9 Strategies for working with Providers

I found my third ecommerce venture, My Wedding Decor, in April. Since that time, I have been working with over 40 wedding-product providers. Here is what I’ve learned up to now.

1. Maintain your positioning

It’s much easier to pitch to potential providers if you keep focused on your distinctive product positioning. By way of instance, I sell personalized, unique, and unusual wedding decoration products in 11 themes. By maintaining this positioning, it makes it much easier to pursue, or reject, possible products. While not every piece must be a conversation starter on my site, many products which are generally sold all over the Internet become generic, which means that you can compete only on price. I don’t sell these kinds of products.

2. Your first interaction Provides you clues

Part of building a brand new online shop requires cold contacting a vast selection of possible suppliers. You’ll find a sense of what they’re like to work with from your first interactions.

You will find many who are only too delighted to work with you, which bodes well for collaboration. Watch out, however, if they are slow to give prompt responses, pictures, product information, or shipping prices. It might mean they do not treat your business with adequate respect, they are understaffed, or they are disorganized.

I tend to steer clear of businesses that don’t record their owners’ names in the About Us section. What have they got to hide?

3. Keep communicating

How can you communicate with your providers, and how often? Have you got a separate monthly newsletter setup to contact them? It is worth sending providers a routine update of their products on your website, as well as hearing about new items they have introduced. When they don’t hear from you through a newsletter — or until your order arrives — they could forget you exist. They may also discontinue their product range without telling you. I learned this the hard way.

Within six weeks of including a supplier’s wedding merchandise, and getting an order for it yesterday, I was angry to discover that the proprietor (a) had hurt his shoulder and (b) managed to satisfy my order just after emailing him, so disappointing my client.

4. Follow them on Social Networking

If you do not disclose your providers, you might prefer to follow and enjoy them with your own social networking accounts instead of your business’s. Facebook is a fantastic way to discover your providers’ new product launches and how their clients react to them. It may also give you ideas about future projects together.

5. Seek multiple suppliers

As I have learned, it isn’t prudent to have all of one product type come from one supplier. A provider can shut, suffer ill health, don’t get its supplies in time, service restricted locations, or don’t ship timely during peak periods. Bad weather may also affect reliable shipping turnarounds.

6. Consider currency rates

It can be tricky to arrive at similar price comparisons because of currency fluctuations. For my U.K. providers, I double what they charge me in British pounds to get there at Australian dollars. For American providers, I split American dollars by three-quarters. For European providers, I divide characters in Euros by two-thirds to reach Australian dollars. All this is before delivery and markup. There are a few foreign wedding products I’d really like to market, but with with a reduction, the exchange rate, markup, and shipping prices make them out of range for the majority of my customers.

Wherever possible, I supply locally in Australia. Nevertheless, however, if your currency rate changes in your favor for a limited time, you can purchase in bulk from different nations, turn a bigger profit, or offer your customers a special deal. In September 2014 throughout the Scottish referendum, by way of instance, the exchange rate changed from GBP 0.51 to GBP 0.58 from the Aussie dollar.

7. Keep flexible with order fulfillment

Many suppliers won’t ship outside their own country. I sell to Australian couples. Yet I try to not be so ironclad about my delivery coverage that I shed overseas sales. I meet certain orders depending in which the clients — and providers — reside. By way of instance, I sold wedding figurines to a Kentucky-based client because the provider is based in the U.S.

8. Monitor shipping prices

Oftentimes, shipping will cost more than the thing itself. Some of my providers offer free shipping, others charge a flat rate, and others in the U.S. charge so much to send to Australia it is cheaper to make them send it to my shipping forwarder in Oregon. Shipping from England to Australia is relatively less expensive. Although it’s impossible to do this for personalized products, for the more popular non-personalized things I will buy them in larger quantities to bring the delivery prices down.

9. Make your own products

If you enjoy providing unusual products, consider designing your own. There are lots of do-it-yourself videos on YouTube and step-by-step procedures on Pinterest for interesting things. You may be blessed with retired parents that are good at crafts, a neighbor with a workbench, or possibly a friend with spare time prepared to assist you create some things, even as samples. This enables you to test the current market, without outlaying great amounts on readymade products.


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