A Guide to Finding a Wholesaler for Your E-Commerce Business
If you’re starting or expanding your e-commerce business, choosing a wholesaler who will supply your inventory is a crucial decision. Get it right, and you’ll be golden; get it wrong, and you could lose your ability to supply products to customers on time, compete on price, or set margins that will help you make enough profit. When choosing your wholesaler, you’ll need to take their ability to help you deliver on all these factors into account.
Wholesaling is a big business, with over 300,000 providers in the US alone. It’s also an extraordinarily diverse industry, as wholesalers work across all facets of retail, including food, medical, clothing and shoes, technology, and more. Some wholesalers will specialize, and some will ship products across multiple sectors.
Before deciding on a wholesaler, you’ll need to understand the nature of your business and its aims entirely. Looking at your pricing matrix and margins will help you figure out the pricing you need to get from your wholesaler, and what volume you’ll need to purchase to get it. It may be necessary for you to agree on a long-term contract, but it’s important to make sure, especially if you’re small and just starting, that your wholesaler treats you just as well as they do with their more established clients.
To make sure you get excellent service, choose a wholesaler that has great reviews from other businesses similar to yours, and that understands your goals.
Finding a Wholesaler
With so many wholesalers around the country, where do you even look for one? Online business associations are a great place to start, and there are directories you can search. You can also ask your local small business development center or Chamber of Commerce.
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What to Look For
When selecting a wholesaler, there are some criteria you should look for.
- Product offering – Ask if your potential wholesaler offers the products you want, in the quantities you want, and in the specific colors and sizes, and others that you want. If you’re planning to expand your inventory at a later date, ask your wholesaler about these products, too. Also, don’t forget the availability. You never want to get caught out of stock.
- Shipping – Shipping reliability is essential, as even if you’re able to source products quickly enough, if they aren’t shipped to you on time, your customers won’t be impressed. Late deliveries look bad on you, not on your wholesaler, and it’s you that will lose the customer.
- Customer service – Make sure there’s always someone available to talk to you if there’s a problem, either via live chat, email, or on the phone. Business needs can change rapidly, and you need to know your wholesaler can respond just as quickly.
- Price – Look at a range of wholesalers to determine which is best on price. It’s not just the price of your inventory that you need to look at. Shipping, administrative costs, and currency exchange (if you’re shipping overseas) can all add up. Make sure you cover all your bases, or you might get caught out.