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Is Your Wholesaler up to Scratch? [1] – Volume

For 10 years, we bought fashion jewellery and accessories from just about every wholesaler who had an actual premises in the UK. This was back in the day, before we became wholesalers and importers ourselves. In that time, we experienced the full spectrum of small to medium to large wholesalers that the UK had to offer.

Time to share some of those hard earned lessons.

Spotting a good supplier can be a make or break kind of thing for a young business. Get it wrong, and you’re doomed to failure — often without even realising why. Get it right — especially when your competitors have gotten it wrong — and you’ll be singing all the way to the bank.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be writing a series of posts on how to spot the signs that your new or potential supplier is not up to scratch. There are always exceptions, of course. Suppliers that fall down on one of our measuring criteria may excel at everything else, so you should treat these posts as a guide only.

So, to business. In this post I’ll be addressing volume — one of the key indicators as to whether or not your wholesaler is a small time bedroom operation or a business built on solid foundations. What I mean by volume, is: How many of each line do they carry in stock?

A rocky wholesaler, one operating with small volumes of stock, cannot be trusted to be able to meet a re-order of popular lines. They cannot be counted on to be able to handle a medium sized order of 20 or 30 of a particular strong seller.

Picture this: in the months coming up to Christmas, when 75% of your business takes place, you go to your new online supplier and expect them to meet your basic requirements of 20 items of 10 or so styles–styles that you know sell well because you’ve been shifting them in small numbers all through the Summer.

They can’t do it. They have maybe 10, or in some cases only 5 of a popular necklace. They say they’ll get them back in soon, but how can you build a business on that basis, especially in the run up to Christmas? September, October and November are manic months for wholesalers who supply small retailers. Good wholesalers plan for this and order in large volumes in advance. They do not talk about re-ordering 6 weeks before Christmas.

This question of volume is a key question, and it’s one of the easiest ways to identify amateur wholesalers. You cannot afford to buy from suppliers who are unable to fill serious orders.

Rule 1: Does your wholesaler carry 100+ of each item?

23 May 2013

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