Angel Wholesale

Business Advice

Products to stock during the Summer Months

Summer is always a difficult season to predict due to our wonderful English weather but there are always products that will be successful over the summer months. Travel related items such as car sunshades, kids backpacks and sun hats, swimwear and beach toys always great lines to stock. Kids stationary/activity packs sell very well all year round but especially during the summer. Kids summer clothing sells right through to the end of July as children have a habit of growing so don’t leave your stock too low and more classic dressy items like the Zip Zap range we stock sells well for special occasions all year round as a cardigan and tights can be added to make it trans-seasonal.

Teachers and Graduation gifts sell well throughout June and July and although Weddings & Christenings are all year round there is a peak volume during the summer months so Wedding gift items and wedding crafts see peak activity from May onwards with many Brides leaving gifts to the last minute for Best Man, Bridesmaids etc. We have a great range of wholesale gifts for Grooms, Best Man, Mother of the Bride and Bridesmaids as well as wedding venue decoration items.

Back to School products such as hair bands/ hair accessories, socks, tights, lunch boxes, drinks bottles and back packs & key rings do very well during the summer months in time for schools starting back in September. 

Halloween is now a much bigger event in the UK and you need to start having stock from August to make the best of this . Party supplies, decorations, confectionary and fancy dress items all sell well for this event.

Last but not least is Christmas – we see customers starting to shop for wholesale Christmas lines earlier each year as some of the more popular lines can be sold out by September. Many of our customers sell bespoke/customised and personalised Christmas products on Facebook, Etsy and eBay and are taking orders from July onwards so you need to plan your ranges now.

Our red keepsake boxes sell extremely quickly, along with Christmas Elves, Santa Christmas Sacks , stockings and Christmas plush soft toys. Baby & Childrens Christmas clothing items are very popular to add to gift baskets and Christmas Eve boxes .  One of our best selling products that sells out super fast are Christmas mugs. Popular for all ages and we have a great selection from bone china collectibles to cheap and cheerful!

Christmas gift baskets and hampers are big business and you need to start planning to take orders from July onwards – we stock a great range of wholesale hamper supplies including Christmas Cello, ribbons, hamper trays & baskets and paper shred. For smaller hamper gifts we sell felt & hessian bags which are great for confectionary and preserves.

How to Sell Your Products Successfully Online

Nearly all businesses now need an online presence to succeed and grow. The number of people that shop online continues to grow.  If you have a retail store, market store or sell at craft fairs you and your customers want to be able to continue to connect with your business after they buy from you – your physical store will become more and more about personal experience and showcasing what you can do. An online presence widens your potential market and enables you to sell outside of your local area so you can compete with online stores. For example if you have a gift shop in a tourist area you can then continue to sell to your customers who just visit you whilst in that area and they in turn can recommend you to their friends. You can capture more business from busy Mum’s who can’t always get in to shop and end up buying elsewhere online.

An online presence does not have to be a website – it can be social media in the form of Instagram, Facebook Store,  Etsy or Not on the High Street . Modern marketing is all about the social connection and trust. The modern retailer needs to make these social connections . It is important with every sale that you get where possible an email address so that you can continue to market to the customer after their purchase – as an incentive to do this  you can offer a voucher off their next purchase. ‘A thank you for your custom’ email with the voucher and then a link to your online store front will then encourage future business. Many of the big successful retailers do this and for good reason. Have a think about places you like to shop and ask yourself why – what are they doing differently and how could we mimic this or improve on it? Take a look at their social media, blogs and email communications for ideas.

The quality of the communication that you have with your customer is so important as you can’t sell to them all the time – sharing relevant and interesting articles or cute/funny images/quotes, asking for their feedback on new product ranges , important dates to remember ie Mother’s Day or offering new services are all reason to make contact as well as sharing new product information, competitions and special promotions. There are many great email easy to use marketing tools – many of them free or very low cost for smaller mailing lists take a look at Mailchimp as an example.

As a minimum make sure you have a Facebook business page as we have many successful customers that only sell on Facebook and Ebay without the expense of a website.Their advertising is good value and easy to understand. Once you have established yourself by all means get a website and then use your email and social media to drive traffic to it.

