Getting Your Ducks in a Row Before Contacting Potential Suppliers

As discussed in Chapter 3 of our training course, it's important to be prepared when you reach out to manufacturers and/or distributor-wholesalers to request a reseller-account. There are a handful of things you can do (which we'll discuss here in this blog post) to look much more legit and professional to suppliers, increasing your chances that they'll be willing to set you up with a dealer account.

Let's start off with a quick video, and then I'll go into more detail down below.

Broad Spectrum of Scenarios

Every supplier is different. On one end of the spectrum, you've got the manufacturers of "household name" type brands that are sold at your local Walmart (Sony, Samsung, Nike, L'Oreal, Pampers, Singer, etc.). On the other end of the spectrum, you've got "ma & pa shops" you've never heard of. Obviously, most suppliers will fall somewhere in the middle.

The type and extent of preparation you'll want to do before reaching out to the supplier largely depends on where you think they fall in this continuum. If you're trying to get set up as a reseller for a major corporation that manufactures a well-known brand name, you might have to do quite a bit to impress them. (Sometimes you'll be surprised, though... we were able to set up a reseller account with Singer Co. for a sewing machines store we built a couple years back without much effort at all.) On the other hand, if you're trying to set up a reseller account with an unknown brand whose website says "Yes, we dropship!" and has a dealer application readily available to fill in or download, you probably don't need to do any preparation. Just fill out the application, and you're set!

The point I'm trying to make is this: don't do any more than you have to do in order to secure the supplier account. Here in this blog post, I'll be outlining several tasks you may want to consider doing. Very, very rarely will you need to do all of them (or more than just 1 or 2 of them). I'd say that most suppliers fall on the easy, don't-need-to-do-much end of the spectrum. Each one of the tasks listed below are optional. I'll go through them in order, starting with the tasks I'd recommend more commonly.

Optional Task #1. Register a Domain Name (Usually Recommended)

  • Almost all suppliers will expect you to have a domain-name (you are, after all, an online store!)
  • Even if they don't ask you what it is over the phone, it's almost always requested on the dealer application
  • We recommend registering your domain name at NameCheap
  • Read through the 'Register a Domain Name' section on this training page for advice and instructions on registering a new domain name

Optional Task #2. Register a DBA or Business Entity (Generally Advisable)

  • This is much easier & much more affordable than most people think
  • Contacting suppliers as "John Smith, the VP of Operations at Infinity Marketing Group" is much more impressive and professional than contacting them as "Joe Blow, a guy who wants to sell your products"
  • In most states, you can register a dba for just $20-30, which will not require any additional tax returns to be filed
  • Registering a DBA will enable you to get a sellers-permit (make sure to click on this link to learn what a Seller's Permit is) in your DBA's name, which many potential suppliers will require you to have
  • We recommend using a generic (non-niche-specific) DBA or business name so you can use it for operating multiple, unrelated stores (examples: Omni Sales Company, Infinity Marketing Group, Olympus Ventures, DKH Enterprises, etc.)
  • See the expandable sections below for extensive information about registering a DBA or setting up a business entity
  • If you are NOT a resident of the USA, you'll want to set up a US-based Limited Liability Company (LLC)

What Type of Business Entity is Best?

This section discusses the various types of US business entities. We'll go over the advantages and disadvantages of each type of entity, and we'll talk about how each is taxed. (Keep in mind that we are NOT tax attorneys or CPAs. We'll just go over...
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How to Register a DBA or Business Entity

Regardless of which type of business entity you decide to set up (or if you decide to just go with the default Sole Proprietor option with a DBA), there are a few steps for registering your business...
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Advice for Non US Residents

A fairly good-sized percentage of Store Coach members live outside the USA. Here are answers to a lot of the questions we've been asked by our friends overseas...
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Optional Task #3. Create a Simple "Placeholder Site" on Your Niche-Specific Domain Name

  • This gives potential suppliers something to actually look at when they visit your domain name
  • Setting up a simple "placeholder" site is very quick & easy...
    1. Sign up for BigScoots web-hosting
    2. "Link" the domain name you purchased to your web hosting account (instructions for NameCheap)
    3. Install WordPress (instructions) on your web hosting account
    4. Consider getting a professional store logo
    5. Using WordPress, create 3-4 simple page: home page, 'About Us' page, 'Contact Us' page, etc. (instructions)
  • After you've secured a supplier account and are ready to build your store, it's very easy to "transfer" your domain name to your ecommerce store

Optional Task #4. Get a Toll-Free Number & Display it on Your "Placeholder" Site

  • Having a toll-free number makes you look much more professional and legitimate
  • It will separate you from the dime-a-dozen upstarts on eBay, Etsy & the like
  • You'll most likely be getting a toll-free number in Phase 3 anyway, so you're just getting it a little earlier
  • We use and recommend Phone.com

Optional Task #5. Create a Simple Corporate Site for Your Business

  • A corporate site is like the online "headquarters" for your business
  • This is different from the "placeholder site" in option 3 above...
    • A "placeholder" site is built on the domain name you're eventually going to use for your ecommerce store & focuses on that specific niche
    • A corporate site is built on a different domain name that matches your business name & focuses on your overall business
  • Expand the section immediately below for instructions & advice on creating a simple company site

How to Create a Simple Corporate Site

Having a professional-looking corporate website is a great way to make a good first impression on a potential supplier. Having a corporate website allows you to...
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Optional Task #6. Create a Full-Blown Affiliate Product Store (Rarely Necessary)

  • It's rarely necessary to create a full-blown affiliate-product-store in preparation to contact suppliers
  • This is kind of a last-resort option if you really want to get into a niche but none of the suppliers will take you seriously without a full-blown site
  • To build a full-blown affiliate store with products on it...
    1. Jump over to this blog post for info on signing up as an Amazon affiliate
    2. Jump ahead to Phase 3 for instructions on building your Amazon affiliate store
    3. Then come back to this training page & continue through the end of Phase 2 to contact suppliers and set up a reseller account
  • WARNING: Do NOT add the products of the supplier you're hoping to set up an account with to your site. You do not have permission to do so, and many suppliers will be very unhappy with you if you do. Only add products available on Amazon to your site.

To-Do List

Complete as many of these tasks as you feel are necessary to approach the potential suppliers you've identified...

  • Register a domain name at NameCheap (usually recommended)
  • Register a DBA or business entity & obtain a sellers-permit (generally advisable)
  • Create a simple "placeholder site" on your niche-specific domain name using BigScoots & WordPress (consider getting a professional logo)
  • Get a toll-free number from Phone.com and display it on your "placeholder" site
  • Create a simple corporate site for your business (consider getting a professional logo)
  • Create a full-blown affiliate product store (rarely necessary)
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