People who want to start an ecommerce project but do not have the means to manufacture products themselves will rely on suppliers. And in some niches, finding a reliable supplier can become a big problem.
Having a supplier you can rely on will give you a peace of mind and allow you to focus on matters like marketing. But how does one find a good supplier? Well, this article will reveal that so make sure to read it.
Tip #1 – Beware of Pretenders
No matter the industry, you are bound to encounter suppliers that may advertise themselves as reliable and with quality products. Taking their word for it blindly is too big of a risk.
Take your time and make sure that you are not going to end up with someone who only talks but cannot back their claim.
Aim for a supplier that is recognized in the industry and will provide only the best. Take a look at this example. Printify.com is a great choice for those who are interested in print on demand ecommerce. Over 250 products, more than 90 printing facilities across the world, competitive prices, free mockup generator and store integrations.
Of course, finding someone like Printify will not be possible for every niche. Despite that, you should still look for the best possible supplier because you will not be able to properly run your business without a reliable supplier.
Tip #2 – Ask for Recommendations
In some cases, the best course of action would be to ask for recommendations. Even if you get denied by what you believe to be a great supplier because you are too small, it is worth inquiring for suggestions. Not everyone is in direct competition with each other.
Getting a recommendation from a reliable source is better than reading internet reviews blindly and doubting whether a supplier is worth the time or not.
Tip #3 – Join Industry Networks
Keeping up with the industry’s news and trends is important for a variety of reasons, and finding out about new suppliers is one of them. Even if a new player has not proved themselves yet, it might still be a good idea to consider them, especially if they offer quality products.
Be sure to join all the relevant channels of the industry, such as forums, LinkedIn and Facebook groups. Follow the authorities of the niche and read articles every day. It will increase the odds of stumbling upon a good supplier.
Tip #4 – Attend Live Events
Getting yourself out there and attending events like trade shows will eliminate doubts that happen when you need to find the information online.
Trade shows are hosted so that distributors and manufacturers can meet with retailers. Live interactions will paint a bigger picture and you will get to speak with higher-ups directly rather than dealing with a middle-man via an email or a phone call.
Tip #5 – Pay Attention to First Contact
It is easy to tell how good of a supplier it is by your first contact. Productivity and discussing the most important matters should be the priority for suppliers who want to work together with entrepreneurs.
If you have any questions that are left unanswered or answered dubiously, it is possible that something is not right and that your potential partner is hiding something.
Tip #6 – Ask for Product Samples
Not everyone is willing to give out free product samples, but it has become more common to get one for those who are serious about selling the product. At the same time, depending on the industry, a sample might be too expensive or too big to deliver. If that is the case, you should look to visit the manufacturing facility personally and check the quality yourself.
Tip #7 – Put Customer Support to a Test
Product samples are not the only thing you should test. People who order online are bound to experience various issues, like late deliveries, or damaged goods. Since you will be relying on another company’s customer support, put them to a test.
Pretend that you are a customer who has had problems with the orders and see how they respond. Communication and customer satisfaction experience are pretty telling signs that say a lot about the company overall. If you are not unhappy with how the customer support handles the problem, it might be better to look for another supplier.
Tip #8 – Consider Multiple Suppliers
When things start to pick up, you might find that your current supplier is unable to fulfill all the orders. After all, expanding as a business is important. If a supplier struggles to provide you with enough products, do not look to drop it immediately. That would be a waste when the cooperation has been so good. Instead, look to start a relationship with more suppliers.