Learn to Find your Products and Supplier. Where can you find them? That’s probably the question you have in mind as you stumble upon this post. Perhaps you’re on your journey to start your e-commerce business. Actually, most entrepreneurs– who are building a startup–do ask that too. And in reality, even those who’ve been in the e-commerce business for quite some time still ask about that. So, where can we really find the products we want to sell? Where are these suppliers? I have some answers here and tips that you may find useful.
There are two ways where you can find products and suppliers– online and in-person. Both ways have their own advantages, so it’s up to you which one to choose. But what I’m about to give you are Chinese Suppliers. That’s because you can get the products cheaper with them. And we all know what it means if we can get our supplies cheaper, right? We can attract more customers with our lower retail price. Or get extra revenue. Whichever you prefer to do. If that suits what you’re looking for– continue reading.
Online Sources of Products and Suppliers
Probably the easiest way to find suppliers is through online. It doesn’t take much of an effort actually. All you have to do is to check these online marketplaces:
- Global Sources
Almost all suppliers on those online marketplaces are from China. To search, just type in the product idea you have in mind and you’ll get a list of suppliers who sells it. It also does give you more details about the product (pictures, dimension, material, etc.). From there you can also check the product’s MOQ (minimum order quantity) and send a message directly to the supplier.
All suppliers from those marketplaces are legit. They have trade assurance that will protect you from being scammed. Especially Alibaba and AliExpress.
Now, here’s a question. As a first time buyer, how would you approach the supplier? How would you establish a trading deal? You may have a thing or two in mind, but here’s a sample message that you can use…
Hi (Supplier’s Name),
My name is (Your Name) of (Business or Company Name), a store in (Country) that sells (products you’ve been selling or want to sell). As the purchasing agent of my company, we would like to inform you that we are interested in carrying many of the items that you can offer.
To be specific, I would like to get the pricing quotes, and availability for the following items:
(List the items, provide the photos, and provide potential quantity)
We would appreciate it if you could give us more info too. Please send us your product catalogs, manufacturing lead times, and MOQ.
Once the supplier gave you all the information you need, ask for a sample before committing to a bulk order.
Online Sourcing Tips:
- When contacting suppliers in Asia, expect that there will be a little bit of language and culture barrier. With that in mind, make sure that you will always detailed what you want from them. In other words, be specific, straight to the point, keep it short and simple.
- Some suppliers may not give you free samples. Instead, they will tell you to buy the product in MOQ. Especially if they found out that you haven’t even started with your business. Or if it’s your first time dealing with them. If you want to test out a new market, find suppliers from AliExpress and DHGate. Those marketplaces allow a single purchase of products or lower MOQ.
- To ensure that you’ll get the lowest price possible from the supplier you’re talking to on Alibaba– contact the same supplier on 1688.com (Chinese version of Alibaba) using a different email address. They’re most likely in there too. Use google translate to check the website as it is fully written in Chinese. You need to do this because some suppliers tend to increase their prices in Alibaba as they know that they are dealing with Americans in that platform.
In-Person Sources of Products and Suppliers
Finding products and suppliers in-person is probably difficult to do in terms of effort. Why? Well, since the suppliers are in Asia, you have to go there and meet them. However, if you want to get the lowest price possible and establish a trusting relationship with your supplier– talking to them in-person is the key. Also, some suppliers online are just middlemen. Most main suppliers don’t have online presence. Thus, you will only meet them if you go there. Don’t worry though. It’s high-likely that you only need to meet them once and continue making deals over the phone or email.
Now, you might have this question in mind, “Why can’t I just give you their phone number and email?” “Don’t I have a list?” It’s because– not only it will be fruitful– but meeting them in-person gives you the opportunity to test the product physically. Also, so you can choose the right one for you over the thousands of choices that I’m about to tell you.
Convinced? Here’s how you’ll meet the suppliers…
- Canton Fair (China)
The Canton Fair is the largest sourcing show/fair in the world. In fact, to measure its ground, the whole place is equivalent to 218 Football Fields. And since it’s the largest, it has to be divided into 3 phases. And those are:
1 Phase- Electronics
2 Phase- Consumer Goods, Gifts and Home Decors
3 Phase- Textiles, Garments, Shoes and Office Supplies
The fair usually happened twice a year. Usually the end of May and beginning of November. And it’s free for all.
- Global Sources Exhibitions (Hongkong)
This fair may not be as large as the Canton Fair but it’s gigantic enough for suppliers and entrepreneurs to meet. The suppliers here are unique and the best choice for fashion and electronics. Also, the event is really worth attending due to the shows that teach entrepreneurs about marketing, importing, and many more.
Note: Global Sources Exhibitions happen just before the Canton Fair and only 2 hours away to travel. Basically, you can attend both events on your trip to Asia.
If you can’t make it to the Canton Fair and Global Sources Exhibition, the Yiwu Wholesale Market in China is open the whole year (except some Chinese Holidays). You can meet suppliers here but not manufacturers.
Note: Be careful with knock-off brands. If you will find suppliers here, deal with the ones who offer brand less products.
In-Person Sourcing Tips:
- The fair has people who can communicate in English at a basic level. So expect a language barrier.
- You can hire an Interpreter for about $15 a day. Just to be sure that you and the suppliers will be on the same page.
- Write down the things you want to ask so you can get straight to the point and avoid blabbering.
- Always specify every detail when talking about the deal.
See Also: PURCHASING PROCESS