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Wholesale

20 Questions to Ask your Wholesale Supplier before Getting Started

Nedina Gjorgjieva
12 minutes

It’s no secret that wholesale is classified as one of store owners’ most preferred supplying methods among others. The reasons behind this preference are numerous, but we won’t go into detail since the sale numbers can speak for themselves: as of November 2021, the US has announced that the country’s wholesaler sales have reached an estimated amount of around 630.78 billion USD with an increase of more than 8 billion USD within only a one month period. You can only imagine the number of sales made on a global level. Such incredible figures represent irrefutable evidence of the success of wholesale suppliers, proving that customers are truly satisfied with their services.

But not all wholesalers contribute to these satisfying numbers. Some might offer you an amazing business relationship, while others may only disappoint you. Therefore, it’s important to take into consideration a few things instead of jumping headfirst. If you’re a newcomer in the wholesale business, chances are you neither have an idea where to start looking nor know what criteria to have in mind when the time comes to start eliminating candidates until you track down the ideal supplier. Fortunately, you’re not alone on this journey. There are probably thousands of other entrepreneurs going through the same struggles, feeling just as lost in the whole procedure of investigating and selecting suppliers.

To ease things up for you, we’ve put together a couple of points you should always cover when having a conversation with a potential supplier. We’ll gladly teach you what are the must-questions to ask in order to ensure the supplier you’re interested in would be the right fit for your store.

How long have you been offering wholesale services?

The best way to verify that the supplier you’ve chosen to collaborate with is reliable and sells genuine products is to find out as much information as possible regarding their experience and work history. Wholesalers which have secured a network of loyal clients and have been on the market for some time are certain to be more trustworthy and provide you with greater wholesale service. Of course, you can always do a full investigation by yourself by looking into their website, browsing the company’s name on Google, and reading reviews on Trustpilot. However, it’s even better to ask them directly as they may share details that haven’t been published online which could end up being decisive information.

How often do you update your inventory with new products?

Besides making sure the supplier has sufficient experience, store owners should prioritize finding a wholesaler that offers new merchandise on a regular basis. For every store out there, the main source of success comes from keeping customers content which is best done when providing them constantly with the latest products. This recurrent update on items will continuously draw their attention, making them keep coming back to your shop and eventually turning them into your regular clientele.

How big is the diversity of products you sell?

It goes without saying that product diversity plays a crucial role in retaining customers and averting them from checking out competitors’ stores. That’s why in your search for the finest wholesaler you should never forget to ask potential suppliers about the variety of products they have at disposal and estimate if that amount would satisfy your customers’ needs. Therefore, don’t rush into choosing a supplier before confirming that they offer a wide-ranging portfolio of brands and products that will not only bring you happy and loyal customers but also assure you notable revenue growth. Especially if you are getting into the fashion industry, make sure your supplier of choice covers enough categories of winning products for both men and women to be able to respond to the shopping enthusiasts’ expectations.

Are the products you’re offering authentic?

In case your niche consists of selling high-end fashion products, it’s of the utmost importance to verify their authenticity as there are many suppliers offering knock-off items that you may end up purchasing without realizing they’re counterfeit goods. So, when browsing for wholesalers of luxury brands remember to look for suppliers that stand behind their products’ authenticity and would stock your store with genuine brands. One example of a wholesale supplier who ensures 100% authenticity to each product in their portfolio is BrandsGateway.

Could you provide me with a catalog?

The product catalog is every wholesaler’s most significant part of their website, giving prospective customers a sneak peek into their inventory, enough to make a general evaluation of the items they’re selling. Depending on the way it’s been created, a catalog can either generate a large number of clients or make them think twice before making a purchase. Hence, it’s advisable for supplier seekers to pay close attention to the available catalogs in order to get a rough idea of the supplier’s products before going into business with them. However, many business owners may stumble upon wholesalers that offer an extremely limited preview of their catalog, making the rest of the products available only after one decides to use their services. So, try to avoid these suppliers and stick with those who give clients access to check out their merchandise by registering for free.

What is the minimum order quantity you require?

The minimum order quantity can vary tremendously from a wholesaler to a wholesaler but it mostly depends on the type of products being sold. For instance, expensive products usually have a higher MOQ than those sold at cheaper prices because they’re high-quality authentic products that are obtained from authorized entities. Thus, it’s best when clients are informed upfront about the MOQ in order to be able to calculate in advance their order expenses and see if they can fit them into their budget.

Where is the merchandise sourced from?

The location where the supplier’s merchandise is produced can say a lot about the quality of the products. Although many suppliers source their goods from authorized vendors and then sell them to retailers, outlet owners, or eCommerce stores, an even bigger number source them from unreliable manufacturers, some of which are known to have significant disadvantages. Because of that, it’s highly recommended to check where your wholesale supplier sources their merchandise from prior to buying a poor-quality bulk of items.

Where are your warehouses located?

The whereabouts of your potential wholesaler’s warehouses are another thing clients should take into consideration, especially because it can greatly affect the delivery time. Moreover, in addition to the price paid when purchasing the products, the buyer is also required to cover custom duties for exporting and importing merchandise from one country to another. That being the case, try to opt for a wholesaler who has warehouses in several places around the world, which will not only reduce your expenses but also provide you with fast and convenient delivery services.

How long does it take on average to deliver orders?

