You have a business idea. You’ve researched its viability. You’ve made a plan. Now, you’re ready to bring it to life. But how do you find small business wholesale suppliers?
Not all product-based businesses are also manufacturers. In fact, many online brands buy everything from wholesale suppliers. These suppliers sell products in bulk at affordable prices so direct-to-consumer brands can brand it, add a markup, and sell it for a profit.
And while you might think wholesale is only for big-box retailers and global companies, even small businesses source from wholesalers.
What are small business wholesale suppliers?
Small business wholesale suppliers are business-to-business (B2B) entities that sell products at a discounted rate to other businesses. The buyers then sell the products in individual units directly to consumers for a profit. Wholesale suppliers may or may not manufacture the products themselves. In some cases, they do a mixture of both.
Wholesale vs. dropshipping
You’ll see mentions of both wholesale and dropshipping when we look at some of these small business wholesale suppliers. In the case of wholesale, you purchase the inventory from the supplier, who ships the items to you to store in your warehouse, stock room, basement, spare bedroom, wherever you keep your product. When a customer makes a purchase, you’re then responsible for picking, packing, and shipping those items.
Dropshipping, on the other hand, is a more hands-off approach. So while you control more of the logistics and customer experience in wholesale, you leave this up to the supplier in the dropshipping model. Essentially, a customer makes a purchase from you, but the supplier picks, packs, and ships it. You never buy the inventory from them in the first place, and they are responsible for storing merchandise. This involves less risk, though margins are typically lower.
How to find small business wholesale suppliers
1. Get your initial options
Every search starts somewhere—in case of finding wholesale distributors, you can begin with a Google search. This will bring up a list of wholesale suppliers to try. You can search by product, industry, and even location to pull up an initial list.
Take note of these initial results. This list serves as your starting point for further research.
2. Vet your options
Wholesale can be a scary place. Not every wholesaler is legit, so you need to do some vetting beyond the first page of Google. Search for the company name and add keywords like “reviews” and “scam” to your query to unearth any red flags.
Then visit the websites of the suppliers you found in your search results. Look for information about their products, pricing, and terms. Check if the supplier has a physical address and contact information. A legitimate business should provide transparent ways to get in touch.
Read other online reviews and testimonials. This can give you insights into the experiences of other businesses that have worked with the supplier. Pay attention to both positive and negative feedback.
Look for any relevant certifications or affiliations with industry associations. These affiliations can be a sign of professionalism and adherence to industry standards.
3. Contact the suppliers
Once you’ve done your initial research and vetting, it’s time to reach out to the potential wholesale suppliers.
Send an email or give them a call to inquire about their products, pricing, and terms of doing business, like minimum order quantities (MOQs), lead time, payment terms, and shipping options. This initial contact will also help you gauge their responsiveness and willingness to work with you.
Ask for a sample or catalog of products. This will allow you to assess the quality and suitability for your business.
4. Compare and choose
After you’ve contacted several wholesale suppliers, compare their offerings, terms, and responsiveness. Consider factors such as product quality, pricing, MOQs, and customer service.
Make a well-informed decision by weighing the pros and cons of each supplier. This will help you find the one that best aligns with your business’s needs, values, and objectives.
16 best wholesale suppliers for small business
- ek Wholesale
- Tasha Apparel
- Tropical Labs
- Wholesale Central
- Worldwide Brands
Hundreds of thousands of retailers buy wholesale products online with Faire. You can order from more than 100,000 independent wholesale vendors with net 60 terms from the wholesale marketplace. Faire is perfect especially if you’re looking for unique items. It will also give you a prepaid shipping label in case you’d like to send products back.
China-based AliExpress is connected with the Alibaba online marketplace. It’s well-known for having a wide range of products—more than 100 million—at competitive wholesale prices. It ships globally and there’s no order minimum. Wholesale buyers beware, though. Not everything you see on AliExpress is worth the investment. There’s little vetting or quality control.
DHgate is a wholesale supplier based in China. It has lower prices on a lot of wholesale products, but is known for carrying a lot of replica goods. If that’s not an issue for your business, it’s worth digging through deals to see what you can unearth. It has a massive selection of products with options to suit any merchant and niche. DHgate also uses an integrated rating system to help vet the right supplier for you.
Like AliExpress, DollarDays has something for just about every kind of business in every industry you can think of. The difference here is an extra focus on serving non-profit organizations with affordable pricing, though for-profit businesses can also purchase its wholesale goods. DollarDays is one of many wholesale companies in the US, though it also serves small businesses all over the world. Like AliExpress, order minimums don’t apply. It also has a dropshipping model.
5. ek Wholesale
Ek Wholesale is based in Scotland and has been around for more than 30 years, making it one of the leading small business wholesale suppliers for merchants in Europe. It offers free delivery to the UK mainland on orders of £250 or more. Ek is known for high-quality products, specializing in clothing with ek. You can design your own private label clothing brand. It also has a full integration with Shopify POS.
IndiaMart has a huge range of products—it stocks the usual consumer goods, plus a few specific industries. Depending on the wholesale product you’re pursuing, this could be your best choice. IndiaMart’s strength lies in its niches. Few wholesale vendors have contact with the industries that IndiaMart does. It’s particularly good for certain niches like medical, chemical, industrial, or automobile supplies. IndiaMart is also one of the few wholesale companies to offer over-the-counter (OTC) pharmaceutical dropshipping services.
Liquidation.com operates on a wholesale model that leverages inventory surpluses to offer brand-name goods at affordable prices. With hundreds of product categories, it has all kinds of items for sale, such as apparel, cosmetics, and home goods. Its pricing works on a bidding system. Liquidation.com ships internationally, except to Belarus, the Crimea region of Ukraine, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria, and Venezuela.
