tips to find the best wholesale suppliers for your small business in 2024

If you’re starting a small business, you’re probably considering how to find the best wholesale suppliers for your company. It’s not that you don’t have options: there are 330.000 unique wholesale suppliers in the world, and the top 50 distributors only produce a quarter of the industry revenue.

With so many suppliers to choose from, the market can be hard to navigate – it’s no wonder that you’re uncertain how to find the right wholesale supplier for your business.

Luckily, we are here to help you. Below, we have made a list of best practice tips for you.

These tips will not only help you find wholesale suppliers, but will also help you pick the perfect match for your business – whether you’ve been selling electronics for a few years now or are just starting to research how to start an online boutique focused on fashion.

Understanding how to buy wholesale in a way that works for you can help grow your business, establish strong connections, and satisfy your customers. According to the 2023 Global Wholesale Market Report, the wholesale market is valued at $48 billion, and that number is expected to grow to nearly $62 billion by 2026. So there are countless opportunities to choose great brands, but it can feel overwhelming. We’ve compiled some of the most helpful information for new retailers when they’re looking to start buying wholesale. 

What is buying wholesale?

Buying wholesale means purchasing products in bulk to resell them at retail prices to consumers either online or in person. Since they’re buying a large quantity of items at once, those who buy wholesale can get goods below their typical retail value and make a profit as they sell them downstream.

How do I buy wholesale products?

Before you start buying wholesale, think about what you need for your retail business. What’s your starting budget for inventory? Do you plan to source your goods locally or globally? Is sustainability a priority for you? Do you want to stock only hand-crafted products? Come up with a checklist of your preferences before you start your search.

How to find the best wholesale suppliers for your small business

We are gonna start this blog post by teaching you how to find wholesale suppliers for your small business. Below we list the 7 best practice tips that will help you create a list of potential partners:

  • Look into wholesalers for dropshipping
  • Search online for the best wholesale suppliers
  • Read the label
  • Ask the manufacturers
  • Ask your network how to find wholesale suppliers
  • Media
  • Trade shows
  • Online whole directories

Now we’ll go through one step by step. Let’s get started!

#1 – Look into wholesalers for dropshipping

Our first tip for small businesses is to look into dropshipping. Dropshipping is the process of using a third-party service to create, pack, and ship your goods via eCommerce Software.

In many ways, dropshipping is more cost-effective and convenient than more traditional shipping methods: it allows you to run your business without warehousing and inventory management, and that means saving both time and money.

If you’re looking for a dropshipping wholesaler, we recommend searching online. To get you started, here are some of the best wholesale suppliers for dropshipping:

#2 – Search online for the best wholesale suppliers

As with dropshipping, a good starting point when wondering how to find wholesale suppliers for your company is to do an online search. Simply use your favourite search engine to check your local area for wholesale suppliers. If there isn’t anyone in your local area, simply expand your search. In this day and age, you don’t necessarily need to limit yourself to local suppliers.

Once you find a potential supplier, look at their website, and see if they mention anything about wholesale or B2B. If they do, reach out to them, and tell them that you are looking for a supplier.

#3 – Read the label

Another straightforward way is to look at similar products or brands in your business industry. Read their product label and find out who they use as their wholesale supplier. That will for sure give you lots of information and leads that you can reach out to.

Then, you can either research the supplier online or you can ask the manufacturer directly. Asking the manufacturer is actually our tip #4.

#4 – Ask the manufacturers

Another option is to contact the manufacturers directly. They usually know a lot of relevant wholesalers for the products they produce, so try to contact them and ask for a list of wholesalers.

Depending on the industry and product that you are in, the manufacturer will perhaps also supply you directly. When this is the case, they will most often advocate this themselves, asking you to get in touch if you want to resell their products.

#5 – Ask your network how to find wholesale suppliers

A great way to find wholesalers, which many companies do not consider, is to ask businesses close to your product offerings. You may think that it sounds crazy, but networking has shown to have great potential for finding wholesalers. You can network in numerous ways – here are just 3 options:

  • Use online forums
  • Ask on Linkedin
  • Go to local chambers of (e)Commerce or local networking events for businesses. 

You will be surprised by how willing people are to share information!

#6 – Use media and social media to help you find wholesale suppliers

Similar to networking, a great way to gain insight into your industry is to subscribe to relevant blogs, newsletters, magazines, and newspapers. They contain a lot of relevant information about your industry, manufacturers, wholesalers, and competitors that you need to stay updated on the latest news in your niche. It can also be a great way to find wholesale suppliers for small businesses.

The latest trend in the use of SoMe (Social Media) has also been adopted by a lot of brands, manufacturers, and suppliers. So have a look at your Instagram for some inspiring products, and reach out to the supplier directly.

#7 – Trade shows

While you can do a lot of research from behind your computer, talking with people face to face will give you a lot of solid and quick information. The aim of trade shows is to connect manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers. It is a great opportunity to meet your potential partners, receive a lot of knowledge in a short time, build relationships and create a list of contacts. Sometimes you can even strike a special deal during a trade show. As a small business, trade shows can be a great way to get ahead of your competitors and find wholesale suppliers.

