We’ve been getting copious amounts of questions recently on the Soap Queen Blog, Facebook Fan Page and in customer service requesting wholesale advice. It’s been so long (over a decade now!) since I’ve sold my soaps wholesale, I thought I would reach out to some of my successful soaping friends to share some current best practices and advice with the Soap Queen readers. Today’s wholesale guest blog is by Debbie Chialtas from Soapylove (you’ll soon be addicted to her website)! Thanks for the tips, Debbie!
Guest Post by Debbie Chialtas
When I first started Soapylove I was just selling to support my hobby. I came up with my prices pretty randomly and didn’t have any real business plan or structure. Eventually, though, shop owners asked if I sold wholesale.
Having experience in apparel development and production, I was able to quickly get my information together and start taking wholesale orders. Now Soapylove is 99% wholesale and it’s an extremely efficient and profitable way to go. If you would like to work with shop owners here are some unusual terms you may never have heard and what information they will want:
What are your wholesale prices?
To determine this, the rule of thumb is add up your cost of materials and labor and double it. Add a few cents for shipping supplies and transaction costs. Over time you will get a feel for whether your pricing is adequate and you can always adjust.
What is the minimum order to get wholesale prices (or “what’s your minimum”)?
This is up to you, but you can either base this on number of items or a total value. Starting with $100 might be a good ball park for soap and b&b orders. I used to require 24 soaps as a minimum order.
What is your return policy?
Make sure you establish your return policies right away, and be extremely specific! Mine is: “Soapylove is responsible for getting your order to you safely. If any items arrive damaged, please notify us within 5 days of arrival for replacements or a credit. After this time, Soapylove cannot be held responsible for the items. To preserve the color and quality of the soaps and bath bombs, keep out of heat and direct sun. Thank you!” I put this on all of my invoices and packing lists so there are no misunderstandings.
What forms of payment do you accept? Do you accept terms?
If you only take orders through a website, like your own eCommerce site, then your customers will likely use their credit cards which is very convenient. Paypal is great since they accept all major credit cards. Paypal Pro is great since you can manually enter credit cards if you take orders via email. Some companies may ask for “terms” which means they have time after the order ships before they need to pay you. Common terms are Net7 or Net30 (7 or 30 days to pay after the ship date). It’s completely up to you if you want to work this way, but it is a small risk and takes more administrative time on your part to follow up and bill customers. Soapylove does not offer terms, fyi.
What’s your leadtime (or TAT)?
“TAT” is not a permanent picture on your arm (har har). It means “turn around time” or how long it takes to get a wholesale order shipped. Most customers expect there to be some wait time before a wholesale or “bulk” order is ready. This depends on you and what you’re making, so just be honest and give yourself adequate time – don’t stress out and rush!
Do you have a wholesale catalog?
This may sound daunting but it does not have to be! You will be asked for the above information over and over, so creating a simple catalog (also called “line sheet”) is a worthwhile investment of your time. A great way to do this is in Word. You can import product photos, list the product names and prices, and add a final page that lists your minimums, payment requirements, leadtime, and contact info. Now you can just email it to people as an attachment and they can reference all of your information easily and efficiently (if you can save it as a pdf then your formatting won’t shift when they open it, so that would be best).
Once you have the above ready, tell people you are interested in taking wholesale orders. List this somewhere on your site or post a sign at your table where you sell – just let people know it’s okay to ask and you are ready to take their order!
You can do it!
Debbie Chialtas (aka “Soapylove”)