The Dilemma of Selling Products Wholesale and Retail

by Jane Button on September 28, 2010


Dear Jane, 

I really need some help! I'm selling my line of soft dolls both wholesale and retail. I've done what you suggested and changed my pricing structure so I can sell both wholesale and retail and make more money. And it’s really working well for us – we’ve increased our business 25% year to date.

Here's my dilemma – how can I serve both my retail and wholesale customers and do it well? Having wholesale clients is, in the long run, the better way for me because these clients order more quantities and my repeat orders have been very good. I want to strengthen this side of my business. But we also love that people buy from us directly as it really helps with our cash flow and we get noticed.

So how can I do this without alienating the wholesale clients and still sell retail to individual customers?

I’m looking forward to hearing from you so I can better understand how to handle this situation.



Dear Serena,

Wow that’s great about your sales increase!

Now that your pricing structure has been corrected it is easy to sell to both wholesale and retail customers. Here are some suggestions for you:

  • Don’t compete with your wholesale customers on price. You know what they’re selling your products for in their stores. I suggest you charge your retail customers the same price or possibly go a little higher with your prices. Your wholesale clients will see your website and know what you are charging – eliminate the competition.
  • Create a separate website for “the trade” or “wholesale only”,password protected, for your wholesale clients – so they can access and place orders directly with you online easily and quickly. Of course you need to approve them first as a wholesale account – but this makes it easy for stores to buy. If you can’t add a separate site, you can use your shopping cart affiliate program for wholesale orders – you can approve then and give them their own link and applicable discount. It’s easy to set up – you just need to be very careful in explaining how to use it.
  • List the retail stores on your website and give their links.Stores love that you are referring customers to them so they can visit a local store. Though people do buy on the internet many want to see the product in person and support their local stores.
  • Offer incentive programs to your wholesale accounts to keep their loyalty and reward them. You can give special breaks for ordering certain quantities – early bird specials – and packages. Don’t over complicate it – make these incentives easy to understand and easy to apply. It doesn’t have to always be in the form of a discount. In my Christmas stocking business we sent off knitted stocking ornaments with orders of 6 or more – it gave the stores an additional item to sell. We all win!
  • Thank your wholesale accounts for their business. Woo them with kindness and genuine appreciation for their business. Stores buy from people they know like and trust – what better in this age of technology to send a gift, a hand written note with heart felt thanks.

I am sure this will help you – please let me know your results!

Love & Success,


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Jeanne Kissman July 21, 2011 at 7:11 pm

Hi Jane, I just ran across your website and have read some of your articles great reads! by the way very heplful, I do have a question on wholesale, I have been in business 5 1/2 years (skin care) hobby turned business. What would you say would be a fair price for wholesale I have been doing 50/50 so say a product retails for $24.00 then wholesale would be $12.00 do you think that is to much? I have noticed salons. gift stores etc. contact me to carry our product and after chatting with them e-mail our wholesale form I never hear from them again, maybe I'm charging to much for wholesale???   

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zobacz May 18, 2015 at 3:41 am

Aw, this was a very good post. Finding the time and actual effort to produce a very good article… but what can I say…
I put things off a lot and never manage to get anything done.

Julian July 25, 2016 at 1:29 pm

Hi Jane,
Great article! I love hearing other stories. Maybe it would help Serena to have two types of catalogs. She can make a line sheet for her wholesale accounts and have a catalog for her retail buyers. Here is a great article on Line sheets. Enjoy!
What is a line sheet? | Beginner’s Guide

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