How to find the best supplier marketplaces

Finding a supplier for just about any business is not much of a challenge in today’s globalized economy. But finding the ones who are just the right fit for your needs and profit margins? Now that’s a challenge. 

Depending on the business model you’ve adopted, what you’re looking for could be totally different. This is why, in a bid to get away from being too generic, yet also trying not to alienate other readers, we’ll be covering the pros and cons of the most popular eCommerce wholesale suppliers out there. 

As far as local dealers go, you’d be the best judge of your area.

Reviewing the most popular wholesale marketplaces

SaleHoo

SaleHoo is a long-running wholesale marketplace, one of the earliest in the business. This is also why it has an extensive database for US-based online sellers.

Best for: 

Online retailers dealing in the beauty segment, home electronics, and other homeware products. 

Pros:

  • Owing to its longstanding presence in the wholesale marketplace, the website has managed to establish a database of vetted and certified suppliers. This is a great source of relief for online retailers who can then skip most of the vetting process and proceed right to assessing suppliers based on their quotes and offerings. 
  • The platform is easy and intuitive to use. 
  • If you’ve been in touch with any wholesale suppliers, you’ll know those minimum order requirements are a huge hassle, especially for newbie retailers trying to test the waters for a certain product. 

SaleHoo has plenty of suppliers who are flexible enough to offer a very low minimum order, which allows you to purchase a few test products at wholesale rates. 

  • The marketplace has an extensive reach of foreign suppliers, which makes it ideal for drop shippers who wish to break into specific markets, while also saving on shipping costs. 

Cons:

  • While it does give you access to several vetted suppliers, the service comes with a membership fee. This trade-off may seem convenient for some retailers who can afford it, but not so much for others. 
  • SaleHoo may have up to 8000+ suppliers in their directory, but bear in mind that this isn’t dispersed across a huge variety of niches. For sellers interested in targeting a very unique segment of products, other directories may seem like a better choice. 

Tundra

Tundra is a budget-friendly alternative to some of the more expensive wholesale marketplaces. It’s fairly popular with US-based online sellers and is widely used by small-to-mid-scale brands. 

Best for: 

Small-scale online sellers on a budget. 

Pros:

  • For the most part, the platform is free to use. You’re only charged for special promotion packages and extra features. The platform generates money from extra add-ons, not from any commission charges. This is a huge plus for buyers who are starting or operating on a smaller scale than enterprises. 
  • Products are generally available at special, low prices. This helps you achieve a higher profit margin. 
  • Buyers from the platform are exposed to a wider range of trusted supplier products, owing to the free entry that it provides. 

Cons:

  • The site is biased towards Amazon sellers, and screens retailers who plan on using the site’s products to resell on Amazon. 
  • The platform doesn’t connect you directly with any suppliers. Instead, it acts more as a mediator. This hinders any retailers looking for a place to develop, build, and grow business connections. 

Faire

What makes Faire a great wholesale marketplace is the sheer number of suppliers and retailers that they have registered, spanning most of the United States and Europe.

Best for:

Medium-range online retailers with a bigger budget, and an existing customer base for the product. 

Pros:

  • Setting up your Faire account is fairly easy. There is no registration fee but there is a commission rate on orders.
  • The extra charges come with a few perks: buyers are allowed to freely return products that they find unsatisfactory. This reduces the risk for buyers testing products out for the first time.
  • Faire offers a reasonably priced free shipping subscription that allows buyers to purchase products in bulk with no added shipping costs.

Cons:

  • Unlike free platforms such as Tundra, Faire does charge a considerably high commission on orders from suppliers. The platform capitalizes on its diverse and wide range of contact base to justify a 15% markup per order. This means you’re unlikely to find many low-priced deals on the marketplace. 
  • The platform also comes with a consistent pricing clause, which makes it difficult for sellers to make up their profits elsewhere on another platform that doesn’t charge such a high commission

Alibaba

Is Alibaba still the go-to for affordable, high-bulk purchases? It’s hard to tell, with the changing market landscape. The products cater to a mainstream audience of thrift-store buyers who are looking for a somewhat functional product at extremely low prices. However, the trust factor when it comes to picking suppliers on Alibaba doesn’t seem to be looking good. 

 

Best for: 

High-volume sellers looking for bulk products at an extremely low price.

