How to find suppliers

Before considering how to find suppliers you must identify your target market in terms of customers and the products that are most likely to meet your customers demand. Therefore spend some time researching the market, see what your successful competitors are doing and if possible speak to your customers and find out what they really want.

Suppliers for products in each industry will have many different ways of delivering the product to the consumer. You must fully understand each supplier’s distribution channels before you can find suppliers. In some circumstances the supplier may allow you to buy direct, others may require you to purchase further down the supply chain for example through an importer/exporter, distributor, wholesaler or retailer.

Finding and purchasing from suppliers such as manufacturers and vendors at the source of the supply chain will enable you to benefit from the cheapest prices because no other companies have added their margin yet. It is generally the case that the higher up the supply chain you purchase goods the better the price however in order to do so you may be required to have certifications, larger minimum orders and credit checks.

Once you’ve identified a product(s) to procure it’s time to think about how to find suppliers. Finding suppliers can be done the old fashioned way using the yellow pages, trade publications, magazines, the internet, search engines, business to business groups, industry specific groups, social media and now purpose built trade networks such as The Reseller Network.

Attending trade shows where suppliers exhibit who products relevant to your business will allow face to face contact with the suppliers. Trade shows take time and may involve travelling expenses; however you can network and establish good personal relationships with suppliers.

Ideally you want to aim to purchase your products from suppliers at source of the supply chain or as near to as possible. This may vary between industries but typically will be determined by accreditations, minimum order volumes and credit checks. To find out how and where you fit in the supply chain, first consider whether you are a distributor, wholesaler, reseller or retailer and then contact some suppliers above you in the supply chain.

Once you have found some potential suppliers contact them to find out how and what they can supply you with, consider product quality, price, availability and reliability. Make sure your suppliers can deliver the quantities of products that you are buying for your business at a shipping or delivery cost that remains competitive with alternatives.

Establish a good relationship with your suppliers and be persistent in ensuring they continue to offer good value. If new suppliers can offer better value or different products then be confident enough to research and contact new suppliers. It is also prudent to find alternative suppliers- in the event of a problem with your preferred suppliers.