In this article, you will find helpful tips on how to start a wholesale business from the ground up. I will go over how to acquire customers, how to source products, how to make use of marketing tools, such as social media and the web, to promote your business, and how to organize your business to be a success. Everything I will share with you is based on my own personal experience of starting and running a profitable wholesale cellphone accessories business in the USA. It worked for me, and I can’t wait to share these proven strategies with you!
WHY SHOULD I BECOME A WHOLESALER?
1. More Money
To put it simply, wholesalers usually make far more money than retailers. It's true they sell at much lower profit percentages. But, the volume is far higher. Let me give you an example in terms of wholesale cellphone accessories: If I were to sell an android cable at a profit of 50 cents per cable and I got an order for 500 pieces then I just made a profit of $250 in a single sale whereas a retailer may sell 1 piece for $20 and make a profit of $19.50.
2. Great Potential
The potential of expanding in a wholesale business is virtually infinite. Unlike a retail business where you can only expand so much (unless you become a super corporation or franchise), wholesalers can expand easier, faster, and with far more flexibility. Selling goods to local business owners, shipping out of state or country, opening other branches, exhibiting at trade shows, advertising, and creating an online store are some examples of methods used to grow a wholesale business.
3. Unique Experience
As a wholesaler, you will be dealing with small business owners like yourself rather than the general public. This means that they will be more understanding when it comes to pricing and situations like defective goods. Additionally, your clients will be repeat clients and you will have the opportunity to get to know them well. Establishing strong relationships with your clients will grow their trust in you, help your business tremendously by building a loyal client base, and set you apart from other wholesalers. All of these factors make wholesaling a unique and adventurous experience as you meet new people and gain knowledge from navigating through different expansion avenues.
WHAT IS NEEDED TO BECOME A WHOLESALER?
There are two fundamental components you will need to open any wholesale business - suppliers and customers. Once you have these two, things will come together naturally.
1. How to find suppliers
Finding a reliable supplier is the first step after forming your business. You can easily perform a Google search using terms like “top exporter” for your line of product or websites like www.worldstopexports.com to learn which suppliers are producing your goods and information on where they are located. Visiting the factories and distribution centers on-site is highly suggested before choosing your suppliers. If you are unable to travel to their location, then you can use many online sources to connect with suppliers, such as those found in China or in other relevant countries. You can also search online to find a shipping company either overseas or near the place of your residence to help you import. Those unable to import can purchase goods from a local distributor.
a. Search online
There are many websites that can connect you to domestic or overseas suppliers, including DHgate.com and go4WorldBusiness.com. My top recommendation is Alibaba.com. It can be a strong ally if you know how to use it. Alibaba has some really important and nifty features. Among them are Verified Supplier, and Trade Assurance. This means that Alibaba pretty much guarantees these suppliers are safe to buy from. I never buy from any supplier that does not have these two badges from Alibaba. When searching for a product, click the filter results button to filter out any companies without these badges. I trust it so much that I wire the money straight to the company rather than using Alibaba’s escrow service which costs a percentage fee. If you want to use their escrow service, ask the supplier to send you a link so you can buy your products via Alibaba’s website and be extra safe.
b. Learn from your competitors!
Did you know that US Customs keeps a public log of every shipment imported with the information of receiver and sender? Use paid websites like Panjiva or free websites like ImportYeti to see which suppliers your top competitors are importing from. This is also a good way to stay competitive with your pricing as you will likely be receiving a similar price for the products you purchase.
1. Costs of shipping are important for your business so it is recommended to compare the pricing quotes from several companies before deciding on one. Usually, sourcing a shipping company from the supplier’s country will be significantly cheaper than a local shipper.
2. Hire an accountant to create a corporation for your business. This will save you money on tariff fees, prevent the need for frequent costly customs exams, and protect your business while you save you on taxes.
3. Be very careful when buying from a new supplier. Try to order small amounts to test their quality, service, and trustworthiness before going all in. Finding a supplier who guarantees their products is also important.
4. Haggle. Place an order and try to negotiate the price. After placing an order, the supplier will ask for a deposit. Take some time to do your research and think about what price you think is fair. After you have spent some time speaking with other suppliers and getting quotes, you can leverage that knowledge to negotiate a lower price with your chosen supplier.
