The wholesale distribution industry makes about $5.6 trillion dollars a year. They’re not making that money off of your typical customers. They’re making it off of small businesses like yours.

Even if you’re online only, there are wholesale distributors willing to work with you. The trouble is finding them.

The global b2b marketplace is like a secret realm hidden from the average customer’s eyes like the wizarding world is to muggle eyes. But look in the right places and you’ll find all the help you need.

If you want to know how to find the right wholesaler for your business, keep scrolling.

1. Start at the Source

You might be able to skip the middleman. Some companies refuse to work with small businesses directly. These companies get better deals when working with distributors.

You’d be surprised at how many companies are willing to work with you directly. Unless you sell only one type of product, you will need to keep up with multiple manufacturers. If you’re willing to do the work, this could save you a pretty penny.

2. Know Thy Distribution Channels

Not all wholesalers are the same. Some serve different markets than others. This is why you need to research your industry’s common supply chains and distribution channels.

There are four kinds of distribution channels:

Wholesaler/Regional Distributor: These are the middle-middlemen. They are regional distributors who sell to local wholesalers who in turn sell to small businesses.

Manufacturer: This is fairly self-explanatory. You can sometimes buy directly from them.

Jobbers: These are individuals. They make deliveries daily to local stores.

Importer: These companies secure the right to import products to a certain country. Often they’re the sole importer. If you’re sourcing from other countries, you might have to go through one of these importers.

3. Make Your Online Searches More Specific

Use keywords from your product or niche. Don’t just search for “wholesalers” and expect to find businesses willing to work with you.

Use specific product names. Find model numbers. Use brand names.

You can even find manufacturer information by using the WHOIS search. This might cost some money, but it’s worth it in the long run.

You want to take your time with this. Find as many wholesalers as you can so you can compare options.

4. Check the Major B2B Marketplaces

There are some common B2B marketplaces where you might find some clues. Checking places like Alibaba for manufacturers and their distributors will help you find wholesalers willing to work with you.

5. Get Connected in Your Industry

Industry groups are like special clubs. People within those clubs like to share information especially when the conversations is lubricated by a bit of alcohol. Attend industry meetings and talk to industry leaders.

You can also check out various online forums and find free or cheap information. Build your network through sites like LinkedIn and be sure to blog there as well to get feedback.

Just get out there and start searching. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. That’s how you learn to do business. You eventually learn to minimize risk by taking risks.

By Ben Mattice

Benjamin Mattice is a freelance writer/editor, horror and sci-fi writer, SEO and affiliate marketing newbie, dog wrestler, cat wrangler, capoeirista, and long distance runner. He lives in the Palouse with his wife, three dogs, two cats, and two rats. Yes, that would probably be considered a mini-zoo.