Benefits of Wholesale for Makers
For most online retail businesses, there comes a checkpoint of growth they are in a hurry to reach. This is the point of investing in outsourced fulfillment and thereby finally beginning to reach a large swathe of customers.
Until profits and cash flow are enough to realize this goal, a company will typically handle fulfillment in-house, packing up products and shipping them to the post office. Most of the time, a company at this stage is considered in development; it hasn’t really announced itself.
At least the case with the majority of business types. There is one form of e-commerce where handling fulfillment in-house and hand-packaging items is something that raises the company’s profile. This is homemade items.
The Market Appeal of Handmade Items
Handmade items, and other similar crafts, are all valued because each product is original. However, the industry actively suffers from any association with large business operations and manufacturing plants which produce identical cookie-cutter mold products.
For small businesses selling handmade items and crafts, being a small company is a marketing plus and something that is often emphasized. We even see the phenomenon of handicraft companies that have expanded to the point of outsourcing fulfillment but have actively kept this fact quiet – or at least emphasized other parts of the business.
This usually involves stressing things like the fact the company is still owned by the same family, or that the original “maker” still checks the products for quality and authenticity – whatever that means in the particular case.
Indeed, these companies actively seek the market cachet of being small and authentic. This goal, however, butts up against the realities of business – or the realities of business growth. Sometimes though, a reluctance to invest in the expansion the company needs can actively harm a business’s fortunes.
The Question of Wholesale
Just as with outsourced fulfillment, making use of wholesale services is another practice those valuing the “homemade” cachet might shirk at. But this should not be the case.
For homemade items, and the makers who create them, wholesale doesn’t necessarily have to mean uniformity in products. Take an example from another industry. Olympic Eyewear, a wholesale company selling bulk orders of designer sunglasses, say that while they may send out large batches to their customers, many of them are an assorted batch. These contain sunglasses for men and women, driving glasses, wayfarer sunglasses, and more – diversity is present.
For makers, wholesale can provide many of the parts necessary for creating the products at home. This can be an especially useful service for meeting the challenge of increased order load while still ensuring each product is handmade.
To take an example here. You might be able to produce a certain number of units by using locally sourced materials and starting each from scratch. But once order load makes this unfeasible, you might well turn to sourcing some wholesale pre-assembled parts but still put the product together yourself (and finish it off in your usual style). This cuts time and cost and could make it viable to produce the products at home once again.
Eventually, even this will become unfeasible, but for many makers, there is no ambition for things to get this large. Moreover, if operations have expanded to the point of making in-house product manufacture impossible, then there are many other benefits to offset what is lost – not least the fact that the company is now large and profitable!
So, if you are an ecommerce maker hoping to keep things local and authentic for as long as possible, wholesale could just be the way to realize this goal.