Online Business Finding the right supplier or suppliers is essential to every business’s success. This fact is truer if you are selling primarily online, and the only time that a customer will ever get to actually see the product is when it gets delivered to their home.
Returns over defects and buyer’s remorse and disappointment hurt your business in the long run. So it’s only right to have reliable sources of quality goods and materials by your side to keep your store open and grow it to profitability.
Meet the Entities You’ll Partner for Your Business
Suppliers generally refer to a person or company that can provide you with the products to sell online. Your choice will impact the cost and convenience of acquiring the goods.
With that general definition, check out your major options for a supplier for your business:
- A manufacturer produces the products. If you want to develop your own product, it is the best entity to ask. Working directly with a manufacturer can result in lower prices and costs overall.
The manufacturer can require you to order a certain number of units for your first and subsequent orders. Thus, you’ll need to effectively calculate demand and the cost of storing inventory.
- A distributor is an intermediary between the manufacturer and retailers or end-users. The distributor is in direct contact with the manufacturer, marketing and selling the latter’s products.
Sourcing products from distributors can be a viable option, allowing you to access
products without directly contacting the manufacturer. Of course, the products will be
subject to the distributor’s pricing.
- A wholesaler buys products from a manufacturer or distributor and sells them to retailers at wholesale prices. It can offer wholesale prices by buying in large quantities.
While distributors work with manufacturers, wholesalers deal more with retailers,
businesses, institutions, and consumers.
- A dropshipping company or partner fulfills the order of an online seller. This entity can be a manufacturer, wholesaler, or another retailer perhaps.
The dropshipping fulfillment method doesn’t require you to hold an inventory of products.
Shipping the items also becomes the responsibility of the dropshipper.
- Independent craftspeople provide you with handmade, niche, and unique products.
These independent makers work with companies, business networks, or representatives.
Gather Your Sources
Online is your first stop for gathering information about these potential partners for your business. You can follow your leads and do some legwork from your initial search.
- Check business directories, such as Facebook Pages and Yelp. Look into the business profile, customer reviews (find the most recent ones), and contact information.
- Browse B2B marketplaces. Alibaba.com is one quintessential example of where anything you want to source can be found. SaleHoo.com is another platform mostly used for dropshipping.
- Attend trade shows. Check your local government website for a listing of shows and resources. Whether you go to local or international trade shows, make the most of the opportunity to talk with suppliers or their representatives directly.
- Connect with the company’s representatives or agents. They’ll most likely be your main point of contact with the manufacturer or independent maker.
Be wary of any information posted on websites. Do your due diligence always, and verify the legitimacy of any business entity before transacting with them. In the same way, have proof of identity and financial capacity as a business.
Educate yourself about engaging your online business and spotting supplier scams.
If you list the top characteristics of a supplier, consider these:
- Communication: It’s the ease of communicating with them in clear and understandable terms from the outset. As a (potential) client, you understandably have lots of questions or even want to negotiate. And an entity that is transparent and helpful with your inquiries is ideal.
There may be production and shipment disruptions, product quality problems, and other contingencies. You’ll appreciate how responsive and available the supplier is to discuss and explain supply-chain issues with you.
- Reliability: It is when the supplier delivers on their promise of quality and correct shipment. Failure of a supplier to meet the agreed-upon terms can negatively affect your business reputation and customer loyalty.
Reviews can be a way to gauge reliability at this stage, taking note of any mentions about timelines and returns. You can also ask about their processes involving shipping and delivery, defects and returns, and late or unfulfilled orders.
- Stability: Work with a company that has the experience and expertise. And in all of its years in the industry, the company has gained a reputation for reliability, quality, and consistency.
More importantly, a financially stable supplier has the capacity and resources to meet
contractual obligations to you.
- Affordability/Price: It’s as important as the other considerations above. What you would need to know about pricing include the following:
- Minimum order quantity
- Price per unit (e.g., if it’s related to the number of orders)
- Pricing brackets
- Special pricing arrangements and discounts
- Lead time from the creation of a purchase order to the delivery date
- Payment and shipping methods
You would want to pay the best price for the goods, but be cautious of too-low prices. It could be a scam, or the products are of poor quality.
Photo by Erwan Hesry from Unsplash
Choose Location: Domestic vs. Overseas
Working with local suppliers has its advantages. Moving goods from the supplier to your warehouse can be faster and less costly. In-person visits and interactions are also more doable when the supplier is within close traveling distance.
B2B companies based overseas also compete for your business. They can offer great pricing (often more affordable than their domestic counterparts), volume, and diversity of products. China, as a global supplier, exemplifies this point. Also, sourcing products from where they are the specialty makes them more valuable.
Surely, there’s more to the “cheap” prices from overseas suppliers, as you have to account for local taxes and costs that the government may impose. Shipping is also a major consideration because the distance will definitely add to the cost and turnaround time.
Against this backdrop, you’ll need to have stock ready for any contingency. It would also make sense to arrange for a backup supplier, which can be based domestically or internationally. Or work with multiple suppliers.
Check the Quality
Suppose you have contacted some suppliers and shortlisted a few business entities. It’s time to request product samples from them.
It’s the most practical way to see the products up close and test them before selling them. Assessing products first-hand confirms whether the actual products and their images and descriptions match. Consider it a preventive measure against bad reviews.
By purchasing product samples, you also experience what it’s like working with the supplier. All things considered, this empirical information is useful in making final decisions.
Invite Everyone to Your Store
It all starts with a search, like looking for the right supplier for your business on Google. That makes Google Ads a key strategy in promoting your online store proactively and cost-effectively.
Online Business Users who want to click on your advertisement showing up on the results already have an interest or intent based on their search keywords. With a combination of other strategies, you can work toward putting your store as the best choice out there.
Whether it gets a huge or small part of your budget, Google advertisements are an investment. To help you maximize return, work with PPC specialists. Grow My Ads can walk you through their process and approach to achieving your desired results and performance.
Make the Right Choices
Online Business Quality products and services keep you in business by making customers happy and satisfied.
Online Business Those tips above aim to help you choose suppliers to help you grow your business, considering its unique needs and circumstances.
Take time to research and evaluate your options to determine the best choice for your business.