Wholesale Price Vs Retail Price: How To Calculate Wholesale Price From Retail Price

Wholesale Price Vs Retail Price

There are big differences you need to know about wholesale price vs retail price but first, let me first start with a disclaimer: Discussions on pricing are always subjective.

Keep in mind that pricing strategy is highly dependent on your business and your current and future situation.

You do obviously need to price your goods in order to sell them, so the problem is how to calculate wholesale price from retail price in a way that will leave enough profit on the table in both scenarios.

It may well be part-art, but there is certainly some rational thinking involved in it. There are tips you can take away from this article that will help you price your products for wholesale (and retail) properly. At the end of the day, I hope this will help you build your business into something that will be sustainable.

How To Calculate Wholesale Price From Retail Price

If you’ve been in business for a while, chances are you already have a retail price for products and are working the equation backwards as you explore wholesale selling.

So knowing how to calculate the wholesale price from retail price is very important because you probably just can’t up and change your retail pricing model because you’ve decided to introduce wholesale distribution.

Most pricing experts would see this situation a bit backwards because the ideal strategy is to follow a formula, something like this:

Materials Cost + (Labour Invested x How Much You Value Time) + Other Overheads (Rent, Fixed Costs, Electricity, etc) + Profit Margin = Wholesale Price

While using that formula is ideal, it doesn’t always happen that way and most people end up doing something like this:

Retail Price x 0.6 = Wholesale Price (40% off retail)

Which Wholesale Pricing Strategy Should I Use

Both wholesale pricing strategies mentioned above have their merits. But I think both have some downsides when it comes to determining your final wholesale price.

As I mentioned in the introduction, pricing is subjective. You may have thought I was referring to your subjectiveness but I’m actually referring to the customer’s viewpoint.

When determining a price for a product for sale, whether it be for retail or wholesale, I like to use what is called the “Value-Based Pricing” method instead.

Value-Based Pricing

If you were to follow the experts and use the above formula to factor in all your costs, then mark up that price by XX% to arrive at your final selling price. That method is called Cost-Based Pricing.

There’s nothing wrong with this, but it can cause you to leave too much money on the table and it often results in a race to the bottom with your competitors. The first part of your business to suffer will be your wholesale business.

Cost-Based pricing fails to account for one criterion which I personally think is incredibly important.

What does the market perceive your products to be worth?

Value Based Pricing is based on conducting research and finding out what the market will bear. This combined with your insight of where you want to be in that market.

This pricing strategy involves a few steps:

Analysing where you believe your product fits in the market

I advocate positioning your product somewhere in the top third of the market unless it’s oversaturated with others all trying to do the same. It allows for bigger margins.

1. Talk to your customers

Get your product into the hands of real people. Focus hard on finding out what you can do to improve the appearance of quality around your product. Quality = Higher price and therefore better margins.

2. Ensure that the final price you arrive at for retail is more than 2x your cost of production

You can work backwards using the Cost Based formula for this. Preferably at least 4-6x cost of production. If it’s lower than that, you need to re-evaluate where you sit in the market and try to trim your costs.

3. If your margins are too thin, it means your business won’t be viable

When it comes to wholesale customers, they expect deep discounts so they can make their money too. It’s important to give them a good deal and make it a win for your wholesale customers. But at the end of the day, you’re in business to make money. You have to have the margins built into your prices, even at your wholesale price point.

4. Determine your wholesale price vs retail price

At a 4-6x cost of production, your retail price has plenty of room built in to support a wholesale business. So I would recommend a 40% off retail price point which gives you up to 30% off retail for you and your wholesale customers to play with for promotions. If you’re considering having multiple levels of wholesale, don’t go deeper than 50% off retail. Also, ensure you have minimum order quantities in place.

Other Considerations

Now that you have determined your wholesale price vs retail price points there’s one other consideration I want to mention.

While it’s not legal to restrict the price your wholesale customers sell your product at, you can legally (in most countries at least) have them sign an agreement that restricts the minimum price they can advertise your product for.

Take a look at promotions at retail locations nearby to you. You’ll often find marketing saying things like “Too hot to advertise, call for pricing!”. When you see this kind of promotion, it’s likely that there were restrictions on their wholesale contract from advertising too low.

One of the most prominent companies that employ this strategy is Apple. You will never see an Apple product advertised at a steep discount compared to other retailers.

A minimum advertised price will help put a stop to your wholesale customers competing too viciously with each other. It will also ensure that re-orders don’t dry up.

Wholesale Price vs Retail Price

I hope this article has helped you with your wholesale price vs retail price dilemma. Even if you only take away a couple of points from it and apply it to your business. I think you will be better off.

As you can see there are many different approaches to determining wholesale pricing and retail pricing. The important thing to remember is there is no “wrong” way.

How you calculate wholesale price from retail price is completely dependent on you, your market, your positioning, your business, your future plans and much more.

