Are wholesale buyers and retail customers really different? Frankly, there are two answers to this question: yes and no. Yes, because they are different from the buyers and those selling to buyers’ point of view and no, because the principles that apply are the same for both types of buying.
There is only one real difference, aside that one buys at wholesale prices and the other at retail prices, and that is that wholesale buyers are looking for a selection of items to fill a space or their customers’ needs, while retail buyers are looking for one item to fill a space or need.
When there isn’t any space that needs filling either now or in the future, the customer won’t be interested in what you have for sale, which means zero sales.
Both wholesale and retail buyers are looking for things that can be either complementary or in contrast to what the are doing or they already have. It is rather a combination of the two (contrast/complementary or complementary/contrast) than a case of complementary or contrast.
Contrast/complementary means it’s different to what they are doing or they have, but will fit in with other things, while complementary/contrast means it’s like what they are doing or already have and yet it’s different. If there is a high contrast and it doesn’t fit in or if it’s exactly what they have, they most likely won’t buy.
There are two things you will have to do to determine if buyers are in a contrast/complementary or complementary/contrast buying situations. First of all, listen to what customers say and think about these two things: why they are asking the question that way and where they got the idea that generated the question. This is called “listening between the lines”. Often, through their questions, customers will tell you what they are looking for. In case they don’t, ask them yourself. It helps you by showing interest in what they are doing and their answers will help you make your presentation. Plus, since you know that they are looking for something to fill a need or hole, it becomes much easier to relate to customers’ needs.
The second way to detect their situation is to have customers talk about their favorite subject themselves. Encourage wholesale customers to talk about their shop/gallery, what they have been doing lately, etc. As for the retail customers, get them to talk about the other craft works they currently own and enjoy. Often they will talk about the things that they feel very good about. Sometimes they will talk about the things that they don’t feel very good about, but they will do it as a way of saying they won’t repeat that mistake.
Sales will be made when customers understand how the merchandise you are selling fits into what they are doing, planning to do, or would like to do, so apply the contrast/complementary – complementary/contrast theory to what they are contemplating buying.
By Rachel Macey