If you want to start your own online shop, you will need items to resell. You can buy these products from a wholesaler or supplier. But where do you find them and how do you make sure you are allowed to buy from them? Wholesalers and suppliers sometimes have strict conditions.
Especially if you have yet to start your webshop, a wholesaler may refuse your request, or may apply specific conditions before you can buy.
For instance, webshops sometimes cannot buy from a wholesaler if they don’t also have a brick-and-mortar shop, or the webshop has to make a minimum purchase of tens of thousands of euros before the wholesaler delivers. Not every start-up can afford that, so sometimes you have to be a bit more creative in the beginning.
Wholesalers where you can buy low volumes
Some places where you can find a wholesaler to buy (extra) products:
The b2b platform Orderchamp is full of wholesalers for retail with low purchase thresholds and minimum orders. Signing up is free. Larger retailers often use the platform to find great complements but small boutiques and concept stores can really find a full range here.
Spanish dropshipping wholesaler BigBuy has a large selection of more than 150,000 products. Shipping is fast and items are all suitable for the European market. You can also take out a subscription from 69 euros a month, with which it offers additional services.
Reliable Belgian wholesaler that has been supplying retailers and wholesalers for over 15 years. Extensive range of products, including dropshipping throughout Europe. Next-day delivery in the Netherlands and Belgium, other EU countries 2 to 5 days. No subscription fees and full tracking.
The Faire platform features brands and wholesalers for retailers from North America and Europe. Both large and small online retailers can go here to complement their assortment in, for example, jewellery, clothing or home accessories.
For $67 a year, Salehoo gives you access to a database of over 8,000 wholesalers, almost half of which deliver on a dropshipping basis. If you search carefully, you can also find a nice little wholesaler for Spanish dresses or Italian shoes or skirts here.
You can also contact a large German or American supplier right away, but the really big players are often approached and are less likely to supply new products to a small Dutch start-up. They have been around for a while and are sometimes cautious about admitting new customers.
Buying products via supplier takes time
Sometimes wholesalers also offer dropshipping, but most wholesalers who already have some customers are reluctant to smaller players. They don’t give the best price right away and have come up with all kinds of ground rules to keep people off a bit. Think of minimum orders or conditions such as that you cannot return it, have to pay in advance and often have to pay higher prices than other webshops because you cannot yet negotiate a regular customer discount.
Wholesalers are sometimes a bit reluctant to take on new customers.
Buying and reselling products at a profit is then very difficult for starters. It seems almost impossible to make a business idea out of this. Sometimes this is actually true. The conditions of a well-run wholesaler or supplier are then too strict for newcomers. You have to be up and running for a while before you can source here.
Buying and reselling products at a profit
Many new webshops make themselves known at this point. They drop out because they cannot outline a situation where they make money immediately. But existing players often don’t make any profit their first year either. You often start with a loss to be able to pay for the start-up of the webshop. Think of the software, shipping costs, logistics, warehouse set-up, you name it.
Starting an online shop and using it to build up a wide product range costs a lot of money and wholesalers and suppliers know this too. That is why they will not let you buy, because they know that new customers often have one-off orders, half of which may be returned.
Have you yet to start your webshop? Then read all about buying clothes, setting up your warehouse or the different niches in ecommerce.
Buying from China
A reverse image search. Click on the image for a larger size.
China is a country brimming with factories and manufacturers. A large proportion of all products made come from China. Not surprisingly, many retailers buy directly from China. For big players, this is easy to do.
As a starter, it is not so easy. You can’t just go back and forth to meet the supplier, look at the products and negotiate the price. Fortunately, the internet has made this easier though. Alibaba, for example, offers retailers a large b2b marketplace of suppliers from which you can buy items.
One way to find sellers from China is to do a ‘reverse image search’. For example, have you found a product in an online shop that you want to sell yourself? Then you can do a ‘reverse image search’ via Google Images or a website like Tineye.com. The tool then checks which sites the image is found on. Chances are you will also come across an Alibaba or AliExpress link where you can approach the seller.
