Moving DTC to Wholesale from Margot Vitale, COO & Co-Founder
Technology in e-commerce has meant it’s never been easier to start a brand. The capital needed to begin is minimal, as all you really need is a product, a website, and some cleverly allocated digital marketing spend. However, those low barriers to entry have meant that competition makes growing a brand a continuous challenge. While the DTC model has destabilised retailers everywhere, I would argue it hasn’t made them obsolete, but instead just changed the role they must play. Because products can be accessed from a variety of different channels, it is the retailers' role to curate a selection and provide a little bit human touch and interaction.
Brands maintain many advantages selling directly to consumers, high margins and full control of the customer journey and experience to start, but particularly for small indie brands with limited time and budgets to allocate to sales and marketing, DTC can only get them so much reach and there are limitations of restricting yourself to just one channel of distribution.
Not only are you missing out on incremental sales, but all of your marketing spend and sales efforts are all on you, your responsibility. By going into wholesale, you are able to increase exposure while simultaneously expanding distribution. You also get to tap into the more human element of selling your product.
But does that mean you should just sell your products to any retailer who will buy them? Of course not, like all exposure and marketing tactics, you want to be targeted.
Similar to how you approach digital marketing, instead of throwing advertising out into the world without direction, you want to target a specific audience through demographic or psychographic factors, or online behavior that you view as in line with your brand and product for the best fit. In that way, finding the right wholesale partners is targeting your audience but in real life.
There are many different kinds of retailers, and just like when considering the benefits of DTC or wholesale, there are benefits to working with both big retailers and small ones. Obviously the big ones give you status points, and much larger audience sizes and exposure possibilities.
However, everyone else is fighting to get that status and exposure, so competition is high to get in. Let’s say you do get in, in order to make sure your products are being marketed and pushed alongside everyone else, you have to compete with people that may have much bigger marketing budgets and headcounts than you. There’s also a lot more relationship management that goes into courting buyers who work at the big names.
Working with small retailers is obviously going to be a little different. You don’t get the same cache of being in a major, but they do tend to be much more flexible on price, have a more targeted audience, and provide a more human touch that I would argue consumers are craving now.
However, finding and maintaining relationships with small retailers can be a major hassle. Smaller retailers place smaller orders, and you have to have a lot of them to make up the volume of one larger retailer. And that takes up a lot of time. That is where Curate Beauty comes in, to take that hassle off your plate. By bringing small retailers and indie brands together, we are able to centralize supply and demand, where we want to democratize product discovery. Obviously tradeshows are great for this, but not for this year when we can’t go to them, and not for the brands that don’t have £3,000 to shell out for a booth. We want every brand to be able to find great stockists without you having to invest time and money that is better spent doing what you love, creating wonderful products.