Wholesale businesses are often very profitable endeavors. They meet the needs of various retailers and remove the burden of small (and large) businesses like yours having to create clothing garments from scratch.
Although you may not have your manufacturing sites, you can look to successful wholesale clothing models to scale your business. There are many tips and tricks of the trade you can implement in your small clothing store to build your brand and boost your profits.
Here are five top wholesale clothing strategies to implement for your small business.
1. Attend Trade Shows
While many think of trade shows as just for wholesalers, they are an excellent opportunity for small clothing stores to connect with other businesses.
According to the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR), there are around 9,400 trade shows in the U.S. each year. As a result, this poses a significant opportunity for small businesses to spread the word about their clothing store and connect with other retailers.
Business owners all over the country (and the world) head to trade shows in search of new products to stock and sell in their stores, which small businesses can leverage. With a simple — or elaborate — booth setup, small clothing stores can showcase their quality products to other companies and boost their sales.
2. Leverage Dropshipping + Online Sales Strategies
Small clothing stores can look to wholesale companies for inspiration on online sales strategies.
Dropshipping is a simple yet lucrative way for small clothing stores to maximize DTC profits and minimize work for themselves.
To implement dropshipping for your store:
- Design your products.
- Partner with a wholesale distributor or full-service print or embroidery service that can fill orders for you.
- List products on your site.
- When customers order products, your distributor or full-service printer or embroiderer will fill the order and ship it directly to the customer.
- You profit from your product cost and the customer’s payment.
It’s that easy. Unlike a brick-and-mortar store, this method doesn’t require carrying any additional stock. In addition, this allows you to offer consumers an even more extensive variety of colors, styles, and sizes than you can have in-store — meaning more potential profits for your business.
You can do this with an existing business domain or create a separate website for your dropshipping DTC sales.
B2B + General Wholesale
From 2017 to 2022, the wholesale trade market grew 4.4% each year to a whopping $11.4 trillion. In 2022, expect this market to increase 10.9% from the previous year. As a small business, one of the best ways to tap into this market is to sell your custom products to other clothing retailers.
Unless you have the space to start your production factory, you’ll be acting as a distributor. You’ll be sourcing your products through a wholesale company and selling them to other retailers as blank products, private-label, or custom with your store’s graphics, prints, embroidery, and designs.
Some clothing stores prefer to have a separate site domain for wholesale sales, while others find it easier to incorporate it as a sidebar into their DTC site. You will likely need a wholesale license and other necessary permits based on your local jurisdiction and possibly the places you’ll sell.
3. Adjust Prices for DTC and Other Retailers
Selling online both DTC and to other retailers are great wholesale strategies to scale your business and profits. However, you won’t want to price those products the same.
In either case, you still want to ensure that you price products at a number that covers your costs, shipping, and labor and makes a profit.
- DTC Prices: Determine a reasonable price point that covers the costs of materials from your wholesaler or distributor. For example, you typically price products higher for direct consumers as they receive the end product.
- Wholesale Prices: Other retailers buying products from your store are purchasing a more considerable amount and still want to profit from selling your garments. Determine a figure that covers your costs, earns you a profit, and can be priced higher in your wholesale customer’s stores to make them money.
- A dropped shoulder sweatshirt with an embroidered design may cost you $15 from your distributor, plus $5 shipping. You sell it with the dropshipping model for $40 and charge the customer for $5 the shipping cost, bringing the total to $45. You earn a profit of $25 per unit.
- Another retailer wants to buy 40 of that same hoodie to sell in their stores. Because they buy a larger quantity, shipping costs $20 total — a cost of $620 for your business. Instead of charging $40 per unit, you set them $30 per sweatshirt and offer free shipping — bringing their total to $1,200. For 40 sweatshirts, you still earn a profit of $580. The retailer can still make a $10 profit per unit if they sell them at your suggested retail price.
Offering discounted products on wholesale orders is a great way to boost your profits and incentivize retailers to order larger quantities — a big win for your business.
Qualified brands can buy wholesale from companies like Bella + Canvas or work with a qualified full-service printer or embroiderer to get quality blank goods at unbeatable prices. Find a wholesaler that meets your needs as you offer both DTC and B2B goods.
4. Build Your Social Media Presence
Across many industries, marketers know the importance of social media in building and maintaining customer relationships. However, it’s essential to tailor your approach to your audience — especially when you’re appealing to consumers and retailers.
Consider Separate Pages and Approaches for DTC and B2B
Your social media approach will likely differ depending on whether you sell to other retailers or consumers. Consider creating different brand pages for each target audience and market.
You may prioritize different social media platforms for DTC and B2B content. Regarding DTC content, many small clothing stores find the most success on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. Statista notes that Linkedin, Facebook, and YouTube were the top B2B social media platforms in 2022 for paid promotions.
While it’s entirely possible to build a solid social media presence and organically connect with your target audience, many small businesses consider it a worthwhile investment to pay to push posts to their desired customers. Consider when it makes sense for your business as you begin to scale your store.
Keep Branding Consistent
Even as you take separate approaches, try to keep your branding consistent. You don’t want to send an entirely different message on who your products are designed for when appealing directly to consumers vs. other retailers.
The end consumer for you and the other businesses you’re selling the same products is likely the same, so your branding should be consistent throughout.
5. List Your Business on Industrial Directories
Industrial directories are a great way to build new connections for your business and boost product sales. For example, many stores directly turn to directories when they’re searching for new products to sell. This utilization gives you a more direct line to potential customers instead of putting your store name in front of those who may or may not be interested through social media or other traditional marketing methods.
While some directories may charge brands to add their name to the listing, most will be free. Search for industry-specific ones, and hone in on your niche if you can.
You’ll want to search for those in the retail industry and ensure your store appears under relevant sub-categories. For example, if your small business sells athleisure and loungewear, you’d want to appear under an appropriate category instead of a wedding dress wholesaler.
Strategize for Your Small Clothing Store
Just because you’re a small business doesn’t mean you can’t think like a wholesaler and use some of the tricks of the trade. Implement these strategies to scale your small clothing business and watch your market share and sales grow!