Being a fair trade wholesaler is more difficult that a retailer because of the function of being an intermediary in the supply and distribution chain of the products. One has to deal with both sides of the chain, from the producers and farmers on one side to the retailers and consumers on the other.
Supply Challenges for Fair Trade Products
One of the first challenges that a wholesaler faces is the issue of supply. Since you will have to act as an intermediary, you must have a stable supply of the products that you are offering. The problem is your supply is dependent on the workers overcoming challenges that they also face. If they are unable to overcome it then chances are the products you ordered could arrive late or worse not arrive at all. It becomes important then to communicate properly with the producers and assist them in becoming efficient. The producers will initially be wary of your efforts especially if you are just new. However as time passes, they will eventually understand your concerns and this will lead to better flow of supply.
Retail Challenges for Fair Trade Products
Generally speaking for fair trade wholesaler, the main client base would have to be the retailers. Though some wholesalers do sell retail from time to time, this is not the core of their business. Thus wholesalers do not interact that much with direct customers or end consumers. One challenge regarding retailers is on the issue of continual education of Fair Trade to retailers. You have to educate and explain to your target retailers what fair trade is all about and the benefits they can get. You would also need to explain to them the challenges faced by selling fair trade products like supply.
There is no clear cut method of knowing which part of the chain you have to do first. Regardless any fair trade wholesaler is likely to incur additional expenses in order to build relationships. On the farmer side, you would need to travel to the actual site and talk with the producers. You would also need to invest in communication methods that will help you make retailers understand what you are trying to do. Marketing your products would mean additional expenses again since you would have to put up displays at trade fairs or even put up posters.
Many Challenges for Fair Trade Wholesaler
There are indeed many challenges to face if one wants to become a fair trade wholesaler. Then again what kind business does not have any obstacles at the start? In order to be successful, one would need to practice good communication not only with the producers but also with the retailers who will sell the Fair Trade products.