Finding the right supplier for the product you plan to sell is one aspect which most new e-commerce business owners struggle with. The reason being there is no clear-cut approach to finding suppliers on the web and also that most suppliers have a very poor presence online. Finding a supplier doesn’t mean you end up working with them. Many aspects of price, delivery, order size, location and variety have to be negotiated before picking a supplier. This means you should have a good short list of probable suppliers before picking on the right supplier for your business needs.
7 Places To Find A Supplier For Your Product
Go the old way. Attend trade shows where manufacturers, buyers, and wholesalers meet to showcase or buy products. These trade shows happen in all popular cities and are usually held for more than a couple of days. Trade shows are also a great place for networking with fellow entrepreneurs a critical aspect for most businesses. Trade shows increase your exposure among other seasoned business owners in the space. You should expect a few calls from suppliers few days after you have attended a trade show in your area. Attending trade shows also give you an advantage of comparing prices among various suppliers so that you get the best price cut and value. You can find all upcoming trade shows in 2017 and 2018 in your country or city by visiting expodatabase. Pick the relevant industry and get details of the events by looking up on Google.
You can look up trade show directories to find the most relevant trade shows in your area. Few of them are –
Trade magazines can help you find some good suppliers. Manufactures, wholesalers and drop shippers list and advertise their offerings to get business. You can browse through one of their recent magazines or even subscribe to a popular magazine in your industry. You can find the list of magazines by industry here.
Online Wholesale Directories
The online wholesale directory is the online version of trade shows and magazine. Here you can get a list of suppliers for your product from any part of the world. You can shoot an email or call the supplier and get all the necessary details. You can use the below online directories to start with –
Drop Shipper Directory
Dropshipping is when the wholesaler directly ships the order to the customer as an when you receive a customer order. The advantage of this method is you don’t need to own inventory risks of investment, theft, and damage. Drop shippers have a huge catalog of products you can choose from and list them on your online store.
Google it up
Dig in Google with a stream of queries. A quick and specific Google search for your product might reveal a supplier or a manufacturer website. Know that most suppliers have a very poor online presence and you might have to look up to page 3 and 5 before you start hitting few good leads. You can use the below queries for your research
- [Product Name] + Supplier
- [Product Name] + Manufacturer
- [Product Name] + Drop Shipper
- [Product Name] + Wholesaler
- [Product Name] + Contact
- [Product Name] + Bulk
- [Product Name] + Wholesaler
- [Product Name] + Portal
Hustle for contacts
Leverage your network. You might be running a retail store already. Ask your current suppliers if they drop ship or know anyone who drops ships. Check with your network both online and offline. Check with your friends and family. Nothing can replace the good old way of hustle.
Contact The Manufacturer
The best way to get a list of genuine wholesalers is to contact the manufacturer. Most manufacturers don’t sell the products to the retailers themselves. They sell the products to a wholesaler who acts as a connector between the manufacturer and the consumer. Getting in touch with manufacturers is the most direct way of getting started. The manufacturer will be willing to help you with all details as you will be selling their products.
Criteria To Choose A Trusted Supplier
- Product offerings – A good supplier has a deep catalogue of products. This enables you to have more products listed in your online store.
- Location – If the supplier is far off freight charges might be high thus eating up your margins. A good supplier should be having warehouses in different parts of the country and should be able to ship the product to the end user in short spans of time.
- In for the long run – How long has the supplier been in the business? Who are their current clients? How many orders do they handle on a per day basis? A good supplier should be able to be a healthy business with strong foothold over sourcing.
- Reliable delivery – Shipping the wrong product or delaying delivery leads to customer frustration and hurts your reputation as an online retailer. Supplier’s diligence while shipping plays a major role in customer service.
- Price – You should be able to negotiate pricing with your sourcing company. Every supplier has a minimum order value which you have to meet to start doing business and a discount for retailers who order more than a certain threshold. As a retailer, you should be able to have a chance to influence these.
- Niche focus – Look for suppliers who specialize in your niche. These suppliers sometimes have better knowledge of trending products than you. You can benefit from their expertise and improve your merchandising plan accordingly.
- Technology – Your supplier should be adept at handling email, internet, and inventory tools. Being in e-commerce business you will be handling most of your orders on your e-commerce software or an inventory management tool.
Before You Start Working With A Supplier
- Have more than 1 supplier of core products – This will ensure that your business is not reliant solely on one supplier. Having options keep the stock full and gives you more negotiation power with your current suppliers.
- Be clear about the terms – You and your supplier should be clear in terms of delivery time, payment, delivery location, stock, varieties and agreement termination. Having documented legal agreements signed by both parties will keep your supplier more accountable.
- Negotiate like your life depends on it – I am still learning this. A 1% margin might look small today but when the revenues are high getting an extra percentage on margin could be the difference between when your business reaches breakeven.
- Build long-term relationships – E-commerce business is a long game. Keep your supplier contacts safe whether you are working with them currently or not. Long-term relationships will expose you to other opportunities and can get you better deals in the future.