Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My First... Wholesale Order

I always feel a little a weird when I pimp wunderlust here but I really wanted to share my experience with you - fulfilling my first ever wholesale order. I'd also like to officially thank Megan of Room6.com - thank you so much for noticing my work and I really hope my items do well in your lovely shop!!


Wish I could say that I was totally prepared for it, but between blogging and preparing new items for the shop I found myself scrambling quite a bit last week. Let's see... I ran out of materials mid-way, decided my current packaging wouldn't withstand a retail environment which brought on an avalanche of last minute packaging decisions.

Let's start with the linesheet (might take a while to download) I created. It basically contains my entire catalog, wholesale prices (50% of retail), available colors/packaging details and my terms. Feel free to use it as a guideline. Just so you know, the one I send out has my address and a telephone number on it.


Once I started putting the order together, I soon realized that my current packaging wasn't going to work in a retail setting. For instance, my Bag o' Jacks were originally packaged in a light-weight cello bag that easily creased if handled too many times and could start looking really raggedy. That wouldn't be good in a shop where you could potentially have customers picking up items left and right. So I switched to a higher grade cello bag (thanks Ez!) to package all of my items. I also decided to take one of the orange balls out of the fabric pouch - I though the packaging needed a bit of ooomph and the color could also catch a customer's eye?!


Another last minute add-on was the warning label. I usually just add this warning to my Etsy product description, but again, for a retail environment I definitely wanted to include the small object warning. So I printed out little tags, cut them, and glued them to the back of the the little instruction cards that came with the set. The warning label is highly visible to customers prior to purchasing.


Megan also ordered different colors from my "Not your Granny's Bunting" line and I realized that it was pretty hard to tell what each one looked like once they were tucked away in the bags.


The last thing you would want is to have customers opening cello bags in your shop, so I added little color tags (#4) to the back of the cards (#1) so all customers have to do is turn the packaging and they would know which color was inside. Again, I just printed these out using my pictures from Etsy. I also included another tiny tag (#3) - warning against washing the item.



I also included a couple of floor samples they can use at the shop. Knowing that the shop isn't huge, I understand that they may not necessarily have the budget to purchase extra items for merchandising purposes - so I decided to loan them a couple of items. I just asked that they kindly return them once they decide to no longer sell my items. Each floor sample is clearly marked as "for display only" so they can't be mistaken as merchandise.

Shipping to Canada! I've never had to ship a package to Canada before so I'm not going to lie - I was a little paranoid about the whole thing (still am, since the package is still in route!). So I asked twitter friends and a couple of other friends for some tips. Wish I had one answer to share, but everyone who was kind enough to respond to my SOS all had very different answers. Some went by the books and filled out the customs form checking "merchandise" and claiming the exact cost. Others checked "gift", others put down a slightly discounted "cost" so the buyer wouldn't have to pay such a high fee when receiving the package. I originally planned to send my package via Priority Mail (flat rate med box) - but once I got to the post office, the lady suggested I use the regular Priority Mail Mailing Box since my package was fairly light. So instead of $25.95 it came out to $20 and some change (which I will be reimbursing). She also instructed me to fill out the white customs form (not the green one that everyone had mentioned). I asked her three times why not the green... I think she was starting to get annoyed with me at this point. She said definitely the white!! (by the way, I checked "merchandise").

So my number one advice is to put yourself in the shoes of a shop owner and think of the tiny details. Think about how your items are going to be merchandised, how will the customers handle your items? etc.

I could've definitely spent another week tweaking my packaging but I had already spent way too much time. I don't even want to calculate the total amount of time I spent on this yet... I still want to relish and enjoy it... in a few days I will calculate the total amount of time spent (making/packaging) + cost of product materials + packaging supplies and I have a sick feeling that I'll probably have to adjust my prices :)

But that's ok, it's all about learning from our experiences right?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic and if you have any tips, advice, suggestions please share!

x
Marichelle

PS. Don't forget to include your URL on all tags so customers can find you!

Images: Marichelle Burdman

36 comments:

tara - scoutie girl said...

lovely!!

in a completely unbiased way, i would totally pick up at least three packs if i saw those in a little shop!

great work. btw, my friend alex, over at hello bluebird (http://hellobluebird.net) might be interested in carry your bunting - i'll let her know!

Melissa de la Fuente said...

Okay....first of all. You are a GENIUS. A genius I tell you! I cannot believe you changed all of the packaging last minute and made all the new packaging just as magnificent as the first. So smart and such perfect and thoughtful touches! I mean....seriously. You are a retailers dream, if I had my shop I would be all over it all! Just perfection. It all looks gorgeous sweetie, and I cannot get over how much you did all on your own. Plus, the thoughtful and awesome floor samples. Did I mention that now I will be pining for the gold bunting? Wow.....I am so amazed(though not surprised) and so proud of you! This is your calling my friend.....no doubt.
xoxo
Melis

Clementine said...

That is going to be one happy shop owner, Marichelle! Everything looks so great, the packaging is ADORBS and way too clever. Wholesaling is a completely different beast than selling in an Etsy shop. I don't doubt you'll have to re-jigger some stuff. Congrats on your first completed order!

Laurel Denise said...

oh my gosh!! amazing, my friend! amazing!!

Jee said...

Marichelle, these items and the packaging are completely adorable! I hope they all sell out right away!

found paper co. said...

Perfect post! Loved the pictures, packaging, and troubleshooting tips. Definitely helpful for those just starting to consider wholesale. Thanks so much for sharing!!

lesley said...

wow, awesome! congrats...and room6 is one of my all-time favourite shops! i'll be sure to go check them out in person in a few weeks :) thanks for the tips, too. i'm embarking in this territory myself in a month!!