Furthermore, trade shows are also a great place to meet up with your existing suppliers. When they see you at the trade show, potentially scouting for new suppliers, they are more likely to “up their game” to keep you as a customer

#8 – Online wholesale directories and wholesale marketplaces

Our final best practices tip is online wholesale directories and wholesale marketplaces. Some companies have specialized in making directories of wholesalers that can be targeted to specific industries or products. Some of them cost money and others are free.

Here’s a list of some of these directories:

Wholesale marketplaces are similar to directories but differ by letting you buy from the supplier right away. Via the wholesale marketplace, that is. In recent years, wholesale marketplaces have become a very popular channel both for brands, manufacturers, suppliers, and retailers.

Here’s a list of some of the most popular wholesale marketplaces:

7 things to consider when choosing a wholesale supplier as a small business

Before you can find and choose the perfect wholesale suppliers for your business, it is a good idea to know what you should be looking for (obviously!). 

That’s why we have compiled yet another list of 7. Specifically, a list of 7 things to consider when choosing a wholesale supplier for a small business:

  • Industry
  • Price
  • Shipping policies
  • Location
  • Trustworthiness
  • Size
  • B2B eCommerce platform

#1 Industry

A good starting point is to look for wholesalers who have worked in the same industry for a few years. If they have a strong reputation and long-term senior executives, it indicates they have a lot of experience and are good at maximizing value in the supply chain.

#2 Price

Besides the industry, when choosing a wholesaler, keep an eye on the price. Wholesalers offer companies different types of discounts, minimum order requirements, wholesale unit prices, and improved service or features. So, before picking a wholesaler, try contacting several different ones and comparing their offerings. And remember, do not be scared to ask for good prices – you are their customer.

#3 Shipping policies

While you try to get the best prices, also look for a good shipping deal. You can sometimes get extra benefits depending on the quantity and price of your order. If you ask them, they may provide free shipping or combine different orders into one and save you transportation costs.

nother aspect of shipping is how fast a supplier can ship their goods and how reliable their deliveries are. We will get more into detail with this in point 5.

Another aspect of shipping is how fast a supplier can ship their goods and how reliable their deliveries are. We will get more into detail with this in point 5.

#4 Location

Parallel to price and shipping policies it is important to be aware of your wholesalers’ location. If your wholesaler is located far away, the price of shipping is likely to increase. Additionally, if your product is in such high demand that your store sells out quickly, a distant wholesaler may become an issue, as it takes time for the new delivery to arrive. Furthermore, you might be able to brand yourself as a green company by choosing a local business partner. 

#5 Trustworthiness

You want to choose a wholesaler that you can trust! A good wholesaler will ship the correct number of items on time. Too late shipping can impact your sales, and too early shipping can indicate they are short on orders and try to accelerate selling.

Always keep your wholesalers up on what they promise. If they can’t deliver on their promises, you will pay the price in the end.

#6 Size

Whether you should choose a big or small wholesaler depends on your situation. To give an example; if a delivery goes wrong, the benefit of using big wholesalers is usually a strong backup system. However, small suppliers can have an advantage too. If they recognize you as an important customer, they will provide you with better service.

The size of the supplier is probably also relevant depending on the type of store you have (or wish to have). If you want to sell a bit more unique products, you are probably more likely to find that from smaller suppliers.

#7 B2B eCommerce platform

Some wholesalers still require you to order via phone and email. Try to find wholesalers who have acquired a B2B eCommerce platform. You will save precious time and money by being able to order online and not having to write and reply to emails. That time could instead be used to create new products or talk to your customers! Today, there are no excuses for the wholesalers not to invest in a B2B platform. Because, while such online solutions might have been expensive in the past, they can be found at very reasonable pricing today – you can even find free B2B platforms!

Contact wholesale suppliers

When you are done with your research and made a list of potential wholesale suppliers, it is time to start contacting them. You can do that by calling them or sending them an email. However, if you want a lot of information, calling is always the way to go. Remember, do not try to hide that you are contacting multiple wholesalers. Let them know. It can help you get better prices and shipping deals.

Finally, your business priority is to get your products to your customers. While it is important to find the perfect wholesale suppliers, do not spend too much time searching. When you feel almost certain you got the right one, give it a go. You will learn from the experience, and always be able to change and improve. Good luck with the research!

Curious to learn more? Take a look at what our B2B ordering platform can offer and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or book a personal demo below.

What certificates do I need to start buying wholesale?

Though requirements vary from state to state and you should check your local laws, there are a few must-haves for retailers before they can buy wholesale products.

Resale certificate: resale certificate may also be called a tax exemption certificate or a wholesale license depending on where you live. It identifies you as a legal reseller and allows you to buy wholesale items without paying a sales tax. The forms for each state are different, and wholesalers may ask to see your certificate before they sell to you. 

Seller’s permit: In order to get the resale certificate mentioned above, you must already have a seller’s permit. You need a seller’s permit to legally collect sales tax from your shoppers.

