How to develop your product line for wholesale

As a product based business owner, one of the BEST parts of your job is watching the ideas that have been living inside your head develop into something tangible. Regardless whether you plan to sell through your online store or aim to develop wholesale relationships you need to have enough products in your line to make a kick ass presentation. So, how many pieces do you need to make the best statement possible? Today, I've got three tips to keep in mind when developing your product line for wholesale.

how to develop your product line for wholesale

Decide on the Story you want to tell

The number of pieces in your product line is going to vary depending on what you are selling. The way a stationer prepares for market is going to look very different from what an apparel designer develops. The key to developing your product line for wholesale is to have enough pieces in your line to tell a story on the sales floor.

Decide what type of buyer you want to target

Start by thinking about who you want to purchase your products. Buyers for boutiques are going to look you line a bit differently than buyers from national retail chains. The best wholesale businesses position their line to cater to both boutiques and larger retail stores.

If you walked into a store today and they had one mug, two notecards and three notepads on the shelf what kind of impression do you think they’d leave you with? Would you be excited by the what was on their shelf or wonder if they were going out of business? A retail buyer is going to have similar feelings about your line. Seeing something that is developed is much more exciting than looking at a line that looks pieced together. Having one or two cards, a mug, and maybe a notebook or two typically won’t cut it. On the flip side, having too many options can also work against you because it can become overwhelming for the buyers.  

Plan Plan Plan!

Once you have decided on they type of buyer(s) you want to target you can start mapping out your designs and collections. Taking a hard look at the categories you already have and then those you are looking to add. Once you’ve mapped out your categories it’s time to break down the prints and patterns you plan to offer. I would suggest starting with at least 6 designs per category for a strong presentation. That said, some categories may need more and for others, it may not be realistic. Think about how a buyer might buy from you and use that as your guide. While none of us have a crystal ball, thinking through different buying scenarios will help you create a well-rounded assortment!

Buyers typically write their orders one of two ways. Some will base their buys on the collection, meaning if you utilize the same pineapple artwork for a note card, notepad, art print and coaster he/she may buy every item you offer with that print. In other cases, buyers will only purchase a specific type of sku. Sometimes they are only in the market for a specific item to fill a void on their sales floor (like note cards) but in other cases, especially with large retailers, they have buyers dedicated to specific items.

Of the two, I’ve found it’s more common for buyers to order by collection. Having a cohesive collection is a great way to increase the size of your order because each item plays so nicely with the other ones in the assortment! If you have 10 different SKU's in the pineapple print that your buyer loves he or she may choose 5-6 items in that print to bring in. Multiply that by your order minimum and you’ve got a nice sized order! And if that order is placed by a large retailer with multiple locations? Bust out the bubbly because you’ve got some serious celebrating to do!