-lesley [smidgebox designs]

Sarah said...

Thanks for sharing! It's so great to be able to hear some real-life experience about how wholesale is an entirely different experience. Congrats on the order!

Littleclouds said...

thanks for showing us your line sheet, I've always wondered what one should look like and yours is good inspiration.
Also if that packaging was pulled off semi last minute, bejesus what will you come up with with more time?!
Its all looks wonderful, well done!

jules said...

Congrats! your packaging is flawless, I especially like card for the bunting. I just shipped off my first 'real' wholesale order and boy was it stressful. It really is a different beast than etsy and it really makes you stretch a different set of muscles. I'm sure that it will get easier, but it is fun to think about your products in a whole new light. Good luck with this new part of your business!

Kelly said...

Way to go on the first wholesale order, and here's hoping there will be plenty more to come! It's true, you are a retail shop owner's dream. When I was involved in with wholesale company, packaging was such a double-edged sword, balancing the creative with the practical. You cracked it!

Amy Olson Jewelry said...

congratulations, Marichelle! I've always loved what you create-
also, this post couldn't come at a better time! I've been going through all of this myself, trying to decide how to do my line sheet and what is best for my work, so THANK YOU so much for sharing your experience here. your the best!

Rachel@oneprettything.com said...

Congratulations! Your packing is so beautiful, I just love it. And this post is PACKED with fabulous knowledge and tips. Thanks so much for sharing! I'll be linking. I'm in total awe of all that you do! I can't imagine pulling a packing revamp out like that!

MiA said...

It looks great! Congrats :)

Mallory said...

marichelle this is the most useful post of time! i just got contacted by a store wanting to wholesale order some of the crowns from the new shop i just opened & my immediate reaction was "how on earth do i go about doing this???". THANK YOU!!!

Zandra said...

I love them all!! They came out perfect... Congrats!! You never cease to amaze me!

EvaForeva said...

Marichelle, I LOVE your products! Amazing packaging too!
I sell to Canadians quite often and I think if the package is over 1 pound is when you fill out a white form; anything less - green.
Congrats on your wholesale order!

darling savage said...

thanks for sharing the business advice- you make some amazing product! congrats on the big sale!

Brandy said...

Wow! You are fabulous. Great of you to do all that. Thats what I call service :) Hey be sure to check out your feature on The LOVELY List. Share it with your readers too (for a one in 25 chance to win a pretty cruiser bike).
xoxo Brandy

Marichelle said...

Thank you so much for all of your nice comments about my products and packaging - such great feedback and I appreciate you taking out the time to share your thoughts here. I'm so glad that a bunch of you found this post useful. I'm no means an expert - obviously! but I'm really happy that you found the info useful. I'm so excited for those of you preparing to embark on your own wholesale journeys - I wish us all the best of luck!!! I'd love to know how it all goes, so please be sure to let me know via email, twitter or here!

x Marichelle

Laura-Whateverebay said...

So beautiful and what talent. Seriously talented. I would love to get my hands on some of the jacks. I checked your etsy store but they are all out. I will be checking soon...

A new fan of your work :)

gretchenmist said...

your products and packaging are gorgeous ~ congrats on getting your first wholesale order in the mail, am sure they will do well.
thanks for sharing your experiences too :)

The Stapelia Company said...

Good for you! I just got my first wholesale order recently too. I do cards so it didn't require as much forethought but I did design some packaging that would make the cards look good in a rack or on a shelf. Your items are charming!

jennifer said...

Love your sweet packaging...and those garlands are the best! Congrats on the wholesale order!

yasmine said...

awesome post marichelle! your products are super sweet--so congrats on your wholesale order!!!

and it's so generous of you to share your process with many.

bink & boo said...

This post is PERFECT TIMING! Congrats and the order and thank you for the helpful information. One question I have is about printing tags. Do you print your own? If so, what kind of printer do you use?

Thanks again!

binkandboo[at]gmail[dot]com

oh, hello friend. said...

your packaging is SO lovely marichelle! thanks for sharing!!

xo. danni

LOLAFALK said...

Congratulations on this first wholesale order (the first of many to come, I'm sure!) Your packaging is just perfect - so professional looking. Thanks for posting about your experience with this!

Diana (Ladybug Limited) said...

I'd love to see your linesheet, but blogger currently says the page does not exist... help!

amy said...

Wow, beautiful & useful post. Thank you!

Unfortunately the linesheet link is no longer working...and I'd love to have one! Please advise.

Thank you!

amy umyac.com

Marichelle said...

hi Diana and Amy, sorry about that - had some server issues today. The link should be working now! Thanks for letting me know about the broken link! x Marichelle

Marichelle said...

I almost forgot - Bianca, I do print my own labels. I just use my home printer (it's a Canon), printed on cardstock. I'm pretty happy with the quality of the printing so I think I'll continue doing them myself. I cut them out using a Friskars paper cutter thingy!

ldeandyment said...

Thanks so much for writing about this process. So selling wholesale is different than selling consignment. I guess it would be more beneficial to the seller as you actually get minimum sales.
I live in vancouver and have been meaning to go to Room6. Now I have another reason .

gaia said...

Thanks so much for writing about this! It's really helpful. Packaging is one of those things I obsess over-- web stores v brick and mortar, its good to remember the differing needs like you mention. Everything looks wonderful!

La Pomme said...

This post is making me rethink of how I package my own wholesale orders -- thank you, Marichelle!

amanda said...

Love your packaging! I'm preparing for my first wholesale order and this post has given me so much inspiration and great information/tips that I hadn't thought of. You are officially bookmarked! : )

Amanda

www.aprettysimplelife.blogspot.com