What is Wholesale Price?: Wholesale Price vs. Retail Price

Bradley Johnson
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    Are you familiar with wholesale price? Part of the appeal of being a wholesaler, learning how to run a wholesale distribution business, and running a wholesale business is that you have access to products at a cheaper price. You can buy materials or entire products in bulk and resell them to retailers or direct to consumer.

    While getting products cheaply is exciting, pricing them is a completely different story. Not only do you have to take labor and parts into account, you have to consider emotional factors, like psychological pricing strategies. 

    Learning how to become a wholesaler and understanding how to buy wholesale is a great place to start. You can take it further by browsing a popular wholesale directory and reading about how to get a wholesale license

    It may appear as though you can pick a price, list your product, and make wholesale sales, but there’s more to what is wholesale than meets the eye. Continue reading to learn how to price your wholesale goods and the differences between pricing methods.

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    What Is Wholesale Price?: Wholesale Price Definition

    Wholesale price refers to the cost a wholesaler or distributor pays a manufacturer for their goods. As you can imagine, the wholesale price depends on multiple factors, any number of which may be present or nonexistent in a given business. 

    Each supplier has a different material sourcing, manufacturing, B2B marketing, and sales process. As a result, pricing for similar products can vary across suppliers. 

    Wholesale costs can also change based on material availability, economic conditions, the growing enterprises of business owners, and customer demand. It’s wise to routinely check your suppliers’ costs in the event of raw material shortages or economic downturns.

    If you're a retailer learning how to find vendors, this information is equally important. It will prevent you from getting scammed and also act as a guide for current and future budgeting.

    Key Takeaway: Selling items in bulk oftentimes means that you are selling those items at a wholesale price which can differ from the retail price. The wholesale price allows businesses to purchase products in bulk and sell them to customers while still making a profit.

    How Do You Calculate Wholesale Price?

    The wholesale price you use will depend on whether you’re a distributor or manufacturer. If you’re a middleman between suppliers and retailers, your pricing can and should look different from that of a product creator. 

    Getting your wholesale price just right is a subjective process, because there are so many factors playing into a single product. As you develop a successful wholesale marketing plan and strategy, remember that your pricing will naturally change over time. 

    Here are six ways to calculate wholesale price:

    1. Research Suppliers

    If you’ve been in the wholesale industry for years, it may have been too long since you reevaluated your supplier relationships. If you just got started, it’s even more important to choose suppliers whose prices reflect their value. 

    Wholesale goods are already known to be cheap, but that doesn’t mean they should be of poor quality. You should research wholesale items to sell, so you have realistic expectations of current prices.

    Apply the following questions to the suppliers you’re evaluating, as well as their prices: 

    • What is their customer service like? Do they follow up quickly with helpful responses? You want to select a company that prioritizes how they interact with other people and business owners.
    • Is their pricing competitive? It’s not worth your time trying to uncover value where it doesn’t exist. A price that’s wildly above or below similar products (not including shipping costs) typically means something isn’t right. 
    • What is their distribution and shipping network like? Will you receive new orders on a timely basis? If your supplier’s turnaround times are lagging, ask them about any alternative distribution solutions they may offer. 
    • Do they offer bulk discounts? This is one of the easiest ways to save money as a business owner. If they aren’t a business that runs promotions, you may be better off with a different company. 

    If something seems off during your research, it probably is. Make sure to ask your supplier about their fill rate, as well. If it's high, this is a supplier you want to work with. Remember, it's better to take your time in starting a partnership than wish you hadn’t started one at all.

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    2. Control Your Costs and Labor

    Calculating your parts and labor costs is necessary for determining effective prices including the wholesale price of an item. This is also called prime cost, which is labor expenses plus your cost of goods sold (COGS). In nearly all cases, your prime cost will comprise the majority of your expenses. 

    Once your labor and fixed costs are accounted for, ask yourself if there’s still room for variable expenses, fees, and profit. If there isn’t, or your profit margin will be unusually low, it’s time to make adjustments. Don’t be afraid to modify your production methods if it will lead to stronger profits. 

    3. Maintain Low Overhead

    Overhead expenses like rent, equipment, shipping, and advertising need to be included in your pricing evaluations. That $2,000 eCommerce PPC campaign will cut into your profits if your product pricing hasn’t already accounted for it. 

    The tricky part about overhead costs is that they usually vary. Instead of stressing about what costs will change and when, start with your predictable overhead expenses. Then figure out what you can reduce. Every measure of efficiency you implement will simplify the final wholesale price you select. 

    4. Consider a Minimum Advertised Price

    It’s well known that wholesaling is a competitive marketplace, which only intensifies as a product gets closer to retail. One way you can strengthen relationships and combat losses is by using a minimum advertised price. 

    A minimum advertised price (MAP) is the lowest agreed-upon price point at which a retailer will advertise a wholesaler’s goods. Wholesalers can’t control the price retailers sell at, but they can ask that a product not be publicly displayed below a certain price point.

