Whether you operate a brick-and-mortar business or your business is online only, finding the right suppliers is essential to your success. It can seem like it would be easy to find wholesale suppliers, and in some ways it is, but there are some challenges to consider.
First, you’re going to be sending money internationally, so you have to make sure it’s a secure, reputable supplier who’s going to deliver as promised.
Beyond that, what else should you know whether you’re new to finding suppliers, or you want to change up what you’re currently doing?
Of course, going online can offer you opportunities to find suppliers, but there are a few problems with only using that method. One of the biggest issues is the fact that when you simply use importers, you find online you’re going to have the same items everyone else has.
If you want to be unique with the items you offer, think about going to trade shows. Trade shows can be a good way to connect with suppliers you would never ordinarily have access to. It also gives you the unique opportunity to see the items and assess their quality in person.
What’s great about trade shows is that you can find U.S.-based suppliers and also international suppliers outside of the typical options from Asia.
Get a Feel For Personality
When you work with suppliers, it’s important that you get along well in the sense that you share similar communication styles and objectives. Sometimes a supplier may have great products, but the person you’re working with just isn’t a great fit for your business regarding personality.
Working with a supplier is a partnership, and you don’t want to be partners with someone that you’re not a good personality fit with.
Understand International Challenges
If you’re working with an international supplier, there are going to be challenges along the way. Before you ever start working with someone new, it’s a good idea to know what those challenges are so they can be proactively and efficiently addressed.
For example, you’ll have to learn about payment methods for international transactions, and how to best pay your foreign suppliers. You’ll also have to consider cultural challenges that could affect your working relationship, including differences in communication and even holidays. There are shipping considerations as well. Every country is going to have its own things to keep in mind.
If you have experience working with a supplier in one country or region, it might be best to stay within this region whenever possible because you already have a good understanding of the logistics.
Finally, will you work with a broker and an agent? Some larger supply companies might offer these services as part of the overall package of doing business with them, but if you’re working with a smaller supplier or a local artisan, you may need to hire people to fill these roles. Foreign agents can act on your behalf in the country where your supplier is, and a broker can help with customs issues and making sure all licenses are obtained, and items make it through customs as quickly as possible.