5 important checks you should make before placing an order with a wholesale supplier

Over the past few weeks I’ve talked about choosing a niche, finding suppliers and the types of listings you should use to advertise your products online and this week I’d like to revisit my recent eletter in which I talked about finding genuine suppliers, because this is a subject that caused a flurry of responses with people wanting to know more.

I received an email a couple of weeks ago from a member of  The Source Report who told me that having placed and paid for an order with a supplier, he was then contacted by the supplier who informed him that the shipping cost for the order would be a further $300. The original order had included free shipping and so the buyer was obviously quite taken aback by this.

Now this is not a scenario that happens very often and I am not trying to worry you unnecessarily, however I wanted to bring it to your attention because it highlights one of the points I made a few weeks ago which is that you should ensure that not only do you always order small quantities of a product before going for a larger order, but that you get everything in writing so that there can be no confusion when it comes to delivery, costs and the other aspects of your order.

Unfortunately the world we live in isn’t perfect, and problems and misunderstandings can arise; sometimes simply down to a lack of communication resulting in the wrong product being dispatched or extra fees having to be paid that weren’t initially specified.

So I’d like to introduce you to my simple checklist that you can follow when dealing with suppliers – and this applies to suppliers based in the UK and internationally too.

I call my list of things to do ‘TESTS‘. You may have read about this before in my previous eletters, but it’s super important which is why I want to remind you about it. It’s also really easy to remember when dealing with a new supplier…

T is for Telephone and Address Details

Almost every supplier these days has their own website, and even if they don’t then it’s very likely that they’ll have provided a telephone number and address on a wholesale search engine or a trade website. Your first check is to run a quick Google search on the address that they have provided to see if that address actually exists. Google Maps works all around the world, so if it struggles to find the address provided you should make further checks. Check their telephone number to ensure that the area or country code corresponds to the correct area or country according to the postal address. If a supplier doesn’t have a contact number or seems overly reluctant to provide you with one even if it isn’t on their website then ask yourself – why wouldn’t they provide the facility for their customers to get in touch in that way?

E is for Email communication

Check the suppliers email address. Is it a ‘hotmail’ address that anyone can set up or does it refer to the actual business name – for example [email protected]? If it’s a free email address this could indicate that the supplier is not as professional as you might think particularly if they are passing themselves off as a large business with premises. If the address appears genuine enough then send communications via email and gauge the response time. Not all ‘free’ email addresses indicate a scam but you do need to be careful. Further down the line it’s possible that you might end up agreeing a deal over the telephone. If that’s the case make sure you confirm the details in an email.

Keeping a paper trail of every communication that you have with the supplier, right from the start is the best way to ensure that you get exactly what you want for the price that you want and there are no issues along the way. Make sure that both you and the supplier have a written copy of exactly what it is that you’re ordering, along with the agreed price, the conditions of the sale and any shipping and delivery details.

Email and postal communications like this can be traced back through the agreement, giving you a back up if there are any problems with the completion of the order.

QSGS is for Small Print

There are a few things to keep your eyes open for on the website of a supplier. First and foremost take a look to see if there is any small print. A reputable supplier should always have a page on their site that provides all the usual details regarding returns, shipping, contact information and accepted payment methods.

Other things to keep an eye on when looking at the website include the domain name itself, does it look genuine or is it just a random string of characters that doesn’t make any sense? Also the content can give clues as to the reliability of the supplier in question; even if they are based in a non-English speaking country a lot of spelling and grammatical errors could be a warning sign as you’d expect a foreign company working with Westerners commonly to either have had the site correctly translated, or even to appear simply in their own language and not in English at all.

Another question to ask yourself, is what sort of items are they actually advertising on the website? Is it a niche operation or do they sell a couple of items in almost every different area? Sometimes these higgledy-piggledy websites can be an indication that a supplier isn’t genuine, though once again, that isn’t always the case.

T is for Testimonials

Genuine suppliers are likely to have testimonials or references from former clients on hand, or some will actually provide you with the contact details of former customers that don’t mind being contacted to allow you to set your mind at ease. A supplier’s willingness to provide this information may be enough to reassure you on its own, but you should make sure you do contact any references that are provided to ensure that the stock they ordered was up to scratch.

If you’re worried that the provided testimonials might not be genuine then use my tip from a few weeks ago and use a search engine such as Google or a wholesale forum to look specifically for the name of the company to try and find some real reviews.

S is for Samples

The vast majority of suppliers are prepared for the request of a single item or small batch of the product before placing a large order. I strongly recommend that you always order a sample before spending a lot of money on a large order. Not only will you be able to check the quality of a product, but you’ll also get a feel for how well the items are packaged and how quickly they are delivered.

This test order can also help you to identify any potential counterfeit goods. Personally I would advise steering well clear of branded goods from overseas as they could be counterfeit and will get you into trouble if you try and import and sell them. Branded goods or not though – it’s still important to get samples first.

So, TESTS. This is easy to remember and will help you think about what you should be looking for in a supplier. I know from experience that dealing with suppliers, particularly when they’re located overseas can be a challenging process but by making sure you check out their credentials you can remain safe.

Remember this every time you research a new supplier. T is for telephone?E is for emails?S is for small print?T is for testimonials?S is for samples.

Make it your mantra!

As always I wish you the best of success,