Finding a supplier
While choosing which items to stock is a skill which will take some mastering, finding companies to supply them is also not as easy as you might think. There are specific discount wholesalers and while flicking through the phone book is a good way to start, the problem is many suppliers often rely on word of mouth and local knowledge to attract new clients.
Some have found their way online, and there are also a number of subscription based sites which, for a price, will help point you in the right direction.
In addition to these sources, for anyone starting out in the discount retail market, there are two main trade shows each year: Spring Fair International at the N.E.C, held between February 1-5, and the autumn trade show in September at the same venue. Both are worth attending as all the main suppliers are be there. On top of this there are also a number of specific magazines, such as The Trader, which contain good helpful lists.
Tracking down a supplier is the hard bit but getting them to sell you their products is a lot easier. They are as happy to sell to sole traders as they are to large corporations and it’s pretty straightforward to get your hands on a millions pounds' worth of goods.
The difficult part comes when you’ve got to pay for it and stock it. You do need to bear in mind if you are starting with a new supplier they will more than likely want the money before the goods leave their warehouse, even if you do already have a good credit rating.
After your initial order, much of your future success will depend on forging a relationship with your supplier. Good communication with them is vital, because they will help you track down the items which are good and bad sellers, and it makes sense for them to provide you with the best lines, because if they try and force you into buying an item which just won’t shift, you’re unlikely to have the cash available when they return for a repeat order.
They also need to be reliable and able to provide a weekly or fortnightly delivery. This is important because unless you can plan ahead on delivery dates then you are never going to be able stay on top of your stock control. You will soon lose those repeat customers if you can’t make sure their favourite items are on sale week in week out.