However, the process of finding a good wholesaler is not easy. There are a lot of scams out there, such as middlemen charging fees for the “privilege” to buy from them and inflating wholesale prices.
Even if you find a legitimate wholesaler, they may not want to deal with a small business, much less a home-based business. This is actually the biggest challenge of small businesses when looking for a wholesaler, especially if the wholesaler is already servicing big businesses. Why bother with the small fries when you’ve got the big boys knocking on your door?
So how do you find good wholesalers? Here are some ways you can find wholesale sources for your home business:
1. Attend tradeshows.
Tradeshows are a great way of finding suppliers, manufacturers and drop shippers for your business, especially if you require more specialized products. There are a number of tradeshows out there specializing in various segments – from kitchen and bath, to apparel to construction supplies.
Note though that some tradeshows are not open to the public, and you need to show proof of business identification. You may be asked to present your recent invoices, business cards, credit reference sheet showing companies you purchase from, and tax registration (Certificate or Business Registration Certificate indicating you are retail business). If you are just about to start your business, you may show letter of intent from an attorney or bank on official letterhead stating the intent to start a new retail business.
To find tradeshows in your industry, you may want to check:
- TSNN http://www.tsnn.com
- BizTradeShows http://www.biztradeshows.com
- Global Sources http://www.globalsources.com
2. Use Industrial Directories.
If you are looking for wholesalers in industry sectors, check out industrial directories. Thomas Register http://www.thomasnet.com is the most respected of industrial directories out there, and their web site offers about 67,000 product categories that you can search from.
Other industrial directories include:
- Grainger Industrial Supply http://www.grainger.com
- GlobalSpec http://www.globalspec.com
- KellySearch http://www.kellysearch.com
3. Check out eBay.
An easy way to find wholesalers is through the online auction site eBay http://www.ebay.com . Wholesalers are everywhere on eBay, even dominating most if not all of the categories with their vast number of listings. Each category – from home and garden to clothing and accessories to cell phones – has a sub-category called wholesale lots where most of the wholesalers list their items.
4. Read Wholesale Trade Magazines.
Get hold of copies of trade publications on wholesaling, as they typically feature wholesalers, manufacturers and drop shippers. These magazines are mostly free, and feature a lot of ads from wholesalers that you can contact.
Examples of trade magazines include:
- Independent Retailer Magazine (formerly Web Wholesaler Magazine) http://www.wholesalecentral.com/wwfree.cfm
- Wholesale Source Magazine http://wholesalesourcemagazine.com/
- B2B Wholesaler Magazine http://www.b2bwholesalermag.com
5. Visit Alibaba.com
If you are looking to China for international suppliers and manufacturers, one of the most popular destinations is Alibaba.com. The site can connect you to any Chinese manufacturer for whatever products you want to produce. The site provides a very active marketplace of manufacturers and suppliers for various product categories and industries. However, it is important to watch out for “phantom” suppliers who will simply take your money and run without sending you the goods you ordered.
Read the article Sourcing and Manufacturing Your Products Abroad: How to Use Alibaba.com to give you detailed pointers on how to use Alibaba.com and what you need to watch out for when using this marketplace.
6. Use Online Directories.
The web is full of online directories that list wholesalers, manufacturers, drop shippers and suppliers – with some more reliable, updated and screened than others. Make sure that you use specific keywords in your search (e.g. “hair band wholesaler”) instead of the very general terms (“fashion accessories wholesaler”) to help you narrow your search. Be careful though as some will sell you list claiming to be verified and updated listings of wholesalers.