Starting an Amazon FBA wholesale business is one of the most lucrative ways to sell on Amazon. By buying inventory in bulk directly from suppliers and manufacturers, you can list products for sale on Amazon and have Amazon fulfill the orders and shipping. This allows you to scale up quickly while minimizing the operational costs and challenges of selling online.
However, as you scale up your FBA wholesale business, finding and vetting reliable suppliers becomes crucial. The suppliers you choose will directly impact your profit margins, product quality, shipping times and ultimately your success.
In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll share the best practices and strategies I‘ve learned over 10+ years in e-commerce for finding and evaluating suppliers as an Amazon seller. Follow these tips to ensure you choose the right partners for sourcing quality inventory at the best prices.
Why Finding Good Suppliers is Crucial For Amazon Sellers
As an experienced Amazon seller, I cannot stress enough how important it is to find reputable suppliers and manufacturers to partner with. The suppliers you choose to work with will determine:
- Your Profit Margins – The lower prices you can negotiate with suppliers, the higher your profit margins will be when reselling their products.
Product Quality – Defective or poor quality inventory from suppliers leads to negative reviews and returns. This can sink your listings.
Shipping Times – Finding suppliers that can reliably ship products quickly to Amazon‘s warehouses impacts how fast you can get listings up and inventory restocked.
Brand Reputation – Quality issues or shipping problems from suppliers can damage your brand reputation with Amazon and customers.
Growth Potential – Good suppliers enable you to scale up your product catalog and get volume discounts as your business grows.
The bottom line: vetting your suppliers thoroughly and choosing reliable partners is one of the most important things you can do as an Amazon FBA seller. Take the time up front to do this right before committing to any supplier.
Effective Strategies to Find Suppliers for Your Amazon FBA Business
Over the years, I‘ve refined an effective step-by-step process for finding suppliers that I trust to provide quality inventory for my Amazon wholesale business. I recommend any Amazon seller follow these sourcing strategies:
Cast a Wide Net with Google Searches
My first step is always to jump on Google and start searching for relevant manufacturers and suppliers. With over 3.5 billion searches per day, Google is still the go-to resource for initial research.
Try a variety of keyword searches such as:
- "[product] wholesale suppliers"
- "[product] manufacturers"
- "[product] distributors"
- "wholesale [product] suppliers"
Spend time browsing through the top search results and visiting any supplier websites that look promising. Make notes on suppliers that seem to offer the products you need at competitive prices.
Pro Tip: Use Google operators like "inurl:" and "intitle:" to refine searches further. For example, "inurl:wholesale intext:electronics"
Leverage Industry Trade Publications & Directories
Once you have a list of potential suppliers from Google, you can validate and expand on them by turning to industry trade publications and directories.
Search for trade magazines and catalogs specific to your product niche. For example, "electronics trade publications" or "toys & games trade magazines".
These publications often include supplier advertisements and directories you can mine for leads. Subscribe to any relevant publications you find to stay on top of industry news and supplier info.
Some top publications and directories I recommend checking by industry:
Electronics: EDN, Electronic Component News, ThomasNet
Toys & Games: Toy Directory, Playthings Magazine, Toy Book
Beauty & Health: Beauty Packaging, Nutracos
Apparel & Accessories: California Apparel News, Accessories Magazine
Check Online B2B Marketplaces
Popular online B2B marketplaces like Alibaba, GlobalSources and Salehoo are go-to resources for finding suppliers located overseas.
These sites allow you to search thousands of manufacturers and wholesalers in a few clicks and message or email them directly. You can also view product catalogs and listings to get an idea of pricing and minimum order quantities.
While listings on these sites need to be verified carefully (see quality control tips below), these marketplaces make it easy to identify and connect with potential suppliers worldwide.
According to GlobalSources, some of the most popular product categories for Amazon FBA sellers include:
- Electronics & accessories
- Home & garden
- Automotive supplies
- Beauty & health
When researching on B2B sites, pay attention to supplier locations, ratings, verified status and response rates.
Attend Relevant Trade Shows
While the pandemic put many in-person trade shows on hold, attending them can be one of the most effective ways to directly connect with hundreds of suppliers in your industry.
Shows allow you to meet with suppliers face-to-face, get product demos, discuss pricing and potentially source new items on the spot. They are great venues for finding suppliers and gathering intel.
Some major shows to look out for:
- CES (Consumer Electronics)
- NY NOW (Home, Lifestyle, Gift)
- Global Sources Electronics Shows
- MAGIC Trade Show (Fashion)
There are also countless niche shows for specific industries or product types like toys, jewelry, beauty, pet supplies, automotive and more. Browse trade show directories to find ones that fit your niche.
