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Is Your Wholesaler up to Scratch? [6] – Permanent Discounts

The final entry in our “Is Your Wholesaler up to Scratch?” series looks at discounting, and how you can use a supplier’s discount practices to distinguish between a solid company and a business close to ruin. The UK and Irish economies are not doing well. While there are signs that the UK is recovering, there are no signs that the same is happening in Ireland. This means that a lot of wholesale businesses have either closed or are on the brink of closing.

How can you tell if your supplier is about to shut their doors?

Eternal, ever present discounts are a good indication that a supplier is in dire financial straits. They need money today more than they need a profit on their end of year balance sheet and they will do anything to get it. They have wages to pay, stock sitting in warehouses in China waiting for payment before it ships, and advertising or shipping bills piling up. There are many reasons why immediate money is better than profit — however twisted and strange that may sound.

Discounting everything or every order is a good indication that a wholesaler has reached this sorry state. Examples: 20% off all orders between now and Christmas, 30% off your first order (way to piss off your regular customers!), 10% off all orders above £100 (isn’t that an average small order?).

If the first thing you see when you land on a jewellery wholesaler’s website is a great big discount, you know that something is not right with the balance sheet of that company. Now, this is not always a bad thing, as companies in dire need of money often offer up genuine discounts for savvy buyers. Even if the company will have closed down in two months, you can still snatch a bargain now and benefit greatly from it.

We’ve done just this ourselves, buying out stock from other wholesalers who were closing down — and very cheaply too. If you’ve been watching our catalogue this year and noticed some of the radically different styles that we have, on occasion, stocked, this is where it came from.

So don’t be put off by the discounts and what they probably mean. Treat it as an opportunity, but at the same time remember that the company’s future is probably not good. Make a one off purchase, availing yourself of the discounts, but do not rely on that company to meet your needs on an ongoing basis.

The reality is that successful companies, in it for the long haul, do not have the need to offer discounts at every turn. While they may offer reduced rates for bulk purchases, they do not offer every small customer a discount, and they especially do not offer a discount to new customers. Can you think of a single strategy more likely to offend your steady, loyal, repeat customers than offering discounts to the new guys?

Tip 6: Do not build a long term relationship with suppliers who offer eternal discounts.

11 Oct 2013

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