Huttons first opened it's doors in 1995 and you can visit their shops in Putney, Battersea and Windsor, in Windsor there's two stores right next door to each-other, one that focuses on home products and one that has more gift items. Huttons prides itself on stocking a large range of unique and delightful range of home, fashion and gift products for any occasion.
What would make you consider a new supplier?
When writing an introductory email/pitch make sure that it includes product images, prices and terms as well as information of other stockist, or proven records that your products sell well in shops or that your retail prices work. If you're new to wholesale you might not have any stockists but if you have been selling your products directly to the consumer you might know a lot about what type of person buys your products or you might have a very well established price on your website or on whichever platform you sell on. This is worth mentioning, make it easy to find in the top of the email. Basically I want to know that if I where to buy into your brand your products are likely to do well in my shops because our customers are very similar, it's stocked in similar shops or that your prices really work for your products.
Any introductory offer such as free products or sale or return on the first order is always appreciated and if you can do send samples or drop into the shop and speak to the staff. Recently I took on a new range because the sales guy connected with one of my store managers and she really sold me the range next time I was in the store. This proves that you should never underestimate the shop assistants, don't just drop a catalogue off but really try to speak to someone even if the owner/buyer is not in the store.
How often is it appropriate to follow up if you have not gotten back to someone who contacted you to introduce their range?
I get lots of emails about new products, both from existing and new suppliers and I don't always have time to respond. I will usually look at them at one stage and if I'm really keen I will reply otherwise it might be left. As such I don't mind if sales people chase me, in-particular if it's for a range I already stock. If it's for a new product make sure you have something to tell me and you're more likely to get a response.
What's most important when you decide to work with a new supplier?
Proven sales/sales history
Selling in similar shops
That the price/margins are right, it doesn't have to be the cheapest but it needs to be right
How do you find new suppliers?
Spotted in other shops
Recommended by other shop owners
Sales agents or people I know from the industry
Cold callers (both by email and people that come by my shops)
In general keeping my ears open to what's selling well and what the trends are
Any advice for someone who's just starting to wholesale their range?
Always keep on top of your paperwork, send your invoice at the same time as you send the order, don't send it months later when you're catching up on your paperwork, this means I won't be able to pay you on-time and is really frustrating when I plan out my buying budget.
Make sure that your packaging is right, offering free gift bags with your branding is a great idea if you want to get your brand noticed faster. If you sell jewellery, make sure that you offer a nice box so that it's a ready made gift for someone.
Offer your stockist a point of sale with the story of your brand.
Research your RRP's (recommended retail price) and make sure they work.
Consider how your products might look in the store, help the shop owner visualise it, you can have pictures in your catalogue or offer to come and build the display in the shop if they buy into your range and you live locally.
If there's any terms you don't know what they mean, have a look at my blog post about Jargon (click here).
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