6 Ways to Find Suppliers for Your Online Store

Andy Jones - Sales Manager 03-05-2017 2 Comments

The number one question from readers who want to build their own online store is how to find suppliers. Do I purchase wholesale or do I contact manufacturers directly?

I’d like to share my experiences and take on each of the following ways to stock merchandise for your online business. We're going to look at the basics of sourcing a supplier for your next project.

Where to find them

1. Original Manufacturers - If you are carrying branded products in your online store, the first place you should look for suppliers is the original manufacturers.  They might not sell to you if you’re not going to be placing large orders, but you can ask them for a list of reputable distributors. This will give you the best chance at finding quality suppliers and wholesale prices.

2. Trade Shows - Talking face to face with a manufacturer or distributor can give you a great idea of what they provide.  Trade Shows are awesome because they give retailers a chance to meet manufacturers and distributors and discover a lot of great options for supplying their online store.  You can find trade shows by browsing Expo Database or by searching for them online.  Meeting suppliers face to face gives you a real feel which you can then transfer online.

3. Google it - Believe it or not, finding reliable suppliers can be as easy as simply performing a Google search.  Do a search for suppliers in your industry, and be sure you include the product you want in your search:

  • Search Extensively: Wholesalers and drop shippers are notoriously bad at SEO and marketing, and usually aren't going to pop up on the first page of Google for a term like “handbag wholesaler.” Instead, you'll need to dig deep into the search results, often going through 10 or 20 pages of listings.
  • Don't Judge by the Cover: Suppliers also tend to have outdated, late ‘90s-era websites. So don't be scared away by abysmal design and layout. While a sleek, modern site could signal a great supplier, a low-quality one doesn't necessarily indicate a bad one.
  • Use Modifiers: As you hunt for suppliers, don’t stop with a search for “wholesale” - make sure to use other modifier terms and phrases such as “china technology manufacturer”.

4. Networking - While most online business owners are not likely to reveal their suppliers, with time you can learn a lot about suppliers by networking in different places, online and offline.  Join online forums and build professional relationships; with time you can learn a lot about the best and worst suppliers out there.

5. Trade Publications -  There’s a wide variety of trade publications out there that target various industries.  Subscribe to the ones related to your industry; you should find countless advertisements for suppliers and manufacturers looking for associates.

6. B2B Marketplaces - B2B (business to business) marketplaces are great for finding wholesale suppliers. Tradelizard is a new and promising online B2B Marketplace.  It has a number of quality manufacturers and wholesalers, most of them based in EU, China and USA.  It focuses on Technology-related fields so this makes your task much easier if you are looking for tech products.


Sourcing manufacturers & suppliers is a unique process, and for many, a new experience. Trying to locate suppliers that are a good fit is a critical decision for your new business but they aren't always there to find. It's easy to get frustrated when you hit dead ends or brick walls but in most cases, it just requires a little more patience and perseverance to find the perfect partner for your new business. Both parties have a lot to gain and must work with mutual respect and understanding. 

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