If you’ve followed my Amazon selling journey, you know I sell wholesale products. This means I buy my inventory from a wholesale distributor, who buys it from the manufacturer. There are a lot of steps in the Amazon supply chain.
Amazon sellers spend an enormous amount of hours contacting account managers, filling out paperwork, and sending documents.
After all of this, most find just a handful of high volume products with solid profit margins. These products are the core of FBA business, but they don’t come easily.
You may think wholesale accounts seem like a pain. The process was frustrating for me too, until I realized I was missing a few important steps. I narrowed down my mistakes and started to implement some basic changes. The results were huge!
Here are the top 6 things I’ve learned about contacting suppliers.
1. Do the Homework
Before I send a call or email, I do my research. I know exactly what products I’ll be asking for, as well as some general background on the company. I have an idea if the company works with online sellers -- it’s a waste of time if I know a brand or product is off-limits.
2. Call First
I always start over the phone. Most of the time I end up sending an email, but there’s always a chance I’ll make the right personal contact. Some wholesalers have filled out the application for me, which saves time and headaches. mmn
3. Send the Right Email
Whether it’s a follow up from a phone call or I just didn’t reach the right person over the phone, a professionally worded email can seal a wholesale deal. I generally use a template like this -- if you use it, make sure to add a personal touch.
Hello [contact name],
My name is [your name] and I’m a purchasing agent for [company]. We primarily serve the [location] but we also ship all over the U.S. We carry many of the top toy brands across the country.
A local contact recommended your company to us -- they said you may have [quantity] of [product line] available.
Specifically, I would like to get pricing and availability for the following items:
[item and photo]
[item and photo]
[item and photo]
What information do you need from me to set up an account? When you have a second, I would also love a digital product catalog to see what else you have available.
I look forward to working with you,
Need a few more templates? Click here
4. Ask the Right Questions
Good inquiries make you sound more experienced. They can also save your business an enormous amount of money. Here are a few questions I always ask when I set up a new wholesale account.
How are your freight costs calculated?
A product that looks golden can end up with a mediocre profit margin after shipping costs. Make sure to ask your supplier if they determine shipping by weight or if they offer a flat rate. Some companies will ship for free if the order hits a certain threshold. So have to make sure and find out this in advance, so that you can plan accordingly.
Do you offer net 30 terms?
Cashflow can make or break a business. Many suppliers will let you tackle your bill after you’ve paid for a few cash-up-front-orders.
What is your minimum order?
Some wholesalers require an order of a few hundred dollars while others will ask for a $30,000 order upfront and then a certain amount per month. Make sure you know the requirements upfront so they don’t kill your cashflow later.
Do you offer any bulk discounts?
Wholesalers will occasionally offer a small discount on large orders. In my experience most wholesalers have different tiers based on volume. Of course it's not the best time to negotiate when opening an account but knowing this up front will help you to plan and make a decision to work with that supplier or not.
What is your return/refund policy?
If the inventory arrives damaged, who is responsible?
5. Be Ready to Answer Questions as Well
Be ready to answer questions as well. A supplier is trying to vet you to make sure you’re a legitimate customer for them. Last week, I even had a supplier hang up the phone in the middle of a conversation because they learned that I was a new business. Here are some of the most common questions I get:
Where is your storefront located?
Many wholesalers don’t want to work with a home-based businesses. If you don’t have an official space outside your abode, get creative. Is there a tiny, cheap space you can rent nearby? Do you have a friend that will let you forward mail to their office? Plan for the point you will need an actual space. It’s difficult (and often a legal gray area) to run a wholesale business from a residential address.
How much do you plan to purchase annually?
Some suppliers require a certain minimum order every year (or semi-annually) to maintain an active account. This varies widely -- most companies I’ve dealt with require less than $2,500, but larger companies with bigger brands require more.
Do you have a business that relates to what you’re buying from us?
Some companies strive to maintain their brand reputation by staying away from “jack of all trades” businesses. If you sell a wide variety of items spread over multiple categories, you may run into this. Even if your products selection is wide, try to carve out a niche to impress your supplier. For example, if you want to sell kitchen products, set up a simple website with a landing page to show you’re invested in the specific market. Make sure to do your research too -- it will make you look more experienced when you’re on the phone and know what you’re talking about.
Are you selling directly to the customer?
It’s important for wholesale companies to keep an eye on the supply chain. The more hands inventory goes through, the less control the supplier has. Sometimes they want to make sure the product is going directly to customers.
What is your Amazon Storefront?
Make sure to have your store link on hand. Most companies want to look and see if what you’re telling them in your application matches what’s online.
6. Prepare to be Turned Down
Prepare to be turned down. Consider your supplier’s point of view -- you just might not be a good fit for their business model. Maybe you can’t buy the bulk they want, or they don’t want their product lines on Amazon at all. It can take hundreds of phone calls to nail down a few golden accounts. If one supplier tells you no, move on -- there are thousands of fish in the supplier sea.
The most important tip of all? Stop reading this and start taking action -- there are millions of products waiting for you. Make sure to watch for next week’s post -- I’m going to give you an update on how my journey is coming.
Keep earnin’ and burnin’