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How to Contact Wholesale Suppliers and Build your Amazon Business
To sell wholesale goods in your shop on the Amazon platform, you need wholesale suppliers to purchase these goods. Below you’ll find a summary of a successful pattern which we use in contacting wholesale distributors so as to utilize the list of these wholesale companies you work with to the fullest.
Your list of Wholesale Suppliers
First of all, the list of companies you have is of huge value. You either bought that list or took a lot of time to compile this list looking for these companies and if you did the latter, you know by now it does take hours and hours of work for several months to create a decent list of wholesale companies to contact. Hence, every company name on that list represents a certain value and it should not be wasted. Keep that in mind while reading this and exploit that potential value as much as possible.
So, what are you looking for to sell? Small products? Medium size products? What price range? $20 to $50? $100? $500? An even higher price range? Name that precisely for yourself, so you spend your time and/or money properly. In a nutshell, get a list of wholesale suppliers that you can work with! (And just as an advice, when you just start with the FBA Wholesale model, don’t sell products above $100 but get your feet wet with products that cost between $25 and $75.)
How to keep track of things
Keep track of your contacts from day one. This is vital when you work with your list of suppliers. We have attached an example of a grid here which you should take a look at, so you understand what is referred to from now on as your “tracking grid”. This is just an example, so make your own, as long as you keep track of things, that’s the whole point here. Preferably, you create it in Excel and put your list of wholesalers on that grid.
Now it is time to start contacting companies and while doing so, you log every action in your tracking grid. Every time a wholesale company answers you, you log it as well, so there is a record of companies you contacted by email that is immediately visible to you and also shows if they answered you or not. Like this, you are able to select all the companies from your tracking grid that did not answer, and you can address that issue with the proper action: contact them again! Don’t waste your list but use it for blood! Not all companies will answer you the first time you contact them by email (our conversion rate on our first email is 25%, which is actually really good by the way).
Many do answer, but don’t forget, many suppliers are part of a wholesale directory and get a flood of emails every single day from Amazon sellers and the like! And a lot of people that contact them are simply not very professional in their approach. So, stand out and keep contacting them until they answer! Besides that, Amazon.com alone has 2 million+ resellers that are all looking for great wholesale products, so wholesalers are flooded with emails every single day. (If you want to know more about standing out in your emails, click the link here to find out more.)
The Sequence when using your Tracking Grid
If you found all companies on your grid by hand through Google and scraping wholesale directories, your grid will have companies with email addresses and without email addresses. Separate/select all companies with an email address, which is easy to do when you have your grid in an Excel format. You contact the wholesale distributors with an email address as the first thing. Now, why is that?
You can communicate your message properly presenting yourself (listen to one of our podcasts on the matter of sending and tracking proper emails here or here) and ask the distributor/supplier what is needed and wanted from you to become a reseller, while at the same time you also bring up what you need: their SKU list, so you can decide what is profitable enough to purchase by using services like AMZanalyzer or Wholesale Inspector. More information on why you need their SKU list, what must be in that SKU list, the format of it and the use of it can be found here.
Once you have worked out the text of your email, get that sent out to all email addresses on your grid. (NOTE: Do not do huge mailings such as 200 and above in one go, because, remember, you need to deal with the answers you will receive within 24 hours! So do not send more than 100 emails a day to begin with, or you will end up overwhelmed by the influx of answers! Keep an eye on your response rate, so you have an idea of how many answers you get from these wholesale suppliers and answer these with no delay [that is very important]. Then send the next batch of emails, etc. If your email text is appealing to them, the answers will come in quite fast.)
Keep logging all the time…
Remember to log all your emails that were sent in your tracking grid. You log them with a date of sending. And as you get answers you log these as well with the date of the answer. It is taking some getting used to, but not that much if every time you answer a reply from a company, you log it in your tracking grid: received and answered, it’s no big deal, but extremely worthwhile in the long run. After a month you can find the companies that did not answer and do a second mailing. We always waited 3 weeks or more before we were sending them the next email. You can take the same email you sent before and simply send it again.
They didn’t answer, so what now?
After having sent the same letter twice, create another email. It is up to you on how you phrase that next email. You might want to simplify it a bit. Or even say that you have previously written and have not gotten an answer yet. Just pay attention to how you phrase it because you do not want them to think you accuse them of being unresponsive of course! Just be smart about that. And remember to log those emails as well.
Once a wholesale company sends you their SKU list with wholesale products/items, you do not have to keep track anymore of any communication with them on your tracking grid. After all, you now got what you needed: they answered your email and, most importantly, they have sent you their SKU list so you can now purchase from them! From now on, you keep track of any communication with them in a CRM system (Client Relationship Management system) like Hubspot.
