If you are opening a boutique, then finding the best wholesale vendors is a top priority. You know that finding the right one can mean better prices for you and your customers, more significant profit margins, ease of ordering, and even learning inside tips about upcoming trends.
So, how do you find the best one when there are so many from which to choose? Below are some tips to follow to ensure you find a wholesaler that meets all your needs so you can spend less time on purchasing and more time on selling.
Know What You Want to Sell
Decide on what you want to sell before you start searching for a wholesale vendor. Once you know what you will be selling, you can narrow your wholesaler search to those products. For example, if you sell clothing for women, search for wholesalers that offer clothes and accessories, rather than one that offers clothes, accessories, home décor, food, and more. Avoid wholesale vendors who make buying feel overwhelming.
Check Out Their Reputation
When you search for a wholesale vendor, whether online or at trade shows, research their reputation and read reviews, good and bad. Don’t just look at how many stars a company has; read what customers have to say.
Don’t be afraid to ask a wholesaler for references from other boutiques. If they refuse, they are not the wholesaler for your business.
Learn From the Best
Some of your competitors are really good at buying wholesale clothing. Find out which vendors they use and discover why. What are the qualities of the wholesale vendor that helps your competitors so successful? Apply what you learn to your own business.
If your competitor is not a competitor located near your boutique, reach out to them directly to refer to a wholesale vendor. Ask questions about why they chose the vendor, how they would improve the vendor, shipping and ordering processes, and of course, prices.
Join the Club
Most wholesale vendors have newsletters or publications that keep boutique owners in the loop. Sign up for their newsletters and read several before making a final decision. What type of information do they provide “in the loop”? Do you get extra deals and discounts when you join their club? Do you get the inside scoop on upcoming trends from manufacturers?
How a wholesaler provides information to a potential customer can give you insight into what to expect later.
Check Out Their Website
Wholesale vending takes place online for the most part. Even if you meet a wholesaler at a trade show, your ordering will likely happen through their website. Go online and check it out. Is it easy to navigate? Is the site slow, or can you click through items quickly?
Check out things like:
- Quality of their photos
- Quality of their products
- Variety of products
- Small batch versus large batch ordering
- Descriptions and instructions – are they easy to understand?
- Sales and discounts
- Blog or information page
- Contact options
Spend time on their website. If you like it, you will know. If you don’t like it, you will know sooner.
Contact the Wholesale Vendor
Wholesale suppliers should have a point of contact for new retailers who can answer all your questions. This gives you the perfect opportunity to experience their customer service skills first hand before you sign up for their services.
Don’t hold back on getting answers to questions you have. An excellent wholesale vendor will want to keep you on the phone as long as they can to convince you to buy from their company.
Ask questions about the shipping process and deadlines, returning damaged goods, communication preferences, bulk discounts, product quality, and anything else you feel beneficial to the relationship.
Before choosing a wholesale vendor, learn more about what they expect when it comes to payments. What types of payments do they accept? How can you send them money? What are the deadlines for payments?
You want to know everything about how the money exchanges will take place and what happens if a mistake is made during the process. Of course, you don’t intend for anything to go wrong, but with even facebook going down for a day recently, you want to make sure your bases are covered.
Again, you never expect to have a dispute with your wholesaler. But if one does arise, like when you receive damaged clothing and the wholesaler is hesitant to refund your money, you must know the process to resolve disputes.
Knowing ahead of time how to file a claim or process a request will save a lot of time, effort, and hurt feelings.
If you are ordering clothes to resell in your boutique, you want your customers to be happy with the products. Many wholesalers offer guarantees when it comes to the items they sell. Check with a wholesaler about their guarantees before signing a contract with them.
Do they guarantee true sizes, or will a large size be small? Do they guarantee shipping deadlines and arrivals? How about the quality of products?
Knowing guarantees can help you narrow your purchases to those with protection.
Are They Open For Negotiation?
Wholesalers are willing to negotiate at certain times during the year. Some may negotiate any time. Some may never negotiate. Find out the answer to this before you make a final choice.
Negotiating allows you to order more products at lower prices. You may even be able to negotiate reduced rates on shipping. If a wholesaler does not negotiate, that’s okay. You still need to know ahead of time so you can make the most informed decision.
Finally, listen to your instincts. After following tips like the ones above, your instincts will probably be nudging you in one direction or the other. Pay attention to what your gut is saying and weigh when making a choice.
The right wholesaler for your boutique is out there. Have fun connecting with them.