The beauty of selling online is that you can promote a much wider range of products – its one of the reason many of our pack sizes are in two’s so that  our retailers can stock a much wider range of products. One pitfall we do see with online businesses is selling items they do not physically have or do not update their listings regularily and then find they can not get the product any longer when it sells. You can normally tell if an item sells or gets a lot of interest within 48 hours you need to then buy a larger quantity – this way you sell more through much quicker and have stock of the right products.

Do not focus on being the cheapest – you need to be competitive but you can bundle items together, add value by including the item into a gift hamper etc  look at your shipping costs –  use an shipping aggregator like Parcel Monkey so that you can offer the similar pricing to the larger retail businesses. Competing on price usually on goes one way!

Payment method is also another big factor in your success as customers need to be able to pay simply and quickly. The quickest way is to use Paypal as most people these days are familiar with this , there are also many other payment providers that you can use that have an easy online console. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) also have discounted rates with merchant service providers for their members and some great advise and support .

Do your research, think about how you can make it as easy as possible for customers to buy from you and keep communicating!

Good Luck!

Jayne x

www.angelwholesale.co.uk

How to Use Social Media to Market your Retail Business

 

In the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s a new marketing concept emerged that brought selling products into the home in a social way. A host invited friends and friends of friends into the home, laid on a few nibbles and drinks and the Party Plan host turned up with their goods. Potential customers browsed and ordered and goods were delivered a few weeks later. Dependant on the level of sales the host would receive a gift and some commission. These ‘parties’ still exist along with network marketing and pyramid marketing schemes but Social Media could be the new Party Plan!

We are often asked how do you sell on Facebook & Instagram and it struck me that Facebook has the potential to work in a similar way to the Party Plan concept. Most people already have a network of friends that could help spread the word about your business as they also have a network of friends that they can share with. Without spending a penny on advertising many of our customers already have a massive network to market to in a low key and friendly way just by asking your friends to share and like your business page. You could offer an incentive like a voucher or gift if you see fit but most friends especially when you start out are happy to share. Now that Facebook also own Instagram this has become a powerful Marketing tool.

Once you are more established and you have a good audience you can then pay to advertise in a low cost way on Facebook so you can grow your network further. You can run competitions and giveaways which are amazingly low cost to run but give you a great audience reach.

Social Media audiences do not respond to being sold to all the time so sharing relevant articles, great images and clear punchy messages are key. Regular postings 2-3 times a week are important too.

The other important point is to only sell items you can guarantee you can supply. Too many business under invest in stock and then can’t meet demand. Start off small with small quantities across several product lines and get a feel for what sells and then buy those successful lines in higher quantity. Bundles items together to create a gift solution or an outfit as your customers don’t have the time or inspiration themselves to do this. Use your friends for research – ask them what they would like your business to stock, what they think of your products, imagery etc. Don’t be shy as friends and family can be part of your success too!

Setting up a Gift Retail Business

Giftware retailing is a very rewarding business but there is lots of competition so you need to understand what will differentiate your business from other competitors. If you are considering opening a retail shop then location is key. There needs to be enough potential customers passing by your door otherwise you will need to spend more on advertising. When selling gifts you need to make sure you cover all aspects of gifting weddings, new baby, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Birthday’s etc. Men are notoriously hard to buy for so having a wider selection of mens gifts is a winner as it gives the customers more choice. A selection of soft toys are another good product to stock as they appeal to all ages. Consider gifts for pets and pet lovers as this is a big market now.

Mugs and plaques are one of our biggest sellers as they are low cost and display well. Consider making up gift hampers as this is a great way to use your time when business is slower and if customers see you making then up when they come in it will create interest.

Make sure you stock a good selection of gift bags, gift boxes, wrap and greetings cards plus sticky tape and ribbons as this is a good add on sale. Consider offering a gift wrapping service as many people are time poor now and men in particular hate wrapping presents!

