Selecting your suppliers is a crucial business decision. You’ll have to work with them day in and day out to keep your inventory stocked, so it’s critical you find people who are on the same page. So before you sign on the dotted line, some things to consider:
When you’re sourcing products from different suppliers, prices can vary. Things like quality, location, and overhead all play a part in what suppliers charge (i.e., what you pay). Look for volume-based discounts, but also watch out for minimum order quantities. While you may get a better rate for a bigger order, the minimum size of that order might not make it such a good deal.
Location, location, location
Consider whether you’ll be better off with a local supplier or an international one. You may pay less for products from overseas, but the added distance can add to shipping costs and turnaround times. With distance can also come communication issues — an extra layer of complexity if you don’t share the same language or culture.
Size and service matter
Bigger isn’t always better. While larger, more established companies might offer consistency and reliability, they might not be as flexible in offering custom solutions for your business. Think about whether the supplier can give you the attention you need.
Cast a wide net
The more suppliers you’re aware of, the more certain you can be that you’re making the best choice. The best place to start is online. When you start your search, use broader terms, like the general category of product you’re looking for, then slowly narrow it down with more specific terms. If you want to buy local, be sure to add your region to your search. And don’t be afraid to go deep — page 10 of your search results might have better options than the first. Once you have a list of options, look around for any online reviews of their services.
Check the listings
Free online supplier directories work like Amazon or eBay for business-to-business sales — they help you connect with thousands of sellers based on the products you need. Take a look at some of the most popular ones:
Online reviews are great, but often the best recommendations can come from people you know. Reach out to friends, family or other business owners who have similar needs and ask them which suppliers they use.
Don’t be afraid to experiment a little
Placing an order with a supplier doesn’t mean you have to commit forever. Try making a few small orders from different vendors until you find the perfect arrangement.
Finding the best suppliers for your business is a process. Think about your priorities, do your research, and then trust your intuition. Your suppliers are part of your business, and spending time to set things up properly will pay off down the road.