If there are still empty cells in the row with the name of a company in your tracking grid to put dates for outgoing and incoming mail and you have received a SKU list, you fill them up with “XXX”-s or something of your choosing. This is important when you want to see immediately on your grid who has not yet answered your email (these will have empty cells). The empty/blank cells in your Excel grid are the sign of no answer and in this way, they are very easy to see.
Log all known data in colors
It is also useful to log the wholesale suppliers that send you their SKU list as well as logging the companies that have no SKU list. Last but not least, it is also important to log the wholesale distributors that do not want you to sell on Amazon. A proven method is to mark the rows in your spreadsheet of the companies with a SKU list received in green. You mark the ones that have no SKU list or are not approving you to sell on Amazon in red. That marks a closed account (closed for now, but to pick up again later, in a year or so. Things change: a company is a “no go” today and 6 months later has created their SKU list or the company has changed its Amazon policy).
You can see this coloring system in the example of the spreadsheet above and you can see immediately which accounts still need to be addressed and which don’t. The whole point of this tracking grid is to reach these wholesale companies and do business with them and with as many as possible that qualify for your Amazon store. But remember, and I can’t stress this enough, it takes persistence in some cases!
What if you don’t have the email address of a wholesale distributor?
If your research done online (or the list with wholesalers) did not reveal an email address for a company, you at least should find their contact page on their website. You also put those on your Excel grid and since you haven’t worked on these yet, you will have empty cells because you haven’t contacted them yet. So, your next step is to contact these wholesalers through their website.
Most websites have a contact page and you can leave a little message behind for their sales department. Say you want to contact them to see if you can purchase goods from them in the near future. Tell them you would like to get a written answer back as to what forms they need you to fill out to become a reseller, so you can sent them these things.
The contact page on websites usually have a field where you need to leave your phone number. You really have no choice but to leave your number and this will generate phone calls back to you. However, speaking to them on the phone before you have even checked the products on their SKU list for profitability, is useless when you do this model. You will get a salesman on the phone trying to sell you products they want to sell to you, but until your own verification of the products on their SKU list is complete, you will not be able to give them a definitive answer on what you want to purchase.
So, avoid long phone calls. They are a waste of your time. But, usually, you will get more response when you are approaching a company through the Contact Page on their website. And don’t forget to mark your grid after sending them a message.
What to do when they reply
When wholesalers write back to you after receiving the message you left on their Contact Page, you let them know that you are interested to purchase goods from their company, that you want to become a reseller for them and you ask them what forms you need to fill out for them. And, again, log the fact that they replied in your grid and keep going until you have received their SKU list.
Worth mentioning also is that not all SKU lists will have profitable products. So, verifying if the products of a wholesaler are profitable for you is vital. And, needless to say, BEFORE you even purchase something, you should check if you can even add it to your Seller Central account. Are you gated? Don’t purchase! And another thing to keep in mind is the reviews on profitable products. If they are below 2.5 stars, expect a lot of returned products that will cut into your profit margin. But purchasing is a subject we will cover elsewhere on fba.cafe!
Nobody’s home… What now?
When companies do not respond to your emails and/or messages, the next step is to check if you can open an account on their website. If you found that option and you set up a wholesale account, write to them you have done so and follow up from there and follow the steps as mentioned above. If even that doesn’t work or they do not have the possibility for you to open an account, you could give them a call.
But before you do that, check who they are on their website, so you have some idea of who they are and what they do and present yourself as a professional and tell them you want to become a reseller of their products, ask them for their SKU list, etc. But usually, we do not call wholesale distributors to get an account. It is just too time-consuming. Stick with email and you will get enough of them to call you.
Once you have done all the above, put that list aside for 3 to 6 months or even for a year. Pick it up later and contact the companies marked in red and the ones that did not answer despite all your efforts. Things might have changed!
A last word…
What it boils down to is this: Utilize your list for blood! Log the emails that you have send (the date) in your tracking grid so you can then do all the steps mentioned above. And keep this in mind: Many companies do not have a SKU list. Many do not want you to sell online or on Amazon (sometimes because they do that themselves and do not want any competition from you or anybody else and to tell you the truth, that makes sense from their viewpoint). And the fact that you got your hands on a list of 1,000 wholesale suppliers does not mean that you will get SKU list from every single company. Unfortunately, this is not the case. If you get 100 SKU lists out of 1,000 contacts, you are doing more than fine.
Last but not least, to get one really good SKU list with profitable products on it, you might need to get 10 or 20 SKU lists that are less interesting for you because there is not enough profitable products on it or products are gated, etc. Understand that you do need to do the work to get profitable SKU lists. This is why keeping track of every single wholesale distributor on your list is of the utmost importance because maybe a supplier with a good profitable list is not answering your first email! In fact, in our own Amazon business, we have seen this over and over again. When you know that and act accordingly, you will get the hang of this game and eventually become successful.
To your success!