Expanding your existing product offer by gift retailing is a great way to grow sales ie coffee shop, florist shop, pharmacy, clothing boutique – we have many customers who have successfully added gifts to their existing business and seen a big improvement in repeat customers and footfall. Many of the big retailers do this now and the garden centres.

Selling gifts online is a growing area but you need to be able to differentiate your website from the many others out there. Trial on Facebook & Instagram initially as you will quickly learn what people to react to and build up your customer base from here. If you have a retail shop having a website is essential too so and if you build up an email list you can then drive customers to your website as well as inviting them to store events.

How to succeed as a retailer in today’s marketplace

Ever since I can remember I have been fascinated with why some individuals are more successful than others and read countless books and articles and one thing that stands out is that they are very resilient and even after failure they step back, re-think and start again. This holds true on how to succeed as a retailer and now more than ever retailers need to step back and re-think their strategy. Due to the boom in online retailing pricing has become very transparent and for a long time it has been too focused on price. Some retailers feeling unable to compete have just given up. Online retailing based on price is a hard business. High street shops have been struggling too due to reduce footfall but there is another way!

Retailers now need to focus on selling a solution or a shopping experience rather than selling products.

Toy Shop Example

If you own a toy shop you may have had moderate success for many years and kept to the same trusted formula but with the advent of technology kids can experience multiples things at a time so a toy shop needs to grab their imagination and their concentration. How about freeing up some retail space putting a couple of small sofas, a play table and allow kids to engage with the products? Set up a loyalty scheme which you can then use to advertise events like a face painting & fancy dress morning, brick/construction building competition or creative craft workshops.

Stock gift wrap, greetings cards & batteries near to the payment area so you can upsell higher margin products. Also think about stocking a small range of children’s party items which do not take up much room but can add extra margin. Think about offering a gift wrap service or gift delivery service.How about offering a toy subscription scheme where customers can buy a 3,6 or 12 mth subscription of toys as a gift. This is offering your customer a solution by solving their gift choice dilemma’s .

If you have a shop it is so important to also have a good retail website too so that customers can find you and they have the choice to buy online as well as come into your store.  Don’t underestimate the power of social media. If you have a retail business you must have a Facebook business page & Instagram – you can run giveaway competitions to increase your reach and really engage with your customers and drive online business.

Ideas for Selling Solutions as a Gift Retailer

Much of what applies to the toy shop owner applies to gift retailers – look at what is working for retailers you admire. Gift retailing is so broad from Wedding, Baby, Special occasions, Interiors and collectables so there is lots of opportunity to shine. The Garden Centres have really grabbed hold of the whole experience focused retailing by keeping their customers engaged for longer in store by offering coffee shops, outdoor clothing, gifts and the core business of gardening. Some even hold gardening workshops and talks. How could you as a gift retailer offer something similar? May be pop up shops or preview evenings with drinks & nibbles, gift subscription packages, gift wrapping service, special occasion reminder service, personal shopper, wedding gift list etc. There are some great gift wrapping courses that you can attend for a low cost or watch online tutorials and then offer gift wrapping workshops. If you have the customers captive in your store for longer you are more likely to engage with them.

Some customers simply can not choose so why not help them by offering a gift basket and hamper service?

More and more floristry shops now offer gifts, greetings cards and gift wrap. I often find in my local shop whilst they prepare and wrap my flowers I end up browsing and coming out with a lot more than flowers plus its my go to place for last minute gifts so they truly are offering a solution to me which why I keep going back.

As well as Facebook, Pinterest is an invaluable marketing tool for presenting your products and gift ideas. There are lots of how to tutorials that can guide you through how to use social media to your advantage.

Ideas for Selling Solutions as a Clothing Retailer

This is a very competitive market so display is key here and a good range of different lines . Deciding who your customer is key – age range, budget etc. The supermarkets really have the edge on  the price of basics so the clothing retailer now needs to look at packaging basics in a different way either as a gift set or sold as a bundle with other items. Many people need to have their imagination inspired on how to put an outfit together and its important that you are on top of current fashion trends and each season’s colours. Selling gifts alongside clothing is also a great option – small pick up items like scarves, fluffy socks, beauty products, jewelry , candles and trinkets are great lines to stock in addition. Running fashion evenings, seasonal preview evenings or how about you get a ‘Colour stylist’ in to offer a mini style workshop – they will get new leads and its adding value to your customers plus I am sure she will use your clothing as a prop to demonstrate what suits your customer – I real opportunity to sell!

