Once your retail operation is up and running and you start looking for items, you’ll probably come across phrases like wholesaler, distributor, drop shipper, and others. Understanding the strengths and contrasts of the many kinds of retail suppliers available can help you pick the best one for your cost, schedule, and product requirements, which will optimize your sourcing process.
Customization, order amount, turnaround time, and middlemen fees are four broad factors you should take into account when choosing the ideal supplier for your company, even if quality standards and manufacturing capabilities will primarily depend on your study of particular providers.
Let’s examine six different sorts of retail suppliers, their greatest uses, disadvantages, and tools for locating them.
The organization in the supply chain that manufactures the goods before selling them to retailers or other distributors is known as a manufacturer. Manufacturers often own factories or other facilities where items are produced using labor, equipment, and raw materials. By collaborating with a manufacturer, you may build customized items and avoid middlemen markups while being connected directly to the source of the goods you wish to purchase.
You have two options for collaborating with manufacturers.
- Create a new product: Work with a producer to create a brand-new, personalized product that you design. It may take many months to develop your product, find materials, test samples, and then start manufacturing.
- Buy the product from the manufacturer: Order goods that a manufacturer already manufactures by working with it. Be on the lookout and prepared to bargain since certain manufacturers may have stringent purchasing conditions and minimum order restrictions.
Working directly with manufacturers may save money and allow for personalized designs, but there are some disadvantages as well. Unlike a wholesaler, manufacturers often make items after receiving orders rather than keeping them in stock all the time. This makes it possible for product restocking to take months at a time in addition to the present supply chain problems.
Wholesalers are under the umbrella term of “retail suppliers,” often known as “suppliers” or “distributors.” Those who buy produced items to resell to merchants are included in this category. In particular, wholesalers buy produced items to resell to retailers at wholesale or bulk production costs. Wholesalers purchase in bulk to save costs so they may distribute goods to retailers in huge numbers.
Wholesalers often need large orders to keep their prices low, but since they frequently already have the goods on hand, their turnaround times are significantly quicker than those of manufacturers.
3. Independent Suppliers
Independent retail suppliers produce their products, and sell them at trade events, online, and via direct contact with retailers. Independent vendors often operate on a small scale, create handcrafted items, and provide a highly customized service. Sometimes they will be represented by a sales or trade show representative.
For instance, because my business was situated in a popular retail district in the heart of Denver, local artisans often dropped by to ask about selling their goods to other shops. In the end, we ordered hundreds of unique earrings from a nearby jewelry firm to sell across our shops.
Working with independent retail suppliers makes it possible to order bespoke designs and purchase one-of-a-kind items, but there are some limitations. Turnaround times may be lengthy and big purchases are sometimes impractical since independent retail suppliers are generally small businesses. Independent retail suppliers often have higher fees and base costs since they are unable to price-match bigger businesses.
4. Trade Show Reps
When you are sourcing your items and purchasing new stuff each season, you can come across trade show representatives as a different kind of retail provider. They go to trade exhibitions as brand or product ambassadors to promote and sell the goods of their respective firms. Working with a trade fair representative allows you to see the goods in person before making a purchase, in contrast, to drop shipping.
A trade expo brings together hundreds of suppliers, many of whom sell similar items, so that merchants may look at what they have to offer and make product orders. Trade show representatives may come straight from a manufacturer, an individual store, an importer, or virtually any kind of company, depending on the items they represent.
Working with representatives at trade fairs enables you to view items in person and purchase from a variety of vendors in one location, but it also usually takes travel, so you should factor in travel expenses when creating your budget. Additionally, even if you go, there is no guarantee you will discover anything you want, and scheduling product delivery may be challenging since various suppliers will have varied turnaround times.
Another kind of retail supplier you might partner with is an importer. Importers purchase products from one nation and resell them wholesale in another. Working with an importer is a terrific opportunity to discover unusual products and get access to prestigious international companies. On many online marketplaces, you can find numerous products from across the globe, but importers have access to more unique products like wines, international-exclusive brands, artisanal goods, or less-priced goods.
However, the majority of the time you will need to wait for everything you want to be bought and sent from abroad, which might take many months. Occasionally, importers will have the products in stock. Additionally, to cover the shipping and handling expenses when dealing with importers, you often need to place big, standard-size order quantities.
The success of your company depends on selecting the appropriate retail suppliers. Wholesalers, independent suppliers, trade show representatives, and importers all have their advantages and capabilities to offer. You may make selections that are in line with your company’s objectives by being aware of the special benefits and services that each kind of supplier has to offer.