Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Selling Wholesale vs Selling Online

Selling wholesale and selling online are 2 totally different machines. The business models are completely different. Specialize in one or the other. When you grow to a certain point and you can have a specialty team's dedication, then try to manage the other as well. But either way you go, start slow and price accordingly. (Most retailers want 50% min margin, so plan accordingly.) And if you want a strong distribution team, you will want manufacturer's reps and they will take 15-25% of the margin on the wholesale cost. So plan accordingly. Did I say plan accordingly.

So you ask WHY BOTHER with selling wholesale?!? Well, it is where all the cool kids are. If you want your product to be recognized (and quickly), selling to retailers is the way to go. If your product is unique, you almost HAVE to go this route. Why? Well, think about it. You don't google "cool trinket that I don't know exists." No one does. How will people find you in the abyss of the web? You can try to vie for a placement on the thousands of sites optimized for "unique gift" or "cool stationery". But it will take ages and a lot of knowledge/money to make that happen. Even then, these terms are so general -- how many of those people who stumble upon your site are the right target market for you? Don't waste your time.

Now, if you are selling something that is actually searched, such as "hemp grocery bag," you can sell online. Sell a product online that people search for. Period. Now, how many times is "hemp grocery bag" searched upon... probably not that much. But, there are tools to help you determine if there is a market for your products online. This is determined by the number of searches done on a term... No guessing with a forecast! It is there, black and white! Damn I wish there were a tool like this for wholesale market!

I tried managing both wholesale and internet marketing and it has taken me nearly a full year to manage both with only mediocre results. Why? I have a great product, outstanding values and customer testimonials. Why? Simply because of my lack of focus. Not because I have not tried. Simply because I was teaching myself about both business models, alone and on a shoe string budget. Learning 2 business models at the same time doesn't work. If I had tried to specialize, I could have focused better and been more successful. BUT, I dont' regret it. It was all worth the knowledge that I now have! All mistakes are good in business... despite how painful they are. Well, I say this, but you can make a real mistake by repeating one...

And I will end this post with another fun reminder about pricing (which we will cover much more later)... plan appropriately. And pay yourself. Don't give it away. Repeat after me... don't give it away. Business means making money. So source, source, source to get the margins you need to be a wise business person.

Cheers for now.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Beginning

Every story has a beginning. This cozy url, is the home for the beginning of this story... er, in this case, chapter. I say chapter because my story has long since begun and there are only mini beginnings and mini endings.

One of my most recent mini beginnings was the creation of Blue Sky Papers,, a small creative company making kits so people can easily create a special gift to pay tribute to someone. This beginning has been start, top, strong and weak all at the same time. If anyone ever tells you that being a creative manufacturer or starting up a business is a roller coaster ride, PUT ON YOUR SEAT BELT... cause they are not kidding. I have never experienced such highs and lows!

So, put on your seat belt. I am going to share my journey with you, with all of its highs, lows and imperfections. Perhaps learning through my mistakes and misfortunes and successes, you can grow.