Quality is of paramount importance in any product that you sell. Do you use a dropshipper? If so, you're dependent upon unforseen forces, which control you, the quality of your product line and you're at the sheer mercy of the dropshipper when it comes down to your customer receiving their product in a timely manner.
Never let anyone be your eyes when it comes to selecting your product line. Select every item you sell by using your senses! Touching a product, holding it in your hands (and examining that product) is the first step to ensuring that your customers get the very best. Use a dropshipper and you'll find ZERO consistency in your product line. You'll also find very little consistency in shipping times as well.
If you send a shotty product to your customer - it's an absolute insult. On top that, send it late and that's the injury. Insult and injury leads to Bad Feedback and a very low customer retention rate.
In the jewelry trade, we have to examine every single item (every stone) and we have feel the metal and examine the gallery of a ring to ensure it's up to OUR quality. If it's not, it's NOT sold. In order to ensure high quality standards, we examine every item three times before it is shipped. We use three pairs of eyes, not just one! It's important to have three set of eyes examining every item, as what one person may miss the other two may find.
We receive (from time to time) substandard product, which just has to be disposed of. We won't sell it (or even give it away) as we can't. Sell a few sub-standard pieces and you risk losing a customer, or two, or three or more.
Those who enter the world eBay should take heed to NOT just use a dropshipper and/or let anyone control the quality of your product line.
Customers will keep coming back to you if you do NOT go the "automated" business route. There are NO shortcuts to running a business operation. Yes, it takes time to find the best possible product and it takes time to examine that product and ship it to your customers. However, the alternative is opening a buisness on eBay and then shutting your doors just as quickly, as the product via a dropshipper and their shipping timeframe is not what you had in mind.
The message boards are riddled with dropshipper horror stories. It would seem that many more hours are expended in dealing with "dropshipper problems" then would be if the seller had actually taken the time to find their OWN product line and shipped their OWN product line. The point is..NEVER GIVE UP CONTROL!
In addition, most of those use dropshippers are selling the same products over and over again. The market is just full of the same products over and over again. Who's getting rich in this scenario? The dropshipper. What a great business model. Sell your product through the sweat and strain of others.
What about those claiming to be online wholesaler's?
If you have surfed the net looking for wholesalers, you've undoubtedly come across sites which require a monthly member fee or even a one time fee to join in order to gain access to information (lists of wholesalers). However, when you join these sites and spend the money -what do you find? Is the information (the coveted list) of any use? The answer is usually "no".
What you do find out is that you just spent money finding out information, which is readily available and FREE on the internet.
Here's some FREE advice. Do a search using the keyword "wholesaler" and a whole list of sites claiming to sell "wholesale" will pop up by the hundreds. But ,do they really and truly sell product at wholesale prices?
First, let's look at what the definition of a wholesaler is:
A merchant middleman who sells chiefly to retailers, other merchants, or industrial, institutional, and commercial users mainly for resale or business use.
The above referenced definition is from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. The definition actually uses the words "merchant middleman". The simple truth is that anyone claiming to be a wholesaler is nothing more than a "merchant middleman". This means the wholesaler stands between you and the "true" wholesaler with a mark up and his hand out.
Where can you truly find product at wholesale prices? Trade shows. The answer is and always will be "trade shows". Yes, you can find product in eBay's Reseller Marketplace however, availability and a continued flow of product may not always be consistent. In addition, the Marketplace may not have the product available, which you prefer to sell.
However, go to a few trade shows and you'll not only learn more about the product line you wish to sell, you'll begin to forge ahead and cement the "ties that bind" with manufacturer's.
First, you have to have all your business ducks in a row. Set up a corporation, set up a business bank account and print out plenty of business cards. When you visit a trade show, you'll hand out dozens of business cards and you should present yourself as an established "registered" business.
Trade shows can last from just a few days to a full week and take place all over the globe. You might want to plan to attend a trade show in a locale, which has other attractions, as to combine a trade show experience with a short vacation.
