The Science of Contacting Suppliers and Manufacturers as a Business

Your first email to a supplier or manufacturer lays the groundwork for strong relationships with your small business distributor. It is all about making a good first impression and showing you are serious about working with them. But how do you do that?

Delve into this article on contacting suppliers that align with your business model. As a bonus, we’ll share a prompt you can use in your preferred AI text-generation tool to craft a professional email that will get a response.

Quick Answer to Contacting Small Business Distributors

TL;DR? Here’s a quick summary of the key points.

Suppliers are business owners too, seeking more sales, less risk, and reliable payments, just like you. The risk appetite for suppliers depends on four things:

The size of the order in dollar terms The past relationship with the buyer The payment terms for the order (upfront payment equals lower risk) The size, reputation, and seriousness of the buyer.

For new businesses, getting suppliers on board is simply a matter of reducing their exposure to risk. The easiest way to do this is by offering to pay upfront. Suppliers are primarily concerned with timely payments rather than the scale or longevity of your business.

Besides upfront payments, you can also show your legitimacy by:

Using a company email address (“” instead of “”) Having a website. Consider Instant Site to have it up and running fast Registering your business and obtaining the required tax identification numbers Using a professional tone in your emails Knowing what you want. Being clueless is a clear sign of an amateur business owner.

Experienced business owners may wish to highlight their industry expertise and track record. If this resonates with you, consider sharing references to showcase your capabilities, for example:

Displaying any awards or recognition received within your industry Providing testimonials from satisfied partners (such as other manufacturers or suppliers) Sharing statistics or data that demonstrate the effectiveness of your business.

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Identifying Key Small Business Distributors

Let’s identify the different players within the realm of small business distributors.

Wholesale suppliers are companies that sell products in bulk to other businesses rather than individual consumers. Such small business distributors often offer discounted prices and require a minimum order quantity.

Manufacturers are the ones responsible for creating the products being sold by wholesale suppliers. They may also have their own online store or physical store selling directly to consumers. They can also act as small business distributors, selling their products to other businesses.

Dropshippers are similar to wholesalers, but they do not hold inventory. Instead, they fulfill orders on behalf of retailers and ship directly to customers. They also can act as small business distributors, selling products to other businesses at discounted prices.

Now that you know who the main small business distributors are, let’s dive into how you can effectively work with them as a small business owner.

How to Approach Wholesale Suppliers

In the wholesale model, you buy products from a large supplier at low rates and then sell them to customers at retail rates. Wholesalers might carry a single product type (such as socks) or a range of products from different brands.

The wholesaler’s risk is almost non-existent since you are paying upfront for the product.

For some wholesalers, it doesn’t matter whether you have a great website or no website. As long as the seller gets paid, they’ll happily work with you.

In fact, a number of wholesalers even operate online stores. You can buy from these stores just as you would buy from Amazon.

The shopping process is the same as any ecommerce store. You can add the product to your cart, enter your shipping details, and make the payment. Your business details may not even be requested.

However, not every wholesaler operates the same way. Some operate a customer-facing website where you can order limited quantities (as low as one item) at retail prices. To get wholesale rates, you have to create a “wholesale” account. This often requires submitting your tax information.

For example, Shadow Shifter, a US manufacturer, requires you to have to create a wholesale account to get wholesale prices. You can also buy smaller quantities, but you’ll have to pay retail prices for it.

Shadow Shifter, a t-shirt wholesaler, requires sales tax documents to access wholesale pricing

You need a sales tax document to create a wholesale account at Shadow Shifter. However, such requirements will vary from supplier to supplier and country to country. Consult your country’s local tax laws on how to get a tax number.

Some wholesalers don’t offer online ordering, and only a few provide their best rates and sales terms online. In such cases, you have to communicate with wholesalers directly and strike a deal. Here’s how to do it.

1. Make a List of Wholesale Suppliers

Step one is to find several target wholesalers. In the US, you can use websites like WholesaleCentral and TopTenWholesale to find wholesale suppliers.

You can also use Trade Show News Network’s search to find trade shows and visit suppliers in person during the events.

2. Filter Reliable Suppliers

Before you start communicating with wholesalers, evaluate whether they fit your requirements and standards:

Check whether they have the products you want Check to see if they’ve mentioned their minimum order quantities (MOQ) and prices. They’re usually negotiable, though Check their reviews on Better Business Bureau or similar platforms by searching for the company name (for US, Canada, or Mexico-based businesses) Google their company name to check for fraud reports, reviews, and comments from existing customers.

Once you are fairly certain you’re dealing with a reputable company, proceed to the next step.

