It will not be wrong to say that suppliers and distributors are the backbone of every business. Be it providing you with raw materials for your production, goods for reselling, office supplies or other day-to-day services, your suppliers play a big role in the smooth running and growth of your business. Moreover, they can keep you abreast of the newest products in the market, help you track competitor’s actions and help you cut costs by providing discounts. For new businesses, locating reliable manufacturers, distributors and service providers is very crucial as a part of the business plan. Here are therefore, a few pointers on how to look for suppliers or distributors for your business. Online: The web is host to information that you can get at a single click. • Search Engines: In internet search engines like Google, MSN or Yahoo, search by typing keywords from the products you are looking for along with the word “supplier” or “distributor”. You will find online directories with a comprehensive list of suppliers along with the email addresses and phone numbers. • B2B Platforms: Then there are B2B platforms where you can register for free and reach out to the community consisting of wholesalers, trade agents, distributors, manufacturers, buyers and sellers dealing in a wide range of products. There are country specific B2B marketplaces too for finding manufacturing or distribution of commodity products. Some of the most prominent free B2B marketplaces that provide import and export trade leads and opportunities, sourcing information, and integrated marketing services are – www.alibaba.com, www.globalSources.com, www.made-in-china.com, www.indiamart.com, www.ec21.com, www.ecplaza.net • Online Forums: By participating in online forums and building your LinkedIn profile, you can start building connections and gradually build your professional network. • Yellow Pages: One of the handiest tools where you can find wholesalers, distributors, retailers and brokers under one roof. It provides an alphabetical listing of businesses within a specific geographical area which are segregated under headings for similar types of businesses (e.g., Stationery). Some of the online B2B yellow pages are: www.yellowpages.co.in, www.yellowpages-online.com, www.indianyellowpages.com, www.citybuzzer.com
• Trade Publications: Subscribe to magazines or newsletters that target retailers in your industry. You can also download technical documents for free. Check out the small ads on the website; the advertiser will be a product manufacturer or distributor. Some trade publication websites are: www.tradepub.com, www.dgciskol.nic.in/indian_trade_journal.htm, www.indianindustry.com/trade-information/trade-publications.html
Offline: • Chamber of Commerce and Industry: Become a member of your local Chamber of Commerce and Industry on paying requisite fees. Through various seminars and meetings, it provides a good platform to interact with other members and global business leaders. You can develop business through buyer-seller forums, get access to publications and reports on a wide range of subjects and Directory of Members with business profile. • Trade Shows/Expo: In some lines, trade shows are good sources of getting suppliers and looking over competing products. In these events, businesses in a specific industry can showcase and demonstrate their latest products, service, study activities of rivals and examine recent market trends and opportunities. Here, you can talk face-to-face with manufacturers and wholesale distributors. Remember, finding a vendor for a lifelong relationship may not happen at the very first instance. It’s an evolution process involving a lot of trial and error and considerable efforts from your side.