I had previously presented an article on how to work with artisans which targeted then specifically buyers who would have their retail outlets, e-commerce shops and would be curious to know the do and don’t for finding their artisans.
Then I realised, how important this is also for so many artisans and crafts wholesalers to understand the dynamic and find on the other side, their perfect buyer. Here are a few points.
Be curious about your potential buyer
This is a crucial step, before even starting making samples, it’s important to know on how the buyer came to know about your workshop or your company. When did they start their business, do the have their own shops or what about their retail outlets network size? Does it go beyond her/his own country? What are they selling and do your crafts would match with your crafts style? Are they going for trade show? How do they sell? Are they facing sales seasonality? What is their website and social medias page?
This would be your checklist (coming soon!!)
Know about the buyer’s team
It’s important to know if the buyer has a designers’ team for example. This simple question will let you know already how experienced if your buyer at making crafts. This is crucial because it also means that you may end up having more work to do if the buyer doesn’t have a designer-in-house.
You should know overall the size of the team back in her/his home country which may give you some hints on your future orders and who will be dealing with.
Explain the price
Be clear from the beginning that you have specific terms and price when it’s about sampling and specific terms and price when it’s about ordering. Also, some buyers understand that crafts are like a mass produced items, which is NOT! There is no economies of scale in craftsmanship or very less (that’s is when you buy 100/200 meters of fabrics), but the cutting, stitching, packing work remain the same amount of work, which are done by people and is not automatised by machine. Be clear with this point at the very beginning before things get ugly and in the whole misunderstanding…
Understanding is key!
This potential buyer has reached out to you by email or better is planning to visit your workshop. At this point, it’s important to see if you have a common ground on understanding and communicating well together. Usually English remains the common language. Some buyers may not have the perfect command in this language and you may end up receiving emails which have been translated via « Google translate » or from Deepl, and these communications don’t look just right, which requires then another Skype meeting to clarify these points.
1st order goes
Your sampling work has been a success! Now comes this first order sheet.
This time, your buyer believes that the order is going to work and generates much revenues. So your buyer might be in a different mood. There is one order because your buyers got a few from a trade show, from their customers who have this many stores. The pressure is on and this is the time to again be clear on your terms, on your prices and be well aligned with the right communication.
Some buyers being stressed out, will start writing you emails which are just asking you whether the order is ready every one day when the delivery day has not been up yet!
If you can’t, just tell it now
I have seen this many times, one crafts organisation just saying yes, when they are supposed to refuse this order. You could have accepted this order but is there a way that you could then renegotiate the terms if you see some complexities and issues taking place in the middle?
Don’t be afraid of refusing an order or else, reducing the number of pieces to be done per order?
To wrap this up
From my own experience dealing with buyers, there will be a professional relationship once buyers are makers have established a good understanding and a proper communication together. Usually they are both going well along once they are well aligned on the same values.