3. Communicate Your Requirements to a Supplier

This is where most new entrepreneurs hesitate, especially if they don’t have a website or store.

The key is exuding confidence. It shines through the length, tone, and content of your communication. Ensure your messages are concise and precise, demonstrating your clarity of purpose.

There are a few tactics you can use to make your emails more persuasive:

Order volume: Wholesalers are a volume business. The higher the volume you buy, the more negotiating power you have. Ask for prices for a range of order quantities (say, 100-10,000). Don’t email yourself: Most larger retail businesses have purchasing agents to handle procurement. In your email, identify yourself as “purchase manager” or “purchase agent” instead of “founder/CEO”. Use a company email address: Even if you don’t have a website yet, you can still get a custom business email address at your own domain (like “”) using services like Google Workspace.

Once you have the information you need, you can negotiate for better terms such as Net-30 payments (i.e., payment for goods after 30 days of receipt) or lower prices for higher order volumes.

Wholesalers sometimes offer drop shipping services as well. In the next section, we’ll show you how to deal with them.

Prompt for Writing a Compelling Email to a Manufacturer

To make writing an email to a manufacturer easier, here is the prompt you can use in your preferred AI text generation tool:

Act as a small business owner. Compose a professional email to a supplier expressing interest in procuring some products they have to offer. The email should begin with a brief introduction of your business [business name] as well as your position, followed by a request for information on the availability and pricing of a select product [items]. Be sure to ask about minimum order quantities, manufacturing lead times, and delivery schedules for the products mentioned, ensuring that the tone of the email remains professional and concise. Highlight your interest in establishing a lasting business relationship with the supplier and that you will be grateful for any useful information they can extend.

Here’s an example of what you can get with this prompt:

Use it as a template for your emails and customize it as needed.

How to Approach Dropshipping Suppliers

Dropshipping is when you act as the retail arm of a manufacturer or wholesaler. Instead of buying and stocking products yourself, you only sell them to customers. Your dropshipping partner takes care of fulfilling the order, usually under your own brand name.

On paper, the higher involvement of drop shippers means higher requirements from retailers. In reality, the intense competition among drop shippers means that drop shippers have to fight hard to win over retailers.

This intense competition has led to the fragmentation of the market into two categories. This brings us to the first tip.

1. Understand Who You’re Dealing with

The options include drop shipping aggregators and wholesale drop shippers.

Dropshipping aggregators are websites that give you access to hundreds of dropshipping suppliers from a single platform. Examples include Syncee, Spocket, Sup Dropshipping, Doba, SaleHoo, etc.

These aggregators usually charge an upfront fee to access the suppliers. They also offer plugins and APIs to easily import products into your store.

Here are a few things you must know about dealing with drop shipping aggregators:

Easy sign-up: Aggregators are easy to sign up with and require only an email. You don’t have to have a store, website, or even a business email to get started. Higher prices: Since you can’t negotiate with individual suppliers, you will have to pay the fixed price offered by the aggregator. This usually means higher prices and, thus, lower profit margins. Monthly fee: Most aggregators charge a monthly fee. This can eat into your margins if you’re just starting.

Dropshipping aggregators are an easy way to start selling. However, they should only be used as a stop-gap approach. Once you have a proper store and a sales history, it is better to approach individual drop shippers and get better deals.

Wholesale drop shippers are wholesalers offering drop shipping services to a select few retailers. The vast majority of drop shippers fall in this category. They usually cover a single product type, such as knives or sports gear.

To work with these drop shippers, you’ll have to create a wholesale account and provide your business information. You only access the catalog after the drop shipper approves your account.

Most small-time drop shippers do this to discourage one-time bargain hunters. Some drop shippers like MagnumTuning even mention this on their website:

MagnumTuning requires approval for each application to discourage discount shoppers

Many drop shippers will happily waive off approval requirements if you place a large initial order or send them deposit money. Having a seller’s permit or sales tax number is also helpful.

While the signup process is harder, you get much better rates than drop shipping aggregators.

In some industries, such as print-on-demand, drop shippers have easier requirements. For example, Printful gives free access to any retailer regardless of volume (and integrates with Ecwid.)

Product types you can drop ship with Ecwid and Printful

If you’re using Ecwid, you can use the WholesaleB2B app to make integration with drop shippers easier. Or, check out other dropshipping services that can be integrated with your Ecwid store.

2. Ask the Right Questions

Here are a few questions you can add to the email template shown above if you contact a potential drop shipper:

What are your shipping costs and policies? What kind of payment methods do you accept? Do you offer an API or automated method to place new orders? What brand name will the order be shipped under? Will your (the drop shipper’s) name appear on the packaging? How long does processing and shipping an order to {your primary market} take? Can I use your product images and descriptions on my website? What kind of tax information and permits do you require from retailers? What is your policy for damaged and returned products?