Pros:

  • Compared to local sourcing, the suppliers you find on Alibaba tend to lean towards a minimal-cost offering.
  • The minimal order requirement is also generally low on suppliers you find through the website.
  • There’s a massive number of suppliers (exceeding thousands) to choose from. These also span just about every product you can think of, albeit the relatively substandard quality of some offerings.

Cons:

  • Products from Alibaba suppliers are infamous for their low-grade quality. Customer perception could be negative and prejudiced towards your brand.
  • Buyers are often completely in the dark about the type of seller they are interacting with. Finding trustworthy suppliers becomes a challenge.
  • There’s a long wait time for your products to arrive. Unless you plan on storing up products in bulk and selling them through your website, there’s hardly any way to assure your customers of timely delivery. Accepting orders for products that you don’t yet have in stock could backfire if you’re counting on an Alibaba supplier to deliver within time.

WorldWide Brands

Worldwide Brands is a platform on par with Salehoo, as far as its prevalence in the industry is concerned. The website is known for having one of the most extensive directories of suppliers from all business models, be it dropshipping, wholesale dealing, or manufacturing.

Best for: 

Medium-to-large scale online sellers (with prior experience in ecommerce) looking for suppliers to strike a long-term relationship with.

Pros:

  • There’s a refund policy for early quitters.
  • The platform offers access to a bigger database of worldwide suppliers from all tiers and industries.
  • Lifetime membership makes it appealing to online sellers looking for long-term dealers.

Cons:

  • A lifetime membership that costs close to $300 might seem like a hefty sum to pay, especially when there are marketplaces like Tundra offering similar services for free.
  • Most suppliers who do business through the platform price their products at a high range. This adds a cost burden to the already hefty subscription fee.
  • Whereas Tundra comes with several paid features that you can add to your membership, Worldwide Brands is a platform that charges a high registration fee solely for access to its marketplace, and nothing else.

Abound

As far as marketplace platforms go, Abound is a lot similar to Faire and connects key suppliers and retail buyers based in the USA. The threshold for minimum order quantity is set quite low, which makes it an ideal choice for low-budget online sellers.

Best for: 

Small to mid-range online retailers based in the USA and UK.

Pros:

  • Low-effort setup time and costs.
  • No monthly subscription fees.
  • More convenient for exclusively online sellers.

Cons:

  • Order-based commission rates (first-time as well as follow-up orders) can deter most suppliers since it is rather high.
  • Not as popular as Faire. More of a low-key version or alternative to it.
  • The platform isn’t as well-established and widely known as some of the other mentions in this blog. 
  • The number of users is comparatively low compared to other, more popular wholesale marketplaces.

Creoate

Creoate has been around for more than a decade now, offering online retailers access to a wide database of local and global suppliers spanning more than 10 countries including the US and the UK, as well as an option to manually verify each supplier separately.

Best for: 

Online retailers keen on purchasing in bulk, and looking for a flexible space to connect with suppliers and negotiate product prices before they make a bulk order.

Pros:

  • BNPL payment options work at enticing minimally funded retailers who get a shot at ordering in bulk and on credit, selling the product at a significantly higher profit, and paying the quoted price later. This allows even some of the more small-scale online retailers to successfully gain better margins with the least bit of effort on their part.
  • The best part about Creoate is their return policy window of up to 60 days, allowing online retailers the option to send back inventory that doesn’t sell within this period.

Cons:

  • Creoate offers retailers a selection from a limited range of brands, bordering on 6500.
  • While the product categories are expansive, the choice of products is limited and hardly beats the competition.

eWorld Trade

eWorld Trade is a marketplace that blends suppliers across the goods and services categories. What stands out as far as this platform is concerned is the lack of exclusivity. It is a free-for-all and akin to a directory that any retailer can use at their discretion.

Best for: 

A variety of online retail sellers looking for both physical products as well as service-providing vendors.

Pros:

  • The website allows buyers to actively engage and contact suppliers directly, which significantly reduces the disruption that could ensue when mediated.
  • The database of users is a lot wider and spans multiple countries, which helps regulate prices and keeps supplier quotes reasonably competitive. In the absence of such proliferation, monopolistic brands are more than likely to raise prices far higher than most newbie sellers can afford.

