In the process of running my wholesale business
I have learned some important concepts,
as well as gained some valuable experience,
all of which I would like to share with you.
A wholesale business holds a very strong appeal to many entrepreneurs for a few important reasons.
The hours are flexible, so it can be run according to your available schedule. Depending on your situation you might even be able to start and run a wholesale business while holding down a full time job.
You can even initially run the business on the weekends, and then as the need grows, it can be run during the week as well. And you can always hire employees to manage it for you.
It requires a very low initial start up cost, so the
barrier to entry is very low. You can even obtain free samples of wholesale products, show them to retailers, and then purchase merchandise once you
have obtained a paid order from one of the retailers you have called on. This way you
can avoid having to invest in purchasing
a large quantity of products initially.
I would like to make something very clear,
while you can start the way I mentioned,
you are always better off having enough merchandise to sell right away. The last thing you want to do is miss out on a sale because you don't have the merchandise on hand.
I would strongly recommend that you
stock up on enough merchandise to meet the
expected demand that you might have.
I know that it's not easy to determine the
exact demand that you will have, but
having merchandise to sell immediately is a must in my experience.
There is an opportunity to quickly scale up
the business if you can match the right products to the right customers. For example,
if you connect with a manufacturer
that produces a really fashionable dress
you can show it to boutiques. As their orders
for that dress grows you can place more
orders from the dress manufacturer for that
dress. The only limits would be the buying power of the boutiques and the production ability of the manufacturer.
So how do you start a wholesale dress business?
1.- Research The Market Place
You need to study the retail market and
see what the unmet needs are. An unmet need
might be the demand for higher quality dresses, desire for brand name dresses, or lower wholesale prices for fashion dresses.
There really are many unmet demands that exist at any given time in the marketplace. Sometimes those demands are very obvious, such as customers wanting brand name dresses by brands such as Tahari or Calvin Klein, and other times the demands are more subtle, such as the convenience of quick delivery of new fashion merchandise to stores.
2.- Develop Your Unique Selling Strategies
It is possible that in very efficient retail markets such as in New York there might not be any overt unmet demands.
In this type of a situation you will have to create your own unique selling strategies.
For instance, you might decide to sell wholesale dresses to boutiques in Lagos, Nigeria.
You notice that most wholesalers are importing
fashion dresses from Dubai and Turkey.
Your unique selling strategy could be that you
personally source designer dresses from New York wholesalers.
Or your unique selling strategy might be based on convenient delivery. You can offer free and
fast delivery of your wholesale dresses to the
boutiques as they need them.
One unique selling strategy that I personally
have implemented in my business is giving
bonus merchandise to wholesale buyers.
I list on all invoices that if payment
is made by a certain date I will
give the retailer extra merchandise.
This strategy encourages retailers
to make their payments right away,
and it helps me develop customer loyalty
by giving my customers extra products
with their order.
3.- Locate A Source For Wholesale Dresses
This is where you need to take a more
dynamic approach than your competitors.
Sooner or later you will encounter competitors
that are also looking to supply dresses to
clothing stores. You can gain an important
advantage by taking a unique approach to sourcing merchandise. If you simply do what everyone else is doing, how are you going to stand out?
Some of the ways you can source dresses are as follows:
A) Look for cancelled orders from factories. The dresses have already been produced, and since the factory is stuck with them they will be very motivated to give you a really good deal on them.
B) Purchase dresses from closeout warehouses. As the owner of a closeout warehouse in Brooklyn, I can tell you that you would be amazed at the below wholesale deals that I find. And since a closeout warehouse works on a volume basis, the wholesale prices
will be really good.
C) Have dresses designed and made just for you. This is probably a riskier option, but if done right it could really work really well.
Since you will have the dresses designed and produced for you, you will be the only dress supplier in the market with those specific styles and labels. The risk is that you are introducing a new product in the marketplace. While this can be a viable option, and many designers have created fashion empires this way, I personally recommend focusing on the
brands for which there already is a demand.
When your business grows you can then explore creating your own dress brand.
4. Market Your Wholesale Dresses
This is the step where you have to find the most cost efficient way to reach the customers
who will be purchasing the wholesale clothes
For example, if you are targeting flea market vendors then you need to advertise in publications aimed at flea market vendors. Before you do that you need to determine if the flea market vendors are looking for merchandise online or from magazines.
I personally like writing articles and publishing them online, or even offline if possible. Articles are a great way to provide useful information to wholesale buyers. And by providing interesting ideas you can develop a good relationship with potential and current clients.
Another strategy that I use is making videos where I talk about the wholesale dress business. I then upload these videos on YouTube as well as on my websites.
Some people prefer reading business articles while others would rather watch a business video. You want to make sure you fully cater to your audience.
One of the most efficient ways to reach prospective customers, but also one of the hardest, is to simply make
cold calls to retailers. I know that cold calling stores is not fun, but I can tell you that it works. Simply keep the sales call friendly, introduce yourself to the store owner, and let her know what wholesale fashion you have available. You can then follow up
with her a few days later.
If you have a warehouse your goal is to encourage retailers to visit it. This way they might decide to purchase another product while visiting your
Some other good marketing strategies include
pay per click advertising on Google and Facebook, placing banner ads on wholesale forums, and
listing your wholesale website in as many
wholesale directories as possible.
5. Making The Sale
I know this step sounds obvious, but it's the most important one. You need to always keep in mind that your goal is to sell your dresses.
Remember, the retailers need the dresses
to sell to their customers. If they don't
have the dresses that their customers need they will have to close their stores. So ideally everyone benefits from your making the sale.
Provided that you do have right fashion
inventory that the shops need they will be happy to make a purchase from you.
Remember that in the wholesale business you
are aiming for repeat customers, so give your
customers the best possible merchandise that you can find!