Unless you’re making homemade products yourself, you’ll want to source a decent wholesale supplier to provide you with the products you need to sell on your e-commerce store.
But finding the best supplier for your store is a struggle many e-commerce owners go through. You see with so many suppliers out there, all seemingly offering great deals, how do you find the right one for your business who offers not only quality products but good margins as well.
In this post, we’re going to outline the strategy you should use to find a wholesale supplier for your e-commerce store.
- The best platforms to find e-commerce suppliers
- Why you need to reach out to a range of suppliers
- The importance of checking reviews and references before you do business with anyone
- Gathering samples before you make your final decision
- How to negotiate costs to get the best margins.
Let’s dive in.
Platforms to find e-commerce suppliers
Luckily for you, there are whole marketplaces available for people to find wholesale suppliers for their products.
You could try Aliexpress or Alibaba. These platforms work in a similar way to how Amazon or eBay would work. Search for the type of products you want to sell and have an opportunity to filter it by type, style or price.
Alternatively, you can also search for what type of products are currently popular and continue your search from there. This strategy works well for general e-commerce stores. However, if you operate a store within a specific niche, you’ll have a clear idea of the type of products you need.
Aliexpress and Alibaba are generally used for people who want to source their products from China. In many cases, you can get better margins and cheaper products, but for some e-commerce vendors (especially those who want to create a premium brand, buying from China just isn’t right for their business.
If you’d prefer to work with a local wholesaler, you can do a Google search to find them in your area.
Simply type “your niche” + “your area” and you’ll be able to see a range of people in your country or city who offer wholesale products.
Reach out to a range of suppliers
Once you have a list of the e-commerce suppliers you’d like to get in touch with, you need to work out what business model you would like to use.
With some wholesalers, they’ll keep all your products in their warehouse and ship them out directly to your customers when you receive an order. This is known as dropshipping and can be lucrative as you don’t need to worry about housing stock or paying for a warehouse. However, there are often much lower margins if you choose this route.
Or you can fulfill the orders yourself. Find yourself a supplier and purchase how many products you’d like and as soon as you receive an order you can send it out to your customers. This is a much more expensive option as you have to pay for your products upfront but you do have much more control over how you ship your products and can even use it as an opportunity to provide a tailored ordering process.
When you reach out to the suppliers, the best way forward to is to try and speak with the person who makes the decisions. This will speed up the entire process. You’ll want to outline what shipping process you want to use and check whether they offer that. If you want the products to be shipped to you first, make sure you find out whether or not they have a minimum order amount.
Before you make a decision on the list of suppliers you’ve spoken to, you’ll want to get references from other buyers. If you’re using one of the popular marketplaces, like Alibaba or Aliexpress you can see the reviews directly from their sales page, but if you find the supplier elsewhere, like say from Google, for example, you’ll want to speak with other people who’ve used them.
The whole aim is for you to find a supplier you can trust who has a good reputation for working with people like you.
If you manage to get a contact name or number of a previous buyer, send an email such as this:
“Hey I’m interested in buying from this supplier and understand you’ve previously done the same. I wondered if you could tell me about their efficiency and process.”
Ask your potential e-commerce suppliers for samples
It might not happen with every supplier but it’s always worth asking for samples. Samples help you get an idea of what your product actually looks like when you hold it. With the world of online your customers never get to touch your product until they receive it in the post. It’s a good idea for you to have a solid understanding of exactly what they’ll receive. Also, if you get as many samples from as many different e-commerce suppliers as possible, you’ll have an opportunity to compare the quality and go with the one that’s best for your business.
Use this message template:
“Hi, I’ve seen your X products and really like the look of them. I was wondering if it would be possible to have a sample sent over before I make a minimum order. Thanks”
Try to get the best margins
Finding the best wholesale supplier for your business is partly about getting a high-quality product as much as it is about getting the best margins for your business. If you’re looking to lower your cost of buying the product, you’ll need to have something to leverage. For example, you might offer to buy bigger quantities of the products if they offer a discount. Or maybe you’re allowed the supplier to enter new markets. Whatever you can offer the supplier in exchange for lower margins will always help your business overall.
Getting a good supplier is all about finding someone you can trust. Make sure you’re vigilant with how you source, question and choose your supplier.
Make sure you get references from past clients and source product samples where necessary.
Once you find a good supplier who can provide you with the quality products you want to sell, you’ll be in a much stronger position to generate huge amounts of profit with your e-commerce store.
I love that you mentioned how important it is to check the reviews of your potential supplier. I'm thinking about starting a small business online, and I've researched what I need to make it work. I reached the supplier part, and I think hiring a reliable supplier is key to the success of a business. That's why I think your article is going to be helpful to me. I appreciate your tips on how to find the perfect supplier for your company.
Thanks a lot for sharing what you know, Eli! We're very happy to hear we could be helpful.