Find Suppliers for Your Business

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Locating reliable manufacturers, distributors and service providers is crucial to your small business or home business. Here's where to look for them.

Better, faster, cheaper.

Those three magic words can turn your hot prospects into happy customers. But in order for you to give your customers better products, faster service and lower rates, you have to develop a core group of reliable suppliers who cut you good deals on the products and services you buy.

Finding reliable suppliers who will sell to you at low cost is no easy task. In fact, it's not unusual for small businesses to find they can buy certain products cheaper from Wal-Mart than they can from a wholesaler. Nor is it unusual for a wholesaler or distributor to refuse to sell to a very small business. That's because it will take their sales staff the same time to process your $150 order as it would to process a $5,000 order.

Nevertheless, you can develop a core group of suppliers you can trust. Here are tips to help: 

Be persistent
Good suppliers and good deals don't just show up on your doorstep. You’ll need to put considerable effort into finding the best products, prices and suppliers. You can find names of suppliers by scouring trade magazines and newspapers, searching the Internet and reading messages posted in online forums or mailing lists. Then it’s up to you to contact suppliers and get the best deal.

Don’t be so focused on getting rock bottom prices that you alienate your suppliers, though. If you nickel and dime them, act arrogant or make a nuisance of yourself, your suppliers won’t go out of their way to help you when you need it, and may ultimately decide they just don’t want your business at all.

Shop the ads in trade magazines
Whether you want to buy a pump to use in your laboratory, shredded paper to use as filler in decorative baskets, or silver earrings to sell at flea markets, you're likely to find the products you need advertised in a trade magazine for your industry.

If you are just starting out in business and aren't sure what trade publications exist, visit your local public library and ask the reference librarian for help finding trade publications in your industry.  Check the list of free trade publications on Tradepub.com, too. There may be one or more trade publications for which you’d qualify for a free subscription. You can also search for trade magazines on the Internet. Simply go to a major search engine like Google, BING, or Yahoo and search for the name of your industry and the term, “trade magazine.”

Once you find trade publications for your field, browse through all the ads. Small display ads at the backs of the magazines and new product listings can help you find new suppliers. If you are scouting out merchandise to sell, look over ads to see if there are any minimum purchase requirements.

Find suppliers on the web
Searching the Internet will help you find suppliers you’d miss in trade magazine. Go to Google or another major search engine and search for the name of the product you want to purchase followed by a word such as, “manufacturer,” “wholesale,” or “supplier.” If you’re looking for plastic boxes for example, type the term “plastic boxes wholesale” in the search box. Note the search results. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, try a variation of the original search term, such as “wholesale plastic boxes.” Often you’ll see slightly different results just by changing the order of words in your online search.

Find Local Bargains
Before you place an order from out-of-state vendors, try to find a local suppliers for the same goods. You may be able to save a considerable amount on shipping costs and greatly reduce the time it takes to get your order without paying extra for expedited shipping. To narrow your Internet search down to local vendors, use the same search term you did initially, and follow that by the name of your county and state or your city and state. For example if you searched for “wholesale plastic boxes new york city new york” on Google, the first result that’s not an ad lists three companies under a heading that reads:

“Local results for wholesale plastic boxes near New York, NY”

Search for directories of manufacturers on the Internet
If you’re looking for manufacturers, you may have better luck searching directories of manufacturers online. Two of the most well know are the ThomasNet, which includes ThomasRegister and ThomasRegional listings and MacRae’s Blue Book.

Thomasnet.com is a comprehensive resource for industrial information, products, services, CAD drawings. The site also has online supplier catalogs with detailed buying and specifying information. MacRae’s contains contact information for companies that supply industrial companies.

Try eBay and Amazon.com
Although eBay and Amazon are best known as a places where consumer goods are bought and sold, you can find B2B products on both sites.  u

© 2014 Attard Communications, Inc.

About the author:
Janet Attard is the founder of the award-winning  Business Know-How small business web site and information resource. Janet is also the author of The Home Office And Small Business Answer Book and of Business Know-How: An Operational Guide For Home-Based and Micro-Sized Businesses with Limited Budgets.  Follow Janet on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/JanetAttard.

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