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14 thoughts on “Wholesale Price Vs Retail Price: How To Calculate Wholesale Price From Retail Price

  1. Hi

    Very good article. I found it very enlightening. How would you convince a business to implement minimum order quantities. I have a client that his business is strictly based on the amount spent regardless of quantities. This makes it quite challenging to say the least when implementing wholesale rules and associated discounts.

    Thanks for the article.

    1. Hi Lyse, thanks for the kind words!

      For this I’d personally be looking at implementing a Minimum Order Subtotal restrictions for each order. You could also tier the min subtotals with multiple wholesale roles if there are smaller/larger customer groups.

      Oftentimes customers who are short on the order target will order just that little bit more to ensure they hit that target and get the wholesale pricing so maybe what you could do is:

      “how many times an average wholesale customer in this tier orders each month” x “the average order size” + another 10-20% on top of that as your minimum order subtotal

      This should also have the effect of subtly pushing them to place bigger orders but not so much that they can’t stretch to reach the order size.

      You’ll need to monitor and adjust of course, but hopefully this is a good starting point!

  2. I have a small business that just started up this year. I just got the opportunity to become a wholesaler for this company. Should I get them to sign a contract with me or just treat them like I would any of my other customers on a sale by sale basis, but charge them the wholesale pricing?

    1. Great question Marie and congrats on scoring your first wholesale customer!

      There’s no right or wrong way to do it. What people do varies greatly. In this situation, I’m guessing you’ll mostly be wanting to learn. I’m a fan of keeping things pretty simple in the early days. Assign them some favourable wholesale pricing, give them an account and ask them to order. If you want you can get them to sign a wholesale contract later, but there’s probably no reason to go to the expense of drafting something like that when you only have one wholesale customer.

      I hope this helps!

  3. Hello

    Thank you for sharing this article. I have a question regarding the margin a company is asking me for my product. They are asking they want a 40% margin, does that mean I take 40% off my retail cost correct? What’s the ebst way to find out if this viable for me and not lose on this deal. If at even 40% less I’m still getting double what I spent to do it, is that an ok thing? And maybe ask for a higher MQO?


    1. Hey Mirko,

      Usually that is 40% off retail. As mentioned in the article this is the typical “working backwards” kind of equation.

      Things to consider would be your position in the market, how much margin you have on your retail, what you’d like them to be ordering as a minimum per order or per month and the volume they’d be able to do. Lots of factors as you can see and it’s highly personal to you and your business.

      Take another read through the article above, especially the value-based pricing section. Hopefully, it might help you in your decision!

      The good news, and the thing to remember, is you have someone there willing to buy. Set them up, get some orders through and if you aren’t happy you can always adjust your approach for your next wholesale customer :)

  4. Hi!
    Thank you very much for this article! it is clear and very usable.

    One thing that surprised me was that you only have a 40% reduction on the retail price to get your wholesale price?
    I have experienced that many retailers want a much greater discount with a mark-up on up to 3! so that means a 2/3 of the retail price… a discount on ex: 66 %
    Any one who has the same experience?
    P.S: I’m in the design business…

    // Else

    1. Definitely depends on the niche, the 40% is just indicative and gave me something to work with on the article. It’s a pretty average sort of number for physical goods.

  5. Hi Josh,

    So are you saying that if a wholesale price is less than costs x 2 it’s just not viable? I have a small clothing business and have been doing alright for 2 years online and with a few ‘sale or return’ shops, but want to move on to wholesale. At the moment it seems I cannot price things for anything more than costs x 1.5. What do you think?

    1. Fashion is an interesting area and markups vary wildly. Also varies a lot depending on where you are in the world too and what area of the market you are playing in (top end, low end, middle). I’d recommend touching base with some other fashion people in your general area/country that might be able to shed some insight.

      I guess what I was hinting at with those general figures is to make sure you are comfortable with the margin and that you give yourself some breathing room, otherwise it limits the way you can promote deals to wholesale customers.

  6. Hello I need help I’m starting a from home boutique and will be doing preorders. I will buying wholesale but need to have a good example of how to price my items.. one of the things is I’m buying a certain item it’s a 6 pack item my wholesale price would be $60.. and on the side it says suggested retail $120. So does that mean if I’m reselling the 6 pack item together to sell it at $120 or around $120 price.. supossable each item would as low as $7.50 each… also how muy should I price each item if I wanted to sell each of the item individually and also how much price if I wanted to resell the 6pack item as a wholesale. I woul appreciate if someone could help me out with the pricing thanks.

    Wholesale $60
    Suggested retail $120

    1. Really depends on your margins Deborah, if you are dropshipping on behalf of your customers they probably need to be prepared to soak up the shipping costs and I would give them less margin to cater for the packing and handling. Sending stock to a wholesale customer is very different to sending a small order to an end-customer on behalf of someone else.

  7. Great Article.
    Please, advice me about an average profit margin for a supermarket? (outdoor/BBQ product section)
    I am planing offer my product to be sale in a supermarkets, and try to determine a reasonable a MSRP price.
    My COGM price is around $1.00
    Obviously, the price will be determined by quantities purchased.

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