Whether it be manufacturing your own product or finding suppliers to purchase wholesale from, they aren't always easy to find. Here, we're going to look at the basics of sourcing a supplier for your next project. We will look at some places to search, how you should approach them and what to ask.
1) What Are You Looking For?
There are a ton of helpful resources to be found online just by searching Google. However before you begin, there are a few things you should know and decide. First, you should determine what type of supplier you're looking for. This will help determine the terminology you need to use in your research. There are two options, with the most common being:
1) A manufacturer to produce your own product idea
2) A supplier, who may also be a manufacturer, wholesaler or distributor to purchase already existing brands and products
2) Domestic vs. International Suppliers
A classic question when looking for suppliers if you plan to manufacture or wholesale is whether you want to source domestically or from overseas. You likely already know that it’s almost always cheaper to source your products through International suppliers but there's a lot more to that decision than just the upfront investment and costs. Here, some advantages and disadvantages:
- Higher manufacturing quality and labour standards
- Easier communication with no language barrier
- Easier to verify reputable manufacturers and faster shipping time
- Greater payment security and recourse
- Higher manufacturing costs
- Less product choice
- Lower manufacturing costs
- High number of manufacturers to choose from
- One-stop services have made it easy to navigate suppliers
- Lower perceived quality from customers
- Language, culture and communication barrier can be difficult to navigate,
- Difficulty/costly to verify manufacturer and visit on-site
- Longer shipping time
3) Where To Begin Your Search: Directories
Naturally, the internet is the best place to start, but there are a few places in particular that can help with your search. Below, we have listed out a few of the most popular ones below for both domestic and overseas suppliers:
Online Domestic Directories
Online Overseas Directories
4) Google Ranking
How can you find suppliers on Google? For the first time ever, you’ll need to explore page ten of Google search results, and beyond. You'll also want to use a variety of search terms. For example, words like wholesale, wholesaler and distributor may be used interchangeably so you should search for all of them. It may help you make yourself familiar with Google's search shortcuts to improve the quality of your searches, thus the results.
You may also want to consider dusting off your library card and heading to your local library. Many libraries pay monthly subscription fees for online business and manufacturer directories that you normally wouldn't have access to, or you would have to pay a large amount of money for, like the Scotts Online Business Directory. These directories contain profiles for many manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors in
America, depending on the exact directory. Make sure to give
your local library a call ahead of time and ask them if they have access to
these types of private directories. For larger libraries, you may need to chat
with the business and technology department.
6) Strong Referrals
Some of the best leads can come from referrals by friends and family. Social networks have made it much easier to get the word out so make sure to use these channels. As you do start to uncover suppliers, even if they aren't the right fit for you, be sure to ask them if they can point you in the right direction. Being in the industry means they will likely have great contacts and many would be more than happy to refer you to someone that might be a better fit.
Another possible way to search for product suppliers is by searching for your products by their NAICS code. NAICS is the North American Industry Classification System, and pretty much every single industry and product you can think of is attached to a NAICS code. Sometimes manufacturers and suppliers may list their products by the NAICS code which can make your product manufactures and suppliers easier to find, especially if you're using professional directories. The NAICS directory can be found at your local library or on the Internet at:
- NAICS Code and - NAICS Code. Canada