If you are a children’s clothing retailer adding baby gifts, toys and baby products is a must plus looking at offering Newborn starter packs, baby gift monthly subscriptions is a great solution led sell. An comfortable sitting area and a small play area for occupying children makes it more welcoming for mum’s. One really key thing is making sure you make it pushchair accessible. So many shops go for filling every available retail space and Mum’s can’t move around with a pushchair and get frustrated and leave either buying very little or nothing at all.

Again social media is vitally important for networking with customers, increasing sales and engaging so get that Facebook page set up asap.

How does Angel ‘Solution’ Sell to you?

I started Angel Wholesale to serve the smaller independent retailer and the new start up company by offering very small pack sizes and no minimum order. We have over the years realised that we also need to offer a broader range of products so that our customers can keep refreshing their offering without having to commit to big quantities. Our customers can trial a range a products and then stock the ones that sell well in more depth. We also offer lots of advice and guidance to small businesses and have helped many small businesses to succeed. We want our customers to be successful longterm . We also give our customers lots of ways to engage with us so they can get in touch easily and find out about our products and services in a way that is convenient to them. Many of our customers are busy working Mum’s just like me and many of our staff so we understand the pressures of being a working parent.

Passive retailing does not work long term and successful businesses need to engage with their customers, understand what they are looking for and be creative by offering them product solutions and shopping experiences. Remember too that less is sometime more – a well laid out shop with space for customers to browse, sit down, a children’s play area, product demo or creative area rather than over filling the retail space will be more welcoming and your customers will stay engaged longer. The same is true of websites – they must be clearly laid out and not just be selling products and truly engage your customers.

Keep communicating with your customers – find out what they want you to stock, get to know them and engage with them in as many ways as possible!

Starting a Nappy Cake Business

As one of the leading wholesale suppliers to the Nappy Cake market we have gleaned lots of information on what makes some Nappy Cake businesses more successful than others and how you can be successful.

Why set up a Nappy Cake Business?

  • Start up costs are low
  • It can be done from home
  • Its a rewarding occupation
  • It can be fitted in around children or another part time job

You need to have a creative streak and lots of patience to make nappy cakes as the finished products need to visually appealing and original . You can’t copy another businesses designs – they have to be unique to you. You can use the same basic ‘ingredients’ ie blankets, soft toys etc but its the arrangement and finishing touches that make it your own signature style. Its a good idea to practice your technique and experiment lots before you start selling anything. Many people start off making them as gifts for friends and family and it grows from there. There are lots of online tutorials on Youtube as well as some we have done and practice is key.  Take a look at our tutorials here:

How to Make Nappy Cakes

You also need a dedicated area in the home that is clean, smoke free, dry and away from pets and food smells – it does not have to be a large space but you need to have good storage and everything easily to hand.

Research is very important before you start to invest in your business venture.

You need to ask yourself:

Who am I selling to?

This is an important question as this helps determine where you need to market your products. Nappy Cakes can be bought by all ages – friends, neighbours, work colleagues & relatives so word of mouth is a great way to start. They are usually bought as a gift for a new mother or mum to be as a Baby Shower gift.

What is your product range going to be?

If you limit yourself to just nappy cakes you may be missing out on other opportunities to sell other products. For example think about the other gifts such as Mum to be Hampers, new Dad gifts, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day etc. If you think about the stages of a baby’s development there are others things the new parent will need over the next 12 months that you could sell on afterwards such as development toys, baby accessories etc. Baby Shower packages, wedding shower cakes & birthday hampers are other options. Making Nappy cakes are very time consuming so it is good to have other products to sell that you don’t have to make yourself that can bring in additional revenue so you are not reliant on just one product. Unless you have someone else to make nappy cakes with you it makes it difficult to scale so its important to have other things to sell.

