Wholesale 101

Sourcing Wholesale Clothing for Your Boutique

Have you ever thought of opening a boutique and buying wholesale clothing to stock the racks? Now that you can research suppliers and source merchandise online, it might be easier than you think.

by Claudia Bruemmer

Have you ever thought of opening a boutique and buying wholesale clothing to stock the racks? Now that you can research suppliers and source merchandise online, it might be easier than you think.

There are many things to do before opening your new store. You’ll need a Reseller Permit from your state comptroller’s office. If you hire salespeople, you’ll need an Employer ID number (EIN) from the IRS. You also need to establish a business banking and merchant account, order business stationary and business cards and keep accurate sales/expenses accounting records for income taxes.

You’ve heard the expression, “location, location, location.” You need to locate your boutique on a street that has foot traffic or in a mall where you can beckon customers with an attractive window display as they walk by.

Before choosing a location, first define your customer demographic. Would your customers be working professionals, stay-at-home moms or college students? If they’re professionals, you would stock completely different apparel than you would for students and source the merchandise from a completely different wholesale clothing manufacturer.

The next step is to select a supplier, and you can research suppliers online. Two wholesale marketplaces I can recommend are: TopTenWholesale and Manufacturer.com. You can contact wholesale clothing distributors or manufacturers on these sites by clicking a link to ask about minimum orders, returns, shipping, restocking fees, order deadlines, quality guarantees, etc. But you need to do more than research online.

You should visit the supplier’s facility or at least order some samples to determine if the quality of their goods meets your own quality standards. If you decide to source from suppliers in China, Korea and the Philippines, beware of imitation merchandise.

It’s a good idea to hire an agent in the foreign country you want to source from to check out the supplier’s facility and merchandise for you. When you import goods into the U.S., there are many customs requirements, and you might need help from experienced professionals to make sure all your import documentation is in order. See my article, The ABCs of Importing Goods into the U.S. for more information on importing goods into the U.S.

While choosing a wholesale clothing supplier is relatively easy, it takes some time and effort to evaluate possible choices. To guard against suppliers that sell low quality merchandise, it’s always wise to request samples. Bogus suppliers usually refuse to provide sample products.

Another option if you’re new in the wholesale business is to start with a wholesale supplier in your area to save money on shipping and importing costs. However, there may not be many local wholesalers to choose from, depending on your location. In that respect, online suppliers offer more options and choices. With numerous wholesale clothing suppliers to choose from worldwide, you can find the right wholesale clothing company that fits the needs of your customer demographic.

Be aware that if you decide to source online, there is the risk of ordering from bogus or fraudulent online suppliers. Thus, you need to carefully research and analyze your choices before ordering large quantities. You can check online for reviews, comments from other buyers, or you can contact the Better Business Bureau to see if your prospective supplier has a good record.

Once you choose a wholesale clothing supplier, make sure your agreement spells out all the terms, pricing, ordering requirements, delivery charges and promised delivery times. Getting the right contract with a wholesale partner is important to success of your clothing boutique.

About the author

Claudia Bruemmer

Claudia Bruemmer

Claudia Bruemmer is a contributor to the TopTenWholesale Newsroom. Experience includes: Copy Editor SearchEngineLand (2012-present), Managing Editor ClickZ (1998-2001), Editor SearchEngineWatch (2007-2008) and freelance writer/editor since 2001 for SEMPO, ImediaConnection, SearchMarketingStandard, SearchEngineGuide, BruceClay and other sites. Prior to online work, Bruemmer was a Tech Writer for many years.

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