Cons:

  • Ascertaining the reliability of every supplier you interact with can be tedious. The site leaves both the risk and responsibility of such due diligence up to the buyer.
  • It is rather difficult to verify the quality of products in the absence of any on-site visit, especially when you’re purchasing from a supplier based in a country that’s a thousand miles away from where you live.

IndieMe

IndieMe, unlike other entries in this post, is a wholesale space for exclusively hand-crafted products. This makes it a niche marketplace for online retailers in the USA that addresses and targets a sizable audience of artisans, and craft enthusiasts.

Best for: 

Online retailers who specialize in hand-crafted products.

Pros:

  • Having carved out a niche for itself as an artisan’s marketplace, IndieMe is the go-to space for you to find a wide variety of locally produced craft works. Usually, such products are rare  owing to the lack of mass production, their unique nature, and the absence of concentrated labor. 
  • IndieMe offers a steady platform where buyers can look for and provide the demand required to upscale production for handcrafted products, which they can proceed to order in bulk.
  • Ideal for finding affordable jewelry and accessory products with flexible quotes.

Cons:

  • The registration process is tedious and time-consuming for both store-based and exclusively online sellers as well.
  • Each potential buyer is verified separately and admitted to the platform following a long and drawn-out vetting process. This could take days.
  • Requires buyers to have an active and running business, as opposed to new entrants in the ecommerce space.

Mable

Another niche platform that specifically targets the CPG industry, Mable is ideal for US-based online retailers who wish to either expand their product line to include (or focus exclusively on) food and grocery products.

 

Best for: 

Niche food and beverage sellers, medium-scale grocers, and online CPG retailers.

Pros:

  • Mable is a great online discovery marketplace where grocery and food retailers can find and explore local product distributors (especially emerging ones) who they wouldn’t have been able to access otherwise.
  • The platform offers great filter options to get specific suppliers based on region, product choice, and more.
  • It also allows retailers to minimize their risk (which is unusually high in the food industry) by allowing them to sample products before they commit to bulk and or high-value purchases.
  • The minimum order requirement is relatively low, which is ideal for such a risk-prone industry.
  • Online retailers are allowed to negotiate with dealers and get favorable quotes on products they’re interested in.

Cons:

  • The marketplace charges a 12.5% fee for first-time orders as well as every newly acquired customer. This might deter some of the more obscure local brands from using the platform to meet retailers, which poses a missed opportunity for small-scale sellers.
  • Shipping, delivery, and referral charges can all affect the product’s pricing on the supplier’s end. Some online sellers may find it better to approach and buy from local producers since this would be way more convenient and cost-effective, all things considered.

FashionGO

Another long-standing niche marketplace that’s been around for over 2 decades now, FashionGo is an LA-based wholesale marketplace that connects thousands of buyers and sellers on a niche platform geared to finding all things fashion-related.

Best for: 

Everyday fashion accessory retailers based in the US.

Pros:

  • The marketplace is ideal for ecommerce sellers on the lookout for fashion accessory brands that sell their products at affordable wholesale rates.
  • A wider range of vendor choices to select from makes it the definitive fashion marketplace for local retailers.

Cons:

  • Size-based product options are limited, which makes it a hassle to get right, especially in an industry where the customers are heavily diverse.
  • The verification process is rather loosely regulated. With the prevalence of more entrants into the fashion accessory supply space, unreliable vendors who ship substandard products pose a marginal threat.

Takeaway

To sum it all up:

  • In the past, local retailers would have limited access to local suppliers. Which makes it hard to get a different bargain. Margins would be determined by the local demand for your product in the market. All that has rapidly changed in today’s world of globalized commerce. This is why you can find a supplier online, and ditch them in favor of another, better dealer if you feel so, without hurting your margins or your business.
  • A lot of the online store suppliers we covered in this blog have great advantages and likewise, their limitations. Finding the right platform for you is entirely a subjective, business-to-business endeavor. We refrain from recommending our favorites simply because, depending on your niche, they could vary 
  • The paradigm of supplier-relationships has changed. It is no longer about picking the perfect supplier and sticking with them. Deals and dealers are constantly being updated as better wholesalers enter the market. This is why you needn’t be afraid of a bit of trial and error. If you do come across a new supplier offering a better deal, don’t be afraid to explore whether their offering is worth it.

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