April 19, 2010

Jewelry Business Wholesale or Retail?

Filed under: Business — Tags: , , @ 8:54 am

I was recently asked by a Jewelry Business beginner if she should sell wholesale, retail or both on the internet. She wondered if she should have two separate lines, one for retail and one for wholesale. In general, I think it is fine to sell both wholesale and retail as long as you take a full mark-up on your retail items so that you don’t undersell your wholesale customers. For instance, if you sell earrings wholesale at $10pr to a store that turns around and sells them for $30, you should not sell them retail online for less than $30 or you will alienate your wholesale clients. (I think it is OK to sell at a price point between wholesale and retail at private home parties).

Should I sell retail or wholesale? Or both?

Should I sell retail or wholesale? Or both?

That being said, there are some high-end stores and galleries that won’t purchase from anyone who sells retail online. (Though this is less common than it used to be). In this situation, it would be smart to have two separate lines, with two separate names, if you want to capture wholesale and retails sales through the internet. Keep in mind that you would in effect have two separate businesses at that point, which could get complicated very quickly.

Designers, how do you manage your wholesale versus retail sales?

  • Tough question… I’ve spoken to designers who have ended up in the components biz because the wholesale/retail side is so tough. I don’t have time to manage a full wholesale biz, where the margins aren’t as good, so I focus my attention on my handmade jewelry biz direct to my website. I do think that growth for my business is dependant on establishing wholesale channels, tho — it just gets your work out in front of more people, and magazines like to endorse stores, not websites, although this is also changing.


  • That is a very good question, and one I have been considering for some time. Currently, on my website I consider my prices to be somewhere between wholesale and retail. I am still in the process of figuring out my market, and when I do, this will certainly help me to become more focused in my designs and price points. My fear is that if I sell wholesale, my retail prices would be too high and drive away some or too many potential customers. But, I realize that is a ‘fear’ and quite unfounded and un-researched on my end. So….more research and time selling on-line will answer the question for me — I hope! Thank you!

  • Lots of sales! Maintaining a consistent retail price is essential to my wholesale buyers to eliminate perceived competition. So online, in my catalog, and at public trunk shows I price my products the same way they do. But I offer a lot of exclusive sales, discounts, and coupons as a way to entice and reward my direct retail customers. Everybody loves a deal and it really helps drive my retail sales.

  • My problem is figuring my wholesale price and my retail price… I add up my materials + markup + labor + overhead and that is my wholesale price. Everything I have read says that my retail price would be double that… but I don’t think it is fair to double my labor and my over head for my retail price. Not only am I getting paid twice for my time, it makes my retail price quite high. I strive to keep my prices competitive and fair. Any advice on this?
    As far as selling wholesale and retail I currently do both. It is a lot of work to keep up with all the accounts but I feel that it will pay off in the future. My business is only a year and a half old so that is why I choose to sell both ways. I definitely prefer to represent and sell my jewelry myself b/c I can tell the customer about it and I make the most money. But, I think being open to wholesaling & consignment gives you a lot of exposure especially starting out.

  • When a wholesale customer sells your jewelry, they have to take at least a double mark up to cover their expenses and make a profit. If you sell your products publicly for less, you make their prices seem high and lower the perceived value of your brand. This could eventually drive your wholesale customers away. Selling retail also has higher overhead because you process and ship pieces one by one, so you should make a higher mark up. I like the solution of posting full mark up prices but offering lots of specials and frequent buyer discounts.