Recognizing Your Buying Power And Working With Brands

blog product sourcing Feb 08, 2024

Understanding your buying power as a subscription box owner leads to strong business relationships, significant savings, and greater ease in sourcing the products you need. 

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Curating an experience for your subscribers every month is one of the best parts of being a subscription box owner. I have so much fun choosing the perfect items that all work together to create a mood or evoke a certain feeling. Sourcing those products each month, however, can be a daunting task. 

How can you make finding the right products at the right prices that can be shipped and delivered to you on time less stressful? 

Working directly with brands and building relationships with vendors and manufacturers is an essential piece of the sourcing puzzle. As your subscription box grows, so does your buying power. And with greater buying power comes more opportunities to reduce the stress. 

 

 

Developing your buying power comes with time and experience. Today I’m sharing my journey toward recognizing and capitalizing on my buying power, how I put it to work for me, and how you can start doing the same.

 

Work with companies that fit your needs and your brand.

Finding the right fit with anyone you work with is important. You want to make sure the company holds the same values you do and will work as hard as you do for your business.

The items you put in your subscription box reflect on you and your brand. Make sure you can count on the companies you choose to work with to provide you with high-quality goods that meet your standards. 

As with any relationship, your relationships with vendors and manufacturers will develop over time. These relationships are important to the long-term success of your subscription box business. Invest the time and effort needed to nurture those relationships.

 

 

Build relationships with brands and companies that benefit all involved.

When I started my T-shirt Club subscription, I knew I needed to have a screen printer onboard to pull it off month after month. I had worked with a local company for items in my box a couple of times a year. It wasn't a consistent business arrangement, but I thought it could be the start of a relationship.

I approached the screen printer about my new subscription idea. They knew my business and were very excited about this new opportunity for me. We talked about prices, logistics, and the rest, and away we went.  

What started as a few sales here and there turned into monthly recurring revenue for them. As a subscription box owner, you know how incredibly valuable recurring revenue is to a small business! I was an account they could depend on month after month.

 

 

Our relationship has strengthened and grown over the years and it benefits both of us. They prioritize my business and put me on the schedule first. They work with me when I have last-minute needs, and they've even helped with my designs. Having me as a customer creates stability in their own business. 

 

You might not find the right partners right away - and that’s okay. 

As my subscription business grew and grew, I found it extremely difficult to source and manufacture all the pieces I needed month after month by myself. 

I decided to reach out to a company that would do this for me.

I paid a retainer and committed to a 3-month contract. It was awful. We didn't have the same vision. Pricing was off, the quality was not what I was used to, and communicating with them was hard. It wasn't the right fit.

 

 

Then something happened that changed everything. An item of mine was held up in customs. The Chinese New Year hit and my items were going to be delayed for over a month. I had a big problem and I needed to solve it - fast. 

I contacted one of my US-based suppliers to see if they could help me get something quickly. They did. 

This was a company I’d used several times to supply product to my retail store and make a few custom items for me for my subscription box. It turned out they had hundreds of pieces of just the right thing for my box, and they gave me an incredible price. One I wasn’t expecting. 

They understood my buying power before I did.

 

 

They knew that if they could get me all those items cheaply and quickly, I would want to work with them more. And that is exactly what happened.

The owner of the company called me. She was curious about my business and why I would order hundreds of the same item each time. We talked for over an hour. I felt like she was sent to me on purpose.

She LOVED my business and wanted to be a part of it. She knew that I wasn't a one-time sale for her. 

If we could get this right, I would buy over and over from her, which is exactly what happened. A few weeks later, we met in person and planned out my subscription boxes for the next ten months. 

That is my buying power! And over time, you can and will develop your own buying power. 

 

 

Check out this blog to learn more about the challenges and opportunities of sourcing products.

 

Recognize your buying power as a business owner.

I took the confidence I gained from these relationships and used it to partner with a major brand, Kate Spade New York.

I love Kate Spade products. I love the black and white stripes, the pops of metallic, the glitter, all of it. I'd looked for months at all the pretty items in the showroom at Market but never felt worthy.

There was a reason I felt that way. 

In January 2018, I was at the AmericasMart in Atlanta, Georgia. I stumbled across a showroom with items for brands like Lilly Pulitzer, Vera Bradley, and of course, Kate Spade. I walked in to just admire the pieces, get inspiration, and inquire about them.

 

 

I felt out of place. I had on a t-shirt and jeans while everyone else in the showroom was dressed very nicely. No one spoke to me. I wandered the showroom for about 20 minutes, passing a table of sales reps just chit-chatting. They ignored me and I slid out the door feeling invisible.

Fast forward to a year later. I was in that exact showroom admiring all the pretty things again and dreaming about, "If I had a Kate Spade box, this is what I would put in it." At least this time someone said hi to me.

I left the showroom and went off to a very important appointment I had scheduled. It happened to be with the partner I told you about above - the one who understood and valued my buying power and wanted to be part of what I was building.

 

 

After that meeting, I felt so confident that I walked right back into that showroom and asked to speak to someone about a LARGE Kate Spade order. 

They might laugh in my face, they might look at me like I'm nobody, but I knew my buying power at that moment, and I was going for it!

The sales rep brought me to the Director of Sales. It was like she was my long-lost best friend. She LOVED my business and couldn't wait to talk to her team to see how they could work with me.

We built a relationship and have been working together to curate an annual special Kate Spade-themed Monogram Box™ for the past several years! 

 

 

Read more about how I conquered self-doubt and stepped into my role as a business owner with major buying power in my best-selling book, One Box at a Time

Wholesale Etsy sellers are a good place for newer subscription box owners to start building their buying power. Shop from and build relationships with them to help source products for your subscription boxes or e-commerce stores. You can read more about that in my blog, all about How To Find Niche-Specific Products.

 

 

Don't ever underestimate what you bring to the table. You are a subscription box owner. That means you have the opportunity to be the source of recurring revenue in someone else's business. Be patient, find vendors and manufacturers who align with you, value you, and are invested in your mutual success. And remember, as you grow, so does your buying power!

 

 

Learn from me:

  • Subscription Box Blueprint eBook: This $10 ebook covers logistics from product selection to packaging to shipping. Plus a 90-day launch plan and bonus ‘Instant Scripts’ for your social media.
  • Launch Your Box: My complete training program that walks you step by step through how to start, launch, and grow your subscription box business.
  • Launch Your Box Podcast: I share tons of practical tips and strategies to help you start, launch, and grow your subscription box business. You’ll also hear from industry experts and current Launch Your Box members who are crushing it - get ready to get inspired!
  • One Box at a Time: Inside my book One Box at a Time, I show you the steps you need to follow to start and launch your subscription box. To turn your dream into reality. This book is filled with proven teachings, valuable resources, best practices, and action steps for you to take.

 

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