Discounts, Wholesale, and Let’s Make a Deal~The Business of Lampworking

Once you start selling your lampwork, you will run into the discount question eventually. It can come in many forms: Do you offer quantity discounts? Wholesale discounts (If you do shows, make sure you have this answer handy. You’ll need it)?  I’ve spent a lot over the course of the year, do you ever offer discounts? I’ve seen this item in your store for a while now. Would you consider selling it at X price? If I buy ten of these will you give me a discount?

Let me just say right now, I have no problem with people asking for a discount. I don’t get offended, hurt, or indignant. Many times I have seen artists get riled up when someone sends them a message offering less than the asking price or asking for a discount. But honestly, who doesn’t like a deal? And keep in mind when you sell online, the market is worldwide. That’s right worldwide.

Many cultures thrive on haggling and the “let’s make a deal” method of buying goods. It’s a normal every day thing for them. Other folks are just trying to find the best deal. No harm in that.

Some of the arguments I’ve heard from my colleagues include: But we’re selling art! It’s a piece of ourselves! How dare someone ask me to sell it for less? If I wanted to sell it for $10, I would have put a $10 price tag on it!

We Americans can be so touchy. *grin*

Once you start selling your lampwork, you’re in business. Period. Expect to get questions about discounts. It comes with the territory. Try to take emotion out of it and think with your business hat. (Yes, I know, we artists hate the business end).

Okay, so how do you handle it? Do you have a discount or wholesale policy? If not, make one and stick to it. Do not deviate from customer to customer unless you have meticulous record keeping skills.

Example: early on in my lampworking business days,  I had a regular customer who bought at least once a month. I valued her tremendously and one day she asked for a discount. I said sure. I’m pretty sure I said something like, you’ve ordered so much, each time you order from now on I’ll give you 20% off. That was all fine and dandy, until she stopped ordering as frequently. She was a designer and designers move on to new things and new designs. That’s okay.

But as you might guess, I got busy with other customers and pretty much forgot all about the 20% discount. Then the customer came back to me months (maybe even a year) later and ordered stuff, and of course by then I’d forgotten all about the discount. When she reminded me, I gave her the discount, but yeah, I admit I was a little resentful I had to give a 20% discount on a small order (less than $30). And it was my own fault. I didn’t set terms. I didn’t really have a policy. I was making it up as I went along.

So I made one. A set policy I can refer back to when I get the discount questions:

Designers: 30% off a set amount.

Bead Stores: 50% off a set amount.

And that is it. The amounts vary depending on if we’re talking about beads, marbles ,or murrine. But they are always the same. So when someone asks about discounts, I have a pat answer. There isn’t emotion involved.

Do you offer wholesale pricing?

Yes, my terms are…

Do you ever offer discounts?

Yes, my terms are…

I also run a few sales throughout the year, usually up to 25% off. To be notified of future sales, sign up for my newsletter here.

I’ve spent a lot of money with you over the course of the year. Do you offer discounts?

This one gets a little trickier, because they might be thinking they’ve already spent a lot, they deserve the discount on a small order. I always answer that an order has to meet xxx to reach wholesale levels. Sales are not accumulative. I also again refer them to the newsletter for future sales.

If I buy ten of these will you offer a discount?

See designer wholesale terms.

I’ve seen this in your store, will you sell it for X amount?

This one I am flexible on. It really depends on the item. Have I had it forever and do I want it gone? Am I just in a good mood? Or do I love the piece and am not willing to discount it? Sometimes I’ll deal, and sometimes I won’t. Just be firm (but friendly) and if you do deal, be prepared for them to try it again. That doesn’t mean you have to deal again, it just means don’t be surprised when they ask again. Trust me, they will.

As I said earlier if you do go with different discounts for different customers be sure to keep good records. I guarantee after enough time goes by, you’ll forget. We have different ones for designers, beads stores, galleries, and suppliers (for murrine).  On my website I have a place for customers to sign up for wholesale. I keep all the discounts in there for easy reference. All I have to do is look up their name and there it is. (Their wholesale terms are only visible to me on the back end of the website.)

If you don’t offer discounts of any kind, that’s fine too. My response to all of the questions above would be: Sorry, I don’t discount my work. Thank you for stopping by.

Short, to the point and respectful. Remember, you’re in business now.

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6 thoughts on “Discounts, Wholesale, and Let’s Make a Deal~The Business of Lampworking

  1. I must admit to not having a policy as such – I have been asked for discounts, which I don’t mind but I decline if they are just getting something for nothing! Thanks for the ideas. Very helpful – I will go off and think about my policy!

  2. @turnerrowedesigns, I’m glad to help. I’ve certainly declined giving discounts before. But now I don’t have to worry about what to say or think about it as hard. 😀

  3. Wow, great entry. I was just coming over to see if I could mention your name with the beads I’m posting to my web site. I can link to your web site, if you like. Oh and by the way – I didn’t know you gave designer discounts! 😉

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