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Business Communication/Negotiating wholesale prices with retailers

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Hello Maureen

I am a grower of carnivorous plants, although I also have many inventions as well that I want to wholesale. I am in the process of contacting retailers.

Regarding my plants, they are a niche product with a self watering wick system which is a huge advantage over other ones sold. Therefore, they are priced higher for this reason.

After retailers reply wanting more information including prices, should I tell them only my wholesale price or should I state the retail prices I have been selling my plants for with a suggestion that people are happy with the prices? Hopefully then retailers will pay me a high wholesale price. If I only state the wholesale price I may lose interest if they think it is too high unless I say I could negotiate. The aim is to bargain as high a wholesale price as possible, so that is why I thought it may be best not to disclose the wholesale price. However I could include a wholesale price that is higher than what I would expect to get and say that I am prepared to negotiate. For example, I could make my wholesale price 70% of what I have been retailing the plants locally for in the hope that they may buy it for that price and sell the plants for a slightly higher price that I have been retailing them for.

For example, I could state:

"My wholesale cost prices are below. I am prepared to negotiate different prices if necessary.

I have been retailing them for much more than the below prices to people that visit me at my house and they have been happy with the prices considering the plants contain the self watering wick system which is a huge advantage over ones that other people sell as it saves people a lot of time and reduces the risk of the plants drying out and dying.

Sarracenia in 70 mm pot:  $8.50 to $10.50 depending on size and clumps.
Sarracenia in 95 mm pot:  $11.00 to $13.50 depending on size and clumps.
Venus Fly Traps in 50 mm pot: $7.00
Sundews (Drosera) in 70 or 95 mm pots $7.00
Nepenthes 70 mm pot:  $8.50 to $10.50 depending on the size of the plant.
Flower bucket and stand:  $2.00
Flower bucket by itself:  $0.70
"

Alternatively I could list the retail prices I have been selling them for and state something like the below.

"The prices I listed below are what I have been retailing them for to mostly local people that visit me at my house so I understand that I need to wholesale them for less depending on how much you can get for them in your area. I have been trying to keep my retail cost down as much as possible as many people that have bought them are friends. People have been happy with the prices. I think you should be able to sell them for much more than the below prices because the plants do have an advantage over other ones sold due to the self watering wick system which saves people a lot of time and reduces the risk of the plants drying out and dying.

Sarracenia in 70 mm pot:  $12.00 to $15.00 depending on size and clumps.
Sarracenia in 95 mm pot:  $16.00 to $19.00 depending on size and clumps.
Venus Fly Traps in 50 mm pot: $10.00
Sundews (Drosera) in 70 or 95 mm pots $10.00
Nepenthes 70 mm pot:  $12.00 to $15.00 depending on the size of the plant.
Flower bucket and stand:  $3.00
Flower bucket by itself:  $1.00
"

Which of the above options do you think is best and do you suggest changes to the way the above is worded?

I have information and photos of my plants at http://www.advantagein.com/cp/

I also have many separate non-profit groups, plans, and information to help communities. I would appreciate your feedback and help. There are many new ideas, unique inventions with advantages, and rarely seen information with solutions. Please see http://www.truesolutions.info for a brief summary. Any comments and support on these plans will be appreciated. Are you able to share an email or papers that I could send you regarding this?

Any comments will be appreciated.

Regards Richard.

Answer
Hello Richard,

Thanks for your question(s). I took a quick look at your websites. You have accumulated a great deal of information and a variety of skills that you have put to good use. Here are a few suggestions to help you get to the next level with your website and your business:

• You don’t indicate whether you have a business and marketing plan for your company. If you do, now is the time to update. If you don’t, put “develop business and marketing plan” at the top of your to-do list and get busy. Get to know your industry, your specialty, your competitors and their products, and your buyers.

• Find out what your competitors’ websites look like. Notice how they handle price. Most will be clear and specific on volume and other discounts. Keep in mind that online marketers usually need to work harder to gain the trust of potential buyers, especially first-time buyers. Being upfront about price and shipping/handling costs is essential. Show—with photos and precise descriptions—exactly what you are selling.

• “Depending on size” or “size and clumps” sounds vague. In your product descriptions, use feet and/or inches rather than just “mm” to indicate size. Make it easy for potential buyers to see and select exactly what they want.