Check Wholesale & Liquidation Sites
Specialty wholesale and liquidation websites have also emerged to help Amazon sellers source bulk inventory. These include:
While minimum order quantities tend to be higher on these sites, you can sometimes find major discounts on overstock and liquidated items perfect for FBA.
For example, Liquidation.com has pallet level discounts on customer returns and excess inventory from major retailers like Walmart, Amazon, Target and more. But you need to buy full pallets.
Get Referrals From Other Amazon Sellers
Another good way to uncover suppliers is to network with other Amazon sellers, either locally or in Facebook groups and communities.
Ask other FBA sellers who their suppliers are for sourcing products similar to what you want to sell. Get their take on pricing, product quality, fulfillment reliability and what they look for in a good supplier.
Word-of-mouth referrals from seasoned Amazon sellers who have worked with suppliers first-hand can help pre-qualify them.
Pro Tip: Join Amazon seller Facebook groups and subreddits like r/FulfillmentByAmazon to connect with other sellers.
Evaluate Local Distributors and Wholesalers
Don‘t overlook local distribution companies and wholesalers in your product niche. I‘ve found some great suppliers right in my backyard.
Benefits of local suppliers include lower minimum order sizes, quicker shipping times and direct support. Search Google Maps for wholesale and distribution companies near you.
You can also look up "Buy Local" business directories and your local Chamber of Commerce directory to find specialized local distributors or wholesalers that may compete on smaller minimum orders and service.
How to Evaluate Suppliers and Verify Legitimacy
The key to finding reliable suppliers for the long haul is to thoroughly vet and evaluate all potential partners, especially when sourcing overseas.
There are unfortunately a lot of illegitimate "suppliers" out there. Avoid headaches and wasted money by taking time to verify suppliers with these tips:
- Check company credentials – Are they registered and licensed to operate in their region? Do background checks.
Verify contacts – Get contact info for sales reps and try contacting through multiple channels.
Request product samples – Always order samples to inspect quality before placing bulk orders.
Ask for references – Reputable suppliers should provide company and client references.
Inspect websites – Professional websites with detailed product info are a good sign.
Compare with competition – Get quotes and samples from multiple suppliers to compare.
Start small – Test new suppliers with small orders first to evaluate performance.
Inspect everything – Carefully inspect all shipments for damage, defects or inconsistencies.
Use payment protections – Consider Alibaba Trade Assurance or payment platforms that hold funds in escrow.
Trust but verify – Vet everything thoroughly at first, then strengthen relationships with top performers.
Here are a few red flags to watch out for as you evaluate new suppliers:
- Unprofessional communication
- Refusal to offer references
- Missing or fraudulent credentials
- Requests for upfront payments
- Incomplete or plagiarized websites
- An unwillingness to send samples
Pro Tip: If possible, try to visit supplier facilities in person to inspect operations and build relationships.
How to Start Strong Supplier Relationships
Once you‘ve thoroughly vetted suppliers, you want to establish strong working relationships with the top performers. Here are some best practices:
- Communicate clearly – Be responsive and clear about needs, expectations and policies.
Provide feedback – Give honest, fair feedback so suppliers can improve.
Resolve issues quickly – Have open conversations to quickly resolve any problems.
Pay on time – Avoid late payments to maintain a positive relationship.
Share data – Provide sales data so suppliers can forecast demand.
Explore customization – Discuss any special product customizations needed.
Plan ahead – Give as much advanced notice as possible for large orders.
Visit when possible – After COVID, visit supplier facilities to strengthen bonds.
Show appreciation – Thank suppliers for good work and send a holiday gift each year.
By investing in positive supplier relationships over many orders, you can negotiate better pricing, influence product development and improve supply chain performance.
Key Takeaways – Finding Reliable Suppliers as an Amazon Seller
After a decade of selling on Amazon and working with suppliers around the world, these are the core lessons I‘ve learned:
- Cast a wide net using Google, trade publications, directories, trade shows and online marketplaces in your initial supplier search.
Thoroughly vet and verify supplier credentials, communication practices, references, samples, websites, pricing and quality before committing.
Start small with initial test orders to evaluate supplier performance on quality, shipping times, communication and more.
Build strong relationships with top performing suppliers by communicating clearly, providing feedback and resolution when issues occur.
The time invested to find and develop relationships with reliable, high-quality suppliers will directly impact and enable the growth of your Amazon FBA business.
I hope these sourcing strategies and supplier relationship tips help you find the right partners for your Amazon wholesale business. Please feel free to reach out if you need any specific advice! I‘m always happy to help fellow Amazon sellers succeed.
All the best,