If you are in the market for a place to source wholesale clothing there are a number of factors you are going to have to consider.
1) Quality: There are so many “sweat shop” quality brands on the market that it is hard to sort through the various different products available and know you are getting a good quality end result.
It’s not that the overseas manufacturers are not capable of creating quality garment it just depends on the specs that the vendor demands of the manufacturer. High quality thread is a major component and all thread quality is not equal by any means. Good thread is not overly expensive compared to poor quality thread and will only add a few pennies to the cost of a garment yet it will make the difference between a piece of clothing that will last months and one that will last for years.
2) Production capacity: People talk a big game when they want your business but are often unable to deliver the goods when the time comes for those big orders to get filled. Make sure to talk to the supplier and find out what their capacity for delivery is.
The last thing you want is a failure to deliver issue on your hands when you finally reach your mass audience. You want to have a consistent flow of goods through the entire supply chain and one weak link in that chain can not only set you back temporarily but can destroy confidence in the people down line from you. Once confidence in your business acumen is lost it is rarely restored.
I know it seems like you can offload that blame to the other people you do business with but that excuse will never wash with serious business people. They will expect that you have done your due diligence on these matters and want top level service form you.
3) Years in business: It’s easy to find out how long the people you are going to be dealing with over seas have been in business. Just ask. Any reputable supplier will be happy to oblige you in these matter. It is a badge of honour to boast about how many times they have “been around the block”.
4) Turnover: Another factor is turnover. What I mean by turnover is the amount that a manufacturer rotates their designs. One thing that will frustrate you and your customers is that just when you start to supply an item that is a consistent seller the producer stops making that item. It’s great to be trending and be providing new items for your customer base on a regular basis. However, as your business evolves you are going to notice that some items are going to be consistently in demand.
It can be a very frustrating for the stores you supply at the street level to discontinue a “staple” item when their end consumer gets used to being able to source it.
Tube socks come to mind. Now you might think that tube socks are all the same but you would be dead wrong. Many brands of tube socks are very uncomfortable and there’s nothing quite so frustrating as tube socks that are tight and have the wrong amount of elasticity. I have personally witnessed major brand stores that constantly rotate between brands in what is likely an attempt to save 2 cents changing their brand slightly and I have literally thrown out an entire pack of tube socks out of spite and vowed never to venture down that aisle again.
It may seem like a small thing to you as a wholesaler but these smaller items are what keep the end user coming back to the stores that you supply and so these are the details that make or break the smaller vendors you will be dealing with.
In conclusion, becoming effective as a middle supplier comes down to common sense, trial and error, a willingness to ask questions and pay attention to your end consumers need. Keep on top of these basics and you will have a thriving business now and in the future.
Thanks to Karen at A M Wholesale Clothing Toronto for the insights.