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Oct 28, 2020
10 tips for finding a wholesale distributor
Wholesaler is a business that typically buys its products directly from the manufacturers and sells them to other businesses. A wholesaler wouldn’t typically operate a store, instead they supply other businesses with the inventory required to sell to your customers. More and more wholesalers are now also ‘dropshipping’ directly to your customers reducing the need to carry inventory, making it easier than ever to expand into the world of E-commerce. So whether your still running a traditional bricks & mortar operation or planning on running a completely digital business wholesale distributors will play a vital role in connecting products from manufacturer to customers. 

The Fundamentals 

As a business there is no limit to the number of wholesalers you can work with, and using a platform like Soomi you can sell an unlimited amount of products to your customers. The first step however, is to make sure your partnering with the right wholesalers. Before you can know which wholesale distributor to work with your business needs to know what product or service do you want to sell. Once you know what your looking for you can start look at whether the wholesale distributor:

  • Has prices you can afford? And can you still sell the products with your profit margin added? 
  • Can connect you with the products & manufacturers your business needs 
  • Serves your geographic region
  • Has reliable and trustworthy service? And are they easy to work with? 

Tip 1 – Understand your industry distribution channel 

Not all wholesalers serve the same market and there are many ways a product can take the journey from manufacturer to retailers. By understanding the distribution channels and supply chains for your specific industry this can help you find the right wholesale supplier for your bricks & mortar business or online E-commerce store. These can include: 

Importer/Exclusive Distributor – In certain countries there may be a company that has the sole right to import and re-distribute that product in a certain country. They may sell directly to the retailer or other wholesalers who operate on a smaller local scale who in turn sell on to retailers.   

Manufacturer – Sometimes for certain products you can buy directly from the manufacturer. This is often more common in boutique stores who occasionally deal with smaller manufacturers. 

Jobbers – These are individuals who make daily deliveries to local stores, grocers and retail brick & mortar outfits. 

Wholesaler/Regional Distributors – These are usually regional wholesalers who take delivery of boxcar sized lots and sell to either local wholesalers or small businesses. 

Depending on the volume of products a business sells some retailers will be able to bypass some of the wholesale chain. Each industry is unique, but as your business grows remember you may start with more expensive pricing from a jobber but eventually you will be able buy closer to the start chain, increase volumes and margins. Get started and get moving up that supply ladder. 

Tip 2 – Try Out The Manufacturer

Always check to see if you can deal direct with manufacturers before starting at a wholesaler. They will often refer you to a wholesaler if they can’t help, but if you can cut out the middle man you will see a great upturn in profit margins. 

If your selling branded items by starting at the source you may be able to meet their minimum order requirements and if you are too small for them ask them directly for their reputable distributors who you can contact. The manufacturer wants their products to sell and will usually give great advice on how you can also co-ordinate with an exiting distribution channel. 
Don’t be afraid to ask for samples of the product you intend to sell. If your unsure this can often help you decide whether this product is for you by inspecting its final quality and looking the product over. 

Tip 3 – Get Specific and Search Online 

As wholesale distributors designed to sell to other businesses you should be able to find these business on Google. The challenge is to be specific to use the search engine to eliminate the retailers where possible. If you search online include the words wholesaler or distributor as well as the keywords from your specific industry. If you just search the brand you will likely only find retailers. You can include product names, model numbers a great tip for google is to use “ “ in your search. “Google search” in speech marks forces google to look for those exact words placed together and will really narrow your search. 
The more potential wholesalers relevant to your industry you find, the better position you’ll find yourself to compare pricing, understand normal industry pricing, forecast RRP structures and ensure you are getting competitive quotes. 

Tip 4 – Productive First Contact With a Wholesale Supplier 

Following your research with your self generated online list, manufacturer recommendations, phonebook listings or even wholesale directory there are key things you need to find out: 

  • What are their minimum order requirements? 
  • What are their wholesale unit prices? 
  • What geographic region do they supply? 

Email/Phone your initial point of contact doesn’t matter, but if they don’t get back in touch then you should follow up by phone. It’s the fastest way to get information or let a supplier know you intent to move forwards. Be honest about your size and plans for scale this will help you connect with the right partners for your business, but in return don’t be frightened to let them know your comparing the market and doing research to start. Even if you plan to start small this will often ensure your are getting offered the best prices. 

Tip 5 – Search TradeMe or Ebay for Wholesale Lots 

With TradeMe and Ebay these sites mainly target retail customers you’ll often find lower volume retailers. If your just starting out in E-commerce it’s a great place to connect to others selling directly to consumers and they will likely have a business-to-business side of their business as well. Its easy to contact a seller directly on these platforms and find out if there is an opportunity to partner and sell more products. 

Tip 6 – Use The Major B2B Marketplaces

  • There are lots of online marketplaces where you can buy large amounts of products at low prices. is one of the biggest B2B marketplaces, you will typically find manufacturers, importers and wholesale dsitributors all in the same place. Don’t forget to also check: 
  • Global Sources (USA)
  • Buyer Zone (USA)
  • EC21 (Korea)
  • EC Plaza (Korea)
  • Busy Trade (Hong Kong)
You can find industry specific marketplaces especially for B2B, but don’t forget to ensure that who ever your looking at,  to make sure their serve your country or region. 

Tip 7 – Subscribe To Trade Publications 

Industry specific trade magazines have a wealth of information readily available for your business and the relationships in your industry. The majority of advertisers in the magazine will be a product manufacture or distributor trying to engage you. Subscribing to one issue can provide you with the information you need for your industry to make the connections you need to get started. Don’t forget newsletters, online emails and blogs may also be of use and could be the best way to keep up with the daily/weekly industry specific news. 

Tip 8 – Get To A Trade Show 

Trade shows are often a great way to get out there in your industry. Build your network and your business at the same time! You can meet and speak with dozens of wholesalers and manufacturers in a single day. is the largest directory of online trade shows, with the ability to filter by industry, date, city, region, country or event name. By getting involved face-to-face and all in one place you could save your self misinformation and really maximize your time by meeting your new potential partners in one place. 

Tip 9 - Join Industry Groups, Forums, and Other Professional Networks

Experienced business owners from your industry or niche are often the best source of information about wholesalers. Don’t forget they may not be overly eager to share the information with potential competitors. By investing time in networking and making connections in the industry you may be able to be referred to the right partners for your business. 

Get involved online in forum discussions, absorb all the free information from people with experience in your sector and make sure your Linkedin profile is up to date. Follow industry newsletter and your local business association or chamber of commerce 

More experienced small business owners in your industry or niche are often the best source of information about wholesalers. However, other retailers likely will not be eager to share supplier information with competitors. Invest time in networking to build the trust and connections that will help you find the best possible wholesale suppliers for your small business.

Participate in online forums which can be a great source of free information and help from other people with experience in your market or industry. You can also build your LinkedIn profile, subscribe to industry newsletters, and join your local business association or Chamber of Commerce. Check out the small business networking groups on social media to build your professional connections.

Final Tip – Don’t Be Afraid To Make A Mistake 

One of the most important elements to starting and growing your business. If you are too worried about everything being perfect chances are you will likely be to afraid of making a mistake. Starting a successful business is a series of trial and error, you will always look back on your mistakes as part of the journey that lead to your success and when your business grows and you achieve success remember you only need to get it completely right with your partnerships one time. 
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