Forms of identification: Wholesalers may want to see some type of I.D. before they can sell to you. That could be the tax ID number for your retail business or a driver’s license.

Bank account information: Ideally, you’ll have a bank account specifically for your business to pay your wholesale partners. Having a separate account makes tracking cash flow and keeping records for taxes easier. 

What are best practices for buying wholesale?

Think about minimum order quantity. Minimum order quantity, or MOQ, is the lowest number of items you can purchase from a brand at one time. Instead of a product quantity, you may also see this listed as an order minimum with a dollar amount or as a case size, which is the multiple of which a given product is sold. If you see a wholesale listing for wool blankets and the MOQ is 10, that means you have to order at least that many blankets to work with that brand. If you’re limited by a tight budget, paying close attention to MOQs is crucial. 

Avoid overstocking inventory. Although it may be tempting to buy a surplus of merchandise when you find a good price, it’s important to factor in inventory carrying costs. Inventory management software, like inFlow Inventory, will give you a real-time look at your stock levels. You can set reorder points for each product to ensure you maintain the perfect stock level. It can also track units of measure, so you can buy by the pallet and sell by the box.

Request merchandise samples. Before you place a large wholesale order, you’ll want to ensure the quality is up to your standards (and the standards of your customers). If obtaining samples isn’t possible, then find a brand with a low MOQ so you can start by ordering a smaller quantity before you fully commit. 

Pay attention to industry trends. Do you know what Pantone’s color of the year was for 2023? If you sell apparel, decor, and accessories, trends like those are good to know. (It was magenta, by the way.) As mentioned, trade publications are a great way to stay up-to-date with current and forecasted trends.

Understand lead time. A brand’s lead time is how long it takes in advance to prepare and deliver your wholesale order. Depending on whether you’re ordering locally or globally, lead times can vary greatly. For peak shopping periods like the holidays, lead times might be even longer, so it’s good to buy early. The last thing you want is your New Year’s Eve decor arriving at your shop … on January 2. On Faire, brands list their lead times on their shop pages, and you can always send a quick message to ensure orders will arrive on time.

Buy from knowledgeable brands. The brands you work with should have expert knowledge about their product category. If you sell jewelry, choose a brand that knows the difference between materials like gold-plated and gold vermeil. Any vendor who can’t answer simple questions about their products is not a good choice. 

Don’t forget about customer service. Even if the brands you choose have great products at a great price, that can be undermined by terrible customer service. Prioritize brands that are reliable, communicative, and attentive. If things go wrong with an order, it makes a difference to have great customer support that solves problems quickly. 

How do I choose products to buy wholesale?

Do careful research on what products are popular and trending. Maybe wax candles are out and soy candles are in? Are dangling statement earrings all the rage or is it all about the petite huggies now? On Faire, you can shop by category and sort by bestselling products to home in on just the right items for your store. 

Beauty and wellness

In Faire’s makeup category, you can easily sort the results by face, lips, nails, and eyes to find exactly what you’re looking for. 

Paper and novelty

Look through this section to find books, stationery, greeting cards, tabletop games, and even party supplies. Many of these brands create with handmade and even eco-friendly materials.  

Footwear

Find your store’s perfect fit. Sort by sandals, boots, slippers, or loafers. You’ll find a section for women and men, both of which also include makers of shoe care products — a potential kitting opportunity for footwear that requires maintenance or protection (like leather).

Watches

Shop bands, wrist watches, and even pocket watches for any type of customer. Filter by color and material, as well as price and occasion for shoppers who visit your store with a specific budget or event in mind.

Jewelry and accessories

Browse trending brands section to see what’s hot right now, from chunky gold to semi-precious natural stones. You can even browse by stone type for those customers looking to align their style with their birthstone.

Clothing and apparel

Faire’s apparel selection carries a wide variety of trendy finds, from wide-leg denim pants to button-down plaid. You can filter by different categories like activewear, dresses, maternity wear, and more. 

Home decor

Find furniture to suit your retailer’s specific aesthetic. In the furniture category, you can explore vintage and modern pieces in all kinds of styles. 

Food and drink

Score great wholesale prices on popular snacks, beverages, and pantry staples like Momofuku Chili Crunch or Poppi prebiotic soda.

Kids and baby

This broad category caters to several different store types: Whether you sell to new parents trying to fill their nursery, or to toddlers who have finally outgrown their winter coat, you’ll find your next stock here. In the toys and learning category, you can also browse educational puzzles, games, and children’s books for all ages. 

Bags and backpacks

Whether your shoppers are into fanny packs, cross-body, or weekender bags, there are tons of options to explore, and for every season.  

Finding the right brands and understanding what wholesale products to buy is the first step to building a thriving retail business. Taking the time to understand more about the wholesale business helps you avoid costly missteps and wasted time. So, ask strategic questions, do some research, and compare your many options as you start your wholesale buying journey. If you’re a new retailer, read more about Open with Faire and learn how to apply for up to $20,000, with 60-day payment terms, to stock your new shop.