Finding online wholesalers and good suppliers is one of the most difficult things facing any small business. When you do find good suppliers, keep them to yourself - they are like gold for your business.
But how do you find them?
Lesson No 1 - you will not find them by sitting in front of a computer.
If you do a Google search you will be bombarded with 'get rich quick' schemes and companies who want your money for nothing. It is easy to become seduced with promises of something in return for a little money. In truth, you will be disappointed and waste lots of time searching and becoming frustrated.
So Instead .... Go out and find them!
1. Visit exhibitions and trade events. One worldwide directory of trade shows is at www.biztradeshows.com/ Not everything is listed here - you should also visit the websites of local exhibition centres and venues. Also look at trade magazines either online of offline as they have their shows listed.
2. Use Trade magazines. Find out what trade magazines are in your industry. They are full of adverts for suppliers as well as information which may help you find more. In the UK, BRAD lists all trade magazines but you have to subscribe and it is very expensive. Your regional reference library will probably have a subscription that you can access. Failing that, BRAD have a printed list which is sent to newsagents available for about £25.
3. Local Directories - many suppliers are listed in specialised trade directories. In the UK, your local Enterprise Agency often keeps a directory of businesses in their area. The information can be sketchy and you may have to visit or phone those listed to see if they are suitable.
4. Networking events - attend local business events through, for example, the Chambers of Commerce.
5. If you really want an online wholesaler you can try the internet! As mentioned before, it is a risky place. You can find wholesalers at www.worldwidebrands.com. The companies listed have been vetted by a real person but there are still risks involved. Alternatively, you may find information at www.thomasnet.com/ or www.tipcoeurope.com/.
The secret here is not to assume you will be an overnight success. It takes time to build up business and a network of good suppliers.
Visit your supplier and ask to set up an account with them. They will also want information about you, so be prepared to give it to them.
They will often insist on you being a Business rather than an Individual, so you may have to set up a company.
Find out what their terms of business are. How much stock do you need to take? Can they do Sale or Return? What is their Returns procedure? What are their payment terms?
Foster a relationship with them - your suppliers are very important to you.
Start with one supplier and a small product range. Once you have sold a few things, expand the product range and look for more suppliers.
Make sure you have good systems in place for storing, ordering, despatching and keeping control over stock.