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How to use wholesaling to grow your e-commerce sales

We often hear people talking about selling on marketplaces (like eBay) to grow their sales volume, it’s much less frequent to hear about retailers growing their e-commerce sales by wholesaling their products to offline retailers. If you have a unique product then this could be a very useful way to grow your brand awareness and your customer base.

To be able to do this you must have a product retailers want to stock! So there needs to be something unique about your product. It could be that you’re the manufacturer or designer – so the only place in the world they can get it from is you. Or you might hold the license for that product in your country, so again the only place they can get it from is you.

It also needs to be a product that you can sell wholesale and still make a profit on, so do you have enough margin to be able to successfully sell it to other retailers?

And a product that the customer will want to buy again fairly soon – so this will work better if you’re selling soup than if you’re selling mattresses.

Product packaging
Of course this is going to have a very positive impact on your overall sales volumes, but the bigger picture, the bigger success is that it will make customers aware of your brand.

For that to work your brand has be really clear on the packaging!

Take a look at your packaging – does every last bit of it shout your brand? The colours, the style, the imagery, the logo?

The packaging also needs to make it easy for the customer to find you if they want to know more about the product, so include your website address and a reason to visit you.

It’s highly unlikely someone is going to pick up your product at the supermarket, write down the website address, not put it in their shopping trolley, and logon to buy it from you later. It’s safe to assume that they’re going to buy from the retailer, and then come to your site to find out more. Focus your call to action on helping them find out more about the product – recipes, set up guides, the wider range etc.

Your retailers
Work out which retailers you’re going to target. Identify ones which would be a good fit for your product, they might target a similar niche to you, or already sell similar products to those you’re selling.

Be creative with this list – don’t just list the biggest stores, think about smaller stores as well. Smaller stores are more likely to closely fit your desired customer, and by dealing with them first you can get some practice in before you start pitching to the larger retailers.

Once you have your list, research how each buys their product – who to approach, which shows they go to etc.

This will take some time, so while that’s all happening…

Get your website ready
The conversion rate from instore purchase to website visit is likely to be rather low (definitely sub 5 per cent) so you want to make sure that when one of these customers visits your site it both interests them and captures their information.

You also need to make sure your website is easy to find – check that a search on Google brings up your website, and that the listing makes it clear it’s you! If that doesn’t happen then invest in some SEO assistance or some Google Adwords.

On the packaging you’ve made them a promise of what they’re going to find when they get to your website. Whatever you’ve promised needs to be easy to find, so make sure that you’ve delivered on the promise – that it is on the website(!), and that it’s highlighted in the menu of your website.

The better that content is the more likely the person is to decide to buy from you in future and not the wholesaler. So keep adding to it, and have more useful content that isn’t mentioned on the packaging. If the packaging says “recipe ideas on the website” add another recipe each month, AND have the story of how you developed the product.

To capture their information have a pop up working on your site, to get them to sign up to your email list. Include a strong reason for them to sign up – it doesn’t have to be a promotion, it can just be a very compelling promise. However, if you really want to get them to buy from you direct, then offer a discount on their first purchase from you when they sign up.

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