You know what products you want to sell. And you know who your customer is. But do you know how to find suppliers for an online store?
This article will cover seven tips that will help you think through your business plan and the pricing of products, margins, and profits for your eCommerce store.
1. Find eCommerce suppliers online
If you’ve already started researching suppliers, then it might be time to start finding the right one. It turns out that looking for a supplier on Google is not enough.
Drew Estes, of Massview, says that sites like Alibaba and Aliexpress are suitable for overseas suppliers. Sites such as ThomasNet or Maker’s Row can be helpful to find domestic manufacturers. If you have a competitor in mind sourcing their products from an outside supplier, ImportGenius will tell you where they’re ordering them.
11 eCommerce Suppliers for Your Online Store
How to find suppliers for online stores? Drew told us about some good eCommerce product supplier websites that he knows. I’ve included them here for you to look at if you want.
- Maker’s Row
- Beauty Joint
- Worldwide Brands
- Ek Wholesale
2. Source backup product suppliers
In the COVID era, it is straightforward for a supply chain to leak. It’s essential to consider the idea of working with multiple suppliers.
Make sure you always have another supplier to fall back on. If your first option cannot deliver, it can be stressful and affect sales.
Rick Hoskins, the founder of Filter King in Miami found that honesty is always best. He would tell his primary supplier “I’m going to buy from you full-time, and I want a good price.” This relationship was transparent to ensure his suppliers were providing for him when it’s usually an emergency.
Tip: If you want to find suppliers for an online store, ask your network of suppliers for recommendations. If they cannot provide one that meets your store’s needs, then keep asking until someone does.
3. Look for local shops
Many eCommerce businesses are looking for physical stores to sell their products. On the other hand, many store owners want to start selling online but don’t know-how.
You can set up a contract where they provide all of the items and offer it at the total price while also getting some advertising from you.
Businesses might not need to worry about hiring and training employees because the customer could do it for them.
It is also important to find reputable eCommerce product suppliers that you can trust. One way of doing this is by searching the US Customs database, trade groups, and events like exhibitions.
4. Look into international product suppliers
Foreign suppliers are much cheaper than domestic suppliers, but there is a trade-off.
Stephen Light, the co-owner of Nolah Mattress, which sells mattresses online, says that China is an excellent place for product sourcing because they have so many factories and experience in making various goods.
I recommend using a B2B website like Alibaba that connects businesses with suppliers for those just starting. Such B2B platforms are the easiest way to find suppliers for an online store, and then you can transact outside the platform once both parties trust each other.
Stephen recommends reaching out to at least 10 suppliers before narrowing it down. Once narrowed, order samples and make your final decision.
Jocelyn Trigueros of China Performance Group suggests that when purchasing from suppliers, always negotiate for large order volumes because this is an excellent point to use in bargaining. Be careful about the supplier’s capacity to not overload with orders.
Jocelyn says that the length of lead time is determined by how quickly you can order and receive your materials. If suppliers see a high volume with short turnaround times, they will likely charge more for their products because it’s not as much work to produce them.
Stephen says that you need to establish trust through multiple successful transactions to build a long-term relationship with suppliers. “Suppliers and businesses need guarantees,” he says.
When you buy from overseas suppliers, be sure to factor in import duties. This is an additional cost that should not be forgotten.
5. Questions to ask during supplier conversations
If you are not sure what to ask suppliers, here is a list of questions that will help.
- Is the product I need available?
- What is the minimum order quantity?
- How much stock do you have?
- Once you get the purchase order, what is the typical turnaround time?
- What are the delivery options and payment conditions?
6. Understand how dropshipping works
Camille Chulick, the CEO of skincare brand Averr Aglow says that “Dropshipping is a type of third-party fulfillment.” The drop shipper promotes products, and then when someone purchases one, they order it from their supplier to be sent directly to buyers.
The supplier can be another small business or a large manufacturer. Dropshippers do not store any products. They often source from many other companies, and their website looks like most retail websites, so it’s hard to tell if you’re buying something through them.
7. Request quotes and product samples
Once you have identified the suppliers that meet your requirements, it is time to gather quotes and price lists. Next, arrange a trial shipment or face-to-face meeting so you can see whether the product meets your quality standards.
Tip: When you find suitable suppliers, update your business plan to include delivery and payment conditions.
This includes supplier information and fixed costs so that you can accurately project any additional money needed.
Final Thoughts on How to Find Suppliers for Online Store
The biggest issue with sourcing suppliers abroad is the inability to see, touch and test the products. You’ll need samples to be shipped.
On the other hand, domestic suppliers may be more expensive. Ultimately, it’s you who will decide how to find suppliers for the online store, one that will meet your unique retail needs.