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If there’s one thing that crafters love… it is discounted prices. I have had a number of Cutting for Business readers ask how to set up their own blanks buy in groups – so today I’m tackling the topic.
First, what is a blanks buy in (also called a co-op) group? It’s a group of crafters that bands together to purchase large quantities of blank goods or craft supplies directly from a manufacturer. By placing an order together, buyers can negotiate lower prices. Essentially, the owner of the group becomes the ‘middle man’.
How to Start Your Own Craft Blanks Buy In Group
- First, figure out how you will make money. There’s two different ways to make money: 1) Upcharging members for the blanks they purchase. For example, if you are purchasing tote bags from a manufacturer for $3 each, you could charge members $5 per bag. 2) Charging members a buy in fee. This fee is on each order placed and is generally $1 to $3. Beware: If you upcharge too much, members will know and will likely not use or recommend your group. Similarly, if your buy in fees are too much, members will shop elsewhere.
- Decide whether or not you have the time and space to host a buy ins. You’ll need space to store the bulk order while you divide it up and space to store packaging materials. You’ll need the time to create and send out invoices and package each buyer’s order then ship it to them.
- Locate products that you feel would be good sellers. Do some research and make a list.
- Register your business. If you want to buy directly from manufacturers, you’ll need to have a registered business. Manufacturers generally won’t sell direct to the public. If you are looking for manufacturers overseas, Alibaba is a good place to start. Learn more about Alibaba in this blog post.
- Form relationships with manufacturers. This is usually as easy as sending a message through a marketplace, an email, or calling them. After you locate manufacturers that you’d like to work with, ask for them to send a sample product for you to review. The manufacturer may send it free of charge or they may ask you to pay for it.
- If you plan to order products from overseas (like China), get familiar with the customs duties involved with importing goods to the United States.
- Now, it’s time to start your group. Most buy in groups use Facebook Groups to communicate with members, but you could also use a website. When creating your group, be sure to include information about the group, group rules, and how members can reach out for help.
Hosting Your First Buy In
- After you’ve received samples and negotiated a price with the manufacturer, you will want to photograph the products in the buy in or get permission from the manufacturer to use their photos.
- Then, create a spreadsheet that members can edit to place their order. Once you’ve got it ready, upload it to your group. Be sure to tell members about any minimum order quantity, colors available, and the buy in closing date.
- Once the buy in has closed, send members an invoice for their order. Your invoice can either cover their product order and shipping from you to them, or you can invoice shipping costs once the products arrive.
- After all members have paid, place the order with the manufacturer.
- Be sure to keep members up to date with the expected arrival date of the products and the expected shipping date from you to them. Always share delays with all members.
- Once the products arrive, divide them and ship them to each member.
Buy in groups can be profitable, but they aren’t a ‘get rich quick’ scheme. If you are truly interested in starting your own buy in group, I’d recommend you first join some existing groups to see what works and what doesn’t work.
Also, there are a number of ‘Beware of buy in groups’ and ‘Bad buy in groups’ Facebook Groups. If you create a buy in group, I would become a member of these groups as well to monitor your group’s reputation.
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Since 2015, Christine Schinagl has been helping crafters start and run craft businesses through her blog, Cutting for Business. As a Silhouette and Cricut crafter herself, she has a unique take on what works and what doesn’t work in the craft business world. She also teaches a course on creating digital SVG designs, available at How to Design SVGs.
Thursday 21st of June 2018
Great article. Thanks for sharing the information.
Any suggestions on how to find like-minded small businesses? I deal mostly in infant/toddler clothing and would love to find others that deal with the same thing and may have an interest in bulk orders direct from the manufacturer for blanks and other infant clothing.
Monday 24th of September 2018
Networking through social media like Instagram and Facebook groups is probably the easiest.