5 Simple Ways to Find the Best Wholesale Suppliers
Finding the best wholesale suppliers wouldn’t be such a nightmare if it weren’t so dang important.
Why? Because your wholesale suppliers are your business partners. A great one can propel you to success, and a bad one can be a massive headache.
That’s why in this article, we’ll show you five ways to find the best wholesale suppliers. We’ll also show you how to avoid the bad apples.
Let’s get straight to it.
- How Do I Find Wholesale Suppliers?
- 1. Contact the Manufacturer to Find Their Wholesale Suppliers
- 2. Find Local Wholesale Suppliers
- 3. Search Google for Domestic and International Wholesale Suppliers
- 4. Find Wholesale Suppliers at Trade Shows
- 5. Use a Wholesale Supplier Directory
- Wholesale Supplier Directory #1: Alibaba
- Wholesale Supplier Directory #2: IndiaMart
- Wholesale Supplier Directory #3: Global Sources
- Wholesale Supplier Directory #4: Handshake
- How to Find the Best Wholesale Suppliers
- Should You Use Domestic or International Wholesale Suppliers?
- How to Avoid Unscrupulous Wholesale Suppliers
- Summary: How to Find Wholesale Suppliers
How Do I Find Wholesale Suppliers?
Here are five ways to find wholesale suppliers for your store.
We’ll start with some lesser-known ways and then take a closer look at some online wholesale supplier directories.
1. Contact the Manufacturer to Find Their Wholesale Suppliers
If you already know the product that you’d like to sell, you can simply get in touch with the manufacturer and ask for a list of their wholesale distributors.
Easy enough, right?
For example, say you want to sell the LifeStraw water purifier device.
All you need to do is find out what company makes the product – in this case, Vestergaard. Then, go to its website, and find a contact form or phone number to call.
In this example, Vestergaard provides an option to let the company know that we’re interested in selling its products.
After getting in touch with a few of the leading manufacturers in your industry, you should be able to identify the leading wholesale dealers.
There’s a bonus to this method, too.
Most wholesale suppliers carry many different products from a variety of manufacturers. This means that you should be able to quickly source a selection of products in your niche.
Still, it’s not a perfect system.
This strategy doesn’t work well if you’re looking to source generic products that are produced by many manufacturers, such as unbranded women’s clothes.
In this case, you’d want to shop around for a good price instead.
2. Find Local Wholesale Suppliers
Before you look for a wholesale vendor in China or India, why not see if there’s a great wholesaler in your backyard?
This strategy will cut shipping costs and lead times.
Plus, you can inspect the goods in person. It’s also much easier to develop a close personal relationship with your wholesale supplier if you can meet face-to-face regularly.
To get started, simply use Google to search “[your location] [products] wholesaler.”
In the example below, we searched “New York toy wholesaler” and immediately found some companies worth a call.
You can also search to see if there are wholesale directories or magazines in your area.
The downside is that if you source a wholesale dealer locally, it’s likely that you won’t have as wide a selection of products to choose from.
Still, if face-to-face relationships, low-cost shipping, and sourcing locally are important to you, this may be a good way to go.
3. Search Google for Domestic and International Wholesale Suppliers
OK, it might seem obvious, but you can use Google to find wholesale vendors from around the world – however, you’ll need to search a lot.
Wholesale dealers are notoriously bad at marketing and promotion. So, it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll find the best wholesale supplier for your store by just searching “children’s toys wholesale suppliers.”
It helps to switch up your search terms. For example, you can try adding words like “distributor” and “bulk.”
Make your search as specific as possible, and don’t be afraid to wade through the search results pages.
Here we are on page 8 of Google…
The major downside to this method is that it takes time.
You’ll need to send tons of emails and make plenty of phone calls. You’ll also need to vet every single wholesale supplier from scratch.
It’s also worth noting that wholesale vendors often have terrible websites. Some of these websites look like they were made in the ’90s and haven’t been touched since.
(My editor killed the example I’d put in here because we don’t dunk on people around here, but rest assured it was brutal…)
However, don’t let a cringe-worthy website scare you off.
Many legitimate wholesale suppliers simply don’t care about their internet presence because they have such a healthy business from other marketing means.
4. Find Wholesale Suppliers at Trade Shows
[NOTE: This was a pre-covid suggestion. When we updated this article in August, this part… yeah, doesn’t look so hot. But we’re going to leave it here because we reckon trade shows will come back. Some day. Maybe.]
OK, but what are trade shows exactly?
A trade show is an exhibition where manufacturers, distributors, and wholesale dealers display their latest products.
Retailers attend trade shows to discover new products and strike up connections with wholesale suppliers.
It’s pretty cool if you have the time.
In just a few days, you can vet countless products in person. You don’t have to wait for samples to arrive in the post.
Plus, there are representatives available from each wholesale supplier to answer your questions.
Pretty much every industry has trade shows.
You can search online for upcoming trade shows near you or check out these websites to learn more:
If you have a larger budget to invest in finding a wholesale supplier, you might want to consider attending an overseas trade show.
Canton Fair is a massive trade show held in China every year.
However, it’s not for the faint of heart. Canton Fair brings about 200,000 people together to do business with 25,000 exhibitors!
Most trade shows happen annually, so you might need to wait a while before using this method to find a wholesale vendor.
5. Use a Wholesale Supplier Directory
There are tons of online wholesale marketplaces available.
These supplier directories are typically organized by location, market, product, niche, and more. This makes it easy to hone in on the best wholesale supplier for your store.
And that’s not all.
Most wholesale supplier directories vet companies before listing their details.
In other words, they do their best to weed out the bad apples so you can spend your time finding the best wholesale supplier for your business.
These supplier directories are also a convenient way to brainstorm new product ideas and stay ahead of trends.
Here’s a quick rundown of four wholesale supplier directories.
Wholesale Supplier Directory #1: Alibaba
Alibaba is huge.
As China’s largest online commerce company, it connects manufacturers, wholesale vendors, and retailers in more than 200 countries.
It’s also famous for achieving the largest US IPO in history – bigger than Google, Facebook, and Twitter combined.
As a result, it has a massive selection of wholesale suppliers to choose from.
Alibaba’s built-in vetting service allows wholesale dealers to collect reviews and accreditations to prove their trustworthiness.
There are plenty of high-quality suppliers on Alibaba. However, due to the vast volume of wholesale suppliers, it can be difficult to find them.
That being said, there are many savvy scammers on the platform. Proceed with caution.
Wholesale Supplier Directory #2: IndiaMart
IndiaMart is India’s largest ecommerce platform and is packed full of potential wholesale partners.
Many of the website’s wholesale suppliers operate in the industrial sectors. However, this wholesale directory is so large, you’ll find suppliers in seemingly every category.
IndiaMart’s accreditation system also helps to verify the trustworthiness of each wholesale vendor.
The downside is that with so many wholesale suppliers to wade through, it can be difficult to find the perfect one for your business.
And like Alibaba, you’ll also need to watch out for scams.
Wholesale Supplier Directory #3: Global Sources
Global Sources is another leading online wholesale marketplace.
Based in Hong Kong, it lists wholesale suppliers from around the world in a broad range of industries.
Again, this supplier directory is a great place to pick up new product ideas.
Global Sources is very similar to Alibaba and IndiaMart in many ways. However, we particularly like that each product page includes a margin calculator tool.
Once more, there are countless legitimate wholesale dealers on Global Sources, as well as plenty of unsavory characters.
So, make sure to do your due diligence before entering into any agreement or sending money to a supplier.
Wholesale Supplier Directory #4: Handshake
This leading ecommerce platform has everything you need to sell online, on social media, or in person.
Although Handshake is small compared to the colossal supplier directories mentioned above, its size is its key strength.
This community-driven operation is focused on quality.
Each wholesale supplier is strictly vetted, and the platform still has a vast selection of products available.
Plus, you won’t find the generic products that you see in abundance on Alibaba or Global Sources. Handshake is on a mission to connect retailers with suppliers selling unique products.
How to Find the Best Wholesale Suppliers
Your wholesale supplier is your business partner – they can make or break your business.
So, how can you spot a good one?
Here are five questions to bear in mind when selecting a wholesale vendor for your store.
1. Do They Have a Track Record?
It’s best to find a wholesale supplier that’s been in the business for at least a few years and has some experience.
If you’re in doubt, ask for references to make sure they have a track record.
2. Do They Provide Dedicated Support Representatives?
Quality wholesale suppliers should assign you an individual sales representative.
This is vital.
You want a go-to person at the company. Having a dedicated representative prevents miscommunication and shortens the amount of time it takes for problems to be resolved.
3. Are They Organized?
Do they take days to respond to your messages?
Do they never seem to pick up the phone or call you back when they say they will? If you visit the warehouse in person, is it clean and organized?
