How to Find the Right Wholesale Suppliers for your Small Business

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A crucial part of inventory management is finding and working with the right wholesalers to supply your small business with inventory. Wholesale suppliers manage logistics, merchandising, delivery, and any other aspects of serving as the “middle-person” between manufacturers and retailers, which gives them a crucial role in your business’ success. Because your wholesaler can have huge impacts on your success, its important that you choose the best one for you, read on to find out how.

Types of Wholesaler Supplier

Manufacturers

Manufacturers sometimes sell directly to retailers, but mostly they prefer to sell to wholesalers because the volume is higher, and the process is simpler. Instead of dealing with lots of small retailers, most big manufacturers prefer to ship their product out the door as quickly as possible to a strategic network of big distributors.

Importers

Importers are companies that often have unique business relationships with manufacturers in other countries and have the approval to bring these foreign goods to the domestic market. Sometimes retailers can buy inventory from importers, but it requires time and relationship-building to make sure you’re a good fit for what the importer sells and to prove that you can buy a big enough volume.

Exclusive Distributors

These wholesale suppliers have an exclusive deal with a particular manufacturer or brand, often with international companies (similar to importers), and they sometimes sell directly to retailers. However, this type of wholesale supplier might not be the best fit for selling to small businesses because they are often working on a national scale and trying to build sales relationships with big retail chains.

Regional Distributors

These are smaller wholesale suppliers who sell to companies on a regional or local basis. These wholesalers can be great fits for small retail businesses.

Brokers

Brokers are small wholesale suppliers that supply products for individual retail stores. There are wholesalers for companies of every size and scale, but it all depends on finding wholesalers that are the right fit for your business. You need to find wholesalers that can sell products to you at a volume, price, and profit margin that makes sense for your business.

As your retail business grows, you can gradually get to the point where you can afford to make bigger purchases and pursue bigger deals.

Where to Find Wholesalers

The wholesale market is big and complex, so it takes some research to find the right wholesalers for your business. Start by using wholesaler directories like Worldwide Brands or Wholesale Central.

If you are an Amazon seller, check out the Amazon Services Seller Forums for advice and ideas from other Amazon sellers – you can probably get some good ideas of which wholesaler sites to explore, or which ones to avoid.

You can also find wholesale suppliers by attending trade shows and networking events at your local Chamber of Commerce, checking out the ads and wholesaler listings in trade publications, or talking directly with brand manufacturers. Even if a brand does not sell directly to retailers, they might refer you to the right wholesalers that sell their products.

You can also find wholesale suppliers or product manufacturers on eBay, Etsy, and online forums for retail sellers – but keep in mind that if you decide to buy directly from small manufacturers, there are risks to this as well. Small manufacturers might not be able to meet the product volume requirements that you need, especially during the holiday season, and might be more vulnerable to going out of business altogether.

Avoiding Wholesaler Scams

Unfortunately, as with any other area of business, the wholesale industry is not immune to scams and disreputable actors trying to cheat business owners out of their money.

The best wholesaler suppliers are “factory-authorized” wholesale suppliers that have relationships directly with brands and manufacturers, but some fake wholesalers sell unauthorized or counterfeit merchandise. Other wholesaler scams include fake wholesaler middlemen who take your order, pass it on to the real wholesaler, and mark up the price along the way.

Before you start dealing with any wholesaler, it’s important to make sure that they are real and reputable. Do your research and due diligence. Find out if there are any complaints about this wholesaler online.

Other tips for avoiding wholesaler scams include:

  • Don’t pay extra fees. Legitimate wholesalers will not charge a sign-up fee or monthly fee. They make money just by selling products to retailers.
  • Watch out for suspicious behavior. Real wholesalers operate like real businesses like yours. However, wholesaler scam artists will often be a bit cagey with the details. They don’t want a real business relationship; they just want your money.
  • Don’t buy add-on services. Real wholesalers just sell products. Scam wholesalers might try to upsell you on added services.
  • Don’t believe the hype. Another trick of scam wholesalers is to make elaborate claims about how much money you can make by using their services. Real wholesalers don’t do this; they just sell products.

Just like any other business deal, with wholesalers, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Building good relationships with wholesalers can be a competitive advantage for your small business. Ideally, you want to have a good network of companies that you buy from, with a diverse array of products and a steady supply of inventory that can grow along with your business. Do your research, investigate companies carefully, and make sure you feel confident about any wholesaler or manufacturer before you buy.


The SmallBizRising Blog is designed to be an educational content hub pulling information, best practices and practical advice for the small business owner and features topics including accountingmarketingtechnology and more.  Be sure to subscribe to stay up to date with new content as it is posted.  The blog was created by The Neat Company and receives contributed content from a group of contributing companies that provide technology, services and solutions to small businesses.

This article presented by:
Kabbage, Inc.
The Kabbage team aims to help small businesses access the funding for growth. Kabbage empowers small businesses through straightforward, flexible access to capital.
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