You’ve probably heard me say this on Proof to Product and in previous emails, but I’m a firm believer that relationships are they key to running and building a successful business.

Everyone from our team, to our customers, to our colleagues, to our vendors plays a significant role in our personal growth as well as the development of our company. Your relationships with wholesale buyers, are no exception.

But how do you find the right stores?

How do you connect on a personal level with the buyer?

How do you know if a store is a good fit for what you sell?

These are common questions, so let me share some ideas:

Focus on quality over quantity.
I often hear people say that they want to be in hundreds of stores. But, I’d argue that it is more beneficial (especially in the beginning) to work with a smaller group of stores that order from you regularly. It’s much easier to provide great customer service and build meaningful relationships with a smaller pool of customers. And, it gives you time to refine your internal systems and build a strong foundation so that if you do grow your wholesale line to a point when you have hundreds of stockists, you’ll be able to keep up. Set realistic goals when you’re starting out and remember that fewer customers isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Go beyond the website.
The internet is a fantastic place to research potential wholesale partners, but there is so much more to a business than just their website. How is the store showing up on social media? Who are their customers? What other brands do they buy from or do they engage with on social media? Which shows are they attending and talking about? What types of products do they feature? I’m not advocating stalking, but the more you know about a potential shop the more effective your first point of contact will be. You’ll also have a clearer idea if your products would work in that store.

Start a conversation.
Again, don’t stalk. But don’t be afraid to engage with people in your industry, particularly shops you admire. Comment on their social media, like their posts, send an email introducing yourself and your line. Or, send a note (on one of your cards!) and let them know you’ve enjoyed their emails / social media posts / their window display was cool. Relationships take time to build and I know you’re busy juggling one thousand other things on a daily basis. But, if stores don’t know about you, they aren’t going to buy from you.

And that brings us back to relationships.

These stores are your customers. Focus on customer experience, building real connections and delivering on your promises.

Be professional, polite and use every point of contact as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your buyers.
-Katie

P.S. At Paper Camp, we’ll explain why you need to do your homework to identify the right stores, then provide you with strategies for how to reach them. Learn more & register for Paper Camp here.

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