When it comes to sourcing products from suppliers, whether it be a wholesaler, manufacturer or drop shipper, research and due diligence is essential. Naturally, most wholesalers and manufacturers have minimum order requirements. Therefore, if you’re going to be spending a large sum of money on inventory to resell, you need to be sure you’re dealing with a legitimate company that provides high quality products, and good service to back them up. The same goes with drop shipping, you’ll be putting a lot of trust in your supplier to dispatch items to your customers, knowing the good, the bad and the plain ugly is a must.
Thankfully, in this post, you’ll learn how to research suppliers effectively to ensure their real, reliable and trustworthy companies.
Find Out if They’re a Registered Company
Once you’ve stumbled across a supplier you like the look of, the first step is to check if they’re a real company. What better way to do this than by checking if they’re actually registered? Most governments have publicly accessible directories of registered companies in their country, searching to see if the company you plan on using is registered will only take a few seconds of your time. In countries like the UK, you can also go that one step further to confirm if they’re VAT registered.
Verify Their Business Information
The next step is to verify the supplier’s business information. To do this, check their website for a business address, email, phone and fax number. Give the company a call to see who answers and take the opportunity to ask a general enquiry, this will also give you a chance to gauge the customer service they provide. It’s also worth taking a virtual tour of the supplier’s office or warehouse by searching their address on Google Maps.
Check the BBB and Other Review/Complaint Websites
Another great way to determine a supplier’s legitimacy is by checking the Better Business Bureau and other review, rating or complaint websites such as Ripoff Report and Trustpilot. You can have confidence in knowing that the reviews and complaints on these websites are from real customers and not just a bunch of money chasing affiliates. It’s a great way to get insight into the company’s operations and uncover any problems or issues faced by others.
Search on Google for Reviews
If you can’t find any information on either of the big dog review websites, do a quick search on Google to see if you can dig up some reviews elsewhere. Blogs and forums tend to contain honest feedback from previous customers, most of which can easily be found through Google.
Visit Their Warehouse or Office
One sure fire way to put your mind at rest is by physically visiting the supplier’s warehouse or office address. In fact, it’s not uncommon for some suppliers (mainly wholesalers) to have showrooms or open days for visitors to attend, some even offer a collection/pick-up service to save on postage costs. If it’s local enough, it’s definitely worth checking out.
Study Their Website
A suppliers website can reveal many things, including if their legitimate or not. Some things to look out for include:
Too good to be true claims
Any claims of overly high potential profit margins should be taken with a pinch of salt. Don’t be blinded by dollar signs.
Check to see if the websites contains any testimonials from satisfied customers. Make sure they sound genuine and not generic.
Most established websites have an about page. Check to see how long the company has been in business, how it started and who it was founded by. Small details such as this will give you that added piece of mind.
Secure HTTPS Server
Last but in no means least, always check that the company uses a secure connection on their website before inputting any payment details. If the websites url starts with https:// or has a secure padlock icon in the browsers bar, it’s a secure connection, something that is vital for any website that accepts online payments.
Check for Social Media Pages
Let’s face it, most big companies especially brands have pages on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check these out and study them carefully. Are they established? Do they have a lot of likes, comments and shares? Does the supplier actively post on the page? These are all questions you need answers for.
Learn their Policies
Before placing any orders with a supplier, always review their business policies. In some countries such as the UK, business to business trading does not fall under the same rules as business to consumer trading. Therefore, it’s important to learn about a company’s refund and exchange policy before committing to placing an order.
Use Common Sense
The age old saying ‘’if it’s too good to be true, it usually is’’ still exists to this day. If you have a bad feeling about a supplier, avoid them and take your business elsewhere. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.