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Whether you’re starting a new ecommerce business or you’re a seasoned online retailer, there will be a time where you must add products to your store or expand your product offering.
Online wholesale and dropship supplier directories exist to help you narrow your search and find the right suppliers for your business.
Keep reading as we discuss what to look for in a supplier directory and where to find the best wholesale and dropship supplier directories online.
A number of different strategies may work for you, and some are more effective than others. The methods below are listed in order of effectiveness and preference, with my favorite methods listed first:
This is my favorite way to easily locate legitimate wholesale suppliers. If you know the product(s) you want to sell, call the manufacturer and ask for a list of its wholesale distributors. You can then contact these wholesalers to see if they drop ship and inquire about setting up an account
Since most wholesalers carry products from a variety of manufacturers, this strategy will allow you to quickly source a selection of products within the niche you’re exploring. After making a couple of calls to the leading manufacturers in a niche, you’ll quickly be able to identify the leading wholesalers in that market.
Using a certified wholesaler that dropships, is a low-cost solution for people who work from home, don’t have money to spend on inventory and want to sell products online. dropshipping does work and it works very well but you have to be careful with a few things.
First, you can’t just sell any product you want and expect to be able to compete with drop shippers. When you dropship a product, you are buying and selling one thing at a time. That means your wholesale price is for one product when you have it shipped.
Wholesalers always provide discounts to retailers when they purchase in bulk. That means your wholesale price for one product (drop-shipped) can be higher than a competitor who is buying in volume from the wholesaler which means they can sell that product much cheaper than you can, and in some cases, even cheaper than your wholesale cost!
So how do you make drop shipping work?
You must be able to pick the right products to sell and the right types of products to dropship. You can’t assume that just because you might think a product is a ‘good idea to sell’ that you should jump in and start selling that product.
You have to find the products you can have drop-shipped that you can compete within the current online market. Doing a bit of market research before you start the selling process is critically important for you to emerge as a successful Shopify dropshipper.
It’s difficult to find certified dropshipping companies and it’s almost impossible to do an internet search for “dropshipper” without running into hundreds of scammers and middlemen.
Most of the results you’ll find online are companies claiming to be dropshippers but they are nowhere near the quality and pricing you get from working with genuine dropshippers. It’s important to be patient when searching for a drop ship company.
Certified dropshippers don’t charge setup fees or monthly fees. So while doing your search, if you stumble upon a company claiming to be a “dropshipper” or having drop ship websites and they ask for a setup fee, monthly fee, or annual fee, that’s an immediate red signal.
Dropshipping can be confusing, especially when dealing with scammers, so here is a list of 10 tips for finding a wholesale distributor.
There are many ways a product can go from manufacturer to retailer. Not all wholesalers serve the same market. Understanding your industry’s distribution channels, and knowing where you fit in the supply chain can help you find the right wholesale supplier for your retail or online business. The different types of wholesalers include:
Each product industry has its own unique distribution channels. Some retailers will move enough volume to bypass jobbers, or maybe in a smaller industry, importers sell directly to retailers.
When you first start, you’ll be buying from the smaller wholesalers at higher prices. As your volume increases, you’ll be able to get better pricing and/or move up the supply ladder to a bigger wholesaler.
You might as well start at the source. If you’re selling branded items, go directly to the manufacturer of the product. They might sell to you depending on their minimum order requirements.
If you’re too small for them or they only sell through established distribution channels, ask them for a list of distributors you can contact. By starting at the source (the manufacturer), you can either get the lowest prices or at least get a list of the most reputable distributors to kick off your search.
The fewer people you have to go through, the lower your cost will be, allowing you to be more competitive in the marketplace.
Take the list of wholesale distributors you got from the manufacturer, and start contacting each one. What you’re looking for are minimum order requirements and their wholesale unit prices.
To get the best responses, be honest about what you’re looking for (don’t try to sound “bigger” than you are), keep your emails short and to the point, and be friendly. You may also consider picking up the phone to make initial outreach calls or to follow up with the people you’ve sent your introductory emails to as well.
As mentioned above, you can start your preliminary research with some basic Google search terms. As you get deeper into your research, you’ll probably get more specific about the products you’re seeking.
Conduct Google searches for the words “wholesale” or “distributor,” plus some keywords from your products or niche. Try product names, model numbers and brand names. Go through each result and look for the “wholesale account” link or an email address or phone number where you can get more information.
In the rare case that the information is difficult to find or not readily available, you could do a WHOIS search to find the website’s contact information.
If all else fails, some retailers or small wholesalers will sell bulk quantities of your product on eBay. Since eBay mainly targets retail consumers, the wholesale options you’ll find here are usually only suitable for very low volume retailers.
But if you’re just starting out, eBay might be the easy start you need to dip your toes into ecommerce and start shipping your product.
Start at Alibaba which is the biggest of all the B2B marketplace of manufacturers, importers and wholesale distributors. Other B2B marketplaces include Global Sources (USA), Buyer Zone (USA), EC21 (Korea), EC Plaza (Korea) and Busy Trade (Hong Kong).
Other retailers are not eager to share supplier information with competitors, so it’ll take some networking to find the best possible wholesale suppliers for your small business.
Start building relationships with industry insiders, and eventually, you’ll be one of those insiders. Participate in online forums, build your LinkedIn profile and start building connections, subscribe to industry newsletters, and generally build your professional network.
Get every magazine or newsletter that targets retailers in your industry. Every advertiser in the magazine will be a product manufacturer or distributor looking to reach out to you.
You should have a few dozen options from the ads in the back of the magazine. Also, subscribe to all of the online newsletters, blogs, and other sources of information available to you.
Attending trade shows is one of the most powerful ways to build and grow your business. These events are for retailers just like you. When you can talk face-to-face with manufacturers and wholesale distributors, it avoids all the noise of inaccurate information that can plague the web.