    If you’ve ever added a product at one price to your online cart only to see it get displayed as a different price later, this is MAP in action. A MAP is used for numerous reasons.

    One, solid pricing supports wholesalers’ business model. Ensuring a steady availability of products from manufacturers to the retail market strengthens both sides of the supply chain.

    Two, it prevents retailers from engaging in unrelenting competition. Retailers still control their final sale price, but by putting a minimum on the advertised price, it prevents unruly discounts.

    Three, it supports brand value. Customers often associate price with value, so if a product is too steeply discounted, they may not shop for it at all. This can help wholesalers demonstrate the power of their brand and encourage retailers to sell products their customers will like more. 

    5. Look at Your Budget

    Selling products without a reliable pricing method can feel like you’re walking through a fog. You may get where you’re going eventually, but it will take a lot longer than it needs to. 

    A great way to counteract this uncertainty is by maintaining a budget.

    Your budget spreadsheet should include the following at a minimum:

    • Fixed and variable costs
    • Taxes and fees
    • Revenue sources
    • Category for unforeseen expenses

    Once your costs are subtracted from your revenue, divide your monthly revenue by your monthly product sales. This number is your average unit price. 

    Now, it should be easier to understand whether or not your single unit price is effective. Changing out a product part, improving your advertising copy, or reducing your merchandise inventory may all improve your unit sales efficiency. 

    Another benefit of budgeting is it instantly highlights anything you’re unaware of. If you discover an expense that is higher than expected or that you didn’t even know you were paying, address it immediately. This can have a fast impact on your pricing overall, including the wholesale price.

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    6. Determine Final Pricing

    Boiling all of these factors down to a final price is often easier said than done. You may be tempted to sell your goods at the exact same price as competitors, but this is a risky move. 

    One, your production methods may be different from competitors’. Perhaps they are cutting corners to sell cheaper products, which directly affects their product quality. 

    Two, customers that shop with you chose your brand for a reason, so they have different expectations for your products. Make sure your product reflects what your customers are interested in. 

    Three, remember to price your goods according to how you see them. When you’re convinced of a particular value, your customers and business partners will be convinced, too. 

    There’s no exact science that will give you a “perfect” price. That said, you can still make smart calls on pricing.

    Ask yourself the following questions:

    • What price would I be willing to pay as a consumer? 
    • Does my pricing reflect the value of the product? 
    • Is this price reasonable for the market I’m selling in?
    • Is there a direct competitor selling a similar product for much higher or much lower? 

    With the answers to these questions, you’ll be setting your goods up for pricing success even when it comes to determining the wholesale price.

    Wholesale Price vs Retail Price

    Understanding the nuances between wholesale price vs. retail price is a discipline that even the most seasoned wholesalers practice.

    There is a myriad of factors contributing to price differences, which include: 

    • Consumers’ perception of a product
    • Average market price
    • Novelty of product
    • Average prices for geographic location
    • Retail outlet branding
    • Convenience of shopping experience
    • Product/material quality

    All of these should be taken into account when determining your own products’ pricing. You should also have a value-based plan for your pricing.

    A value-based pricing model accounts for buyer demographic interests, public consumer trends, and the unique benefits attached to your product (whether physical or emotional). This ensures you aren’t merely competing for similar customers with similar products. 

    Retail products are marked up significantly to account for the overhead retailers incur. Whether a retailer is using a B2B eCommerce platform or not, you’ll want to pitch a price that matches the environment in which they’re selling. 

    Ultimately, an exact wholesale price vs. retail price will depend on your situation. If the retailers you’re selling to have price expectations (and many do), you should work these into your selling scheme. 

    One of the advantages of the difficult pricing question is that pricing is variable. What works in one online marketplace or wholesale marketplace may not work in another B2B online marketplace. A great way to be smart on pricing is to look at what others are doing. If you can build a similar pricing plan for your products, you’ll be able to keep great sales relationships well into the future. 

    How to Calculate Retail Price from Wholesale Price and Markup?

    Calculating a retail price for your wholesale goods is a crucial part of your business’s equation. Customers bring price expectations to different types of eCommerce businesses, so it’s important to strike a balance between cost and value. It’s also worthwhile to remind yourself of the difference between markup vs margin.

    The average retail price increase from a wholesale product is 30-50%, or at least 1.66 multiplied by the wholesale item’s cost. The reason for this minimum is that it tends to cover expenses, generate profit, and also draw customers in. 

    It’s not uncommon for retail goods to be priced 100%, 300%, or even 500% higher than their wholesale costs. Clothing is one wholesale niche that’s often associated with high markups, whether customers realize it or not. 

    Sometimes markup is associated with a product’s brand, other times it’s simply to keep a business running smoothly. If you find that you’re still not making the profit you expected, consider selling goods at double the wholesale cost. 

