So, it's time you are giving some serious thoughts about starting your own business, or more particularly an ecommerce website, which will help you move closer to your dreams. And I can bet, you also might have brainstormed some interesting ideas of your own as well about the products you will sell.
I understand, as an entrepreneur, this is an exciting time for you, thinking of working on those amazing ideas of yours. But if you are a rookie, there will come times when you will actually find yourself hitting a speed breaker and losing all of that momentum (it will happen from time to time, especially when it comes to sourcing products).
Yes, create an online store and find out the means to effectively source suppliers, and you are already beating the game. I refer sourcing suppliers as key to success because they aren’t as easy to find as you would like to think whether your game is to manufacture your own products or find suppliers to purchase wholesale.
Importance of Suppliers
Think of them as your business partners, if you get it right, you are all set for success, if not, you can easily jeopardize your business even before it got off the ground. You have started the ecommerce website to sell products, don’t let the search for suppliers derail your dreams. Learn below how to effectively source suppliers for your online products, ones that will give your business every chance of success.
1. Let’s start from the start. The first thing you will need is to decide is what you are looking for because a supplier can be referred to anyone with the means to provide you with products and inventory. In this case, it could be
- A Wholesaler who purchases the products directly from the manufacturer and resells them to your ecommerce website at a slightly higher price.
- A Dropshipper who will ship the goods directly to the customer on your behalf. You just need to provide customers’ orders and shipping details.
- A Manufacturer who makes the products from scratch in his/her company and sells it to other wholesalers and retailers.
2. Next thing you will need to figure out while sourcing for suppliers is whether to source domestically or from overseas. Choose wisely as both domestic and overseas comes with their own set of advantages and disadvantages.
- So, after you create an online store, if you chose domestic sourcing, you will get higher manufacturing quality and labour standards along with no language barrier and faster shipping time. The only downside includes making do with fewer product choices but then again, this entirely depends on your choice of suppliers.
- And if you decide to opt overseas sourcing, you might need to deal with higher manufacturing costs, longer shipping times, communication barriers, etc. And even then, there is no guarantee of the quality you expect for your ecommerce website. The only plus? you get a higher number of manufacturers to choose from.
3. Another thing that will help you effectively source suppliers is having a better idea of where to begin your search. I know whenever it comes to search, the internet is always the preferred choice but if you are willing to look, you will find plenty of other choices as well.
- Let’s start with free online supplier directories such as IndiaMart, Alibaba, AliExpress, Sourcify, etc which contain the profiles for hundreds of drop shippers, wholesalers, and manufacturers all in one place.
- Another option you can count on is Google where searching is almost as easy as creating an online store. However, you might need to use a variety of search terms and explore many search results before finding the relevant suppliers.
- Your next option can be local libraries that for a monthly subscription fee, allow you to have access to multiple business and manufacturer directories. These directories contain the profiles of almost all the suppliers you might be looking for.
- Referrals can also land you some of the best leads. Just don’t hesitate to ask your connections for any recommendations. You can also join Facebook groups and other online communities for a glowing review.
- Lastly, you can search for suppliers for your ecommerce website directly through the product code itself. It is because many times the suppliers list their products by the code which makes them easier to find.
The three points mentioned above will help you find suitable suppliers for your products. And now, the next important factor is to consider how to approach them. Yes, you need to have a strategy for this too. Just as you want your supplier to be reliable and trustworthy, he/she too expects you to be fair and professional. After all, you both are looking for business partnerships that are mutually beneficial.
How to approach a supplier?
Kudos to the person who said creating an online store would be the only tough job you will encounter. Who thought you need to learn certain qualities before communicating with suppliers as well. For your sake, I have mentioned a few below.
- First of all, you need to contact the suppliers themselves via email or phone. The key here is to cut out any middlemen. Working directly with the supplier is an effective way to cut down costs and make a bigger profit.
- Research your supplier before coming on terms for business. Let them know you are serious about your ecommerce website and have a business ready to go. Also, make sure you are fully committed to following through with your inquiry.
- Try to avoid vague and excessive questions. Do your homework beforehand, know what you want and be to the point. Have the list of questions ready to be confirmed with the supplier, questions such as-
- How long have you been in the business?
- Can you provide me with some references?
- What are your warranty/guarantee policies?
- What is your minimum order quantity?
- What is your sample pricing?
- What is your turnabout time?
- What is your production pricing?
- What are your payment terms for my ecommerce website?
4. Keep long-term partnership in mind before commencing with your suppliers as it provides them with more predictable income. You can do this by briefly mentioning your plans for your business or by providing links to your store.
Avoiding Supplier Scams
Actually, it’s less of a bonus and more of a warning sign. Till now, you have read about the various ways you can find suppliers for the products on your online store along with how to approach and hire them once you come across a suitable prospect.
But that’s not all, in order to successfully create an online store, you need to learn to read warning signs as well. It is an extremely important step in your journey to find reliable suppliers for your products, hence we are mentioning it under Bonus.
- Nowadays many people see online businesses as an easy way to source their products and make money. Unfortunately, fraudsters also know this well enough and are ever-ready to milk these dreamers for what they are worth. They generally act as “pretend suppliers” and the only way to beat them down is to do your homework well in advance.
- You need to have trusted suppliers on your side and for that to happen, your ecommerce website should be a legitimate affair. Get your business registered officially if you haven’t already, this is usually an easy process and doesn’t cost much. These registration details will help you get genuine wholesalers and distributors in the near and distant future.
Now that you have done your homework and registered your online business, it won’t be difficult for you to smell a scammer. Just remember, they never ask for business registration details and are ever-ready to sell goods to you at inflated prices. Moreover, they might ask for monthly fees for providing lists of products and prices. No reputable supplier does that.
Ready to source suppliers for the products on your ecommerce website?
StoreHippo understands how daunting a task finding new suppliers for your online business can be. We keep publishing articles to help you in not only creating your website but also to assist you in making informed decisions about your business matters. Keep watching this space as we bring more articles for you.