The largest directory of trade shows is at tsnn.com. You can search for a trade show by industry, date, city, state or country and/or event name.
Your first wholesale supplier may not be your lifelong vendor. Creating your perfect supply chain is an evolution involving a lot of trial and error. Remember, all you need from your first supplier is a product that you can ship at a profit.
It may not be the best wholesale price for you, but don’t sweat that in the beginning. Your first goal is to get your product shipped. Then you can improve your bottom-line by trying other wholesale suppliers.
There are dozens of supplier directories online, but not all are created equal.
When deciding which one to use, consider whether they verify their suppliers, supply advanced filtering functionality, provide a sample product catalog, and list essential reseller information.
You don’t want to wade through a list of thousands of suppliers without knowing whether they’re legitimate suppliers or not.
Stick with supplier directories that vet their suppliers so that you know you’re presented with a list of verified, trustworthy options. Inventory Source’s wholesale and dropship supplier directory includes the top distributors from leading dropship niches offering exclusive brands, large catalogs, and in-demand products.
Looking for a supplier of a specific niche of products? Search for a directory that provides advanced filtering functionality to make finding your supplier(s) simple.
Search filtering allows you to generate quicker and more relevant results. Filtering options can include:
Inventory Source’s wholesale and dropship supplier directory is free and allows you to view complete product data. This will enable you to make an informed decision by analyzing the product feed for important characteristics to your business, such as product details or image quality.
A supplier directory is useless to you if it doesn’t provide accurate reseller information. It’s helpful to have essential details such as contact information, supplier fees, and policies all in one place.
Save time and choose a directory that allows you to search for suppliers of specific products and contact them directly from their supplier profile.
Supplier directories are convenient ways to quickly browse many wholesale and dropship distributors in one place. They’re also great for brainstorming product ideas.
If you already have a niche or idea of what you want to sell, you can find the major suppliers in your market by searching and filtering within the right directory.
To provide you with options, we’ll highlight some of the most well-known online supplier directories.
Worldwide Brands is one of the longest-running wholesale and dropship supplier directories in the industry.
Whether you are looking for bulk wholesale suppliers or top-notch dropship suppliers, this is the directory for you.
Each supplier is strictly evaluated, so you know you’re partnering with the best. You can rest easy knowing that you’ll be sourcing products from trustworthy, legitimate suppliers.
For easy on-the-go-browsing, Worldwide Brands also provides iOs and Android apps.
While it’s not free, you can access the Worldwide Brands supplier directory by paying a single lifetime membership fee. If the price is too much to budget for at once, you can opt for a recurring payment plan program to not have to pay it all upfront.
Through our partnership with Worldwide Brands, you can receive a discount of $50 off lifetime access.
Inventory Source’s directory features over 4,000 wholesale distributors and suppliers.
Not only is it free, but our directory only includes the top suppliers from various product niches offering leading brands, large catalogs, and in-demand products. There is even an advanced filtering sidebar to help you easily find the right supplier for your online business.
We also are the only free wholesale distributor and dropship supplier directory that grants you access to view suppliers’ full product data and reseller information at no extra cost.
Many of the suppliers in Inventory Source’s directory are integrated, meaning you can use Inventory Source’s automation services to streamline your ecommerce business.
Ready to get started?
SaleHoo is an online supplier directory that allows users to research from over 8,000 vetted dropship and wholesale suppliers. It also helps users find ideas for in-demand, profitable products from trustworthy, low-cost suppliers.
To make your research more efficient, SaleHoo also provides tools to help you filter and organize suppliers. The catch? You have to pay to access these tools by paying either an annual or lifetime fee.
Wholesale Central is another online supplier directory that allows you to find dropship and wholesale suppliers by selecting a product niche.
If you are looking specifically for dropship suppliers, you can search niches within the “dropshippers” category. When you click on a supplier, it’ll show you a few of their products and provide the information to contact them or view their website.
TopTenWholesale is a US-based sourcing directory that helps connect retailers to national and international wholesale suppliers.
You can register for free to take advantage of their extra tools and features when searching for suppliers. They provide the option to filter down by supplier location, product niche, and more.
All “Supplier Pass” badged suppliers are vetted through a strict qualification process, so you can rest easy knowing these suppliers are all reputable and trustworthy.
The wholesale and dropship supplier directories listed above each provide you with access to trusted suppliers all over the world. With so many options available, how do you decide which one is right for your business?
Keep reading for a few things to keep in mind when choosing a wholesale or dropship supplier.
Most directories vet their suppliers before listing them, but you must do your own research as well. It only takes a few simple searches to verify that the supplier(s) you’re interested in are reputable and reliable.
To see what other merchants are saying about the supplier(s) in question, search for reviews online. You can also perform a Google search for “[supplier name] + scam” to check for negative reports.
When first contacting a supplier, your goal is to find out as much information as you can. You’ll want to ask the supplier about their business practices, policies, and products.
You’ll also need to ask about their payment terms, shipping costs, and delivery times.
The best suppliers are knowledgeable about their products they sell.
If a supplier doesn’t have an extensive understanding of their product catalog, how can they truly vouch for the quality of their products? What if your customers have questions about the products you’re sourcing from a particular supplier? It’s essential for your supplier to be a knowledgeable business partner.
Suppliers that specialize in a particular niche are most likely to have extensive knowledge of the products in their catalog.
The best wholesale and dropship supplier directory is the one that provides you with the tools you need to jumpstart your ecommerce business. Ultimately, the supplier(s) you choose will become the lifeblood of your business, so it’s vital to choose the best possible distributor for you.
To increase your chances of finding a reputable supplier, begin the process by clearly defining your goals and needs. Ask questions and always keep an open mind when making decisions.