Sales Scaling Up Startup

Pivotal Next Steps After Securing Your First Wholesale Order

Pivotal Next Steps After Securing Your First Wholesale Order

You’ve received a wholesale order- congrats. What’s your process for what comes next?

Securing your first wholesale order can be incredibly exciting, but there’s a critical process that must come next in order to stay compliant and officially close the sale.

Here’s your three-step guide to closing your next wholesale order with success- whether you have a freshly-launched fashion startup or a small fashion business in the process of scaling up…

Step 1: Carefully Read the Entire Vendor Compliance Manual.

Once a buyer completes their wholesale order form, they’ll provide you with a vendor compliance manual or access to a digital portal with the equivalent information online. Take these instructions seriously. Compliance manuals are often very specific, including extensive information on shipping policies and other key terms of sale. Noncompliance in any area can lead to expensive chargebacks or even completely losing the account.

Vendor compliance manuals often include detailed instructions or requirements for universal product codes (UPCs), barcodes, RN numbers, garment care tags and other considerations, such as hang tag positioning. An RN number is a registered identification number through the FTC that proves you’re legally registered to sell goods; register for your RN number here. Some retailers require your barcodes to be registered in the GXS catalog; create your barcodes and UPCs here. Most larger retailers require you to be electronic data interchange (EDI) compliant. This means you can work with a third-party logistics center (3PL, sometimes referred to as TPL).

Many small fashion business owners think they don’t need to worry about the requirements mentioned above until they’ve gotten their first large accounts. That’s often an unfortunate mistake. The first time you go into a meeting with a retailer such as Barneys, Neiman Marcus or Saks, you have to arrive with an understanding of common vendor compliance requirements- and be ready to implement each step because you have the components in place. Don’t miss out on a potentially great opportunity. Be prepared before you ever see your first fully-executed wholesale order form.

The details are manifold and can admittedly feel tedious, but a lack of preparation or compliance can lead to expensive chargebacks and the potential to lose the sale.

Step 2: Confirm the Order.

When a buyer fills out a wholesale order form, it’s only the first step. You have to wait until you receive every buyer’s wholesale order form to determine if you’ll actually be producing every style. If you won’t be able to produce some SKUs, get back to each buyer to adjust their requests. The resulting orders will represent their final purchases.

Step 3: Reconfirm Your Shipping Window.

Even though you set your shipping windows yourself, sometimes a buyer will be late to submit his or her wholesale order form. Always double and triple-check that your shipping windows haven’t been compromised, or, alternatively, reissue your shipping windows before confirming an order is coming in. Shipping goods outside of the window can lead to cancelled wholesale orders, requests for discounts (say, 10% off) or other penalties. Stay on top of these timelines and always reconfirm them during the order confirmation stage. The health of your small fashion business’ revenues and reputation depends on it.

Congratulations on receiving your first wholesale order. It’s an exciting time whether you’re a fashion startup or a growth stage business venturing into the world of wholesale for the first time. You’re well on your way to growing revenues, spreading brand awareness and bolstering the strength of your small fashion business’ future.

Ready to propel your small fashion business into the world of wholesale sales? We’re your industry resource for the art of negotiation, on-site sales support at major market weeks, assortment planning, sales strategies and more. Call us at 310-957-5264 or