If you are looking to sell new products on the internet, whether on Ebay Amazon or via your own website, then you are going to need to find yourself a good wholesale supplier. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Many manufacturers and wholesalers require their retailers to be established businesses, often with registered company status. They have built up relationships with retailers over the years who sell the vast majority of their products, often with exclusivity rights, and obviously they are not going put these relationships at risk by selling to eBayers who are going to sell in small numbers. So, for some wholesalers you need to prove you have the credibility and the selling power in order to get an account.
The market is changing
That said, changes in the way consumers buy products has meant some wholesalers now realise that having lots of smaller online retailers, particularly niche stores with a small but loyal customer base, can be good for their business. As a result, there are an increasing number of wholesalers out there who see eBay as an important income stream and are willing to accept reasonably small orders from eBayers and people with their own websites.
Finding these wholesalers is not easy though. If you are looking for a wholesale supplier then chances are you might not even know who they are, where they are located or how to set up an account with them. I’ve spent many hours searching the web looking at site after site and frequently getting nowhere. Even on forums you’ll find that once an eBayer finds a good wholesaler they aren’t going to spill the beans about where they get their products from – especially to a potential competitor. It can feel very much like digging in the dark when you first set out.
One of the reasons for this is that wholesalers don’t really want too much attention from the general public. Their function is simply to shift large quantities of products to retailers. If they are highly visible they tend to get bombarded with inquiries from the general public asking if they would be willing to sell them a single product. So they tend to keep a low internet profile. They might have a website, but it won’t necessarily advertise the fact that they are selling a particular product or brand. To most people who look, and I’ve looked a lot, they can be quite invisible.
Always check out your wholesaler
Finding a wholesaler is not necessarily going to be the answer to all your problems either. Some wholesalers are better than others. A good wholesaler will build a relationship with you to help you to help them. They keep their promises and keep you informed about product availability. They won’t put you at the bottom of the delivery list just because you have the smallest order! This is what you are looking for – and in the long run this is more important than getting the cheapest deal.
Other wholesalers also set up retail branches under another name and undercut you in the market place – they sell to themselves cheaper than they sell to you and so can afford to sell the products cheaper online – this is especially so if you are buying in small quantities and not get the biggest trade discounts. Always ask wholesalers if they retail their products. If they do, then think twice about using them. Who wants to buy from a competitor?
The thing you want to avoid the most are the scammers who pose as reputable wholesalers: companies who will take your order and never send you the goods or demand further payments before releasing them. This can be particularly true of some wholesalers in China, who offer very cheap and, therefore. hard to resist prices for goods. If the offer looks too good to be true, think carefully and do a little more research before committing to buy.
A word about importing
Importing goods from overseas may be an excellent way to source better quality, cheaper or unique products. It’s also a way to build a niche market, for example if you are selling British brand foods to expats in overseas countries. However, if you use international wholesalers, do remember that importing goods from other countries is not as simple as buying domestically. Firstly there may be import duties or taxes that have to be paid to your government and there may be other requirements such as the need to obtain a license for particular types of products. Some products may be considered hazardous or to have ingredients that are considered hazardous in one country but not in another. As different countries have different laws, it’s always important to check first – especially if what you are buying is something to be consumed or is a beauty or healthcare product. This is equally as true for exporting as well as importing.
An easier way to find good wholesalers
Finding the right wholesaler for you can be a very time-consuming process. There are, however, several very good sites that specialize in providing eBayers with categorized directories of wholesalers who you can make contact with, or even order from, via their websites. They list wholesalers of all kinds of products including those most sought after by eBayers: clothing, shoes, handbags, jewellery, electrical goods etc. Importantly, the wholesalers who list themselves on these directories are the ones that are interested in selling to smaller online retailers.
Don’t be put off by the fact that they have a small membership fee, you’ll soon find out that there is a huge benefit to this. As you pay to be a member, it’s not in their interests to list disreputable wholesalers on their sites. So they weed them out and leave you with wholesalers and manufacturers who are trustworthy and reputable. The two that I use are Wholesale Pages, which is a UK based service and the other is, Salehoo, a US based, company that also lists international wholesalers.
For me, the benefit of using these companies is simple: finding categorized wholesalers makes finding the right products simpler and as they are reputable companies, they are not going to associate themselves with dodgy wholesalers, so it means I’m not going to risk my hard earned money. Well worth the small fee.