Another vital thing wholesale suppliers should inform you about is the approximate time it would take for them to deliver your orders. You wouldn’t want to find yourself in a situation in which customers can’t make a purchase of a certain item because your store is out of stock. Therefore, just like previously mentioned, when choosing a supplier, keep in mind both the location of the warehouses and the time it might take for orders to be handed over to you.

Will I be able to track my orders?

In order for you to be able to keep an eye on your packages, ask your wholesaler if they offer the possibility for you to track your delivery. In that way, you can be kept posted on the status of your order at all times and be notified almost instantly in the case of any shipping delays. Hence, make sure to pick out a supplier that would provide you with a tracking number so you could constantly be kept updated on where your order stands.

Do you offer worldwide shipment?

Before trying to figure out delivery costs, order tracking, or shipping time, you need to find out if the potential suppliers you’ve been looking into ship globally or just locally. If they don’t ship to your location, you’d only be wasting your time with them. You shouldn’t be surprised if you ever come across wholesalers who limit their shipping abilities and offer delivery services only within the countries their warehouses are situated and sometimes including neighboring states. For that reason, always make inquiries about worldwide shipping prior to making any type of arrangements.

What do your return and refund policies entail?

Being aware of return and refund policies is crucial in the event of having to deal with damaged goods. Thus, it’s important to have a clear understanding of how your supplier manages situations when clients wish to return products or cancel orders. Some might offer monetary reimbursement, some may provide store credit, while others might give out coupons or discounts. In addition, be on the watch for any hidden fees or additional charges that could be imposed by the supplier.

Who covers the costs when shipping items back?

In most cases, suppliers rarely offer freight-collect services concerning the return of products. In other words, the buyers are the ones responsible for covering the shipping costs when sending items back to the wholesaler. However, there are suppliers that do bear those costs in the event of merchandise that is faulty, has been damaged, or wrongly shipped. In order to benefit from a full refund in cases like these, suppliers are likely to ask you to provide them with photos of the products concerned and after they’ve accepted your request, they’ll be able to reimburse you for your loss. Therefore, have a good look at the terms and conditions of your wholesaler and take careful notice of the returns and refunds sections.

What payment methods are you working with?

One more key question to include in your list is regarding the payment methods the wholesalers you have set your mind on work with. Taking into account the pros and cons of various payment methods, depending on your preferences and possibilities, you might find some of them less while others more suitable for your business. Thus, it’d be wise to opt for suppliers who present clients with the opportunity to choose among different types of payment. In this manner, you’d have the freedom to determine which option would work best for you.

What are the anticipated profit margins?

Keeping your store profitable can be a challenging thing to do, especially for newbies on the market, and it might take some time to get the hang of it. In order to make sure you’ll be receiving a decent profit, don’t forget to discuss with your supplier the income you should expect for every item sold. Select a wholesaler that offers great profit margins which will bring you an excellent financial standing and kick-start your store to stardom.

Do you offer discounts?

When purchasing products in bulk, from luxury brands particularly, wholesalers try to abstain from giving discounts. It’s an industry standard that has been around for a long time and suppliers attempt to stick with it. Nevertheless, during holiday shopping seasons, chances are you’ll come across discounts for particular categories of products and brands. So, stay in tune with your supplier so you don’t miss out on those opportunities.

What happens if the order delivered is wrong or has arrived much later than expected?

As previously stated, before cutting a deal with any wholesaler, carefully go through their delivery rules and regulations. Examine the supplier’s shipping policy and see what actions they’d take in circumstances in which the products have taken a lot longer to arrive or, in worst cases, the incorrect order has been delivered.

Do you provide clients with customer support they can reach out to when experiencing issues?

You know that a wholesaler is worth doing business with when they not only supply clients with excellent products but also have at disposal exceptional customer service, giving store owners a memorable business experience. Whether it’s about the above-discussed delivery issues, merchandise troubles, or something else, clients should always be able to lean on customer support for any kind of problem that may arise, and in that way, they can keep steady communication with the supplier around the clock.

What do your payment terms involve?

To avoid any inconveniences, it’s essential to settle the payment terms with the supplier, meaning, to agree on when payments should be installed. Usually, wholesalers have clearly defined payment times that clients are expected to respect and abide by. However, for different types of items, there may be different payment terms to be met. Hence, it’s important to inform yourself thoroughly about invoice deadlines so there won’t be any confusion or unexpected situations.

Could you offer me references and/or customer reviews?

Last but not least, customer reviews and references exert an astounding influence on clients’ decisions. In a survey conducted by PowerReviews, 98% of consumers said that reviews are an indispensable step when purchasing merchandise, thus, giving them a decision-making role in the purchase process in both the B2C and B2B marketplaces. So, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to request from suppliers credible reviews you could easily access and check for previous customers and their experiences.

Final thoughts

As your store grows and expands, you’ll likely come across new wholesale suppliers constantly. Some of them might emerge immediately as the perfect match, while others might not be up your alley. To be 100% sure that they’re someone your store would benefit from working with, we recommend putting these questions to use when business talks are in progress. Thus, we advise you to have this list on hand so you can come back to it whenever you need to evaluate new partners and verify the reliability and authenticity of their services and company.

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About the Author

Nedina Gjorgjieva

Proud bookworm, passionate content writer and devoted Arctic Monkeys fan. Always in the mood for travel and sightseeing.

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