In addition to wholesalers and drop shippers, sourcing products directly from manufacturers is also a viable option.

How to Approach Manufacturers

Manufacturers are companies that can:

Help you make your own products, or Sell you their manufactured products at wholesale prices.

Manufacturers differ from wholesalers and drop shippers because they have high order requirements and significantly lower prices. Since each order is made from scratch, most manufacturers require an upfront payment to cover the manufacturing cost.

The upfront payment means that most manufacturers are very flexible in who they work with. The nature of manufacturing also attracts many entrepreneurs trying out new ideas who might not have websites or sales.

As a result, most manufacturers are easy to work with if you meet their minimum order requirements.

There are a few things you should keep in mind when approaching them.

1. Ask about MOQ and Deposit

Manufacturing costs go down as the volume increases. MOQ, minimum order quantity, is one of the most essential metrics when dealing with manufacturers.

Ask about the manufacturer’s MOQ in the first email you send them. Don’t waste time dealing with a manufacturer with a higher MOQ than your requirements.

When browsing Alibaba, one of the most popular B2B ecommerce platforms for global trade, you’ll notice manufacturers typically display their minimum order quantity directly on their profile.

Most manufacturers on Alibaba will show their MOQ on the product page

Some manufacturers might be wary of dealing with new businesses only interested in the minimum possible order volume. To avoid this problem, ask for prices for various order volumes (say, MOQ to 50,000 units).

Additionally, ask about the initial deposit the manufacturer needs to initiate production, including details on the refund procedure in case of disputes.

2. Ask about Manufacturing Capacity, Shipping, and Packaging

Manufacturing capacity means the maximum amount of products a manufacturer can produce in a given time period. This is an important factor to consider when choosing a supplier, as it will affect lead times and production timelines.

Inquire about the shipping options available from the manufacturer. Depending on your needs, you may want to choose between air or sea freight, or even expedited shipping for urgent orders.

Packaging is another crucial aspect to discuss with potential suppliers. Make sure to ask about their standard packaging options and if they offer custom packaging at an additional cost. It’s also important to clarify who is responsible for packaging and labeling the products before shipment.

Include the following questions in your email:

The number of pieces they can manufacture in a day Where the products will be shipped from/shipped to Expected shipping time and carriers used What kind of packaging do they use Any customization (on packaging or product) offered Extra value-added services (such as Amazon FBA selling) offered.

3. Ask for Samples

A reputable business always requests product samples before selecting a manufacturer. In your email, make sure to ask for a product sample. This will not only help you evaluate the manufacturer but also show that you are serious about the business.

4. Ask for Details about the Company and the Factory

When considering a manufacturer, gather as much information about the company and its factory. This will give you a better understanding of their capabilities, quality control processes, and overall reputation.

Some questions to include in your email are:

How long has the company been in business? What is the size of their factory and production capacity? Do they have any certifications or audits? Can they provide references from previous clients? What steps do they take for quality control during production?

It’s also worth mentioning that conducting a virtual factory tour can give you even more insight into the manufacturing process and its facilities. This may not always be possible, but it can be a valuable step if feasible.

Another crucial factor to consider is communication. Ask how often they will update your product’s production status and how quickly they respond to inquiries or concerns.

To Sum Up

Thorough research and clear communication are vital to selecting a small business distributor. As you continue your search, keep the questions above in mind, and don’t hesitate to ask potential partners for clarification or further information.

Whether you are looking for a wholesale supplier, a dropship supplier, or a manufacturer, trust is paramount in any business relationship. Show that you are a legitimate and professional business owner, and you’ll be able to build trust with your partners and increase the chances of successful collaborations. This opens the door to lasting partnerships and exciting growth opportunities for your business.


Supplier, Manufacturer, Vendor, and Distributor: Definitions & Differences How to Find Distributors for Your Product How To Find a Manufacturer for Your Product Idea Where to Find a Wholesale Supplier for Your Online Store The Science of Contacting Suppliers When You’re Starting a Business How to Find the Right Supplier on AliExpress How to Choose a Clothing Manufacturer Finding the Right Furniture Manufacturer How to Choose Plastic Suppliers Connecting With Cosmetics Manufacturers How to Find the Best Toy Manufacturers What Are Private Label Manufacturers How to Get Companies to Send You Tools (Samples) for Free Understanding Supplier Code of Conduct How to Evaluate Supplier Performance Strategies for Managing Supplier Relations How to Be a Good Distributor

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