When it comes to selling products there are countless decisions to make. Should I sell online or in person? Which products should I sell? Is my website builder equipped for ecommerce? Who am I targeting? What is my pricing strategy?
With so much to consider, one method of selling is often overlooked. Store owners will typically spend considerable time finding the best wholesalers to buy from, but rarely ask:
“What if I become a wholesaler?”
This can be a fantastic choice – especially if you struggled to find a wholesaler in your niche that met all of your needs.
In this article, we explore how to sell wholesale and share expert steps so you can get started.
Where a traditional store may focus on selling customers a single or small number of items, wholesale stores focus on selling items in bulk. For example, a typical supermarket may sell apples individually or in packs of six. In contrast, a wholesaler may sell apples in bags of 50 or more.
If you want to know how to sell wholesale, you need to know who you’re selling to. Although you may occasionally sell wholesale to the end user, wholesale sellers will more commonly sell to other businesses who will then break bulk products into small units to then sell them to the end user.
Selling wholesale generates a smaller profit per unit than selling direct to the end user – so why does anyone do it?
There are actually several benefits of selling products wholesale.
Firstly, by offering lower rates per unit, you make it more appealing to buy from you. This can be a powerful marketing tool, especially if you can offer a better price than others on the market.
Secondly, selling bulk allows you to create efficiency. By selling large volumes to a smaller number of customers you limit the time required to reach, engage and sell to a much larger audience. In turn, this allows you to establish better relationships with your customers, helping drive long-term benefits.
Wholesale selling also allows you to produce profit at scale. Although you may make less profit per unit, each sale you make will generate a much greater profit in total. Below we use our trusty apple example to show this:
1 apple (cost to store) = $0.50
1 apple (cost to the customer) = $1
Profit per unit = $0.50
Profit per sale (pack of six) = $3
Store 2 – Wholesaler, bulk-selling apples in packs of 50
1 apple (cost to store) = $0.30
1 apple (cost to the customer) = $0.40
Profit per unit = $0.10
Profit per sale (pack of 50) = $25
As you can see, although the profit per unit is lower, the profit per sale is much higher for the wholesaler. In contrast, the store selling apples in packs of six has to make eight sales to make a similar profit.
Of course, there are downsides to this approach. For example, convincing someone to buy six apples is much easier than convincing them to buy 50. Buying wholesale involves more risk. This means that wholesale sellers have to develop higher levels of trust with their customers to drive profits.
So, how can you actually go about selling wholesale? We break it down into five easy steps below!
1. Pick a Niche
The first step in successful wholesale selling is picking a niche. Careful consideration should be applied to this step since making the right choice could mean the difference between business success and ultimate failure.
If you manage to pick the right niche, you’ll have customers falling over themselves to buy from you. Pick the wrong one and no matter how great your products, pricing, or customer service, you’ll struggle to succeed.
There are two main factors to consider when picking a niche:
How much demand is there for this niche? Are there lots of people interested in the niche? Are they willing to spend money on products?
For example, the fitness industry has grown exponentially over the past few years. In 2024, the Gym, Health and Fitness Club industry is predicted to generate $30.8bn. This shows that there are considerable opportunities in this space.
Just because a niche has lots of opportunities doesn’t necessarily make it the best option. Competition plays a big role.
For example, although the fitness industry is growing, there are also countless businesses supplying wholesale services in this space.
Finding the best niche is all about entering a space where there is a balance between opportunity and competition.
2. Picking and Sourcing Products
Once you’ve chosen your niche, you can follow a similar process for identifying the best wholesale products to sell.
Keeping an eye on trends will help you identify which products will be in the most demand by your customers. This can be done by reading trade publications, attending events, following influencers in your niche, and using tools such as Google Trends.
Depending on the niche you chose and the product you want to sell there are several options for sourcing products. The most obvious option is to go directly to the manufacturer. However, other options include buying from:
- Distributors (specialists in selling/transporting products to wholesalers)
- Importers (specialists in selling products to wholesalers from overseas)
- Liquidators (specialists in selling liquidated stock)
3. Choose Your Sales Channels
So, you have your stock ready to sell. But where are you going to sell it?
Luckily, there are lots of options to choose from these include:
There are countless marketplaces that cater to wholesalers. Many of these are in-person markets which cover events such as auctions. But there are also online marketplace options – some of these may specialize in your niche, or offer general wholesale options, such as Alibaba.
Trade shows can be a great place to connect with potential wholesale buyers.
As a wholesaler, you’ll be looking to create strong relationships with a small number of high-value customers. This makes trade shows an ideal location, allowing you to start building relationships with relevant individuals in a real-life setting. However, trade shows can occasionally be expensive to attend, so a plan for getting the most out of your attendance is the best way to drive a greater ROI.
Online stores aren’t simply the reserve of those looking to sell directly to consumers. You can also use ecommerce platforms to sell bulk on a wholesale basis.
4. Creating an Online Store
Selling at trade shows and through online marketplaces is a great option. But they also rely on a third party to complete the sales process. This third party will eat into your profit and could change its terms at any time. That’s why creating a website to sell wholesale online offers you greater control – and it can be used alongside other selling platforms.
Luckily, with a host of online website builders available, it’s now easier than ever to create your own website. Simply:
- Choose your ecommerce platform (such as Shopify or Wix)
- Secure a relevant domain name
- Build your website using the helpful tools provided
- Upload your products (images, descriptions, and buying options)
- Decide on your shipping methods
- Go live and start marketing your online store
5. Marketing Your Business
In many ways, marketing your wholesale business is very different to selling products directly to the end user, but you can use many of the same methods.
The biggest differentiators are who you’re targeting and the messaging you use. With wholesale selling, you’re typically selling Business to Business (B2B). This means that factors, such as speed and cost, play a much bigger part in the buying process than selling directly to consumers (D2C). So, your marketing messages should focus on these factors.
Some good marketing tips for B2B marketing include:
- Social media marketing (especially platforms such as LinkedIn)
- Email marketing
- Ads in trade publications
- Sponsoring industry events
- We interviewed With the Wind Vineyard and Winery about selling wholesale and building a wine business
Wholesale selling can be a great way to generate profit and it should be considered by all those looking to sell products. It offers a host of benefits when compared to selling direct to consumers, such as profit at scale. However, it also requires those that pursue this method to develop unique skills to succeed, including picking a relevant niche and marketing your business effectively.