5. If you don’t trust the supplier, you can request “proof of life” to ensure your order is correct before it is shipped. What this means is that they record a video for you of the items. At the start of the video, they write on a piece of paper your name and the date and show it to the camera so you know it's not an old video, and then they move the camera to the products that should have all have labeled boxes and goods according to your requirements. If they don’t speak English well and you can’t explain the idea, then a simple video call showing your completed order would be beneficial. Make your request once the order is complete and ready to ship. Also, ask to see the factory and do this without warning to test if the orders are being correctly managed through normal business practices.
2. How to find customers
a. The knock on doors technique
The traditional and best way to find customers is going door-to-door to businesses and introducing yourself. I know million-dollar wholesale business owners who travel the country visiting the busiest cities using this technique. Go to flea markets, retail stores, wholesale stores, and any business that sells your products. After speaking with a few business owners, you will quickly learn the best places to find the right customers for your products. ??Be sure to bring business cards, samples of your hottest-selling products, and an invoice book. The goal is to take an order on the spot. Once a client has purchased something from you the first time, however small, this will emotionally break the ice and they won’t hesitate to place another order. After completing a business deal with a new customer, this action will psychologically establish in their mind that they are your client. Plus, meeting you in person can help create a foundation of trust for a hesitant client. So be sure to suggest an order on the spot and make it easy for them - passing out cards is not enough. Not only will you gain money for their purchase, but you will also be taking your first step towards acquiring a loyal client.
b. Let your fingers do the walking
Take advantage of Google maps, yellow pages, the internet, and business directories. Let your fingers click and dial up those customers that are out of reach and introduce yourself as well as your safe and secure website by phone call or email.
c. Create a dominating online presence
Having a Facebook page is extremely important. Create a presence on every free platform you can possibly find. Here are some examples: Twitter, Instagram, Google Maps, Pinterest, Yelp, MapQuest, Whitepages, yellow pages, Linkedin, Tumblr, Youtube, Tiktok, and any online wholesale directory. Post daily on your page and in social media groups and work on getting more traffic, reviews, followers, and likes. Every post should have hashtags related to your products as well as a link back to your site. These are known as backlinks in search engine optimization (SEO) terminology. ??If you’re going to invest money into building an e-commerce website, here is some extremely strong advice. Hire a professional company with a powerful SEO background to build your site. Even if it costs more than hiring your nephew. If you want to gain customers from an online presence, you will need a strong website and you will need to invest in SEO. Search Engine Optimization is basically getting Google to put you on the first page for search results related to your business. An e-commerce website can be used to sell your products, but if you are not ready to invest that much, then you can also use Amazon or Facebook store to sell your products. Check out our cellphone accessories wholesale Facebook store for more ideas. Once you have a website, you can hire a 3rd party fulfillment company to help sell your products and an SEO marketing company to generate traffic to your store, page, booth, or website.
d. Exhibit at trade shows
Find out where the best trade shows near your area are located and set up a unique attention-grabbing booth that will stand out from other vendors to exhibit your hottest selling products. Have your local t-shirt store create some matching polos for your team and some vinyl stickers for your booth. Create a booth that is extraordinary and professional to attract clients to your table. Have business cards and catalogs ready for inquiring visitors. Remember, a purchase on the spot is your goal here as well.??Take a walk around the trade show and swap business cards with other wholesalers like yourself. Believe it or not, wholesalers like yourself can be your biggest clients! Sometimes, competing wholesalers will buy from you because your price beats their prices or because they are out of stock and need to fulfill orders quickly. ??Trade shows usually cost thousands of dollars, but they bring you clients that give you return orders at a much higher value. Don’t ever doubt the power of trade shows! Some examples of trade shows are ASD Market Week, CES electronics trade show for wholesale electronics businesses, White Label World Expo, PPAI Expo, NY Now, American International Toy Fair, International Trade Convention, Mid-Atlantic Merchandise Mart, and the Miami International Mart Show. Be sure to search online for trade shows that are specialized in your line of product. Also, check out these articles we wrote about our favorite trade show called “5 Reasons We are Looking Forward to ASD Market Week” and “7 Reasons Why Resellers Should Attend ASD Market Week".
e. Mail out flyers
Visit your local print shop and design a cool flyer or catalog if you can. Make a list of relevant clients all around the country using Google, maps, or any business directory, and head to your local post office to send a flyer to all of them.
1. When you’re out searching for customers with your bag of samples you need to know how to be a persuasive salesman. Be extremely honest, now and forever. Don’t skirt around the truth about the cost of your merchandise. In fact, don’t lie on any level period. Honesty is the best policy and your success in building a loyal clientele will depend on your reputation.