• Understand the value of the competitive advantage your self-watering feature creates—in dollars, in cents, and in sense. Understand the value and the benefits of your invention to potential buyers. Some buyers willingly pay more if you show them in a convincing and compelling way why your plant system is superior.

• Know your ideal buyer(s) and your ideal product mix. By this I mean “ideal” for your company. What businesses are you most interested in attracting? Say for example, you sell to three types of customers: 1) consumers; 2) garden centers and big-box stores; and 3) local commercial landscapers. Take a careful look at your records of past sales. Which produces most sales? Which is easiest to work with? Which produces the highest profit margin? What is the life-time value of each customer? Use this information to guide your future marketing decisions.

• Do you have testimonials from past clients? If so, quote them on your website. Let people know how much your customers appreciate the great job you do. Make it a habit to ask buyers for feedback. Few statements are more convincing than those from people who have bought from you and experienced your work.

• How much money do you need to run your business operations—not just to keep the lights on—but to provide you with business income (profit) beyond a paycheck?

• Business building requires connecting with others, not just customers, but also vendors, bankers, advisors, and others in your community and further afield. Participate in inventor blogs and groups. Share your wealth of information about plants and other topics by creating content that brings people back, for example, to find out details about growing, transplanting, soil factors, etc. Or, include links to good sites that already offer that information. Find local nonprofits or causes to support as well.

Most important: put your plan in writing, including the plan for your website(s). Focus on building a business that’s profitable, rewarding, and sustainable.

As Jim Horan wrote in The One-Page Business Plan, “Writing allows others to participate in your dream and give you feedback. That feedback can be worth its weight in gold to a business.”  

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Maureen A. Jung, Ph.D.

Expertise

I can answer questions related to: What to do--and what not to do--in business communication. Tips for more effective communication in print, on paper, in person, and via electronic media. Grammar, punctuation, and tone-related questions. How to Say ‘No’ without negativity. How to plan, format, write, and review your messages, letters, articles, etc.

Experience

More than 20 years' experience as a communication consultant, business writer, editor, communication trainer, and writing group leader. I've provided communication training workshops, seminars, and writing services to businesses and organizations for more than 25 years, and edited and/or researched 15 non-fiction books for other authors. I've been a columnist and contributing writer to many publications, wrote a successful $15-million health care grant for a nonprofit organization, and wrote two White House presentations.

Organizations
Florida Writer's Assn.; Clay County Writers, Writing Group Leader; American Business Women's Assn.; Medical Managers of Northeast Florida; Law Office Support (Jacksonville, FL)

Publications
Comstock's Business Magazine, California History, Living Blues Magazine, American Archivist, Sacramento Business Journal, Sutter/Yuba Business Journal, California Mining Review, Red Voices, Insurgent Sociologist, Social Forces, Sacramento News and Review, Coastlines, Sociological Spectrum, etc. In 2009, I wrote the book: Many Pathways: Planting Seeds for Communities in Recovery (2009).

Education/Credentials
B.A. Sociology, Colorado State University M.A., Ph.D., Sociology, University of California, Santa Barbara Fellow of the South Coast Writing Project since 1984, a think tank for writing teachers affiliated with the National Writing Project Post-graduate studies in history and archives, California State University, Sacramento

Awards and Honors
Charles Spaulding Research Prize, University of California, Santa Barbara (for my M.A. thesis); Theodore Calvin Pease Award, Society of American Archivists (for an article based on my dissertation research); Invited Contributor, California Sesquicentennial Project, for my article: "Capitalism Comes to the Diggings," published in: A Golden State, Mining and Economic Development in Gold Rush California.

Past/Present Clients
Huntley, Mullaney, Spargo & Sullivan, Inc.; Cox Ferrall, Sales Wisdom Now!; Groeteke Resources, Jacksonville; California Mining Assn.; Central Valley Rock, Sand & Gravel Assn.; Sacramento City University; SolutionsWest, ITEX Corporation; Dr. Wilson C. Riles; Capital Program Management; Small Business Resource Center, Inc.; Vanir Construction Management; Prime Time Boxing; California Rural Indian Health Board, Inc.; Trumbull Insurance Agency, etc.

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