Bob Milliken
Bob Milliken

So, you’ve just started a new business. Whether you’ve opened a traditional brick and mortar establishment, or a small boutique website, you’ll need to engage successfully with an ongoing concern that challenges most business owners, no matter how experienced: finding a reliable supplier for what you’re selling. Here are six tips to help you with this crucial component of your success.

Know thy Place

Understand where you fit in the supply chain. The manufacturer may have an exclusive contract with an importer or distributor, who in turn might have exclusive contracts with regional distributors. You may not be able to purchase directly from a wholesaler if you’re not moving a certain amount of volume, but it also depends on what you’re selling.

Try the Manufacturer

Fewer middlemen means more profit. Try contacting the manufacturer of your item to see if they’ll sell it to you directly. If not, ask them for a list of distributors so you can call around and compare prices. That way, even if you can’t get the product directly, you’ll have a solid start in your search to find the most cost-effective distributor.

Check E-Commerce Sites

You might be surprised that E-bay is not just a place to unload old comic books. E-commerce sites have also become a venue where suppliers and distributors sell items in bulk. Because of the messaging features on these venues, you can also contact the seller directly and try to negotiate a favorable price. Even better, clients and customers leave reviews, allowing you to assess the vendor’s reliability.

businessGo to a Trade Show

Trade Shows are great ways to expand your business network, and talk to manufacturers and distributors directly. Because their products are on display, it will also provide you with an opportunity to assess the product and the vendor, especially if they are providing demonstrations.

Internet Research

Try a Google search from the comfort of your own home, putting in keywords like “wholesale” and “distributor.” Most manufacturers or suppliers will have information on their webpage about how to get in touch with them. Keep your email brief, honest, and to the point

Your Take Away

Sometimes choosing a supplier or service provider is as simple as asking a friend who they use in their business. Or you may make an awesome first contact at a networking event that lasts your entire business lifetime. Most of you will likely need to go through a formal selection process. Regardless, chances are, as your business grows you will have to switch to a larger supplier, which of course, benefits you with lower prices. Be patient and understand that the perfect supply chain doesn’t happen overnight, it takes time to develop.

Bob Milliken is a master marketer specializing in helping businesses achieve outrageous levels of success. Bob can be reached by phone at 604.270.1730 or by email at