Running a successful handmade business is a rewarding endeavor, but as you grow, you might find yourself outgrowing platforms like Etsy and seeking new opportunities for expansion. Today we’ll take a look at navigating the transition beyond Etsy including effective strategies for successful wholesale outreach. Whether you’re an established artisan or a budding entrepreneur, these insights will provide you with the strategies needed to take your business to the next level.
Recognizing the need for transition
Etsy has played a significant role in nurturing many businesses and propelling handmade creations into the market. However, just as a plant outgrows its pot, there comes a point when your business’s growth potential exceeds the confines of Etsy’s platform. Here’s how to recognize when it’s time to transition away:
- Consistently high demand – If you find yourself struggling to keep up with orders and inquiries on Etsy, this is a clear indicator of your product’s popularity. Consistent high demand suggests that your creations have struck a chord with customers, and it might be time to explore ways to scale up your operations.
- Desire for brand control – While Etsy provides a platform to showcase your products, it also operates under its own brand umbrella. As your business matures, you might desire more control over your brand identity, customer experience, and the way your products are presented. Transitioning to your own website grants you the creative freedom to shape your brand’s narrative.
- Expanding product range – As your skills evolve and your creative vision expands, you might diversify your product offerings. This expansion can sometimes outpace Etsy’s categorization limitations. Transitioning to your own online store enables you to showcase your complete range without constraints, catering to various customer preferences.
- Exploring new markets – Etsy predominantly serves a specific demographic, and your products may have gained recognition beyond that audience. If you’re receiving international inquiries or wish to tap into wholesale markets, a dedicated online store with global shipping capabilities and the ability to process wholesale orders could be the next logical step.
- Consider your long-term business goals – If you envision your brand becoming a household name, moving beyond Etsy allows you to build a more robust and recognizable brand presence. A well-established online store becomes an asset in achieving your aspirations.
- Challenging the status quo – As an entrepreneur, innovation is one of your superpowers. If you’re eager to experiment with unique features, customized shopping experiences, and marketing strategies that are beyond the scope of Etsy’s platform, transitioning can empower you to push the boundaries of your business model.
- Crunch the numbers – Evaluate your business’s financial metrics, including revenue, profit margins, and operational costs. If your business has demonstrated consistent growth and profitability on Etsy, transitioning to a dedicated online store might yield higher profit margins due to reduced platform fees.
Taking the leap
Once you’ve decided that it’s time to expand, then what? Let’s take a look at some next steps:
- Dial in your brand identity – Before venturing beyond Etsy, ensure your brand identity is well-defined. Craft a unique and compelling brand story that resonates with your target audience. Develop a cohesive visual identity, including logos, color schemes, and imagery, to establish a strong presence that carries across platforms.
- Set up your online store – Transitioning from Etsy involves establishing a robust online presence outside the platform. We recommend Shopify (partner link) for a gagillion reasons. This move grants you greater control over store customization and features, allowing you to tailor the shopping experience to match your brand identity. This also allows you to engage more with your customers.
- Showcase your products – Optimize your new online store by presenting your products through high-quality images and compelling descriptions. Implement intuitive navigation and a user-friendly interface, making shopping a seamless experience for your customers. Utilize customer feedback and analytics to continuously refine your website’s performance.
- Implement a solid marketing plan – With your new store in place, it’s crucial to drive traffic to it. That means it’s time to Implement a multifaceted digital marketing strategy. Social media, email marketing, PR, blogging, and search engine optimization (SEO) are all great marketing avenues. Be sure to create valuable content that showcases your expertise. You don’t have to be on every platform or implement every strategy, but consistently engaging with 2-3 of them – and tracking your efforts + results – will pay off!
- Focus on customer loyalty – Transitioning away from Etsy doesn’t mean leaving behind your loyal customers. Implement a robust customer service system – we love Gorgias! – to stay connected with your existing customer base. Offer personalized discounts, exclusive offers, and loyalty programs to encourage repeat purchases and maintain a strong bond.
- Hire some help – As your business grows, you’ll need to hire help. The first two positions to fill will likely be customer service and someone to handle packing and shipping. Amy Richardson, formerly of June & January, says:
When the brains of the company can spend their time actually being the brains (or the creative, or the director, or the mogul) instead of packing orders and answering emails, then that translates into a better brand that can make more money.Amy Richardson of June & January
Next steps: wholesale outreach
As your business grows beyond Etsy, expanding into wholesale can be an important next step. Selling your products wholesale opens up new doors by reaching a broader audience through retail partnerships. Here are some ways to approach this opportunity:
- Develop a Professional Wholesale Linesheet – Create a visually appealing wholesale linesheet that not only showcases your products but also tells your brand story. Include high-quality images, detailed product descriptions, and wholesale pricing information. A well-organized catalog facilitates the buying process for potential retailers.
- Identify Potential Retailers – Conduct thorough research to identify potential retailers that align with your brand’s values and target market. Consider boutiques, gift shops, and online stores that cater to a demographic that resonates with your products. Tailor your approach based on each retailer’s unique needs.
- Craft a Compelling Pitch – When reaching out to potential retailers, create a personalized and compelling pitch. Clearly communicate the value your products bring to their store, how they complement their existing offerings, and the benefits of establishing a partnership. Make your pitch concise yet impactful.
- Build Relationships – Successful wholesale relationships are built on effective communication and trust. Respond promptly to inquiries, fulfill orders efficiently, and maintain open lines of communication. Offer excellent customer service and be willing to accommodate retailers’ needs, fostering strong, long-lasting partnerships.
- Attend Trade Shows – Participating in trade shows and craft fairs is a great way to grow your wholesale income stream. These events provide valuable networking opportunities and allow potential buyers to experience your products firsthand. Create an attractive booth, engage with visitors, and collect feedback to refine your offerings.
- Scale Up Responsibly – Be sure you have the resources and systems in place to handle the additional demand. As wholesale orders increase, it becomes ever more important to streamline your production process, manage inventory effectively, and maintain consistent product quality to uphold your reputation among retailers.
Transitioning beyond Etsy and embarking on a journey into the world of wholesale represent pivotal steps in the growth of your handmade business. By building a robust online presence, mastering the art of wholesale outreach, and embracing innovation, you’re laying the foundation for a more diverse, prosperous, and sustainable future. Remember, adaptability and a willingness to learn will continue to be your greatest assets as you navigate these exciting new avenues. Your journey is a testament to your creativity and entrepreneurial spirit.
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