Boutiques in the United States are small stores or shops selling niche products that cater to a specific customer looking for something they can’t find elsewhere. Boutiques typically offer customers a place to buy high-end, higher-quality merchandise. With that comes higher prices and higher profits if you work with a quality wholesale supplier. If you’re going to open a boutique, having a quality wholesale supplier lined up will simplify the process.
What is a Quality Wholesale Supplier?
Wholesale suppliers are companies that sell products in bulk at a discount. The more you buy, the greater your discount. They work directly with manufacturers and offer a great variety of merchandise options. For example, a wholesale supplier sells more than just clothing. They will also offer accessories, jewelry, and other items to enhance the clothing.
A quality wholesale supplier can help you open a boutique by serving as a one-stop shop, saving you time and money. They make buying easy and meet shipping deadlines so that everything you order is on display and ready for purchasing when you open your doors for the first time. Characteristics that describe the best wholesale supplier include the following:
How to Find a Quality Wholesale Supplier
Finding a good wholesale company to supply your boutique merchandise can be done online or in person. If you enjoy attending trade shows or wholesale markets, you can meet representatives from the supplier while also checking out the quality of the merchandise.
You can also make appointments to visit a wholesale supplier at their warehouse. This will give you insight into operations.
Most boutique owners search for quality wholesale suppliers online. If you plan to search online, follow these simple steps:
- Check company reviews online, at the Better Business Bureau website, or reach out to current or former customers. Don’t be afraid to ask for references
- Complete a trial run with a small batch order to see if you receive the right products on time and in good shape
- Ask for samples so you can test the quality before placing an order
- Join social media groups that discuss wholesale suppliers
- Ask other boutique owners (non-competitors) for ideas on wholesale companies
Questions to Ask if You Open a Boutique
When you have questions, a quality wholesale supplier wants to communicate the answers right away rather than making you wait. They are transparent and want to ensure you understand their processes, fees, etc. Here are some questions to ask a wholesaler and what to look for in their responses.
What are the costs?
Most retailers pay wholesale suppliers 50% to 60% of what they charge customers, but numbers may vary depending on the products you sell. Anything over 70% is not giving you the best profit margins.
Are your products high quality?
This is not a “yes” or “no” answer. Quality is crucial for boutique owners. It supports higher profit margins for your boutique. A wholesale supplier should tell you why their clothing is high quality, mentioning how the seams are sewn, the type of fabric, where the fabric is sourced, the thickness of materials, etc.
What is your turnaround time on orders?
When you receive your purchases can have a domino effect if not delivered on time. You will lose money if you plan a promotion or sale and your clothes do not arrive in time for the event. Many retailers expect to receive their purchases within five to seven days. Keep in mind some delays are caused by the postal service, not the wholesaler.
Choosing a wholesale supplier within the United States is key for turnaround times.
Are there any extra fees?
Some wholesale suppliers charge membership fees, return fees, or other costs that may not be big but still exist. Too many small, hidden fees can add up to a considerable expense. A quality wholesale supplier can help you open a boutique if they are truthful about all costs, so you are not surprised later.
Who are your other customers?
Quality wholesale suppliers do not sell products directly to consumers, only to retail businesses with the proper paperwork, licenses, and tax documents. Knowing who else buys from them may help you feel more comfortable signing a contract.
What are your minimum order requirements?
Wholesalers may set a minimum number of products you must buy to receive a discount. Depending on the size of your boutique, the minimum order may be too high. Having ten shirts too many is not so bad. Having 110 extra shirts can mean you get stuck with overstock and profit loss.
Many quality wholesale suppliers offer small-batch ordering, which can serve as a trial run to see if your customers like the product. If you sell out, you can order a larger batch the next time.
What are your return policies?
Answers about returns will vary among wholesale suppliers. The best answer is, “yes, we take returns, no questions asked, and offer a full refund.” You will likely never get this answer. When choosing a wholesale supplier, compare their answers to see which one most aligns with your boutique’s needs.
When a wholesale supplier answers, “yes, we take returns,” then look for the fine print. Conditions usually apply and may include the following:
- A Limited number of days to return an item (5 days, 30 days, 90 days, etc.)
- Return fees (shipping, restocking, taxes, handling fees, etc.)
- Refund, exchange, or both
Do you have liability insurance?
The answer should be yes, always. Liability insurance protects you and the wholesale supplier.
Building a Strong Relationship
The relationship you build with a quality wholesale supplier can help you open a boutique successfully. They benefit when you succeed. Strengthen your relationship with professional communication, making payments on time, placing orders in advance, and asking for feedback regarding products and how to satisfy your customers.
They can share what other successful retailers are doing and a heads up on new trends, giving you an edge over your competitors.
If you’re going to open a boutique, finding the right wholesale supplier and building a relationship is a win-win-win for you, your customers, and the wholesaler.