Day one at a trade show should be a "walk about". In other words, walk up and down every aisle and put a check number next to the booth numbers, which look interesting to you. You will receive a trade show guide with an alphabetical listing of vendor names and associated booth numbers and applicable product lines.
Spend no more than a minute looking at any one booth of products, as you'll get back to that booth on day two and three.
Don't be afraid to pick up brochures and business cards during your "walk about" as you'll spend your evening time (on the first day) reviewing this information in preparation of your next few days of "vendor visits".
During day two, you'll focus your time on re-visiting vendor booths, which interested you during your first day "walk about". You will find that at some trade shows that more than a few vendors will annoy you by "barking" their product line as you walk you by. This may a clear sign that these vendors are NOT manufacturer's but, "merchant middlemen".
A manufacturer - a true source of product - rarely conducts themselves at trade shows in this fashion.
You can also weed out the merchant middlemen by checking out prices. You will normally find a few merchant middlemen selling the exact same product line at a trade show with varied price points. However, when you come across the main source of the same product line (at the very same trade show), the price will be greatly reduced and is usually accompanied by a discount and terms program.
Finding a trade show is easy. Do a Yahoo! search for a trade show in your product area of interest. If you want to sell home accessories, do a search for "Home Accessories Trade Shows" and you should luck out on your first try accessing a list of national and/or regional trade shows in your area.
Going back to registering your new business enterprise.
This is an important step in attending a trade show, as you may be asked for a copy of your business license or corporate documents when registering. Open a business checking account and bring corporate checks with you when attending a trade show.
Whatever you do, never attend a trade show, which opens its doors to the general public, as you'll be defeating the purpose of attending such a show. The vendors attending these types of shows open up the floor to the general public during the last show day and no doubt, have little incentive to offer a reseller a great deal. These shows are usually filled with "merchant middlemen".
When the trade show is only open to those in the business of buying and selling, the deals and price points are in line for reselling to the general public. The idea of a one day walk about (during a three day) event is useful in that during the last day, the deals and discounts get better, as those who are selling at wholesale, have paid to display their products for big bucks and are seeking to sell as much product as they can to recover trade show costs.
You'll find that trade shows for many product specific areas take place three to four times a year. Trade shows are scheduled just before upcoming holiday periods.
When you attend trade shows you may not only be able to purchase merchandise on the spot but, may also be allowed to take the merchandise with you. If you find a wholesaler or manufacturer who offers some great deals, size them up! Take nothing for granted. Make sure they are personable, will work with terms (up to 90 days out on payment for product) and can offer delivery guarantees. In some cases, it's best to buy even one or two products from a number of vendors at trade shows in order to forge several relationships.
Here's a tip about terms...
Bring your corporate checkbook and when you find a manufacturer with a great product line and bulk discounts, offer to write three checks for your merchandise order. They will RARELY refuse such a deal!
Let's say you're going to spend $3,000.00 with a specific supplier. Offer to write three checks. One for $1000.00 (which can be deposited immediately) and the other two for thirty and sixty days out from the date of sale. You have just bought yourself 60 full days to resell the merchandise! In addition, ask for a 10% discount!
Remember, when attending trade shows, you will be meeting sellers from all over the world.
Those who display at trade shows come from Japan, China, Thailand, India and other pacific-rim countries. Learn about their cultures, as this knowledge can go very far in developing firm (solid) working relationships.
Here's an example..
Manufacturer's from India are very attentive when selling their products at Trade Shows and they look kindly on those who buy at last one item (no matter how inexpensive or small), as a point of moving forward in cementing a long term business relationship. This overture of buying one small item instills a trust level and signals the beginning of a business relationship.
You will very, very rarely find manufacturer's at trade shows offering drop shipping and if you do, then expect to pay much more for the product line, as drop shippers make money not only on the product line but, through monthly membership fees and fees associated with shipping and handling.
Everyone is always looking for that "magic bullet" and the easy way to Easy Street. The very best first choice in establishing a continued source of "true" wholesale goods with manufacturer's and supplier's is the "Trade Show".
Other guides relating to jewelry and gemstone buying which you may find helpful are as follows: