The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Best Wholesalers Online
It can feel like a tall order to find trustworthy and reliable wholesalers online who meet all of your needs for product quality and selection, delivery speed, and demand. It can be challenging when your current supplier just isn’t cutting it – especially when you’re exhausted by the thought of going to another trade show.
So the online search begins.
There are thousands of suppliers out there, but how should you know where to look? What should you even be looking for? Particularly when you’re trying to find wholesalers online, things can get real confusing, real fast.
That’s why we’re here. This post is all about helping you to track down the best online wholesalers, so you can spend less time searching for suppliers and more time building your b2b ecommerce strategy.
We’re going to look at:
- What to look for in a potential partner and how to spot bad choices
- How to do online searches to find good options
- Some questions to ask them during the “interview” process
- A few region-specific resources for finding UK, US, Australian, and Chinese suppliers
Let’s do this.
- What to Look for in an Online Wholesaler
- How to Spot Bad or Fake Wholesalers
- How to Find Wholesalers
- How to Buy from Wholesalers
- Finding Region-Specific Wholesalers
- Hang in There – the Perfect Wholesaler Is Out There
What to Look for in an Online Wholesaler
When store owners decide to go online for the first time (or even their second, or third…), one of their biggest fears is choosing the wrong supplier.
What if I choose someone who can’t meet my needs, then I have to start all over again? What if they look like a great match for me on paper, but don’t actually turn out the way I thought? Even worse: what if they turn out to be incompetent or even a scammer?
Here are a few things to put on your checklist.
- Make sure you know if a potential partner is a manufacturer or a wholesale distributor. If they’re a distributor, they’re essentially a “middle man” between you and the manufacturer, and they charge an extra fee for their services. Sometimes it’s worth it for the convenience, but sometimes you’re better off going straight to the manufacturer.
- If it’s a directory or marketplace, does it help to facilitate your transaction when you buy from one of their wholesalers? This extra support can end up saving you a lot of headaches in the long run.
- Does their customer service meet your needs? We’ll talk about how to contact potential suppliers soon, so keep this in mind. You need to make sure that right off the bat, they have promising traits like fast response times, availability, and ability to answer your questions clearly. If they don’t do that immediately, it can be a red flag.
Let’s look at some red flags for spotting partners who might be bad or fake.
How to Spot Bad or Fake Wholesalers
You’ve probably heard horror stories of honest entrepreneurs who got scammed and swindled out of their hard-earned dollars.
It’s perfectly understandable if you’re feeling hesitant. The good news is that this is the worst case scenario, and it’s unlikely to happen if you’re vigilant and aware as you look through different types of wholesalers.
Here are some of the things to look for to identify the good seeds from the bad seeds.
Check their reviews when possible. If they have lower than 4.7 stars out of 5, keep looking! The lower their ratings, the higher the chance that you’ll have some issues working with them. (Though lower reviews doesn’t necessarily mean they’re a scammer – they just might not be reliable.)
Also check to see how many reviews they have. More reviews mean more store owners have used them, which means that the ratings are more reliable. If they only have a handful of reviews, there’s more uncertainty in how accurate the reviews are.
See if it’s easy to contact them. If they don’t make it easy to contact them through their website or the phone, it’s a red flag. Reputable suppliers usually make it very easy to communicate with them.
See if they ask for your business ID or tax ID number. Legit online wholesalers will use this number to make sure you’re trustworthy and that you’re meeting your government’s requirements. Wholesalers should want to verify you the same way you want to verify them!
If the price seems way too good to be true, it probably is. If you find a cheap wholesale online store that offers prices that are significantly lower than everything else you’ve seen, it’s a red flag. Sure, you need to find a good deal for your own margins, but don’t be fooled by anything that’s exceptionally low.
How to Find Wholesalers
There are loads of options to choose from. Let’s look at some of the best online wholesalers, as well as some tools and tricks you can use to search for an option that suits your needs the best.
1. Online wholesale directories
BAOlink: You may have heard of this global directory before, as it’s linked to some of the biggest trade shows around the world. In addition to giving you access to a big list of wholesalers, the site also helps facilitate your transaction when you buy from their suppliers.
Wholesale Central: This widely popular database can help you find virtually any type of supplier, including manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and importers. You can even find dropshippers.
Worldwide Brands: A popular US-based directory. The site boasts “100% certified suppliers,” suggesting that they do a thorough job of vetting their suppliers to reduce scams. You can find light bulk and large volume wholesalers, as well as instant import buys, liquidation deals, and dropshippers.
2. Online marketplaces
Wholesale online marketplaces connect multiple wholesalers with retailers. They give you the option to compare and place orders with many different distributors in one place. No need to jump from one website to another.
Alibaba is the most popular online marketplace for wholesale purchasing.
It has everything you could possibly think of. Plus, Alibaba has several protection measures in place to protect the interests of wholesale shoppers.
There are other marketplaces, too, which we’ll look at later in the article.
3. Google searches
In addition to well-known resources, you should also do some good old-fashioned Google searching.
Say you’re looking for a wholesale directory. You can type something like “wholesale directory [your country here]” to find any that might be popular and reliable in your country. You can also try searching based on your industry or product types, like “wholesale directory home and garden.”
Make sure you click both the ad options and the organic options below the ads. Ads have the black, bolded word “Ad” next to the URL at the top of the result, and there won’t be more than three ads at the top of the search page.
