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How to build a brand through the right retailers and why you should say no sometimes

Updated: Mar 12, 2021

There are so many benefits to selling wholesale and if you have followed me for a while, you will have picked up various tips and secrets of how to wholesale well, but one thing that needs to be addressed is saying no! Ultimately you want to build a successful brand and this can be achieved by selling through the right retailers but how do you decide who are the right retailers and how do you say no when you know you are not going to be making money?

I spoke to Vicky Simmons, founder of the honest and brutal greeting card brand Mean Mail. During our chat, we spoke about the challenges of finding the right stockists and working with big retailers.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the world of wholesale whilst you build your brand and it can be tempting to say yes to every order, especially if it comes from a big retailer but it’s time you take a step back and work out if this is the right strategy for you.

Ask Questions

When you onboard new stockists, do you ask them questions? Typically it is the other way round, but why shouldn’t you stop and ask them how they are going to help you? Ask them what their customers are like, the kind of products that work well for them, how they display their current stock, and how they intend on displaying your products. If they are vague and do not have a plan as such, then question if they will be a good stockist in the long run.

We all know that wholesale takes up a lot of time and if a stockist is simply going to put your products at the back of the store in an unrelated area and then be upset when they aren’t selling, they might not be right for you and at the end of the day this is your brand and products and you want to be portrayed in the right way in every store which is why it is so important to ask these questions. It's even better if you meet the buyer so they can show you exactly where your products will be placed and run you through a plan. Imagine walking into one of your dream stockists after they’ve placed an order and finding your products hidden in the underlit corner of the back of the shop, that is not why you started your brand, so don’t settle!

Are you going to get overlooked?

Another thing to look out for is stockists that have hundreds of options of your product type already, in this case, your product may be overlooked or missed so again they might not sell as well as a shop where you are a unique line for them. Customers like a choice but sometimes too much choice can be overwhelming and the brands get lost within the madness.

Large retailers

Receiving an inquiry from a huge high street store can be very exciting and what most people work towards in wholesale but sometimes it can be a bad decision to work with them and in the long run you put a lot into the order with a tiny profit. It is often the case that bigger retailers ask for a very low margin with the promise of getting your brand name known just because you are sold in that store, but is it worth it? You wouldn’t agree to a 5p profit for an independent retailer, so why would you for a bigger chain with more work attached (have you seen the delivery manuals?!)

Of course, you need to weigh up if it is worth working with a big retailer for the sake of having your name in-store and having a big name to add to your brand CV but again do your research and ask questions about where you will be situated, what marketing they can offer and how they are going to help you!

In Summary

To sum up, I think it is perfectly ok to say no to anything you aren’t sure about, it’s ok to walk away sometimes and when you look at the bigger picture, there are a lot of other stockists who would absolutely love to stock your products and be proud to have them in-store so you need to be focusing on them and building relationships instead of saying yes to everything and overwhelming yourself in work that will bring you nearly no profit or joy!

Do you need a helping hand?

As a small business you already have the products and the knowledge of your brand but could you be doing more to grow? Wouldn’t it be nice to have a helping hand, somebody to help streamline your processes and save you time in the long run? My expertise as a mentor is in helping businesses like yours gain the confidence to sell, be more profitable, feel comfortable with your pricing strategy and be the business owner you dreamed of when you started your journey!

By working with me you will learn how to be more profitable and be a proud business owner at the same time!

Let’s have a chat today, drop me an email at and I will get back to you personally.

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