Look for the warning signs of a disorganized company.
4. Are They Experts in Your Industry?
The best wholesale suppliers have knowledgeable sales representatives who know the industry and their product lines inside and out.
Ask them questions specific to your industry to gauge their knowledge.
Having a representative to help guide you is invaluable – especially if you’re expanding into a niche you’re unfamiliar with.
5. Do They Have Fair Policies?
You want to make sure that if something goes wrong, you’ll be treated fairly.
So, don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions: What happens if the shipment is delivered late? What happens if the goods arrive damaged?
Make sure the wholesale vendor’s policies are fair and detailed in any contract you sign.
Should You Use Domestic or International Wholesale Suppliers?
In 2020, you have the option of working with wholesale dealers at home or abroad.
Let’s run through some of the key differences between using wholesale suppliers in the USA versus using wholesale vendors in a country like China or India.
Using International Wholesale Suppliers
The main advantage of working with a wholesale supplier in China or India is that you can usually source products cheaper than in the United States.
This makes it easier to generate higher profits on the products you sell.
O.K., but why are wholesale suppliers in India and China generally less expensive?
In short, labor costs are much cheaper because these countries don’t have as strict labor laws as the United States.
For example, the U.S. enforces a minimum wage, restricts the hours that children can work, and requires high levels of health and safety compliance.
However, sourcing from these countries could end up being more expensive – at least at the beginning before you can reach the economies of scale.
Although the products might be cheaper when working with a wholesale supplier in India or China, you need to factor in customs fees and shipping costs.
You’ll also need to factor in longer lead times for your products to arrive.
China is far.
Using Wholesale Suppliers in the USA
Wholesale suppliers in the USA might charge more for their products, but they may be better quality.
And although you may have less selection to choose from, your shipping costs won’t be as high, and it won’t take so long to receive your shipments.
Plus, you won’t have to worry about customs fees.
Another benefit of working with wholesale suppliers in the USA is that it’s far easier to communicate. Everyone is in the same time zone and speaks the same language.
How to Avoid Unscrupulous Wholesale Suppliers
While most wholesale dealers are legitimate businesses, there are people looking to exploit unsuspecting customers.
Here are five quick things you can do to avoid wasting your time on fraudulent companies and scammers.
1. Verify Their Address
All real wholesale vendors will openly list their addresses. Here’s an example from Super Toys:
You can also look up a company’s address on Google Street View to check that it’s a real warehouse.
If the company doesn’t have an address or it looks like an abandoned car park on Google Street View, run. Runaway fast.
2. Call Them on the Phone
The wholesale supplier should always have a phone number on its website. Calling the wholesale dealer is an easy way to determine that it’s a legitimate company.
If someone doesn’t pick up the phone during business hours or you reach an automated message that sounds iffy, tread carefully.
3. Search Google for Unhappy Customers
Thankfully, many people post online when they’ve had a bad experience with a company.
To find these posts, search the wholesale supplier’s company name on Google along with words like “scam,” “fraud,” or “ripoff.”
Hopefully, nothing will show up!
4. Make Sure They Accept Credit Cards or Checks
If the wholesale supplier wants you to send money via wire transfer, be careful.
Nearly every legitimate wholesale vendor accepts credit cards or checks – and the ones that don’t are extremely rare.
Stay safe and always pay by card or check.
5. Check if They’re Listed on the Better Business Bureau
If the wholesale dealer is based in the United States, you can check if it’s listed on the Better Business Bureau (BBB)’s website.
It’s not a sure sign that you’re dealing with a scammer, but it’s worth taking into account.
Summary: How to Find Wholesale Suppliers
The wholesale vendor that you partner with can make or break your business. So, it’s worth taking the time to find the best one for your store.
In summary, here are five ways to find a wholesale supplier for your store:
- Contact the manufacturer of the product that you want to stock, and ask for a list of their wholesale dealers.
- Search the web and local catalogs for local wholesale suppliers that you can contact.
- Search Google extensively for wholesale vendors, and vet each potential company carefully.
- Attend trade shows locally or abroad – you can use websites like Trade Shows News Network to find relevant events.
- Use an online wholesale supplier marketplace like Alibaba or Handshake.
It’s best to search for a wholesale vendor that:
- Has a proven track record
- Is well-organized
- Provides a dedicated sales representative
- Has expert knowledge in your industry
- Has fair policies
How do you find your wholesale suppliers? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!