Ads can be really helpful because those companies are specifically paying to show up when people are searching for them. But on the flip side, they can be equally unhelpful if those companies show up even when they’re not the most relevant choice for you.
Repeat this process with all kinds of searches, like:
- best wholesaler UK
- reputable apparel wholesalers canada
- women’s clothing wholesaler US
- wholesale distributors china
- top electronics bulk distributors germany
You get the point. Go nuts!
One you find a handful of good ones, the next step is to contact them to try and make an arrangement.
How to Buy from Wholesalers
1. Contact Your Top Choices
Once you’ve found a few distributors, it’s time to gather some information about doing business with them. Here are some key questions you should ask potential wholesalers to determine if they’re the right fit for your business.
- Do you have a minimum required order? If so, you may want to find another wholesaler who takes smaller orders.
- What will my total costs be? While you may have the wholesale price, you’ll need to factor in the shipping and handling fee, as well as other charges that come with the purchase like packaging and labelling.
- What are your payment terms? Some wholesalers may require pre-payments, whereas others may accept cash on delivery. Be sure to ask about your payment options before placing an order.
- What forms of payment do you accept? Whether it’s PayPal, credit card and/or Western Union, you’ll want to make sure the payment option is available in your country.
- What is your return policy? If the products arrive damaged, you don’t want to be stuck with pieces of them in your shop.
- What shipping options do you offer? If you need the products urgently, shipping options like sea cargo are out of question.
- Do you offer a volume discount? Wholesalers often give incentives on volume. If you agree on a certain buying goal and achieve it, find out if you can get a discount.
- What other products do you have in stock? If you’re looking to expand your product line, you may get an opportunity to buy other in-demand items from the same wholesaler.
2. Get Familiar with The Legal Requirements
Depending on which state or country you reside in, there are some requirements you’ll need to meet to buy wholesale legally.
For example, you’ll need an EIN number and a business license if you want to buy products from wholesalers online in the US.
The EIN (employer identification number) is allocated to you by the federal government. This number is used to identify businesses that need to file tax returns. The website of the Internal Revenue Service has more information on how to apply for an EIN number.
Your business license is a permit which enables you to operate a brick-and-mortar store within a specific geographical area legally. If you’re operating in the US, make sure to read this state-by-state guide to business licenses.
Some wholesalers will also ask you for a sales tax ID. They’re legally obliged to verify whether you’re able to collect sales tax, which is why legitimate wholesalers will insist you get one before you begin your wholesale buying journey. Avalara has a great state-by-state guide on sales tax permits.
The UK has different legal requirements for buying from wholesalers, while other countries have their own. Make sure you read the small print. P.S. There might also be laws pertaining to the purchase of certain items, such as CBD and hemp products.
3. Request A Contract and Make Sure You Understand It
Most wholesalers will have a few standard terms & conditions included within their agreements, so let’s briefly discuss a few of them.
This one’s self-explanatory, but make sure the contract obliges the wholesaler to inform you about any changes to prices three to four weeks before the updated prices take effect.
Look up terms like FOB (freight on board/free on board), as suppliers will frequently mention these terms in their wholesale agreements.
This section will include details about your agreed payment terms, and which forms of payment are acceptable.
Legitimate wholesalers usually provide a guarantee that your order will be delivered as described, or will be repaired, replaced, or refunded should that not be the case.
This clause relieves both the retailer and wholesaler of any obligation or liability in the case of events outside of their control – think flooding, riots, or a hurricane.
Inspection and Return
This section of the contract mentions the timeframe you get to reject the goods delivered, and how to contact the supplier to arrange a return.
This isn’t an exhaustible list, but you should always take the time to read any contractual terms sent to you before you place an order.
Finding Region-Specific Wholesalers
You have a general list of some of the most popular wholesalers and how to find your own. Let’s go one step further by looking at some regional wholesalers.
How to Find Wholesalers in the UK
The easiest way to connect with UK-based wholesalers is to sign up on these websites.
You can also try getting a copy of a wholesale print publication like “The Trader Magazine.” These publications feature a variety of wholesale adverts, as well as relevant contacts.
How to Find US Wholesalers
There are many wholesale online stores in the USA where you can buy lots of products at reasonable prices. BuyerZone is one of the leading websites of importers, wholesale manufacturers, and distributors. Other popular websites include:
You can also join wholesaleforum.com and other industry forums to engage with other retailers. They’re often a great source of information about wholesalers.
How to Find Chinese Wholesalers Online
If you’re looking to buy products from China wholesalers online, make sure to check out the websites below.
The majority of these websites offer buyer protection measures like supplier verifications, refunds for damaged products, and more.
Hang in There – the Perfect Wholesaler Is Out There
As you set forth into the great, vast internet, you’ll find that there are more choices than you can wrap your head around. As you use the methods we discussed to search for good choices, write them down on a piece of paper or in a spreadsheet on your computer. You might also want to take notes on the best qualities you see in certain wholesalers and what makes them different.
When you move into the contracting phase, we encourage you to judge strictly. Hold them to high standards so that you can be sure they’ll meet your needs in the long run.
And most importantly: hang in there. If you have a thorough, efficient way of searching and vetting, you’re bound to find the best wholesale websites and companies to meet your needs.