    What is the Difference Between the Wholesale Price and Retail Price?

    The main difference between a wholesale price and retail price is to cover for retail costs while still profiting. From that point, pricing differences can depend on numerous factors. 

    Perhaps a retail outlet has earned trust with customers who pay more. In another scenario, a retailer may add a small markup to attract bulk orders from customers. The final price difference depends on multiple sales and marketing elements. 

    Margin between Retail and Wholesale Price

    The difference between wholesale prices and retail ones depends on various factors. In some industries, it can be very small while in others it is substantial. Let’s examine some key factors for the price difference between wholesale and retail rates.

    1. High competition leads to small price margins. Industries that are very consolidated or highly competitive usually have a smaller difference between wholesale vs retail prices. For example, the prices of dairy distributors or produce distributors are between 10 and 30 percent lower compared to the retail prices of these products.
    2. Products with less demand have bigger price margins. As the market balances with time, the difference between supply and demand is rarely large. However, products that don’t have a lot of demand are likely to have a low supply as well. This allows sellers to increase their profit margins for such goods. That’s true for both the retail and wholesale price.
    3. Supply and seasonality can play a big role. Supply chain disruptions or seasonality can affect the wholesale vs retail price difference. The reason for this is that companies have an incentive to maximize profits as much as possible if the supply is insufficient while the demand is high.
    4. Wholesalers have smaller profit margins compared to retailers. Distributors purchase their products from manufacturers and usually have profit margins between 10 and 30 percent. Retailers, on the other hand, can score a profit between 20 and 50 percent. Some products in the retail sector can have a markup of more than 100%.

    The Price Is Right

    Using an effective pricing scheme takes time. It requires diligent supplier research, knowing what your customers desire, and a strong eCommerce marketing strategy. Remember that you can always tweak your pricing if sales aren’t what you expected them to be. Your customers may respond well to the pricing change too, which only helps grow your business.

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    Frequently Asked Questions About Wholesale Price and Retail Prices

    If you haven't mastered the science of wholesale pricing yet, don’t worry--it can get a little confusing at times. Review these commonly asked questions and answers about wholesale price to get a better understanding.

    What is wholesale price?

    Wholesale price refers to the price that is charged for products sold in bulk to distributors. This price oftentimes differs from the price charged for products that are sold directly to consumers.

    How do you price wholesale food?

    A wholesale food pricing formula you can use is the following: item cost + profit margin = wholesale cost. Wholesale food typically carries a 15 to 20% profit margin. So, if a product costs $2 to make, and the 20% profit margin is $0.40, the wholesale cost is $2.40. 

    If you’re learning how to become a wholesaler, building strong relationships with your suppliers is key. The more business you do with them, the more inclined they’ll be to offer better rates. This unlocks a cheaper per unit price, which affords you more profit for each unit sold. 

    How do you find the wholesale price of clothing?

    The price of wholesale clothing is usually the cost of goods sold multiplied by two. In order to get the costs of goods sold, you’ll need to refer to your wholesale purchase agreement or documents detailing the material cost of sale. 

    If you don’t have access to this information, it can be helpful to speak with your suppliers. They can share information from their wholesalers or request it if they also don’t have it yet. 

    Do wholesalers pay for shipping?

    In most cases, wholesalers pass the cost of shipping to their buyers. Most wholesalers work as vendors, so they’re profitable when they sell large quantities of goods to manufacturers and retailers. 

    Some wholesalers offer free shipping once an order volume threshold is reached. For example, a $500 order may get free shipping whereas anything less won’t. If your business has a tight budget or wants to take advantage of deals, it’s good to ask wholesalers about this up front. They’ll be happy to answer you because they know genuine curiosity like this usually means more sales.

    What Is the Wholesale Price Index (WPI)?

    The wholesale price index was a metric used until 1978 when it transformed into the producer price index (PPI). The index was published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) and measured changes in the price of goods before they are sold at retail prices. The index dates back to 1902 and it has been an important indicator of inflation in the economy ever since.

    The PPI (and its predecessor the WPI) are similar but different from the consumer price index (CPI). The CPI is the main indicator of inflation at retail levels as it measures the changes in the price of goods and services paid by end customers.

    What Is a Wholesale Price List?

    A wholesale price list is a catalog that includes all products sold by the supplier to their current or potential customers. It commonly includes the prices of these goods. Many distributors have different tiers of prices based on the quantity ordered for a said period. A wholesale price list can also include minimum order quantities (MOQ) for some product categories.

    SaaS platforms like BlueCart allow wholesalers to make eCommerce wholesale price lists. The prices in these catalogs can easily be changed and discounts can be added. Integrating the wholesale price list with other software used by the business can automate the process.

    Keep in mind that B2B sales and pricing are subject to negotiation. That’s why a lot of wholesalers don’t make their pricing public. Instead, the final wholesale price varies based on quantities, length of contract, and other factors.

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