So it’s not just large firms that can make use of wholesalers, but how do you manage to find them in the first place?
Thumbing through your dog-eared Yellow Pages or calling a directory service might yield results, but for the modern small business the lack of wholesaling presence on the internet is a cause of great frustration.
Wholesalers tend to stick to traditional tried and tested methods – and this includes attitudes, or a lack of them, towards technology such as the web and email.
Relationships between wholesalers and their customer base are often built up over years of loyal service, so suppliers often rely on word of mouth and local knowledge to attract new clients. You are very unlikely to bombarded by attention-grabbing advertising by wholesalers in comparison to large retailers.
“It can be very hard for people new to trading to find wholesaler contact information and thus it makes it hard to shop around,” admits wholesaling specialist Richard Grady.
“One of the reasons for this is that very few UK wholesalers have decent websites and even fewer have taken any time to ensure their sites are ranked well in internet search engines.
“This means that if you are looking for suppliers on the internet, it will take ages and you probably won’t have much luck,” he warns.
Luckily, this gap in the market has been belatedly acknowledged with several websites and books that point you in the direction of your nearest wholesalers. However, entrepreneurs will still have to do most of the legwork in researching the quality of wholesale products and getting the best value for money.
Helpfully, Grady has compiled his own online resource to accompany his sought-after ebook. Visitors to his site http://www.theuktrader.co.uk/ can get details on over 700 wholesalers and gain other relevant information.
Alternatively, http://www.thewholesaler.co.uk/ has a large wholesale directory, with details on products ranging from fireworks to toiletries.
As websites like these may charge you for membership and access, it can be worth sticking to print publications when looking for your wholesalers. Therefore, a quick flick through ‘The Trader’ magazine (monthly at all good newsagents) will reveal plenty of wholesale adverts, as well as a list of contacts.