When you first decided that you wanted to sell your soaps & bath products, what was the first thought that popped into your mind about WHERE to sell them?
For many soapers, this is the first big dilemma, and decision that they have to make. The idea of selling the products that you have accumulated is so appealing, but the big question is often “where am I going to sell my products?”
When you are first testing out the waters, it makes sense to stick one toe in first. It is wise to confirm that people like your products, and would be interested in buying them again. This is called “market validation”. It is always good business to validate products with your target audience before heavily investing time or resources into selling those products.
However, once validation is complete, or at least complete enough, it is time to get to work. This is where the problems usually start. Finding a way to sell enough products to make a business thrive is a massive skill, and is certainly not unique to soaps & bath products.
The first mistake that many soapers make at this point is to select the sales channels that are EASIEST. This is what I refer to as the “path of least resistance”. What do I mean by easy? Anything that requires minimal effort, investment or skill to get set up is easy.
Setting up an Etsy page – easy
Finding accounts that will sell on consignment – easy
Selling at local events – easy
Now, I do NOT mean to imply that SELLING your products via those channels is easy. Selling significant quantities via Etsy, consignment and at events is anything but easy. That is actually the point of this post.
The more lucrative sales channels are more difficult to set up. A gorgeous website that reflects your brand, for example, takes more resources to design (vs. Etsy) but has far more long term revenue potential. With your own site, you have control over managing your customers. You can send them frequent emails about your products, for example, to encourage repeat orders. You are not allowed to do this with Etsy.
Selling products via wholesale is more lucrative than consignment. To start, you actually get paid once the products are delivered or shipped. With consignment you have to wait until the products sell to get paid. As a small business owner, managing cash flow is one of, if not the most, critical tasks you have. If you are not bringing money INTO the business on a consistent basis, how are you going to have a profitable business?
However, it requires more skill to sell into wholesale accounts than it does to enlist a consignment arrangement. Your skill to persuade a business to invest their resources in the purchase of your products is key. There is no risk on the part of a consignment “buyer” other than giving up some shelf space.
This is why some soap & bath product business owners like to sell via consignment – it is the path of least resistance, however, in the long term, you will hinder the growth of your business (remember, cash flow is KEY).
As you plan out the next few years of growth for your business, ask yourself some tough questions.
Are you willing to learn how to do more difficult tasks in exchange for long term benefits?
Or are you going to take the easy route – the path of least resistance – but settle for lower levels of sales (and lower profit)?