The right wholesale suppliers can help you reduce costs, promote scalability, and thrive in the retail ecosystem. The hard part is finding them.
In this guide, we’ll explain how to find wholesale suppliers so you can build a network of reliable industry partners.
What is a wholesale supplier?
A wholesale supplier buys goods from a manufacturer and sells them in bulk to retailers. Typically, the wholesaler gets a bulk-order discount from the manufacturer and generates revenue by reselling them at a slight markup.
Benefits of buying wholesale
The benefits of wholesale purchasing in inventory procurement include the following:
By partnering with a wholesale vendor, you can buy products in bulk and reduce your per-unit cost. This method also decreases your shipping expenses and strengthens total revenue.
If you expand to new locations or suddenly gain customers at your existing storefront, a wholesale supplier can accommodate your increased demand. They can rapidly scale up your inventory volume, helping you meet customer demand and avoid stock-outs.
Wider product selection
Leading wholesalers work with multiple manufacturers and can source a wide range of products. This expanded access helps you connect with new demographics and break into additional audience segments.
Simplified inventory management
If you source inventory from various mid-level retailers, you must manage an extensive list of suppliers. You can simplify your inventory management processes and work with a smaller vendor network by connecting with a wholesale supplier.
How to find a reliable wholesale supplier: 8 tips
Follow these steps to find a reliable wholesale supplier:
1. Understand distribution channels
A distribution channel is the path goods travel as they flow from the manufacturer to the end consumer. The closer your wholesaler is to the manufacturer, the lower the per-unit cost will be.
2. Reach out to the manufacturer
Speaking of manufacturers, contact them personally whenever possible. If you can meet the manufacturer’s minimum order quantity (MOQ) requirements, they may sell goods directly to you, yielding significant cost savings.
3. Have an excellent first meeting
Whether connecting with a wholesaler or manufacturer, your first impression is crucial. Be direct, ask specific questions, and submit a formal request for information (RFI) if you’re impressed with the wholesaler. An RFI demonstrates that you’re serious and provides you with detailed information about the wholesaler’s capabilities, prices, etc.
4. Get specific when conducting online research
If you’re searching for wholesalers online, use specific wording. Instead of querying phrases such as “wholesaler,” include industry-specific terms relevant to your vertical. You may also use specific product names, brands, or model numbers.
5. Check B2B marketplaces
Business-to-business (B2B) marketplaces let you buy large quantities of products at affordable prices. Alibaba.com is the largest and most well-known B2B marketplace, but others include Global Sources, BuyerZone, and Busy Trade.
6. Join professional networks
You can build relationships with other small businesses in your vertical by joining industry groups, forums, or similar professional networks. Business owners may initially hesitate to share wholesaler or supplier information, but patience and reciprocation will reward you.
7. Attend trade shows
Trade shows are another networking opportunity that will open doors for your business. When attending trade shows, explore the expo hall and talk to as many manufacturers and wholesalers as possible — and don’t forget to acquire everyone’s contact information.
8. Be persistent
Finding the ideal wholesale suppliers for your business can take time. However, with patience and persistence, you’ll form strong relationships with suppliers within your vertical, access low-cost products, and support the long-term growth of your business.
Common mistakes when looking for wholesale suppliers
As you start your search for wholesale suppliers, take care to avoid these common pitfalls:
- Overspending on an untested product
- Misunderstanding membership fees
- Improperly managing inventory
Research wholesale suppliers and their products before signing a binding agreement to avoid these issues.
4 questions to ask a potential wholesale supplier
When you connect with prospective wholesale suppliers, a few specific questions will give you a lot of vital information:
1. What are your minimum order quantities (MOQs)?
Ensure the supplier’s MOQs aren’t significantly higher than your anticipated need; you don’t want to order 1,000 pieces when you only need 100.
2. What is the return policy?
Although some suppliers will cover the costs of returning bulk orders, others pass this expense on to you. Know your supplier’s policy to mitigate risks.
3. nWhat is the cost per unit (CPU)?
Get detailed information about the cost per unit in relation to order volume. Resist the urge to overorder, even if it will drive down the CPU.
4. What is the average lead time?
Find out how long wholesale goods will take to arrive to ensure the anticipated delivery timetable aligns with your company’s needs.
Vital considerations before signing a contract
Check the following boxes before entering into a contract with a wholesale supplier:
Ask for references
Talk to other businesses they’ve worked with and learn about their experiences. If they’re satisfied, the wholesaler will likely be a good fit for your business as well.
Submit an request for information (RFI)
An RFI requests detailed information about a wholesaler’s terms and conditions. You can use RFIs to compare various wholesalers.
Be mindful of incoterms
Incoterms are internationally recognized rules governing buyers and sellers engaged in export transactions. It’s vital that you understand them and verify your wholesaler adheres to them.
When identifying potential wholesale partners, consider these industry-specific factors for fashion, consumable, and jewelry retailers.
Wholesale fashion suppliers: Customization
If you deal in fashion products, such as clothing or shoes, determine whether your prospective supplier offers customization options. For instance, providing a popular product in multiple colors can boost sales and serve a broader customer base.
Jewelry wholesale suppliers: Quality
The last thing you want to do is sell your customers sub-par products. With that in mind, read reviews about the wholesaler's goods and ensure the quality aligns with your customers’ expectations.
Wholesale consumables: Packaging
If you deal in wholesale consumables, such as coffee or tea, you need products with eye-catching, engaging packaging. These products stand out on store shelves and digital catalogs, whereas bland, boring products often go overlooked.
Use Orderful to communicate with suppliers
Once you’ve found the right wholesale suppliers, electronic data interchange will facilitate streamlined communication and ensure your relationship thrives. Orderful’s fast, efficient EDI solutions let you and your suppliers exchange essential business documents over a structured and automated channel.
With Orderful, you can easily exchange bills of lading, purchase orders, and more. Contact us to speak to an EDI expert about how we can level up your business.