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18 Tips on How to Get Merchandise for a Retail Store

If you’re setting up a new business, one of the biggest questions you must ask yourself is how to get merchandise for a retail store. But if you’re new to this, it can seem a bit overwhelming. Where do you even begin to look? Fortunately, this guide has all the information you need on how to get merchandise for a retail store that your customers will love. From online marketplaces and tradeshows to wholesale distributors and third-party suppliers, we cover all the bases so that you can find the best sale items at the best prices.

How to get merchandise for a retail store?

There are three types of product sources: direct manufacturer, wholesaler, and self-manufactured.

There are a number of companies that manufacture their own products.

Let’s take a look at the differences between these 3 methods.

Working Directly With Manufacturers

For many retailers, the ideal situation is to work directly with the manufacturers, eliminating middlemen like wholesalers. However, establishing that working relationship can be difficult.

Some products require minimum order requirements, depending on the manufacturer.

Manufacturers often prefer to only work with large volume buyers, such as retail chains, because they provide better forecasting and production planning.

If you’re new to manufacturing, you might not know where to start.

One of the issues you may face when working with manufacturers is having to manage sending specifications and dealing with warehouse imports. This can be time-consuming and take away from your focus on retail business.

Sending out so many calls and emails can be time-consuming, and that prevents you from focusing your time and energy on running your retail store.

And that’s our point, which is to…

Work With Wholesalers

A wholesaler buys goods from manufacturers in bulk, stores them, and then sells them to retailers.

With wholesalers, you don’t have to worry about any of the stress that comes along with importing or warehousing sale items. You don’t need to travel anywhere, and there are no shipping customs to deal with.

All you need to do to place an order is…

Make Your Own Products

Large and medium-sized companies often make their own products for a variety of purposes. It allows them to have complete control over the quality of their products, as well as ensuring that they can meet any demand that may come their way. However, it’s important to note that this only works if you’re in a niche where there’s a demand for your products, and that you have a small, dedicated team to help you produce them.

If you’re planning to create your own product, you should figure out which local stores or markets have the materials you need. You should also figure out how long each item takes to create. That way, you can ensure your manufacturing process is as streamlined and efficient as possible.

If you’re looking to hire a team to help you with a project, be sure to calculate your labor costs in advance. This way, you can avoid an unexpectedly high bill.

Where do you find suppliers, manufacturers, and other vendors?

Now that you’ve figured out what you’re going to sell, you need to figure out where you’re going to get it.

What resources are out there for finding suppliers?

Some possible options for you are…

1. How to Find the Best Events for Your Industry

Industry events are an excellent way to learn about industry trends. By going to these expos and trade shows, you can stay on top of what your competitors are doing.

Attending events is a fantastic way to meet face-to-face with suppliers, manufacturers and their goods. Being able to see and touch materials and items in person is an experience that can help you make more informed choices for your business.

Many large retailers hold events to allow buyers to meet with suppliers.

The ASD Las Vegas trade show is the largest and most comprehensive event in the retail industry. Retailers can find everything they’re looking for, from beauty products to clothing to home decor.

MAGIC is the largest trade show for fashion, while NY Now is for home decor.

You’re sure to find a show that interests you, with such a wide variety available.

There are many places to find trade shows and conferences. You can search Google or use sites like the Tradeshow Network and Event In America.

Another way to find potential retailers is to ask other suppliers and manufacturers about the trade shows they plan on attending. If any of them plan to attend any upcoming shows, you can reach out to them.

What to Do at an Expo or Show Floor

Here are some best practices to follow on the tradeshow or exhibit hall.

After attending several trade shows and networking events, designer, and business owner, Harriet Vaight, learned what types of products and suppliers were selling well.

She collected the names of people whose work she liked, then put them in a spreadsheet. She listed their wholesale information, trade prices, retail prices, and minimum order quantities.

After doing a bit of research, I found these to be the most value.

When you go to events, take detailed notes. That way, you can go back to your office with a list of potential suppliers and products.

It can be very intimidating, and you don’t want to miss a thing. Walk the entire floor before setting up any meetings, and take notes!

Don’t rush into buying the first products you find. It’s better to explore the entire product catalogue before committing to any purchases.

Take the time to talk to everyone at the event. Afterwards, get back in touch with the ones that you think would be a good fit for your business.

Look out for special vendor offers and deals after an event.

2. Trade Publications – A Great Source of Product Ideas and Supplier Information

If you’re looking for a specific product or information on a manufacturer, but don’t have time to attend trade shows, consider reading a trade magazine. These publications can be a great resource, but they can also be just as useful as attending an event.

The content found within trade publications can give you unique insights into the products that others are selling, as well as who is supplying them. Furthermore, many vendors choose to advertise in these types of publications, so taking a look through them could help you to find some noteworthy suppliers for your small business.

If you haven’t already, subscribe to a few relevant trade magazines. These will give you insight into the types of products and services that your competitors are providing.

3. Industry Associations

Trade associations provide networking, marketing, and advertising opportunities. In some cases, you can even take advantage of these benefits without being a member.

Some trade groups offer non-members access to events at a slightly higher price than members. Some groups like the AAFA also offer access to their free online directory of suppliers.

If you can’t find what you’re looking for, try using a search engine like Google.

4. Online Directories

eBay, Amazon and AliExpress.

These websites are a great place to find suppliers and products. They offer search features and allow you to browse through their lists of vendors and manufacturers.

Both Alibaba and Global Sources offer search features and browse options so you can easily find the suppliers or products you’re looking for.

While both sites offer similar services, they differ in their focus. While one site, like thomasnet.com, is more focused on North American companies, the other, such as alibaba.com, can connect you with international businesses.

Tips for using online supplier directories

Make sure to do your research before selecting a supplier. Check their website and do a web search to see if any negative reviews pop up. Also, ask for product samples and references to get a feel for their quality of work.

Watch out for any vendor who doesn’t have a working number or who doesn’t have an email address that ends in their company’s name.

Both websites, however, offer tools for evaluating potential suppliers and products.

Some B2B marketplaces, like Thomasnet, let you view and download vendor certificates and registration information. Other sites like AliBaba have “Gold Supplier” programs, which are for suppliers who pass their testing and certification process.

When dealing with international suppliers and communicating via email, it’s important to be concise and to the point. This is particularly important when emailing with non-English speaking countries.

To ensure your pets are properly cared for while you’re gone, make sure you communicate clearly with your dog-walker or pet-sitter. Tell them what they need to do, and ask them to reiterate what you’ve said to make sure they’re on the same page.

If you’re already sourcing products, then you’re halfway to having a successful retail business! The next step is learning how to manage your merchandise effectively. Vend’s Complete Guide to Retail Inventory Management is a great resource that can help you with this. This guide offers advice and action steps on topics like:

If you’re looking to set up or improve your product and inventory management, check out our free guide, The Complete Guide to Retail Inventory. This comprehensive resource will help you set up your inventory and products the right way, get the right people, processes, and systems in place, and figure out what is causing your shrinkage so you can prevent it.

Bottom line

If you’re looking to stock your retail store with merchandise, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, consider your brand and target market. What kind of products will appeal to your customers? Once you know what you’re looking for, start researching online directories and trade shows where you can find the right suppliers. And finally, don’t forget to track your results so that you can continue improving your sourcing strategy over time. By following these tips on how to get merchandise for a retail store, you’ll be sure to find the perfect products for your retail store in no time!