I often see businesses using inferior products, own brand supermarket items and poor quality ingredients to keep the cost of the cake down. You need to take a step back and think how you would feel receiving one of your products as a gift. Would you use the items yourself, would you be happy with the quality – if not then you need to change it. As a gift people like to receive something original, good quality and with a little touch of luxury that the recipient would not normally buy for themselves. It is better to keep the design simple & using higher quality products than using lots of cheap, inferior products and over embellishing with items the new Mum has no use for.

It is always worth offering a natural organic option in your product range as well as many parents are really concerned about allergies especially if eczema and asthma runs in their family.

I received a baby clothing bouquet  many years ago from my husbands HR dept and the when I unravelled the items the clothing was over stretched and poor quality and my baby never wore any of it but more importantly I did not recommend the company who made it to anyone else nor did I ever buy from them. You want repeat business so quality is so important.

How can I sell/advertise my products ?

If you have Facebook page you can start informally by setting up a business page and asking friends and family to share and once you are more established you can start to advertise. Are you near any large companies that have a high proportion of female employees or friends that work at companies like this as this can be a great source of business. Once established, indoor markets or renting space in a shop can be another great way to sell but you generally need a broad range of products to make this viable. Setting up a website is important as your business grows so you can direct your customers to it. If your plan is just having a website it needs lots of investment in advertising so you need to understand how much it will cost to drive traffic to it.

Other options to sell are www.notonthehighstreet.com, Etsy, Amazon & Ebay. These all have fees associated with them but you get access to their enormous customer base and branding so its worth trialling.

Invest in a a good camera and learn to use photo editing software if you are going to sell online. Take a look at a business you admire and see how they present their products. The quality of your images is vital to your success. If you can’t do it well yourself then see if you can find a friend or family member to help that can do it more professionally – you will be surprised how willing people are to help.

Your descriptions need to be clear and your terms of business must be clearly displayed or provided so that customers understand your cancellation, returns & payment terms. Always as a minimum take a non refundable deposit that will cover your costs especially for custom items.

To help grow your business make sure you have a business card or compliment slip included with the gift and why not add a discount voucher – one for the recipient and one for the person that is gifting it to encourage repeat business.

How do I cost my products?

This is probably the most important element of your new business and one of the reasons many businesses fail to make money. You need to cost every element of your ‘creation’ not just the raw materials. You need to include your time, petrol, postage,advertising, insurance and the little elements like glues, packaging and ribbons. The national minimum wage is £7.50 per hour and you should be paying yourself at least this and this includes your time ordering /sourcing products etc so be realistic. You need to keep records of all your purchases and sundries to keep track of costs.

There will always be people selling an inferior product cheaper and those that do not cost their products realistically do not last long so don’t get hung up on what other people are charging and don’t try to compete at the lowest price. The most important element to your business is to be unique, do not copy but offer something others are not whether it be unique designs, better customer service, follow up marketing and best of all a combination of all of this!

Try to offer a set range of products so that you have repeatable designs where you know the exact cost. If you offer customisation you must price it accordingly. One of the most common reasons I see for Nappy Cakes businesses failing is due to offering too many customisable options or in some cases every nappy cake is bespoke which is almost impossible to cost and to estimate your time.

What is my break even point?

This is important – this means what is the lowest price that I need to sell the product for to recover all my costs. You need to know this to set your prices at the right level to make money.

How much do I need to earn?

This is also a very important as you need to be realistic as to how much you want to earn from the business, your initial investment needed and how long it will take to start earning an income from it.

Other considerations:

If you are selling products to the general public you will need Public Liability Insurance to protect you in the event that some thing goes wrong. There are lots of companies that offer this and a quick check on a comparison website will help you choose or you can call a specialist broker for advice.

You will need to check with HMRC regarding tax and your business and whether you need to register. Citizens Advice & Trading Standards are also very helpful regarding any regulations regarding the product range you are selling. There are strict safety standards in place for baby products so if you physically alter a baby product in anyway it may invalidate the safety certification it has – for example decorating a soother, adding ribbons or embellishments to baby products or adding embroidery etc – you may have to get it re-certified. A simple check with Trading Standards will ensure you are covered.

