4. Try searching for wholesalers on Google.
Conduct Google searches for the words "wholesale" or "distributor" plus some keywords from your products. Try product names, model numbers, and brand names. For example:
- <product, model name, brand> wholesale
- <product, model name, brand> distributor
Go through each result and look for the "wholesale account" link or an email address or phone number where you can get more information.
At this point, and depending on your industry, you may have seen several distributors with similar names. It's helpful to keep a spreadsheet of potential wholesaler suppliers, their prices and minimum requirements, your contact history with them (do you have a wholesale account already or have you not contacted them yet?), etc. After a while, they all start to sound alike.
5. Look for wholesale lots on eBay.
If all else fails, some retailers or small wholesalers will sell lots of your product on eBay.
Since eBay mainly targets retail consumers, the wholesale options you'll find here are usually only suitable for very low volume retailers. But if you're just starting out, eBay might be the easy start you need to dip your toes into ecommerce and start shipping product.
6. Check major B2B marketplaces.
Start at Alibaba.com. It's a huge, global (though mostly Chinese) B2B marketplace of manufacturers, importers, and wholesale distributors. It's a great source for finding Chinese manufacturing or distribution of commodity products.
7. Join industry groups, forums, and other professional networks.
Other retailers are not eager to share supplier information with competitors, so it'll take some networking (and time and learning experiences) to find the best possible wholesale suppliers for your small business. Start building relationships with industry insiders, and eventually you'll be one of those insiders. Participate in online forums, build your LinkedIn profile and start building connections, subscribe to industry newsletters, and generally build your professional network.
8. Subscribe to all of your industry's trade publications.
Get every magazine or newsletter that targets retailers in your industry. Every advertiser in the magazine will be a product manufacturer or distributor looking to reach you. You should have a few dozen options from the ads in the back of the magazine. These publications will usually have a Web site too.
9. Attend a trade show.
These events are for retailers just like you. When you can talk face-to-face with manufacturers and wholesale distributors, it avoids all of the noise of inaccurate information that can plague the Web. The largest directory of trade shows is at tsnn.com. You can search for a trade show by industry, date, city / state / country (it's a global directory), and/or event name. Here are some tips for maximizing your trade show experience.
10. Don't be afraid to make a mistake.
Your first wholesale supplier may not be your lifelong vendor. Creating your perfect supply chain is an evolution involving a lot of trial and error. But don't let less-than-ideal conditions stop you from doing business. Remember, all you need from your first supplier is product that you can ship at a profit. It may not be the best wholesale price for you, but don't sweat that in the beginning. Your first goal is to ship product. Then you can improve your bottom line by trying other wholesale suppliers.