When it comes to sourcing stock from suppliers, whether it be a wholesaler or drop shipper, research and due diligence is essential.
Before any cash can exchange hands, you need to be sure you’re dealing with a legitimate company.
This guide will highlight some of the most effective ways to research a supplier and confirm their legitimacy.
What’s covered? – Company registration, business information, customer reviews, website setup, company policies.
Find Out if They’re a Registered Company
Checking if the supplier is a registered company is one of the quickest ways to confirm their legitimacy. Most governments have publicly accessible directories containing details of all registered companies within their country. Search to see if the company you plan on using is registered. In countries like the UK, you can also go that one step further by checking if the company is VAT registered.
Verify Their Business Information
The next step is to verify the company’s basic business information. To do this, check their website for a business address, email, phone and fax number. Make sure this information matches with their registered business information.
Give the company a call to confirm it’s a working number and take the opportunity to ask a general enquiry, this will also give you an insight into the quality of their customer service. You may even want to take a virtual tour of the company’s office on Google Maps, just to be sure it actually exists.
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 be sure 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 common review websites like Trustpilot, do a quick Google search to dig up reviews elsewhere. Blogs and forums are great tools for finding honest feedback and complaints from real people.
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. In fact, it’s not uncommon for some suppliers (mainly wholesalers) to have public showrooms or open days, 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 indications of their legitimacy. Some of the most important things to look out for on a suppliers website include:
Bold Claims – Any claims of ridiculously high profit margins should be taken with a pinch of salt. Don’t be blinded by dollar signs or promises of riches.
Testimonials – Check to see if the websites contains any testimonials from satisfied customers. Make sure they sound genuine and not generic.
Company History – 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. If the websites url starts with https:// or has a secure padlock icon in the browsers bar, it’s a secure connection. A secure connection is vital for any website that accepts online payments.
Check for Social Media Pages
Let’s face it, most companies have pages on social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to study them carefully. Are they established pages? Do they have a lot of likes, comments and shares? Does the company actively post on the page? These are all questions you need answers for.
Learn their Policies
Before placing an order with a supplier, always review their business policies. In some countries such as the UK, business to business trading doesn’t fall under the same rules as business to consumer trading. Therefore, it’s important to know the company’s postage, refund and returns policies before placing an order.
Use Common Sense
The age old saying ‘’if it’s too good to be true, it usually is’’ should be at the forefront of your mind. If you have a bad feeling about a supplier, avoid using them and take your business elsewhere. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.