If you’re looking to improve and expand your business, you’re in the right place! It’s great to see your entrepreneurial intuition has led you here today.
Between the thrill of finally starting your own business and being incredibly busy keeping everything ticking over, you’ve probably come across your fair share of bumps in the road. 🚧
One of the biggest roadblocks for businesses are suboptimal supplier relations. The quest for the ideal supplier can feel never-ending, and working with unreliable business partners will mess up your business’ trajectory in a big way. 📉
At SaleHoo we have over 15 years’ experience in eCommerce and we’re on a mission to make online entrepreneurship easy for everyone.
So whether you’ve been struggling with dodgy suppliers and poor quality products, or you need more choice to expand your business – we’re perfectly positioned to help you on your way to 7 figures.
First up, let’s take a look at some of the most common supplier traps.
Top Supplier Traps (What Can Go Wrong)
Unfortunately, not every supplier has your best interest at heart. Especially as a new business, you may be struggling to get the same sort of attention bigger business partners are lucky to receive.
While this is somewhat expected, there are definitely some red flags that signal ‘back off this partnership!’ to any growing online business.
Whether you’re operating under a wholesale or dropshipping model, communication with your supplier is key. You need to have up-to-date information at all times, so you can make appropriate decisions for your business.
Especially with dropshipping, your intel on inventory is crucial. Otherwise, your customers may be placing orders that can’t be fulfilled on the supplier side. A customer experience nightmare all around!
But even on the wholesale side of things, you’ll be placing orders for more product regularly and don’t want to be caught on the back foot.
In the day and age of online business, you’ll likely be ordering products based on imagery and descriptions provided by the supplier.
Unfortunately, buying product in good faith can sometimes come to bite you in the back. Products may look nothing like what you saw in the pictures, made from cheap materials, or with faulty functionality.
If you’re buying wholesale, you’ll notice these faults before any orders get shipped to the customer, but if you’re dropshipping you won’t be so lucky. The result: unhappy customers and valuable time spent dealing with complaints and troubleshooting.
One way to prevent all this is to always order a sample product. Another is to make sure your supplier is trustworthy and values you as their customer from the get-go.
Have you ever bought something online and had to go through a tedious exchange process, making you never want to return again?
According to research, customers are 89% less likely to return after a bad returns experience. Considering how important customer retention is these days, that’s huge!
So you’ll want to make sure Returns & Exchanges are set up properly.
When dropshipping, this means your supplier needs to have an easy returns process in place too, otherwise the whole system falls apart. And this isn’t always the case! – Returns to some suppliers are extremely difficult or nigh impossible.
Which means you end up having to refund the customer out of your own pocket. Not a great one for the books!
If orders are taking a lot longer to reach customers than promised, you have a problem.
Not only did you give your customers inadequate information to begin with (which results in a loss of trust) but you’ll also need to deal with a lot of complaints.
Transparency and communication are key for building strong customer relationships, and you can only do that if your own relationship with the supplier is based on the same.
It’s absolutely vital that you can trust your supplier to give you adequate information, so you can do the same for your customers.
Some suppliers are unreliable and frustrating to work with, some others are actually small-scale criminals.
There seems to be no end to the innovative schemes some individuals come up with to try to take advantage of inexperienced businesses.
From payment scam, to hoax tracking numbers, and asking for extra money, the list goes on and on. These people really know how to work their angle and make themselves look as legitimate as possible. So it’s really not easy to figure out who you can trust.
Luckily, at SaleHoo we have a few tricks up our sleeve.
Read on to find out how you can easily find reliable suppliers and avoid those nasty pieces of work.
How to Find the Best Suppliers
So now we know what we definitely DON’T want when it comes to suppliers. But how exactly do we separate the wheat from the chaff?
Let’s unpick this question in our step-by-step guide.
1. Search the SaleHoo Directory
SaleHoo Directory is an industry-leading database of more than 8000 wholesale and dropshipping suppliers, and over 1.6 million products at low prices. We’re always working to add more suppliers and updating current ones to make sure you’re getting the best choice possible.
All the suppliers in our database are vetted based on years in business, trustworthiness, response rate and more, so you can say goodbye to sleepless nights over potential scammers when you’re working with us.
Start your search by typing in a particular keyword or browsing specific categories, and view results by supplier or product to find exactly what you’re looking for.
2. Narrow down your results
Once you’ve got a list of potential suppliers, you want to filter out the ones that’ll work for your business and requirements.
Do you want a dropship or wholesale supplier? What location should they be located in and do you need worldwide shipping? What’s the minimum order amount?
For example, if you want a dropshipper close to the US but who will also ship glonally, filter ‘Dropshippers’ located in the US, Canada or Mexico with worldwide shipping. This way, you’ll find exactly the suppliers you’re looking for.
3. Check our your faves
Once you’ve got a short list of favorites, the Supplier Details pages give you oodles of important information, like how many years in business, their average product price, the security of their website, and of course contact information.
Individual product catalogs show you the choice of items each supplier has available at what price and lets you save preferred products to your favorites.
It still pays to check with suppliers about product prices, as they may give you a better deal than what’s advertised.
Save your top supplier choices to favorites with one simple click and add notes to keep all your thoughts in one place.
This way, you’ll never lose any of your valuable research.
4. Make that connection
Finally, it’s time to contact your future business partners.
Some suppliers give a ‘quick contact’ option via live chat, while others prefer a well-phrased email, or a quick phone call.
Since we know it’s important to make a professional first impression, we’ve preloaded some email templates for different uses – i.e. dropshipping, wholesale, general enquiries, pricing enquiries and more.
This way, you don’t have to stress about finding the right words, and you’ll have a much better response rate. Just be sure to complete the template with all relevant information – and voila! Hit send.
Whatever you do, make sure you contact at least a handful of suppliers. Suppliers often get hundreds, if not thousands, of emails each week.
They may not get back to you immediately, so it’s best to keep your options open.
5. The start of a great business relationship!
Once you’ve hit send on those emails or picked up the phone to make the initial contact, all it takes is a little patience until your new business partnership is fully established.
We stress enough how important it is to work with a great, reliable supplier. It will make all the difference for you and your customers.
And the happier your customers, the more your business will thrive too.
Raring To Go?
Are you starting to get that excited tingly feeling in your belly? Well, we don’t blame you at all. We’ve all been where you are now and it’s an incredibly exciting phase of your entrepreneurial journey.
So let’s stop talking and start contacting those suppliers today!
We can’t wait to see your store up and running. And if you have any questions or concerns, we’ll be here with you every step of the way.
Just get in touch with our team of experts if you need help with anything.