If you're starting a subscription box business or have recently launched, finding suppliers for your box might be top of your to-do list!
Let's talk about suppliers and where you can find them - for any industry.
If you're in the early stages, you might be looking for suppliers for the box itself, for the packaging, for the print that you're going to put into your box - or you're looking for contents for your box, and how you keep it fresh and exciting for your subscribers every month.
Either way, it partly depends on how many subscribers you have - and the quantity of stock you're looking for - as to the routes that are available to finding those suppliers.
If you don't have high subscriber numbers because you're just getting started or growing your box gradually, then you're mainly looking at our good friends, Google and eBay, to find suppliers with low minimum quantities.
Wholesale / Buying Trade
As you scale, wholesale becomes available to you.
Wholesalers are set up to sell to retailers (like you), so they'll sell to you at a much lower price than it would be if you went into a shop to buy something,
But many have minimum order quantities - something like £200 / $250. Not all do though - so it's worth checking, but if you aren't able to meet the minimum spend for the product you want, you're likely looking at Google / Ebay initially.
Once you're at the wholesale level, though, you've got other options.
Trade Show Lists
The first is to look at trade show lists. There are trade shows for all kinds of things. Whatever your area or niche or interest is, there is bound to be a trade show that will cover that in some way, shape or form.
So find the trade show for your niche and have a look at their exhibitor lists. Obviously, if you can, it's great to actually go to the actual trade shows, see products in real life and talk to suppliers.
But if that's not possible, you can't physically get to the trade shows or if it's 11 months until they come back around again, then look on their website as they often have those exhibitor lists.
This will usually include information about the suppliers, what they do and a link to their own websites.
You can then research and reach out to those companies, look into their products and costs, and if it's a great fit for your box, ask to open a trade account.
Another option is to backwards engineer.
If you come across something that's been manufactured, that you'd love to put in your subscription box, have a little look on the back of the product and you'll often see who has manufactured it.
Again, use Google, put in 'manufacturer's name', 'wholesale' and the country that you're in, e.g., 'wendy's widgets wholesale USA'. You should be able to find out who the distributor is for that product in your country, and you can get in touch with them.
A great option, especially if you're looking to work with smaller businesses, is to research using hashtags.
Head to Instagram, and search for hashtags around the thing that you're interested in or niche / theme, and see who's posting products related to that.
Again, you can then just get in touch with them and see if you can work together to supply your subscription box.
It can take a little bit of time to find great suppliers, but keep going and you'll build up your own list of people that you want to work with regularly.
One of the things we do in Subscription Box Academy is to provide The Little Black Book of Suppliers.
It's got over 50 suppliers in it, from boxes to packaging, to components subscription boxes often look for, so takes some of the legwork out and makes it easier for you to hit the ground running.
Before you go!
If you're looking to grow your subscription box, you might find this free checklist useful - I've stepped out the 8 key elements to create a successful subscription box.
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