Skip to content

CEO CORNER: A Darwinian Approach to Wholesale

A Darwinian Approach to Wholesale

You could say it’s a challenging time for commerce right now: Consumers’ disposable income is down and brands are fighting tooth and nail to keep their profits up. How do we know this is the case? Well, for a start, take a look at the direct-to-consumer and digitally native brands embracing wholesale in an attempt to capture some of the rising foot traffic at brick-and-mortar stores.

With its constant changes and dog-eat-dog nature, the world of commerce can at times feel like the animal kingdom. But while apex predators like Nike and Levi’s reclaim territory in the wholesale market, specialty brands looking to expand their wholesale reach would be better served by shifting their attention to another part of nature.

(Depending on what you believe…) Around 100 million years ago, the earth was a hothouse of dense jungles, deserts, and dinosaurs, until something incredible happened. Flowering plants began to spread far and wide, just at the same time as bees arrived on the scene. Charles Darwin proposed the idea that these flowers and bees had coevolved for mutual success. Pollen is essential for the reproduction of both groups, which is why their advancement was so tightly intertwined.

Whether starting from scratch or aiming to increase the profits of an existing wholesale business, specialty brands should take inspiration from the symbiotic relationship between flowers and bees. Instead of viewing retailers as a means to an end, brands should adopt a more inclusive approach that incentivizes and rewards retailers. When brands treat retailers as key strategic partners, both parties give themselves a better chance of flourishing.

Different Strategies to Boost Your Wholesale Business

Just as bees have evolved specific behaviors and physiological adaptations to gather and transport pollen more efficiently, your brand can make some key strategic changes to help grow your wholesale accounts.

Improve Your Wholesale Marketing Strategy

How do you increase sales? By generating more qualified leads and turning them into customers. In that way, wholesaling is no different from selling D2C. 

While direct mail campaigns and sending product samples to qualified leads are valuable strategies, it’s important to invest time and effort into building relationships with potential wholesale partners.

Attending trade shows and industry meetups is an excellent way to increase brand visibility and connect with potential leads. While most of our communication is now online, there's still tremendous value in face-to-face meetings. These in-person interactions can leave a lasting impression and significantly contribute to the growth of your business.

Offer Special Wholesale Deals

Everybody loves a good deal. Offering retailers special pricing could help you move your merchandise quicker and easier. But remember, if you follow this path, it’s essential to instate minimum order quantities (MOQs) and check your margins to make sure any discounts allow for sufficient profitability.

The deals you offer can cover anything from free shipping and special discounts for first-time customers to limited-time offers that encourage fast purchases when you’re trying to shift excess stock.

Provide Great Customer Service

While there’s some debate over whether it still holds true, the old rule of thumb is that it costs 5x more to get a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. With that in mind, you can see why it’s especially important to keep your current customer base happy. 

To achieve this, it’s essential that you’re providing excellent customer service. Ensuring year-round access to compassionate experts working for your company can make all the difference when it comes to maintaining profitable and enduring relationships with your existing customers.

Create a Referral Program

Just a 10% increase in word-of-mouth recommendations can boost sales by 1.5%, but unlike the consumers you sell D2C to, your retailers won’t necessarily go out of their way to share positive opinions about your brand.

How do you fix this? Well, you could try incentivizing them to spread the word by offering a rebate for each new wholesale customer they bring to your business. Still, don’t be surprised if retailers are hesitant to share your great products with their competitors.

Embrace Online Marketplaces

Some brands are attracted by the opportunity to utilize online marketplaces as a sales channel. 

These platforms offer an easy way to expand your outreach and move products to a larger audience, but it’s important to acknowledge that they come with a host of potential pitfalls. For one, they often run ads on your own products which compete against your own. They also frequently instigate a race to the bottom on pricing, which can significantly erode your profit margins. 

Coevolve With Retailers and Turbocharge Your Wholesale Accounts

As you can see, some common strategies to grow your wholesale accounts require significant resources or are ultimately ineffective. To bring it back to the bees for a moment, one technique busy brands often underutilize is to foster mutual evolution with retailers.

With the Quivers Omnichannel Toolkit, you can turbocharge your wholesale accounts without making significant changes to operations. By leveraging retailers to fulfill orders made on your website with in-demand options like BOPIS (Buy Online, Pick Up In-Store), Ship-from-Store, and White Glove Delivery, you not only increase D2C sales but also minimize risk for retailers when it comes to placing wholesale orders with you.

Fulfilling orders made on Quivers-brands’ websites gives retailers access to an additional sales channel and, depending on the fulfillment method employed, could send more foot traffic to stores for upselling and cross-selling opportunities

Think about this: Which brand would retailers prefer to stock? The one that gives them an extra, hassle-free sales channel and increased foot traffic, or the one that simply provides products and leaves the selling and marketing efforts solely in the retailers' hands? 

Greater Data

As well as providing retailers with an extra sales channel that de-risks larger wholesale orders, Quivers gives you the type of data that could reshape the future of your wholesale operations. 

Take Quivers’ Sell-Through Reports. With retailers loading their full store inventory to Quivers, you gain the ability to track both online and offline purchases — regardless of whether they come through Quivers or other channels

To quote Brooks Wilson, Brand Manager at Radar Skis: “Quivers’ software has not only boosted profitability by enabling us to sell through our websites, but has also provided us with valuable data that has transformed our wholesale operations.” 

Infinite Connections

With wholesale, connections are key. That’s why the extensive network of retailers already using the Quivers platform will soon become one of your greatest assets. 

Forget the painstaking processes of finding retailers, negotiating with them, and ensuring software compatibility. With the Omnichannel Toolkit, you have direct access to hundreds of potential new wholesale buyers — who you can sweeten the pot with by allowing them to fulfill orders made on your website.

Powerful Programs

The power of personal recommendations shouldn’t be underestimated, and that's precisely why influencer/pro marketing is creating a significant buzz. In the last three months alone, a remarkable 33% of Gen Zers and 26% of Millennials have bought a product because of an influencer’s recommendation.

Two parts of the Omnichannel Toolkit offer a special route to expanding your wholesale reach. Quivers VIP Stores and Ambassador Relationship Management (ARM) provide you with comprehensive tools to successfully launch, manage, and monitor highly profitable pro programs. These programs not only yield remarkable returns on investment but also generate significant brand visibility, serving as strong incentives for retailers to stock and promote your products.

What’s more, ARM provides a training platform for retailer employees, so they can acquire in-depth knowledge about your brand and pass that information on to consumers in-store. ARM transforms these employees into enthusiastic brand advocates who are incentivized to sell more with the promise of rewards and discounted products. In this way, ARM again increases your brand’s sales and encourages retailers to place larger wholesale orders.

If you still have doubts about the transformative impact Quivers can have on your wholesale business, let the testimony of a retailer speak for itself. Lindsey Simmons Curtis, CFO at Simmons Sporting Goods, says: “We have increased wholesale orders and now carry a wider range of products than we usually would, because we know we’ll be able to fulfill brand orders through Quivers.” 

Make a Beeline For Quivers

Given the current economic climate, retailers are understandably cautious about taking on new brands due to the associated risks. Respect goes both ways and without building mutual trust, retailers are less likely to go out on a limb and stock your products in their stores. 

By using Quivers to coevolve with retailers, you’re giving both parties a better chance of securing the nectar. When I point out the benefits of a hive mentality, I’m not advocating for groupthink. Rather, I’m calling for brands to think of the bigger picture, sweeten the deal with retailers, and significantly extend their wholesale reach.