19Oct
By: Paula Borowska October 19, 2016

This post is all about where to look for a wholesale clothing supplier. We’ll also cover how to contact them to get more information. If you’re interested in learning how to find the right supplier for you and your business, that’s a whole other blog post. But first, we need to figure out where to start the search. Having a good list of suppliers to choose from is key in getting your drop shipping business of the ground. So let’s get started with the basics: domestic or overseas wholesale clothing supplier?

Domestic vs Overseas

The first question everyone needs to answer is whether you want your suppliers to be domestic or from overseas. Of course, both have their advantages and disadvantages. It will boil down to your personal preference, the products you’re selling or your own values.

Advantages and disadvantages of domestic wholesale clothing suppliers

Let’s start with the advantages of using a domestic wholesale clothing supplier. Because they are located domestically, the shipping time will significantly shorter. Communication will be easier because there will be no language barrier between you and the supplier. This could yield to fewer errors and mistakes. Additionally, the quality of manufacturing should be higher. The two biggest disadvantages include the limited amount of products to choose from and their higher costs. There are fewer products being made in America than overseas in places like China or India. And, due to the higher quality of products and better labor laws here, the price of goods will be much higher.

domestic wholesale clothing suppliers

Advantages and disadvantages of overseas wholesale clothing suppliers

The other option available for you is overseas manufacturing. This one too comes with a few advantages of its own such as lower manufacturing costs. This is especially true if you compare it to manufacturers in America. That’s unfortunately due to lower labor standards and lower quality products. On the plus side, there are a lot of wholesale supplier to choose from, especially clothing suppliers. Because of services like Aliexpress, it’s easy to get started working with overseas suppliers.

Some of other disadvantages include longer shipping time. Most of these manufacturers are in China. It’s going to take longer to deliver the product to your customer in North America. You might occasionally run into issues with customs too. You won’t be able to visit the manufacturers in person, at least not cheaply. Verifying products could be a big hassle if not a big problem. Cultural differences and language barriers could cause more errors, mistakes and headaches for you.

Where to search for a supplier?

The best way to start your search for a supplier is through free online directories. This is true for both domestic and overseas supplier. As far as domestic directories I recommend getting started with Maker’s RowThomasNetlet’s make it here, or Sqetch. If you’re interested in overseas supplier you could start with Alibaba and IndiaMart. However, I highly recommend using AliExpress for a drop shipping businesses. They have a very good list of wholesale clothing suppliers. You can read more about how to find the best possible supplier for your here. They have over 700,000 suppliers from Asia and millions of products to choose from.

aliexpress wholesale clothing suppliers

Another thing you can try is just using Google. Most of the suppliers’ websites are old and outdated. Google rewards websites that are constantly updated so the manufacturers will be buried. That’s why they won’t rank high on a search. You will have to dig deep into page 5 or 6 of your search to find anything useful. I don’t recommend doing this unless you have plenty of time and patience.

If you’re still unsure about where to find a supplier try relying on referrals and the word of mouth. If you know people in the business ask them for recommendations. Contact people who might be able to help you, even if you don’t know them personally. People are always willing to help if you know how to ask them. If you’re sill uncomfortable in reaching out you can try online forms. Also, do some research on social media as well. There is already plenty of information out there for you to read.

If you’ve got the time and the money you might consider going to trade shows. It’s just one more option for you to look into. 10times and Trade Show News Network will help locate a trade show in your area. You can go and check out the individual wholesalers in person. You can speak with their representatives. It will be an opportunity to network and sample some products. Who knows who you might meet at such events?

How do you request a quote?

Once you’ve picked a supplier you need to find out if they can in fact deliver. Your first communication with the supplier is likely going to be a request for quotation. Request for quotation, RFQ, is the name of the game with wholesale suppliers of any kind. It’s the only way to find out the prices from a supplier; you’ll get the hang of it very quickly because you will be doing it often. Basically, you’re sending an email asking how much something is based on the quantity you want to buy. However, nothing is this simple. You should treat it as a serious business inquiry instead of an IM between you and the supplier. You should plan your email to get the best possible response.  Don’t waste your time by going back and forth on missing pieces of information.

You want to be informed on a few things starting with the supplier’s minimum order quantity, MOQ. This differs from supplier to supplier. You need to know if you can afford and handle the minimum quantity they are selling. The other most important question you need to ask: how much their products will cost you. Most suppliers do high discount pricing for higher quantity orders. Ask for the price of various quantities to get a feel for their production pricing.

rfq wholesale clothing suppliersNext, you need to find out the turnaround time and shipping terms. Timing is everything in a drop shipping business. How long does it take them to ship the item to your customer is important. You need to know if an item will take a long time to ship, or not. Additionally, you’ll also need to ask about their payment terms to make sure you’re okay with how they charge for their products. As with everything, it varies from supplier to supplier. You don’t want to be surprised about how they expect you to pay for the inventory.

The very last thing you want to ask is about their samples. Some suppliers provide discounted rates for them, some don’t. It’s important to ask and to order some if you can afford it. This way, you’ll get a feel for the products you will be selling to your own customer. This last step of contacting the supplier for an RFQ will ultimately let you judge them to be a good fit for you. If they are not, move on to the next one, there are plenty to choose from.

Now you know how to find wholesale clothing supplier!

Getting started with a wholesale clothing supplier will need to happen sooner than later. It’s a matter of doing your due diligence and researching the suppliers on various platforms. After all, you need to find the perfect one. The one that will supply you the products you want for the right price. It’s a lot of screening, but it’s all worth it in the end when you’ll have happy paying customers.

  • Marta Katina

    Well, your advices is really useful. But I really doubt that the best place for wholesale purchasing is Alibaba. Yes, you can find there a lot of examples and deals, but most of them are China based, small or medium businesses. Many of them have a lack of business culture and international experience. Simply there is way to much different representatives. I’ve been working in this business for a couple of years and there is a lot of problems when you try to deal with small wholesale clothing outlet that is from Alibaba.

  • Emily Wilson

    While Alibaba and AliExpress are two obvious places to look for manufacturers. You should ask yourself if you want to be in the business of designing and making clothes, or are you in the business of selling clothes. When you’re dealing with factories, you need to give them designs, specs, fits, find a way to control quality, and do this continuously as your store(s) will constantly need new styles. To many small businesses that might sound like overkill, and it is. You’re just looking for a product to sell. Leave the production to the people who are experts in production, and just focus on the selling and retailing. You’ll probably have your hands full, just with that. I do web outreach for Spring Import, a NY based apparel company that manufactures, imports and wholesales women’s clothing to boutiques and major retailers. Check us out at https://www.springimport.com where we have an online wholesale catalog that we update with new styles every 4-6 weeks.

  • TranVu. Chinh

    Hi Emily,
    Your article is quite helpful.
    We are H.A fashion company, specializing in manufacturing and export of knit and woven products such as: blazers, coats, jackets, t-shirts, shirts, dresses, skirts, blouses and tops, pants and trousers, etc.
    Please visit us at the website http://www.hafashion.com.vn to review.

    If you need business or working partner from Vietnam, please contact us.
    If you are looking for factory for your designs from sample to bulk production, please feel free to contact us.

    Tran Chinh
    Email: tranvufam@gmail.com
    Skype: chinh.tranvu
    Cell: +84-983253618
    WhatsApp: +84-914556347
    Website: http://www.hafashion.com.vn

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