Your wholesale supplier is a linchpin in your business. If you do everything right but your supplier doesn’t deliver, nothing else really matters.
That’s why picking the right wholesale supplier (or suppliers, as we discuss in tip #5) is crucial to your company’s success. It’s not a task you can leave to someone else - as the owner of your business, you need to make sure for yourself you have the right suppliers for your product.
Therefore, here are 5 tips on finding the right wholesale product supplier for your business:
In spite of the incredible amount of information online, word-of-mouth is still the best and most reliable way to find credible suppliers. Reach out to your network of professional contacts for recommendations. Even if your network doesn’t have direct experience, people in your contacts’ network may know someone.
Trade shows are often the best place to find information. Professionals in the industry with years of experience can quickly list the best and worst suppliers to work with. As long as you’re a serious professional yourself, you shouldn’t have any trouble finding someone willing to share their knowledge.
Another source is local and regional organizations, such as a chamber of commerce or an import-export organization. Go to meetings or simply call the office. While some people may not have the name of a good supplier, they may be able to steer you away from ones with a bad reputation. Knowing who not to use is sometimes just as important.
2. Don’t Be Cheap
Cheap doesn’t always mean less expensive. Don’t select a supplier simply because they’ve provided the lowest rate. There are many more factors to consider. Do they have a good record with their other clients? Is it easy to work with them? Are they flexible? Do they have favorable payment terms?
This may be the most important question of all: do they deliver on their promises? One late delivery could irreparably damage your relationship with a client. Finding a reliable supplier to partner with will save you money in the long-run.
3. Ask Questions
Don’t be afraid to be pushy. You’re placing a significant part of your business’s success in your supplier’s hands - you need to do everything you can to make sure they’re the right one for the job. Send your drawings or prototypes to them and make sure they understand what you need. Ask how they would be able to respond in different situations. Get to know them.
It’s almost like selecting a business partner. You need to know you’ll both be able to work together, especially when circumstances change or the market shifts. Taking time in the beginning to understand exactly who you’re working with before making a final decision will save you time and money later on.
4. Ask for referrals
The best way to double-check their credibility is by speaking directly with their customers. If the customer is satisfied, they should be happy to speak with you about the supplier and highly recommend them. When you speak with them, listen carefully. While a satisfied customer may not directly voice a complaint, you can sometimes read between the lines. The most important thing is gain a better perspective on exactly how the supplier conducts business, and then judge whether it fits you.
5. Be Your Own Supplier
Sometimes you won’t find the perfect supplier. They may not specialize in a component you’re looking for or perhaps they can’t supply in the quantities you need. In this case, you can be your own supplier. Source your supply needs from a few manufacturers and then assemble your own product. While this requires much more time and resources than having a single supplier, it may be the best way to ensure your product is exactly what you want and have control over final distribution.