Whether you run a brick and mortar store or an e-commerce website, you need to get your products or materials from somewhere. In the case of lots of businesses, particularly smaller businesses, wholesalers are the answer.
But how do you go about finding the right wholesaler for your business?
Well, when looking for a wholesaler, there are several things you need to take into consideration, price, availability, location, etc. Because of this, there are several different steps you should take to help you find the right wholesaler - and we’re going to look at these below.For example, because Alibaba ships internationally, there is no guarantee on delivery dates, and waiting times can be longer. This unpredictable service isn’t always good for business, so be careful to weigh up the pros and cons before settling on a marketplace.
Photos by Blake Wisz on Unsplash
1. Go direct to the manufacturer first
Before we suggest different techniques for finding a wholesaler, it is worth looking at potentially cheaper options.
Using a wholesaler can cut into your profits, so in some cases, it’s cheaper and easier to go direct to the manufacturer. This way, you cut out the middleman, and you have fewer people to go through to get your goods.
For example, if you’re selling branded items, can going directly to the brand manufacturer could save you money, rather than relying on a wholesaler.
Of course, if your business is very small, you might not meet their minimum order requirements - but it can’t hurt to try.
2. Understand your industry
Not all wholesalers serve the same market, and it’s important that you understand your industry and area specifically to ensure that you find the right provider. For example, some wholesalers ship internationally, others regionally, some do local deliveries daily, and others have exclusive rights to provide a product or material.
And because each industry has its own unique distribution channels, you need to understand what you’re looking for and the options available to you. Then you can begin looking into relevant wholesalers. The internet will be an important resource for this.
3. Run specific online searches
When using the internet to help you find a wholesaler, it’s important to be as specific as possible in your searches. There are general wholesalers out there that offer a vast range of products, but to give your business the best chance, it can be better to look for a more niche provider.
To do this, include relevant keywords for your products or niche. You can also make use of online directories that list various wholesale distributors. These can be great for providing you with contact details which will make it easier to get in touch.
Ultimately, the more potential wholesalers you can find, the better. So, compile a list of any companies you plan to get in touch with.
4. Have productive conversations with wholesalers
As you begin reaching out to wholesale distributors, it’s important that you’re having meaningful conversations with them that are going to help you make the most informed decision.
During your initial conversation, some of the most important things to determine are minimum order requirements, wholesale unit prices for goods or materials you want and what regions they supply.
In order to find the best possible wholesaler for your business, you need to be honest about what you’re looking for and really get the most out of your conversations. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or request more information - after all, they are trying to sell their services to you just as much as you are trying to determine if you want to partner with them.
By doing this, you will make it much easier for yourself when the time comes to compare providers and determine who is ticking all the right boxes.
5. Utilise your network
There is a reason that networking is so important in our careers, and building a network of like-minded business owners and industry experts can help you out when looking for a wholesaler.
If you know others who sell similar goods to your own, reach out to them to see if they know of any good suppliers. You could also use professional networking sites like LinkedIn to ask for recommendations, reviews, etc.
6. Join industry groups and forums
On a similar note, you can reach out to more experienced business owners, even those outside of your network, to look for help or advice. There are lots of industry-specific forums and groups on the internet, be that sites like Quora or social media platforms like Facebook.
So why not make the most of these resources. Ask to join these groups and begin a discussion, looking for relevant or great wholesalers in your space. Having peer reviews and opinions can be a hugely influential factor and can help you to narrow down a provider much quicker.
7. Attend industry events
Depending on your industry, there are plenty of trade shows and industry events that you can attend throughout the year. These events offer the perfect opportunity to see which wholesalers are exhibiting and ask them some questions about their distribution channels.
You can also chat with others in your industry who may be able to advise you on who they use or if they know of any suppliers in your area. This is also another great opportunity to continue growing your professional network as well.
8. Subscribe to trade magazines
Again, depending on your industry, there might be some genuinely useful trade or industry magazines that you can subscribe to. This might not give you the instant results you’re looking for, but you can certainly get information about wholesalers that come recommended by others in your industry.
9. Consider major B2B marketplaces
Finally, there are lots of huge B2B marketplaces out there that you can consider. One of the most easily recognised is Alibaba.com, but other large B2B marketplaces include Global Sources, Buyer Zone and Busy Trade.
These marketplaces are made up of manufacturers, importers and wholesale distributors, and in some cases, these could be the ideal solution. Just be aware that you might not have as much control with large marketplaces like this.
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