As an entrepreneur, two relationships matter the most- the relationship you have with your customers and the relationship you have with your suppliers. These two are crucial to the survival of your business; without them, you're going to quickly sink to the bottom with no way of staying afloat.
Before you can begin operating your business, you need to find your suppliers. Contacting your suppliers directly is always the best approach to go with.
Here are a couple of guidelines to follow when sourcing for a manufacturer or supplier online:
Google - The tried-and-true method that never fails. Good old Google. You're still going to have to research thoroughly, though, despite this search engine's excellent job. You'll most likely have thousands of results for wholesalers, but there is a possibility you may not find the best suppliers out there for your business needs in the top 10 on your search results. That's because wholesalers are sometimes not very good at marketing and promoting their business.
Search Oberlo - This comes with the convenience of automatically fulfilling your orders quickly and easily, customizing your products and even turning to automatic pricing to get the job done. Easily import products from suppliers directly to your online store with Oberlo if you want to. Or you could even choose to ship the products directly to the customer.
Don't Judge Based on Appearances - Looks can be deceiving. While some wholesalers do put to design an attractive and detailed website, don't be fooled by a poorly designed site. They could be fantastic suppliers, except that they're not so great with the technical and marketing part of the business.
Order from Your Competitors - If your competitors are doing well, they're doing something right. One of them is having a great supplier with a great product to sell. One creative approach to sourcing a supplier is to order directly from the competition. Once you receive your package, use Google to find the return address to find out the original shipper. You can also contact the supplier to find out.
Supplier Directories - A supplier database is another way of sourcing for potentials based on your niche. Some directories use a screening process to authenticate that their suppliers are legit. This is helpful but not a necessity. Directories are merely a convenient method of quickly searching and browsing through many suppliers. Finding significant suppliers can be done with good old trusty research, especially when you've established the product or niche you want.
You could turn to two places when you're sourcing your suppliers. Online and offline. Let's look at some of these options and go through the pros and cons.
Online Supplier 1 - AliBaba.com
Easily the most recognizable name online is wholesale supplier Alibaba. The platform may be popular, but you should remember that Alibaba is your online version of the Yellow Pages. Alibaba is a listing page featuring suppliers, but none of these suppliers are vetted by the platform. This leads to some suppliers having reservations about using Alibaba, with concerns over scams, getting the wrong product, and getting your delivery late being among the significant reasons they would hesitate. Alibaba does verify its supplier information, but as someone looking for reliable suppliers, you shouldn't be banking on the 'gold supplier' badge alone and decide that they are suitable suppliers to work with.
Online Supplier 2 - AliExpress.com
Aliexpress is a great option. Think of this as a version of eBay, but with sellers who hail mainly from China and ship products to customers worldwide. Selling both small and wholesale items, this is a great platform to test the waters with small orders or before you start ordering in bulk for your FBA store. However, if you want to build a scalable business, you need to venture out and deal with the manufacturer directly.
Online Supplier 3 - Global Sources
Among the advantages of using this platform include the suppliers; they showcase having more experience with the export market. Global Services has an offline component that Alibaba does not feature. The company usually begins by organizing trade shows held in Spring and Fall and hosted in Hong Kong. These trade fairs are a perfect opportunity to meet and build relationships with other suppliers and a chance to look into the products they have.
Offline Supplier 1 - Trade Shows
As advanced and convenient as technology is, some areas where suitable old-fashioned methods work best. Seeing and meeting your suppliers firsthand is one of those moments. A conventional trade show is still one of the most popular methods of sourcing offline suppliers, a deeply rooted practice in the business world. It is one of the most effective ways to forge close partnerships and gain referrals by showing up in person. International trade shows, in particular, allow you to learn and gather more information straight from the horse's mouth about the country you are dealing with, the business climate and how they can help open up new markets for you. You will also be able to find better target pricing, better payment flexibility, and better packaging and product modifications.
Offline Supplier 2 - Conducting Site or Factory Visits
The best way to determine the reliability of a supplier is to vet them yourself instead of relying on a platform or other seller reviews to do it for you. How do you do it yourself? By paying a visit to their factory directly. Many suppliers are very open to meeting their customers or giving you a quote to understand their prices. For instance, Millennium packaging materials offer customers the opportunity to request a quote using a simple online form on their website. Once you've found a supplier you would like to work with, and if they are located within the same vicinity, you are, it's a good idea to consider visiting them and to see the production of a product.
Offline Supplier 3 - Using Referrals
The referral method is another underestimated powerful tool. Want to find the best suppliers in the business? The answer could be as simple as asking around. Ask for referrals and potential suppliers you can reach out to when you visit the trade show. Ask your business acquaintances, family or friends who might know somebody. Scour through online forums and social media platforms to see which suppliers are the talk of the town. You'll get plenty of feedback (both positive and negative) that'll give you some idea about where to start.
Offline Supplier 4 - Sourcing Companies and Trading Agents
Working with experienced agents or trading companies who have been in this business for a while can prove to be a fruitful venture. You can focus on getting your business started while the agents hunt for the best suppliers in the industry. That is, of course, if you have the budget to enlist the help of these agents or companies. The pro with this approach would be the time-saving factor and the fact that you'll have fewer headaches.
Published by super sunny