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How to Find the Best Suppliers for Your Small Business

Finding the right suppliers for your small business is no small task. These are the people, groups and companies you will work with day in and day out to ensure you have the right inventory at the right time, which is critical to keeping sales flowing. Before you sign the agreement with a wholesale supplier, here are some things to consider:

Cost

Prices can vary based on quality, location of the supplier and the overhead costs involved. The supplier will charge as much of this back to you as possible. You can probably save money with volume-based discounts, but make sure to check your sales and inventory data to ensure you don’t over-order. If there’s no significant difference between a large order and one for the minimum size, the excess inventory may not be good for your balance sheet.

Location

Whether you source from a local or international wholesale supplier is important. While you may pay less for an overseas product, the added distance can increase both shipping costs and turnaround times. Distance also adds complexity to communication, particularly if you don’t share the same language or similar cultural expectations.

Size

A larger company isn’t always the right choice. While bigger, more established suppliers may offer consistency and reliability, they may also be less flexible when it comes to custom solutions and personalised service. Consider the level of attention your small business needs and choose carefully.

Search

The larger your list of potential wholesale suppliers, the more confident you can be in your selection. Start the search online and use broad, more general search terms to represent the product or category you’re looking for. Then narrow your search by slowly adding more specific terms or features. Don’t rush and keep in mind that the best result may not appear on the first page of your Google search. Once you’ve identified a short list of suppliers, look for online reviews.

Recommendations

While online reviews can be helpful, the best recommendations often come from people you know. Reach out to friends, family and other business owners with similar needs and ask them about the suppliers they use.

Test & learn

Placing an order with a new supplier doesn’t commit you to working with them forever. Try sampling a few smaller test orders from different vendors until you find the perfect fit.

Finding the best supplier to suit your small business can take time (and careful planning) but getting it right at the start will pay off in the long run.

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