Finding a supplier seems like black magic to many starting out in the world of importing.
Ask any experienced importer for his or her list of suppliers and you will likely
get an interesting reaction. An importer's list of suppliers is like a little black
book full of secrets. It is quite understandable though. A supplier's list is the
life blood of the import business. The importing business will die without it.
Finding a supplier is one of the most important tasks in the import process. Depending
on the product and the country of origin, there are many ways to go about finding
a supplier. In many situations, you do not want to rely solely on a single supplier.
Many importers have backups just in case the primary supplier cannot supply the
importer's demand for whatever reason.
Find a Supplier
7 Ways to Finding a Supplier
There are many creative ways to find a supplier for your import business. Here are
seven of the most efficient ways:
One of the best on line sources of finding international suppliers is the Kompass
Group. With over 60 years of experience, the company has 2.8 million records of
international suppliers in 26 languages. The records are classified in 57,000 codes.
costume jewelry in the search bar and the web site returns almost 3000 suppliers.
You can select or filter by country. Pick China and almost immediately you have
almost 100 costume suppliers in China for you to investigate.
ThomasNet (previously Thomas Register) has brought buyers and suppliers of industrial
products and services together to do business with one another for over 110 years.
This site has over 600,000 registered North American manufacturers, distributors
and service companies. More than 3 million buyers and sellers connect every month.
TradeKey.com was formed in 2005 with the goal of facilitating global trade and linking
buyers and sellers from all around the world. TradeKey.com is world's leading marketplace
which connects traders with worldwide wholesalers, buyers, importers & exporters,
manufacturers and distributors in over 220 countries, quickly and cost effectively.
You can access this service for free. You simply create an account and post an interest
to buy. Then you will receive quotes and information from potential suppliers.
This site allows buyers to post their requirements reaching potential suppliers from
180 countries around the world. This site with headquarters in India has over 20,000
buyers and 40,000 suppliers.
2. Foreign Government Offices in Your Country
Foreign Consulate Offices promote the commercial interests of the country that they
represent. If you have an interest in doing business in their country, they are
obligated to set you up with suppliers from their host country. Start by writing
a letter to the local consulate from the country that you are interested in finding
a supplier. State your interest and your product and ask for supplier leads. Follow
up with a phone call after your written letter has arrived.
3. Trade Shows
Practically every country in the world will have trade shows highlighting the country's
industries and suppliers. Some are specialized shows while others are national
expositions which highlight a cross section of the country's suppliers.
4. Trade Publications
Most countries have trade journals representing the different export industries.
The advertising within the journal highlighting certain suppliers can prove beneficial.
So go ahead and grab a copy of a trade journal for the country that you want to
import from. You can contact the country's chamber of commerce or consulate for
5. Exporting Country's Yellow Pages
Yellow Pages are available in major cities around the world including cities such
as Hong Kong and Bangkok. Some foreign publications are published in English and
in the country's native language. If you are visiting the country, you can always
pick one up at the hotel or try calling your local phone company to get information
on how to obtain foreign Yellow Pages.
International banks are well connected in the world of international trade because
practically all financial transactions are conducted through them. If you are in
the U.S., go to the U.S. branch of the foreign bank to obtain economic information
and potential supplier connections. HSBC is one such global bank.
Air Cargo has a vested interest in promoting international trade. Call the customer
service for information. They may be able to assist in connecting you with economic
information or potential suppliers.
After a list of potential suppliers is selected, you will need to evaluate them or
determine which ones are best for you.
Suitability of Merchandise Does the supplier have the exact or similar products which
will meet the customer's demands?
Quality and Safety Standards Are the quality and safety standards up to your country's
Completeness of the Product Line Does the supplier have a complete product line in
your product area? This will become important as you grow and require additional
Merchandise Profitability Will buying the products from this supplier lead to long
term profits for you as an importer? No matter how wonderful the goods are, they
are useless to you as an importer if you cannot make a profit from them.
Delivery How long will it take for the supplier to deliver the goods to you after
you place an order? This is critical especially for the small business importer.
The longer the delivery time, the more goods you will need to carry in your inventory
to ensure that you do not go out of stock.
Stability What is the risk of your supplier going out of business in the near future?
While supplier longevity is never a guarantee, you should always have a backup supplier
just in case. Depending on your product, you may consider multiple suppliers to
spread your risk. Get referrals to understand the inside operations of the supplier
and gauge its long term stability.
Finding the right suppliers is a key to the success of your import business. Whether
you are importing from China or from another country, doing your homework in this
area is vital.