Even as a wholesaler, you need suppliers that can meet the unique needs of your business. Unless you are running a full manufacturing facility, you’ll need to find wholesale suppliers that can handle your volume of business at a price within your budget. It's also important to find a supplier that is reliable and works in the areas you want to do business.
However, that’s easier said than done. According to the Small Business Administration, there are roughly 300,000 distributors in the United States’s wholesale network alone. With so many, it can take ages to select the best right wholesale supplier for your business.
First, keep in mind the common problems associated with finding wholesale items for sale in bulk. For instance, you’ll need to consider volume. Prices are typically low only for larger volume orders, and you will need to discuss how smaller orders may impact your profit margins.
The size of your company could also be an issue. Suppliers have different minimum order requirements, and you need to be cognizant of those limitations.
Finally, be aware of processing times and return policies. You could end up being stuck with merchandise that arrives damaged, so read the fine print and clarify these terms and conditions.
Price is a critical factor in choosing a wholesale supplier. On the one hand, you get what you pay for. There are different types of wholesale suppliers, and they each offer a different menu of services. You have traditional wholesale suppliers like manufacturers, but there are also complementary producers as well as independent brokers. Depending on the products you sell and your business goals, one may be more appropriate than another.
On the other hand, the price will vary considerably between suppliers. Make sure you shop around for the best price, comparing specific B2B functions and factoring in how your volume and return rate impacts those costs. While you may be able to negotiate some of those terms, comparing costs on an “apples-to-apples” basis will help narrow your decision.
Don’t be afraid to ask for references. “Your supplier is like a business partner — you need to make sure you can work together and that you’re on the same page,” explains The Balance. “Do your homework and ensure the right fit between your two companies.” References from their existing customers can help you spot potential red flags while helping you determine how reliable a supplier has been in the past.
Reliability is especially important in B2B eCommerce because you may not be able to receive your merchandise before it ships to your customer. Aside from shipping times, you’ll also need to make sure that your brand is portrayed consistently throughout your supply chain. That includes everything from displays to pricing.
Finally, keep your business model in mind. Local wholesale suppliers will only be able to sell within one country, while international wholesale suppliers can cross borders. The latter will have knowledge of customs and tariffs that local distributors will not, although you will have to pay for their expertise.
At the same time, domestic suppliers may have more well-developed networks. You may find that it makes the most sense for you to use one company for domestic distribution and another for international, or you may opt to keep all distribution services at a single company. Whatever the case, why not make a checklist of the factors that matter most and rank each potential supplier against each of your criteria to ensure you select a partner who can truly provide what you need.