Buy in advance from a wholesaler? With dropshipping, there’s no need! Through Printful or Alibaba, you can put together an assortment cheaply and quickly.
China has more major platforms besides Alibaba
Alibaba is well-known in the Netherlands, but DHgate or Banggood are also big Chinese platforms. Be careful what you do, though. These are Chinese marketplaces. Suppliers are sometimes just small Chinese manufacturers who want to sell something in Asia. Not all items are then suitable or even allowed on the European market.
Often sizes are different from what you would expect. It is also questionable whether the article you see on a photo is exactly what you expect. Furthermore, you will have to deal with shipping costs (which may differ per supplier!), customs fees and sometimes other additional costs.
Not everything is suitable or allowed for the European market.
An online platform might be easier to browse through a large selection quickly, you still have to deal with cultural differences and should not forget that you are browsing through an Asian platform. It’s still a matter of requesting samples, being patient and, above all, being careful before buying something big.
Loss on first orders a real start
If a wholesaler or supplier proves impossible to find in the first few weeks, you can also first start with so-called alternatives to at least build up your online domain. Orderchamp also has many small wholesalers, but you can also buy stuff via Marktplaats.nl, Speurders.nl, fairs or other events. Maybe even offline marketplaces, thrift shops or auctions.
The first purchases for your webshop are tough! You have to be creative then.
Sometimes, buying through other shops is even a good move. You are then sure of quality, costs, guarantee and delivery time, you gain a lot of knowledge and it immediately forces you to be better than the existing competition in terms of service or marketing.
Purchase the right (quantity of) products at the right time with Optiply. Purchase and stock management software for your web shop. Request a free demo.
Convince a wholesaler with a full webshop
If you buy through existing places like competitors or auctions, can you still make some money? Sometimes you can. Through bankruptcy auctions, you can sometimes even buy cheaply, allowing you to make a nice margin. With the other alternatives, however, this is not possible but that is not necessarily the end of it. Because if you then go to a supplier or wholesaler, you can arrive there with a well-stocked shop.
Especially if you can already show visitor statistics or sales figures, it is easier to convince a wholesaler than if you don’t have anything online yet. In addition, you build up data for yourself. You see which products you get traffic on, what people search for, what sells well, you name it.
Buying products from a wholesaler? Orderchamp is a b2b marketplace with low purchase thresholds and minimum orders. Ideal for finding new suppliers!
Buying through wholesalers is easier with success
A wholesaler needs to see that you are a success story. With a well-stocked web shop, market knowledge and a good story about visitor numbers, marketing or logistics, you seem like an experienced player where the picture becomes much more interesting for him. Combine it with an interesting first purchase and the chance that he then wants to supply your webshop for a nice purchase price has suddenly become realistic!
Frequently asked questions
Some frequently asked questions about buying products from a wholesaler are:
Where can I find a wholesaler or supplier?
If you want to buy products, you can google for brands, manufacturers or suppliers. But sometimes a wholesaler is not so easy to find. We collected some wholesalers who work with low purchases and acceptable terms.
How can I buy products for my webshop?
Very simple! You look for a supplier. Many wholesalers or importers are also happy to supply webshops. Although they usually have some conditions. If you have yet to start your webshop, it is sometimes more difficult. Even then, we describe some possibilities in this article.
What do I have to meet to be allowed to buy?
Wholesalers work b2b. That means they (usually) only work with companies that resell the products themselves.
So you need to have a CoC registration and an online shop. In addition, sometimes wholesalers have some conditions of their own so that customers don’t compete with each other too much. For instance, they offer exclusivity per region or product group. In this article, tips on how to buy from a wholesaler.
Does it matter whether I want to buy clothes, jewellery or televisions?
Every wholesaler and sector has its own characteristics. Do you want to buy clothes for your webshop? Then it comes back more often, you have to deal with size charts and seasonal items. Suppliers know this and often apply different conditions.
I want to start a wholesale business myself.
If you can buy items from the manufacturer or producer yourself and have negotiated good conditions, such as exclusivity for the Netherlands, you can also start a wholesale business yourself. For instance, you can offer dropshipping to other webshops.