Be careful not to infringe copyright laws. Do not use brand names to advertise a product you have put together ie ‘Famous Brand X’ Nappy Cake, do not use other businesses images/products to advertise or promote your products unless you have permission and do not copy other peoples designs. It is illegal and could land you in hot water.

If you are adding food products to your nappy cakes or gifts you need check with trading standards regarding regulations for labelling and packaging and for alcohol you will need a licence.

Packaging is an important consideration as you will need to make sure that your items arrive clean, dry and in one piece to the final recipient so sending one of your products to yourself is a great way to test it plus try a few delivery companies – the cheapest is not always the best!

Best of all you must enjoy what you do as this reflects on your business and success. Don’t give up at the first hurdle – keep experimenting until you find something that works for you! If you ever need advice please don’t hesitate to contact us and we will try and help or point you in the right direction.

Your success is our success!

If you want to get started we offer a low cost way to practice your designs with our Nappy Cake Starter Kits. They have everything you need to make a nappy cake apart from adhesives and nappies!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free Business Start Up Guide

portait of small business owner: proud woman opening her baby store

If you are just starting out in business or looking for ideas to refresh your current business take a look at our Business Start Up Guide. First written by me over 10 years ago and and kept updated to keep up with current trends it has proved an invaluable guide to many of our successful Angel customers.

 

Click here to get your FREE copy!

What is the strangest thing we sell?

Angel Wholesale Q& A

 

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What is the strangest thing we sell?

Egg Boxes!

What do our customers use them for?

Sock eggs and personalised Easter Egg boxes

What are sock eggs?

Our customers roll up pairs of socks in an egg shape, baby hats and bibs can also fit and then put them in a personalised and decorated egg box!

……and if you have chickens you can even put real eggs in them!

Buy your egg boxes here! 

The Art of Gifting – add value to your business with hampers & gift wrapping

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One thing my husband hates is wrapping presents and I think that is true of a lot of men and with our ever increasingly busier lives gift wrapping has become a chore for some so why not add some value to your business by offering a hamper or gift wrapping service?

As well as lots of fabulous products to put in hampers we also stock hamper baskets and gift wrapping supplies including baskets, tissue shred, cellophane wrap and heat shrink bags, curling ribbon and bows. We also stock a wide selection of gift bags & boxes and luxury seasonal and plain ribbons to add that finishing touch.

We have added this year hamper kits which you can stock for your customers to DIY Hamper their purchase. If you are an online business and time poor considering stocking Christmas gift bags which you tie with curling ribbon and seal with a simple clear tab as a quick professional gift wrapping add on.

Hamper & Gift Wrap Supplies

Take a look at this Youtube tutorial to see how the pro’s do it!

The Art of Gift Wrap

 

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When does your business become liable for tax

Female fashion designer sitting in her office, working in progress at the tailor table, close-up.

 

 

There has been a lot of items in the media in recent months about the Government crackdown on Hobby Businesses and targeting sellers on Ebay, Etsy and other such selling channels. As I advise in my ‘Starting out Guide’ as soon as you decide to set up a business however small keep good records and keep your receipts. Most mobile devices have a scanning or camera option so if in doubt take a picture of all your receipts as well as filing the originals.Keep records of any expenditure on your business including business travel, heating, telephone calls and anything you have spent in connection with your business.

When is your Hobby Selling classed as a Business

Anything you earn above your personal tax allowance is taxable. When you run a business your income is what you have to keep after all your costs have been taken out so its important as your business grows to keep proper accounts and its a worthwhile investment paying a professional to do your business accounts and help you with your tax return.

Personal Tax Allowances

If your business reaches £82000 in turnover you also have to register for VAT. You can register voluntarily under this amount which means you can claim VAT back on VATable purchases. This is especially relevant if you mostly sell VAT zero baby items as you can then claim VAT back on all your VATable businesses purchases.

 

If in doubt about tax then there are lots of free advisory services such as The Citizen’s Advice Bureau and lots of online forums.

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