Ecommerce
April 26, 2024

How to find suppliers for ecommerce: what wholesale sourcing experts suggest for 2024

Author
Kristen Campbell

If your ecommerce business is looking for suppliers or sourcing wholesale goods, there has never been a better time. Many of the largest wholesale markets in the world took their goods online to support the growth of ecommerce. Shopping became easier for international buyers thanks to a proliferation of ’daiguo’, or purchasing agents, who act as a proxy for buyers to purchase goods abroad, just as platforms like Alipay and Wechat began accepting international payments for the first time. 

Adding to the fun, the global market was experiencing an explosion of artificial intelligence (AI) after the release of ChatGPT. New translation tools suddenly made it possible to converse with someone in their native language from just about anywhere in the world. Wholesale sourcing for ecommerce may just be the easiest and most efficient it has ever been.

If you're looking for wholesale suppliers for your ecommerce business then you've come to the right place. We’ve scoured the internet for the best advice from ecommerce experts in wholesale supply and compiled their recommendations below.

Ecommerce Wholesale Tip #1: Where in the world are the best suppliers?

Finding the right supplier can make a 10-25% difference in your margins. Ecommerce business inventory suppliers should reflect the intention and values of the business as well as offer the type of goods the business sells. To find the right supplier for an ecommerce business, start with a buying directory or report for the industry. There are many reports, such as McKinsey’s State of Fashion, which highlight economic impacts to the industry that could, in turn, effect your supply chain, product quality, timeline reliability, and more. These Other reports that offer supplier insights could include:

For example, to add sneakers to the ecommerce supply chain, start out by looking at a buyer tool like the World Footwear Yearbook. From there, you would find that most canvas shoes come from Vietnam. Then you might start researching Vietnam-specific wholesalers or suppliers for businesses.

Ecommerce Wholesale Tip #2: Finding wholesale prices

A report by Oracle suggests 87% of professional buying agents source at least some of their goods from B2B marketplace sites. While many business owners start with business-to-business (B2B) sourcing giant Alibaba, it’s not always the best selection or the best price.That said, relying on B2B sourcing marketplaces can allow ecommerce companies to test the market prior to forming their own supplier relationships.

To find wholesale deals in the country of choice, use AI translation to search and a browser with a translation function built in, like Apple’s Safari or Samsung Internet. Then, find the search phrase in both English and the target language. A little digging can take you from the textile markets of Surat, India to the international trade fair in Guangdong.  

When it comes down to actually sourcing suppliers, go to experts in your sourcing country. If you’re looking to find suppliers who are in the USA, ReferenceUSA (data axle) is a free tool available in your local library. You can also use websites with brand directories, Yellowpages (still used in many countries), or look for trade shows to meet suppliers. 

B2B marketplaces in e-commerce sourcing regions:

Global wholesale suppliers

Some of the popular wholesalers that ecommerce work with globally include, but are not limited to:

Worldwidebrands

GlobalSources

TradeKey

eWorldTrade

WorldTrades

Wholesale suppliers in the US

Some of the popular wholesalers that ecommerce work with in the US include, but are not limited to:

Maker’s Row

ThomasNet

TradeHolding

ReferenceUSA

Wholesale suppliers in Europe

Some of the popular wholesalers that ecommerce work with in Europe include, but are not limited to:

Europages

eSources

Wholesale suppliers in China

Some of the popular wholesalers that ecommerce work with in China include, but are not limited to:

Yuwigo

EC21

1688

JD China

Pinduoduo

Made-in-China

E-Commerce Wholesale Tip #3: Plan an in-person visit

If you’re well on your way to starting your e-commerce business and ready to source, why not travel? While it can be daunting (and is the most expensive option) visiting the country where raw materials or manufacturing is done can help businesses stay ahead of the game on finding great suppliers. Trade shows exist all around the world and in almost every industry, and visiting the country’s wholesale markets (or checking them out on YouTube ahead of time!) is a great way to source goods or chat face to face. 

Upcoming wholesale/supplier trade shows in 2024:

A business might have to do some planning to be able to catch them all, but getting to know potential manufacturers is important, especially when creating products for a brand! 

E-Commerce Wholesale Tip #4: Explore suppliers you can work with locally

Shopping from B2B wholesalers is a great option for many businesses, but what if an ecommerce business model involves customization, manufacture, or crafting (such as adding custom decals, monograms, or paint)? This is a step many businesses plan to bring in-house, but the costs of creating a manufacturing center can far outstrip available resources whenstarting out. 

Choosing a local supplier to help with the creation of products can help reduce stress on the bottom line. This might cost more per unit than doing the same work in-house, but it ultimately allows businesses to avoid major capital outlays in the early days. It also helps free up time to focus on building a brand and creating profits to use later on - which is the strategy Cecil & Lou chose for their e-commerce brand when starting out.

Sourcing wholesale suppliers is key for any ecommerce business

Suppliers are a necessary business partner when creating goods your ecommerce business will share with the world. A great supply chain impacts business in everything from per-unit profits to the final brand. Whether purchasing from international markets or sourcing designs from a local craftsperson, finding the right supplier is worth the extra time and care. Not to mention the process of researching vendors, building prototypes, and selecting the right suppliers can end up being a lot of fun!

Kristen Campbell
Content Writer

Kristen is the co-founder and Director of Content at Skeleton Krew, a B2B marketing agency focused on growth in tech, software, and statups. She has written for a wide variety of companies in the fields of healthcare, banking, and technology. In her spare time, she enjoys writing stories, reading stories, and going on long walks (to think about her stories).