2. Only recommend products to your clients that will sell well for them and help them, in turn, gain the trust of their customers. If they are successful in selling your products to satisfied customers, they will come back to you for more orders.
3. Be extremely patient and perseverant. Building clientele is not a walk in the park. It takes time, effort, and excessive patience. Don’t give up! Keep pushing. You may need about 6 months of consistent hard work and effort to start seeing significant results. As you progress, expansion happens quicker and tends to compound but the hardest part is when you are first starting off.
4. Try to be lenient and have a full return/exchange policy. This keeps customers happy and brings them back, so the benefit is greater than the loss. Once you find suppliers, negotiate a deal with them to give full refunds or exchanges for all your customers' returns.
5. Save phone numbers, emails, and as much information as possible for your customers. Create a system where you can easily send all your customers ads or new deals you are having. Use email blasts, SMS bulk messaging services, WhatsApp broadcast function, social media posts, or other ways to send all of your customers a new deal in a single message.
6. If a customer hasn’t bought anything from you in a long time, call him up and check on him. After you have worked so hard to earn clients, make sure you keep them. Keep a list of all your clients and their information handy for staying in touch.
7. In the future, once you get in the big leagues, you will start selling to corporate clients with easily accessible track records. Many of these clients only buy on terms or credit. Use websites like www.pacer.gov to check their bankruptcy history and use tools like Dun & Bradstreet, Equifax, and Experian to check their credit history before you agree to their preferred payment request.
ORGANIZE YOUR BUSINESS
The more organized you are the more money you will make. When you’re organized, it is easy to grow your business. Just to give you my personal story, I started selling cell phone accessories at the swap meet as a retailer with a small booth (here’s a guide I also wrote about flea markets by the way). Then, I started importing merchandise online via Alibaba. I stopped opening a booth at the swap meet and instead started walking around the swap meet going to vendors and selling them wholesale cellphone accessories. ??I would keep goods in my car and drive to swap meets, stores, and cellphone repair shops. Eventually, I built up my clientele and opened a store in the downtown Los Angeles wholesale district where I invited my clients to come shop. Slowly but surely, we built a website and started expanding and the rest is history. There are lessons and ideas to be learned from my story, and, if it wasn’t for staying organized, it would have been hard to become profitable.
Below are some tips to help you get started organizing your business:
1. Make sure you are legal.
In the USA you are required to have a seller's permit as well as a business license, depending on the city and state you live in, to conduct business. Make sure to pay all of your taxes and abide by the law.
2. Rent a store/warehouse.
Try to rent a store at a location that is known for wholesaling your product. This will earn you walk-in customers. Make sure that the area you rent in is very busy and has a lot of foot traffic, even if the rent is high. Be open to selling retail and wholesale in busy areas.
3. Have an invoicing system.
Barcode all of your products with legal barcodes that you purchase. You can use legalbarcodes.com to purchase barcodes. Every item should have a barcode and a model or SKU number. There are wholesale invoicing systems available that can keep track of invoicing, inventory, sales, customer information, pricing, and more. The most famous invoicing system is called Quickbooks.
4. Partner with shipping agents.
Make an account with UPS, FedEx, and DHL so that you can ship your goods nationally. Keep records and receipts of all shipments as well as customer invoices just in case customers claim goods are damaged or not received.
5. Create financial accounts.
Open a business bank account that supports credit card payments and open accounts with online financial payment systems like Zelle, Paypal, Cashapp, and Venmo so you can accept all types of payments from customers. Keep in mind that Paypal always backs up the buyer so if they decide to charge back a payment, they will most likely win the case, even if you were honest. The other three I mentioned do not accept chargebacks, so it is safer to accept payments through them.
Opening a wholesale business can be a unique and fruitful experience and its potential for growth far exceeds a regular retail business. It only requires two essential components, suppliers and customers. In this article, you learned how to source goods in a safe and efficient way as well as how to find customers that will become loyal clients. You also learned how to establish a powerful online presence and how SEO is essential to promoting your wholesale business. We covered the benefits of trade shows, knocking on doors, and being organized. Once you have all of these things down, you are ready to open a storefront or a strong e-commerce website to sell your products. Don’t forget to have fun while you’re doing this and to make lasting connections with your customers. May God bless your endeavors and we look forward to hearing from you via our online form or seeing you one day at our Mighty Wireless Wholesale Cell Phone Accessories store in Los Angeles.