Published: Feb 22, 2022 Last updated: Feb 22, 2022 Yan Kulakov

One of the most popular spheres in business is eCommerce. This area has evolved over the past 30 years. One of the most tricky and difficult parts of creating and managing a marketplace is the searching process of suppliers. You have to make long-term relationships with them therefore they should be extremely reliable.

This article is about how to find wholesale suppliers for retail sales, what is the best moment to start your search, and there are some particular cases that are considered in the FAQ block.

When should I find suppliers for an eCommerce business?

There are several situations when it is necessary to search for new vendors for a marketplace:

  1. When you're at the start-up phase. This stage involves theoretical and practical research of the niche, competitors, and marketing strategies of a particular business. The first thing you do is generate an idea and form a concept. It can be a marketplace or at first a regular online store. Once the concept is formed, it's important to find reliable contractors and suppliers. Then you run the MVP of the project and maintain the future operation of the website. This is the creation and development process that all startups go through. This is a situation where finding new suppliers is a vital necessity.
  2. When switching from an online store to a marketplace. Many entrepreneurs today are keen on the idea of marketplaces because it is a profitable and growing business field. Even with a profitable online store, entrepreneurs are looking for opportunities to expand. This is one of the most successful solutions for the development of an existing business with one vendor (who is also the owner of the business), because the change of format from an online store to a marketplace turns the former competitors into allies. Now all stores with similar product categories can join your marketplace. What's more, such a switch makes it much easier to find suppliers. An entrepreneur already knows his competitors and knows whom to offer cooperation to. In this case the search for new vendors becomes the entrepreneur's desire to develop further and mostly it is not a necessity.
  3. Surprisingly, even when the marketplace is steadily bringing a good income, you can't forget about further development. Since eCommerce is an evolving environment there is no guarantee that your competitive but smaller marketplaces will not reach your level. That is why you should expand your marketplace in one of the directions:
    - Vertical development-vertical marketplaces focus on a single type of product. For example, a marketplace for books, knives, movies or music. There is one product of different quality, design or for different tastes.
    - Horizontal Development-horizontal marketplaces include several product categories with one thing in common. For example, an electronic goods marketplace. It can include all types of electronics from mobile phones to microwaves.
    . - Global development-global marketplaces cover all product categories. Goods here can be absolutely different, from bicycles to office supplies.

This list refers to marketplace types, so read more about them in this article.

The more different vendors there are, the larger the audience can be reached by improving the variety of products. Expansion usually requires new vendors to attract in order to improve the quality of the goods, to expand the range of products or the service territory.

What are the criteria of a good supplier?

You should focus on what is important to you: location of supplier, speed of delivery, quality, the number of options of its product, quality, price, etc. So you should make a plan of development and decide which niche you want to develop. There are general recommendations which suit each business when searching for a supplier:

  1. A supplier can offer a relevant product or category
  2. Their products meet the price and quality requirements to products
  3. They cover a certain area that you need
  4. They should have a good reputation

How to find wholesale suppliers for my online store?

Let’s turn to suppliers who they may be and how to find them.

Who can be vendors on a marketplace?

  1. Manufacturer-purchasing from the manufacturer is the most economical option, because intermediaries of any type make a mark-up on the goods supplied, which is charged for their services. However, it is not always possible especially when it comes to manufacturers who work only with wholesale buyers or only through certain intermediaries.
  2. Wholesale firms—they buy out large batches of goods, most often do not have direct contact with end customers, but resell the goods to other companies. Such firms assume all the risks related to storage and theft, deal with the return of goods, and provide marketing promotion of the supplier's products. One manufacturer may have several wholesale firms, which then resell products to smaller ones.
  3. Commissioners—these companies do not buy the goods and do not guarantee the manufacturer's sales. They are wide networks consisting of agencies that deliver products from their warehouses on tight deadlines; process orders from wholesalers and individuals.
  4. Distributors—they most often have the exclusive right to sell products of a certain manufacturer and are not allowed to sell the products of several competing manufacturers. They have some price advantage because they often have discounts and loyalty programmes from a manufacturer.
  5. Dealers—they have the same rights as distributors, only their transactions are smaller in scale, often have direct contact with end customers, and sometimes serve as intermediaries between distributors and buyers.
  6. Salespeople—often individuals whose function is to tell people about a product more than to sell it. They introduce people to new products, often in a new area, and if they make deals, they are mostly big and very profitable.
  7. Jobbers and brokers—jobbers are firms that buy some large butch of goods for quick resale. They are the intermediary in the stock exchange. Unlike jobbers, brokers buy and sell stocks for their own account.

All these types may serve as sources of required products for a marketplace if you are looking for physical goods. Look for firms of one of these types and contact them.

How to find wholesale suppliers in China?

China is an absolute leader on the global market in industrial manufacturing. They produce an innumerous variety of different products. The prices are more than just affordable even if we include shipping price. The strategies of ordering from China may be very different since they depend on how big your business is but we will discuss all these cases:

  1. Bulk buying on China marketplaces—marketplaces like Alibaba (Amazon Business for the USA) have possibilities to process bulk orders. As they specialize on this type of orders, their services are well-adjusted and very convenient. They organize shipping themselves and have a big range of products.
  2. Direct contact with manufactures—if you plan to make a big order you can form a commercial offer to a manufacturer and buy a product without any extra charges from intermediates.
  3. Ordering via intermediates—intermediates usually provide all the documents required, shipping and other useful services for bulk orders. Some of them such as distributors can offer additional discounts which will be cheaper than buying from a manufacturer. You can find their contacts by searching in Google or other search engines.
  4. Cooperation with China sellers who already sell on other marketplaces—open any China marketplace you are interested in and find the suppliers who display their products there. Then you can find their stores and write them directly.

These ways of getting products are applicable to bulk buying from other countries. The main industrial countries in the world are: China, the USA, Japan, Germany, South Korea, India, Italy, and others.


Can you buy directly from wholesalers?

Yes. If we are talking about bulk buying and big transactions, it is fine to buy directly from a manufacturer. But you can buy from wholesalers or distributors of this manufacturer.

How do you find wholesale suppliers in the USA?

As well as for other manufacturing countries like China, Japan, Germany, and others, there are some strategies of finding suppliers in the USA: form a commercial offer to the manufacturer or its representers, find and contact suppliers which already display their products on other marketplaces, or use services of bulk buying provided by marketplaces of the country you need.

When should I look for wholesale suppliers?

Generally speaking, you need to expand the number of suppliers permanently due to maintaining top positions on the market among marketplaces. The vital necessity of finding suppliers appears when starting a business and when switching from a common online store to a marketplace.


All in all, there are a lot of ways to find suppliers for your marketplace. There is a wide range of supplier types, so if you need a certain product but you are not satisfied by prices, conditions or services provided by an intermediator, you can try to find other representatives of a company or connect directly. We hope that this article was beneficial and you could find the answer to this demanded issue on how to find the best wholesale suppliers for your online business.

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