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UK Jewellery Wholesalers — The Verdict

If you’ve been following our blog for any length of time, you might have encountered a post a few weeks back about our trip to the Spring Fair in Birmingham. The purpose of the trip was to see what was on offer from our Jewellery Wholesale competitors in 2014, and to see how they measured up in terms of stock choice, quality, and all round ‘decent wholesaler-ness‘.

I made that last word up, but you get the picture.

The wholesalers in question have either delivered our sample orders or disappeared off the edge of a cliff. Either way, the results are in. Our feelings on those results could best be summed up as baffled.

It baffles us how many of these suppliers manage to stay in business. It baffles us that we haven’t succeeded in taking all of their business yet — we’re working on that, so stay tuned. And it baffles us that these companies think they can get away with treating paying customers in this manner.

So here are the results of the Nirvana jury, results gained from placing 5 sample orders with 5 ‘reputable‘ jewellery wholesalers at the Spring Fair in Birmingham in 2014.

Wholesaler #1: A well regarded jewellery supplier from the Commercial Road in London

We placed an order for 30 lines on the 4th of February. Free delivery was offered, which was welcome, as it was a small order. The goods arrived at our Irish office on the 7th of February, delivered by DPD — a speedy result, considering we ordered face to face from a location that was not their working office. Of the 30 lines ordered, 5 were substituted with alternative products without asking us. There was nothing included in the package to tell us that this had happened — no paperwork, no apology for the out-of-stock lines. So, all in all, a speedy delivery of a number of items we didn’t ask for. Not a promising start.

Wholesaler #2: A Jewellery and Accessory Wholesaler from the Park Royal area of Middlesex

We order only 10 lines from this supplier, mainly because we were forced by their minimum order requirements to order 3 of each item. Hey, at least by ordering 3 of each item we could get an honest feel for the quality of the jewellery, so that was a plus — no chance that one bad item would give the wrong impression. Average cost per item was £7, definitely on the luxury end of the pricing scale. Deliver costs were £15.

A damaged box arrived on February 15th. Let’s be honest here, packing 3 of each item takes a lot more time than packing 1 of each item, so a late delivery was only to be expected. When we opened the box we found that no bubble wrap or other protective packaging was used. Of the 10 lines we ordered, only 9 arrived, with a note inside saying that the balance was to follow. Fair enough, I suppose. As of March 3rd, we’re still eagerly awaiting the missing item.

Wholesaler #3: Order placed with a relatively new wholesaler from Cardiff

We ordered 14 lines, and in this case were forced to buy 2 of each line. It took numerous emails from us before the correct invoice arrived and we could actually pay them. Some companies, it’s like they don’t want to get paid. Delivery costs were again £15 — a little on the high side. The goods arrived via DPD on the 18th February, so again the requirement to purchase more than one of an item clearly caused packing or sourcing problems. Maybe they only carry single items in stock, and have to re-order from China to fill every customer’s order!

OK, now here is where we have to censor what we say. The quality of the stuff (I won’t call it jewellery), was comical. The plating was so badly blistered, all we could do was take a few photos and bin the product. We’d love to post those photos here, but the feeling in the office was that it might lead to heart failure on the part of some of our customers. We decided instead to send the photos to our QA guy in China, so he can put them on his wall and point to them when dealing with any of our own suppliers who might be slipping on the quality side of things.

Wholesaler #4: Placed with a jewellery wholesaler in Birmingham

We ordered 31 lines from this supplier at the Fair, and took delivery on the 21st of February. If you’re spotting a trend here in terms of delivery, you would not be wrong. The whopping £20 delivery fee obviously included a stay for our box of jewellery at a 4 star hotel for a couple of weeks before venturing across the Irish sea.

As above, no protective packing or bubble wrap was used. Everything appeared to be tossed into a cardboard box and left to fend for itself. The stock itself was good, but the delivery charges and delivery time let the team down.

Wholesaler #5: Placed with another supplier form London’s Commercial Road district

We ordered 15 lines from this wholesaler, and were forced to order 3 of each item. It’s as if many of these suppliers have so little faith in the quality of their own merchandise that they want to sell as much to a customer as possible in the first order — almost as if they know full well that that customer will never return, so they have to milk them while they have them.

Well, we tried. We sent several emails, made phone call after phone call, but as of March 3rd, we’re still waiting. And the craziest part is, we paid them weeks ago. If we were genuine retail buyers we’d be thinking about involving Trading Standards at this stage.

So there you have it. 5 orders placed with 5 jewellery wholesalers at the Spring Fair in Birmingham in 2014. Remember, this is the UK’s premier event for retailers to meet with and purchase from wholesalers. And to a man, they were a disappointment. In some case what they delivered ended up in a landfill, in others it failed to arrive at all.

This is both disheartening and kind of heartening. It’s disheartening for the many small retailers who buy from these people, and it’s disheartening that so many UK wholesalers are simply this bad. It’s heartening for us, because it explains why we are growing so quickly.

We deliver the product we say we’ll deliver. We deliver at a decent cost. We deliver in a timely manner. We sell good quality stock. And we have no silly minimum size requirements. We’ve considered promoting ourselves at the Spring Fair, but now we’re a bit unsure. Should we really associate ourselves with these sorts of suppliers?

04 Mar 2014

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