This article is the first in a series designed to help eCommerce sellers navigate one of the most important decisions in the business cycle – finding reliable suppliers and vendors of inventory for Amazon, eBay, and your own eCommerce business. The second article on business issues to consider can be found here and the third article on technical criteria can be found here.
Competition in eCommerce has never been fiercer. Access to a reliable source of quality inventory is critical to growing your sales and building your product catalog. There are literally hundreds of thousands of manufacturers and wholesalers around the world. With so many options available, where can you find reputable vendors for your ecommerce store?
Where to find vendors A-Z
Below is an alphabetical listing of some of the more popular platforms along with a couple of other options for procuring inventory for your Amazon and eBay sales channels.
- Alibaba – is a leading wholesale marketplace for global trade. Alibaba offers import/export supply chain services, including customs clearance, VAT refund, trade financing and logistics services.
- Dino Direct – is a wholesale supplier of inexpensive clothing, electronics, mobiles, computers and gadgets from China with free shipping worldwide. Individual customer reviews seem spotty here, but businesses that buy in bulk seem to have had better luck.
- Global Sources – facilitates trade of a wide array of product categories between Asia and the world using English-language media such as trade shows, online marketplaces, magazines, and apps. Make sure to check the supplier verification program to increase the odds that their vendors are reputable.
- Light in the Box – Light in the Box offers products in the categories of apparel, small accessories, gadgets, home, and garden. They are one of the largest vendors in China and have a vast array of product offerings. As with all Chinese suppliers, you will have to account for time spent in shipping and customs when planning your orders.
- Worldwide Brands – the only Wholesale Directory you’ll find that lists nothing but Top-Level Suppliers looking for online sellers. Their goal is to make sure their members work with safe, secure drop shippers, light bulk wholesalers & volume wholesalers, liquidation and importers. This way you are guaranteed to get true wholesale prices and never pay unnecessary fees.
What about specific industries?
Sources are sorted by industry on most of the above platforms. Of course, a Google search will also produce such results but you’ll have to do additional screening when using this approach.
Sadly, there are unsavory people in all industries. The key is to know how to recognize them before they have a chance to run their scam on you. Here’s what you need to be aware of so you don’t get caught up in a scam that could be very costly to you.
- Scammers won’t ask for your business registration details or tax file number.
- Avoid any supplier that asks you for monthly fees to provide you with product and price lists. No reputable wholesaler who wants your business would charge you for this.
- Once you’ve paid for your order, your manufacturer may ask you for additional payment to cover customs fees. Don’t be fooled, China has no such custom fees to pay when exporting goods.
- If you receive an invoice that specifies Western Union under payment terms, you know something is wrong. To avoid this scam, never send money via Western Union. Western Union is used to send money to individuals, not companies.
- Be careful of pricing and quantity and avoid any vendor who tries to sell goods to you in end-user quantities rather than bulk. These types of purchases usually end up in inflated prices and leave you with insufficient profit margins to sustain your business. Always verify pricing by comparing it to the current sale price for a single unit of the item on the internet.
- Alibaba sources with an unverified account may not be legit. The solution is to only deal with verified account. That way you know, for sure, that they are who they say they are.
- Be cautious if you’re ready to pay for your order and your supplier says there’s a problem with their bank account. If they ask you to send money to the “boss’ account,” this is most likely their personal account. Never send money to a personal bank account.
- If you receive an invoice that specifies Western Union under payment terms, you know something is wrong. Never send money via Western Union. Western Union is used to send money to individuals, not companies. You wouldn’t send money to a Nigerian Prince looking for help and you should fall for this scam either.
- Try to stay away from proxy companies. Although some legitimate manufacturers use them, they can potentially lead to problems. Companies in southern China often set up proxy companies in Hong Kong because they can hide taxable income from mainland China. It also makes it easy for the Chinese company to avoid disputes with foreign customers.
- When seeking branded products, go straight to the official site and find their lists of approved suppliers. This will ensure that you receive the real McCoy, not a cheap knockoff. This is especially important when dealing with vendors from China and other countries where US trademarks are frequently not honored.
Now that you’re armed with this information, you are ready to locate reputable vendors for your online store or to supply you with Amazon inventory. Once you identify prospective vendors, request the information we have discussed. This will help you select the best vendors. Be sure to watch out for red flags alerting you to potential scams. In our next article, we will review the business issues you should consider during the vendor selection process.