How to Make the Move from DTC Sales to Wholesale

In more recent history, most fashion brands have started and built their businesses solely using a Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) sales model. With very good reason: it’s a straight shot, so to speak, from your brand to your customer. All thanks to the growth of social media and some very user-friendly shopping platforms (yay, internet!).

DTC puts you in complete control of your brand’s communication, and there’s no better way to create an on-going, back-and-forth relationship with your customer. They get to know your brand, and if you’re paying close attention, you can quickly learn what they like and don’t like.

It makes perfect sense financially as well. DTC is a boon to your profit margins, as you are selling at your retail price. Typically, with the exception of any website fees, every sales dollar goes to you. With the addition of clever pay-over-time options, such as Affirm and AfterPay, what’s not to love?

Consider that DTC May Be Limiting Your Growth

Every rose has its thorns, and a strict DTC sales strategy is no exception. Truth be told, there’s only so much product you can sell online. Many successful emerging designers have started with a DTC strategy, only to add wholesaling to their arsenal. If you want to scale your business, and we assume you do otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this, you need to consider wholesale.

Before you start shaking your head, “No way, not for me!” stick with us here.

Contrary to popular belief, retailers are not going away anytime soon. Yes, there have been a few potholes along the way (restructuring, bankruptcies, etc.) but let us assure you, “wholesaling to retailers” is here to stay.

The advantages to a thoughtfully strategic wholesale plan are clear. The right partnership can significantly improve your reach, create additional brand awareness, and “legitimize” your brand in the mind of the consumer AND the fashion press. Not to mention, increase your revenue!

Oh, and wanna to know a little secret? Practically all major retailers have teams of people scouring social media, looking for the “next big thing”. So one of them may already have their eye on your brand.

So, have we convinced you to consider a wholesale strategy for your brand? Good, now read on for the steps you’ll need to take to make that all-important business-building move.

Consider Your Production Schedule

Chances are, your production cycle will need to change, as you’ll want to have your collection ready to show to retail buyers six months ahead of your actual delivery date. Hopefully, at this point, you’re enjoying a good working relationship with your factory and fabric/trim vendors. One of the first steps to take when moving into wholesaling is to give your production partner a head’s up. Let them know that your delivery dates will be shifting in the future, then share your new production calendar. They will appreciate hearing from you!

Consider Your Pricing

Obviously your wholesale price will be different from your DTC price. Your costs will remain the same, but you’ll have to shift your pricing to accommodate your new wholesale partner’s profit margin as well. The good news is, while you won’t be making the same profit PER ITEM, you’ll be selling even more. And that’s where your increased revenue comes in!

Consider Your Designs

A good retail partner is going to give you feedback on your designs. After all, they know their retail customer as well as you know your own DTC customer. Listen with an open mind. You might find they have some great suggestions.

You should also consider diversifying your collection. One option is to have certain designs available as wholesale only, and others that you create exclusively for your DTC customer.

To further clarify, your DTC customer might be more willing to take a chance on your more avant garde designs, whereas they might be a “bit much” for your retail partner. So by keeping both channels flowing, you have two separate audiences for your creativity.

Also, consider keeping your more complicated (therefore more expensive) garments in the DTC category. This will improve your cash flow!

Consider Your Time Management

Just like any good relationship, developing a strong one with your retail partners will take time and consideration. They might look to you to develop an “exclusive” collection just for their stores. They may want you to participate in trunk shows, pop ups, or other in-store events. If they choose to promote your brand on their website, they may ask you to provide marketing materials. If you find yourself in any (or all!) of these situations, consider yourself fortunate. It means you’ve made a very good impression on your retail partner!

Don’t forget to make it easy for your retail buyers to shop with you by creating a “buyer’s only” password protected section for your website. And don’t forget to add a “stockists” or “where to buy” page as well, so your DTC customer knows they can now find your collection in specific stores.

Making the jump to wholesaling your collection is a big step for any brand. Your decision to do so will come with its own set of challenges. If you’re ready to take the plunge, we’re happy to talk with you about it in more detail. Feel free to reach out to us at or call us at 800-916-0910.

10% Holiday Discount