OrangeShine’s product offerings are great for apparel, home goods, and lifestyle brands. It specializes in clothing and accessories for women, but also has items for men, children, beauty, and the home. If you need more variety, you’re better off checking out one of the other wholesalers for small businesses.
SaleHoo is another wholesale directory. You can browse thousands of reliable suppliers with all kinds of products on the site. Order minimums vary and international shipping is available. SaleHoo is based in New Zealand and also has dropshipping options.
10. Tasha Apparel
US-based boutique clothing supplier Tasha Apparel sells clothing in bulk, mostly in packs of six items, without MOQs. It offers a huge range of sizes and a ton of different styles, so retailers of all kinds can shop trendy wholesale clothing at up to 60% to 80% below the standard wholesale price. It also supports dropshipping and lets store owners use images from its website for their products. Its bulk shipping and bulk rates ensure dropshippers have access to the trendiest products every season.
11. Tropical Labs
Tropical Labs is a Tampa, Florida–based wholesale supplier specializing in plant-based and organic personal care products. If these are niches you’re interested in tapping into, Tropical Labs could be the vendor for you. In addition to candles, Tropical Labs makes skin creams and lotions, shave gels, and hair care products, among other related products. You can also use its private label products or tap into Tropical Labs’ research and development (R&D) offerings.
Founded in 2017, Tundra is ideal for merchants based in North America. It has a wide variety of suppliers based on the continent—and a wide variety of goods, including beauty, kitchen, pets, and bags. It takes zero fees from suppliers, and Pro Users (i.e., those who spend more than $500 a month) get free shipping on wholesale products. Tundra also handles shipping logistics from end to end, making its money through expedited service, supplier promotion, and brand exposure.
Wholesale7 is another wholesale supplier of clothing, accessories, and beauty items. It also offers high-quality boutique clothing with custom logo designs. You can use your own logo and branding on the label and packaging, meaning you can launch your own private label clothing line with Wholesale7 powering your supply chain. Wholesale7 also provides the option of dropshipping.
14. Wholesale Central
Wholesale Central is exactly that—a center for all things wholesale. You can find products in virtually every category you can think of: food and grocery, music, novelties, apparel, religious items, even tools and hardware. International shipping is available, and order minimums vary. You can also use Wholesale Central to find dropshippers.
15. Worldwide Brands
Worldwide Brands has a directory of wholesalers and more than 16 million products to choose from, so there’s no shortage of variety here. Worldwide Brands sources products from trade shows and directly from manufacturers, making them available to small businesses everywhere. There’s usually an order minimum, though it varies depending on the supplier. You can also find dropshipping with Worldwide Brands.
Zooby is a great option if you’re looking for budget-friendly wholesale products. It has a huge range to choose from, including apparel, office items, consumer electronics, and more.
Choosing the right supplier for your small business
There are a few key things to keep in mind when finding suppliers for small businesses:
Though not the only consideration, price is a big one. You need to find a wholesaler who can sell goods at a price low enough so you can add a markup and still make sales at a profit.
Price also includes things like MOQs—a lower price per unit won’t do you any good if you can’t meet a supplier’s order minimums. Inquire about shipping fees as well. Some suppliers offer free shipping on all orders, on qualifying orders, or on no orders at all. This can impact the final price you pay.
When you use a marketplace, variety becomes less of an issue. Marketplaces have a range of suppliers to choose from, each with its own distinct products and branding.
When a wholesale supplier has all kinds of products, this is great for expansion. Rather than starting the process all over again to find a supplier for your new product, you can use one you already do business with.
On the other hand, if you want to niche down and specialize in quality products, it might be worth finding a supplier that does the same. If that’s the case, a diverse product range becomes less important—and quality should be one of your priorities instead.
Choosing a local distributor not only cuts down on shipping time and costs, it also avoids import taxes and duties. Plus, there’s no chance of your shipment getting stuck at customs.
However, going local can also limit you, especially if you’re located in an area with many options. The best way to go here really depends on your location.
Free shipping is always a bonus. Some wholesalers charge for shipping while others offer it for free if you order a certain amount. Others offer free shipping regardless of order size. You’ll also want to check out carrier and delivery time options.
It’s hard to come up with the capital needed to make a significant inventory investment. If the order minimum is too high for you to invest, consider reaching out and asking for samples. The same idea goes for order maximums—if you anticipate needing a large quantity, make sure they’re equipped to handle that.
Reputation and reviews
As we mentioned before, it’s important to do your due diligence on suppliers before you hand over your credit card information. In addition to your own online research, don’t be afraid to ask for any business licenses and other documentation as proof of their legitimacy.
If you consider a combination of the above, and prioritize what’s most important to you at this stage in your business, you’re more likely to set yourself up for success.
Find wholesale suppliers for your business today
With so many options to choose from, it’s both difficult and easy to find a small business wholesale supplier. And it’s a necessary step: You can’t open an online store until you have something to sell. But it’s never been easier to find a reliable wholesaler of quality products (who also delivers on time).
Find a well-reviewed wholesaler who’s familiar with your niche, get a few samples, negotiate a price, and open that online store.
Small business wholesale suppliers FAQ
How do I find a distributor for my small business?
- Find your initial options.
- Vet your options.
- Contact the suppliers.
- Compare and choose.
What is the best place to buy wholesale?
How do I find US vendors?
- Google search
- Recommendations from your network
- Wholesale marketplaces
- Trade shows