You may be eager to jump right into things with your new e-commerce store by partnering with the first wholesale supplier to make you an offer. However, this is a key decision that shouldn’t be rushed. Ideally, you’ll want to maintain long-term business relationships with your suppliers, so choosing the right fit can greatly impact the success of your operation.
In this article we’ll provide some tips to help you get started on your search for wholesale suppliers to fill your digital shelves. Let’s get started!
What to Look for in Wholesale Suppliers
The first step to finding the right supplier is knowing what to look for. Being more selective early on can mean better prices and service for years to come. Let’s go over three key factors to consider.
1. Fair and Consistent Prices
First off, you’ll want to ensure that your wholesale supplier will be able to offer fair and consistent prices. While rates may not be the first thing you talk about during negotiations, it is arguably the most important.
In addition to finding a supplier with fair rates you can work with, you’ll want to ask about price consistency and volatility.
That’s because going through the hassle of building a connection and setting up an account may not be worth it if the price goes up after your first order. As such, it’s wise to ask what kind of price fluctuations you can expect. Better yet, you can draft a contract that outlines fixed prices for a set amount of time.
To aid in negotiations and a long-term relationship, you may also want to ask to be assigned to a specific sales representative. This way, you can build a rapport with one team member. In this set up, your representative will be more likely to anticipate your needs and concerns. You may even wind up scoring better deals.
2. Dependable Lead Times
Lead times can be another important factor when it comes to partnering with the right wholesale supplier. Therefore, you’ll want to be sure to inform new contacts about the quantity of product you hope to sell and set a rough schedule for when (and how much) you will be ordering. It’s best to ask the wholesaler upfront if they’ll be able to meet those demands and if they foresee any supply chain issues or bottlenecks in the future.
After all, great prices mean nothing if the supplier is unable to fulfill your orders. Moreover, running out of product or delays in delivery can end up costing you sales that may have been worth the higher prices from a different wholesaler.
Simply put, the ideal supplier will have long-term access to a wide selection of products and be a valuable resource for growing your shop. They might even be able to offer opportunities to acquire new products for your business.
3. Quality Service
In addition to fair prices and reliable lead times, there are other aspects of quality service to look for in a supplier. For example, you might be looking for a supplier that offers dropshipping, which you can use to save time and cut delivery costs.
Additionally, it’s wise to take a look at the company’s other policies to make sure they align with your own. One of the most important policies to ask about is returns. It’s a good idea to check under which conditions the supplier will offer refunds for their products. Here are some scenarios they may outline as warranting a refund:
- Defective merchandise
- Customer returns
- Unsold items (overstock)
A company that will accept returns for any of these reasons gives you more flexibility to offer your customers a strong return policy. It also reduces the risk of loss if products don’t sell as well as you had expected.
To get an objective idea about the quality of service that a wholesaler offers, you can check their customer reviews. You’ll want to pay special attention to feedback from your peers.
In a nutshell, a supplier with a solid reputation can give you added confidence when pursuing a business partnership. On the contrary, a supplier with questionable or minimal reviews may be worth reconsidering.
Where to Look for Wholesale Suppliers
Now that you know what to look for, the next step is to seek out potential wholesale suppliers to work with. You may be able to find a few options easily, but having more candidates to compare will ensure you get the best deals. Here are some tips for when you’re shopping around for wholesale partners.
1. Start with Manufacturers
The best place to start when looking for a wholesale supplier is the manufacturer. This will be the most direct and cost-effective option in almost every case.
However, keep in mind that some manufacturers may lack the infrastructure to offer the same services and range of products as a dedicated wholesale supplier. Still, it’s worth using their offer as a starting point. If they are unable to meet your needs, a manufacturer may be able to give you leads to wholesalers that they work with.
2. Tap Into Your Local Market
Finding a supply partner in your local market has some major advantages over distant or international suppliers. For example, lead times and shipping costs will generally be lower in comparison.
Therefore, you might want to start looking nearby before expanding your search. One way to make local contacts is to attend local trade shows and network with professionals in your market.
This can include loosely related business owners, warehouses, salespeople, and manufacturers. Even those who can’t supply you directly may have leads or suggestions on suppliers that you may be interested in.
3. Grow Your B2B Network
It’s also a good idea to educate yourself on the broader market at large. This way, you can grow your B2B network. Subscribing to trade publications, joining online forums, and getting involved via social media can help you stay on top of trends.
Additionally, understanding the flow of products in your market can help you identify established and emerging sources to keep your shelves stocked with in-demand products. It can also be helpful to keep an eye on your competitors to see what is and isn’t working for them.
Finally, you can check out wholesale directories to compare to other offers you have found. Popular international suppliers include:
- Global Sources
Sifting through these massive marketplaces can be daunting. However, learning how the biggest players in the market operate can give you a well-rounded perspective on the supply chain.
As a retailer, it’s crucial that you are able to stock your online store with quality products at fair prices. Partnering with a dependable wholesale supplier can greatly simplify the process. It can also help increase your profits and reduce overhead.
Do you have any questions about how to choose the right wholesale suppliers for your online store? Let us know in the comments section below!
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