krystal J [00:25:19]:

I feel like now, since COVID with this really like a boom to support small businesses, there's also been so many market or artisan shops and small business focused shops that have been popping up. So I think just getting yourself into those places, having your business cards, having your sample ready, having your numbers prepared, all those things you said, I think you shared so many great tips about what questions you should already be expecting to answer in your mind, like, are you going to be flexible with your packaging? What are your delivery times? And do you have the capacity to back up the amount of inventory they might be requesting of you, keeping in mind how long it takes you to make a certain product? Another thing that I really loved that you mentioned at the beginning of this session was that you took the time to teach the people in these stores that are wholesaling your products how to sell your product. And it immediately made me think of the owner of Blake Lively. Blake? No. Blake. Okay, I'm totally blanking on her name, but the owner of Spanx, she did something kind of very similar. So she got into Nordstrom or whatever, and she didn't want to just have it be like, okay, I sent you the product, you sell it. She made sure to go around and gather the employees and be like, this is my product.

Krystal J [00:26:55]:

This is why it's so special. This is how you can sell it to your customers. This would be great. In addition to all of these other things that you're already carrying on or carrying in your store. And this is how you can provide really great customer service, by introducing this product to them. So how do you normally do that? Is that something like, once your products are on the shelf, you come in and check in on everyone and just talk to the people behind the front desk. What is your normal process?

Delmith M [00:27:25]:

So normally what I do is when I go to deliver the first order that they purchase from me, I like to go and see how they set up everything in the store. And I like to take some time with the salespeople, and I talk to them about, hey, I'm the owner of this products. And they start to talk about, oh, yeah, people are really loving your products, they are asking this and that, and I just start telling them, okay, you know what? I can give you this small brochure. I always bring that in there. You can find the story of the brand and a little description of each one of the products that they have in their store. That way they can understand the meaning of each one of the products, because sometimes they actually don't know how to sell the product to give them ideas, because a basket, you can use it for a lot of things, right? So you can give them ideas of how can people use it and all of that. So I like to just give them some tips, and once they understand, I always try to visit them every now and then, just take pictures for marketing, and that's how I start bonding with the salespeople. So I think that's something really important to do.

Krystal J [00:28:58]:

I love that so much. And I think that's so smart because not only will they be able to relay your stories to any customers that walk in, but they also kind of develop this loyalty towards you. Like, yes, I know the people, or I know the person that made this. She's amazing. You definitely want to try her product. So that's really cool. I also love that you pointed out that you do, like, pop ups with these people that you've partnered with. That was not even something that crossed my mind, but that's such a great way to really maximize your relationship.

Krystal J [00:29:30]:

And again, it's not just like sending the product and like, okay, that's done with, but what else can we do together? And that's something that I'm so huge on figuring out. Where in all these little crevices, can we continue building on this relationship that we've already begun? Because it's more than just like a one-way street, right? There's so many different avenues that you can take relationships and really maximize the partnership. So I love that. I do have one more question for you. So with all of these new markets that are popping up, what advice do you have when it comes to someone that is looking into wholesaling their product and choosing between a store that might have just opened up this year versus a store that's been established for quite some time now? Do you suggest kind of going one way or the other or just going everywhere that will possibly accept you? What is your insight on that?

Delmith M [00:30:33]:

I think it will depend in the stage of your business. If you think that your business is more established and you have more people know you, I think you should just risk it and go with the more established companies or stores. However, if you're not sure and you want to start small, I think you should start with brand new stores. So that way you can have more experience with someone that is also starting, and then you can transition. And if you're ready and everything goes well, you can go and start with the bigger companies. But if you're in the middle, I would say that you can have both. I'm not opposing to any one of them. I think the idea of combining both of them, it's good.

Krystal J [00:31:26]:

Yeah, I like that perspective on it. Kind of like just getting your foot in the door. Even though they're a pretty new storefront as well, they're still testing things out, but you're also still kind of testing things out so you can kind of test the waters out together. I definitely like that perspective versus going into it with so much fear. Like, oh my God, I don't know if I can trust my product with them. But if you're still pretty new and you're kind of just figuring it out yourself, it's definitely a great way to kind of see if that's the right direction you want to take it and whether or not that place ends up being the right place for you in the long run or you want to transition, like you said, to a more established storefront.

Delmith M [00:32:09]:


Krystal J [00:32:10]:

Any last tips from you? I think those were all of my questions, but if you have any final words to share.

Delmith M [00:32:16]:

No, I think I share all the things that I wanted. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any other question, inventory-related or business-related. We are very open to help everyone with all the experience that we have and I don't know, I think I just wanted to say thank you, Krystal, for this time. I love to have the sessions and I hope everyone learns something from them. I learn a lot from your experience as well talking to you, so I really enjoy this time. Thank you so much for the opportunity.

Krystal J [00:32:54]:

Thank you. I know that you've invested so much time into this. I mean, four sessions is no easy feat, and we've had to reschedule a few times. So I'm just so grateful that you were willing to sit down and share all of this amazing insight that's in your head and from your experiences, both with your own brand and with working directly from Inventora. But for those of you that are listening, as Delmith mentioned, if you do have any further questions, reach out to them. Their entire team is so incredibly helpful and just willing to answer any questions that you may have. Of course I will link Inventora down below. I'll also link Profundo.

Krystal J [00:33:34]:

Am I saying it right?

Delmith M [00:33:35]:

Yes, Profundo.

Krystal J [00:33:38]:

And then also Terra so you can check out Dianna's other business if you are an EM/POWEREDbyWMN member. Just a reminder, you do get a really amazing discount with Inventora, so be sure to check that out on our website. But otherwise check them out in the link below. They have a free membership, a business pro membership. And if you haven't caught the first three sessions of this four-part series, make sure you go back to our previous sessions so you can catch session one, session two, session three. Again, so much insight has been shared. And Delmith, I am so grateful for you and for the Inventora team and hopefully this won't be the last time. Well, I know it's not going to be the last time we're chatting because we already have something scheduled, but I am so looking forward to chatting with you again soon.

Krystal J [00:34:28]:

So thank you so much.

Delmith M [00:34:30]:

No, thank you.

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