Are Minimum Orders Important?

Should artists and craftspeople set a required minimum opening order for wholesale customers? We say “Yes” and here’s why:


Placing a wholesale order


When artist are first starting out in business, there may be some confusion as to whether or how much to set as a minimum order. How much makes sense? Should the minimum be a dollar amount or a quantity of merchandise? These are decisions that should be thought through carefully, because it makes a big difference in how you are perceived by your wholesale customers. Setting no minimum shows a lack of confidence in the exhibitor, or even desperation.

Artists with a history of success have often actually increased the amount of their minimum opening order. They well know that the customer needs to make a commitment and buy into their concept and their brand. The opening order is an investment in enough merchandise to create impact in a store display, and make a statement.

The result? Vendors who demand minimums tend to have higher sell-through and more repeat orders than those who do not demand a minimum.

If a buyer disputes your requirement to place a set minimum order, you might ask them, “How will you make sales of my work without a good collection to show? The merchandise will look picked over before any of it sells.” That’s pretty undisputable, as it is common knowledge in retailing that a full display tends to sell more briskly, and as stock dwindles, sales will slow.

There is little purpose in not setting an opening minimum. It encourages personal buying, which doesn’t serve the artist. And it says that the buyer either has a lack of confidence in your work, or doesn’t take it seriously. How much effort will they put into making sales of your line when they don’t “buy in” to your work and order a sufficient amount of merchandise to allow for successful sales?


Do you set a minimum wholesale order of your work? What have your results been?


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  1. Agree 100%. And ditto reorders set a minimum. Otherwise you will be “ordered” to death, spending the same amount of time to ship $50 worth v $250 worth – which is better use of that time?

  2. Absolutely! My minimum opening order is “high” for my line of Eco-friendly jewelry: $300. With an average wholesale price point under $30 for pendants and in the teens for my earrings, I know that an order for just a few pieces will fail out of the gate. $300 means a very good cross section can be created in that all important first display to the public. Without that sell-through potential, I have little hope for a re-order. My re-orders are set at $150 with the hope that the stores will see the benefit in actually re-ordering to build a larger display after the first successes are experienced with the initial order.

    My most successful and greatest partners always order in the hundreds many times a year.

    So…when someone tries to negotiate a lower opening order, I politely refuse and let them know that my over 20 years experience with my line is what has set my minimum; I didn’t come to that number by accident and I have no faith AT ALL in a display of less than my minimum. If they say they can’t “afford” that or are not sure and just want to “try a few things”, then I let them know that I will put them on my waiting list and if no one else has secured my line in their territory in the future, they can always re-visit the idea some other day. Frankly, at that point, I usually don’t want them to convert to my thinking and hope they will just go away. LOL. I turn away business all year long and really pick and choose who can carry my line. I am very fortunate to have this opportunity to choose.

    The other thing I do to try and secure a re-order is to avoid taking on any new accounts in the 4th quarter. I know this seems… odd, but I have two reasons for this “rule” (which I do break from time to time).

    1. I am a full-on hand maker with no ability to crank up my production.
    2. My work is highly recognizable and I generally want my territories spread far apart; a one time holiday purchase (even with the “promise” of long-term commitment after the holidays) could compromise my ability to secure a long-term and solid relationship with another gallery in the same town or region.

    One of the ideas that I have been toying with and that I would love to hear some feed-back on is to increase my opening minimum for those who do contact me in Oct and want delivery on 15 Nov.

    My thoughts are to raise the opening minimum to $500. If they have at least made that investment, they would seem more serious about re-ordering in the spring.

    Opinion “o’ wise one” – Carolyn!? I have been debating this in my mind for years. It’s not normal, but then… neither is my line or my general approach to business on many levels.

  3. I have struggled with this for the past several months. I am working with an agent and I have not insisted on a minimum order but I am finding I do need to do this as well as insist on a minimum volume /item to assist with my shipping . 700$ seems to be that magic #. It deters new stores but I don’t think I can keep going and manage the shipping logistics unless I do this.

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