Each month, the Tech Tips column takes you on an in-depth tour of a different power feature that you can use on Wholesalecentral.com to help grow your business. This month, we direct your attention to the Product Locator Service, which you can access directly at: www.wholesalecentral.com/productlocator.htm
A Unique Service
Wholesalecentral.com allows resellers the ability to search through a giant database of over 300,000 products to find any kind of merchandise they need. But sometimes a reseller's needs go beyond what a regular search engine or directory can deliver. That is where Wholesalecentral.com's "Product Locator Service" comes in. This proprietary service helps wholesale buyers locate very hard to find products or specialized situations by delivering their requests directly to the suppliers who can fulfill them.
GG's Embroidery & Gifts in New Orleans, LA recently used the Product Locator Service to post a request for Jute Totes by Murval. Their request stated,
"We are looking for a wholesale supplier for the Jute Tote bags. We can find them for retail purchases but cannot find a wholesaler. If you are interested in wholesaling to a small embroidery and gift shop in the New Orleans regional area, please email us or call us."
While a regular search engine does a good job of locating keywords on web pages, they don't do a good job of negotiating business transactions. Clearly this buyer had spent a lot of time searching on traditional search engines and was getting plenty of "keyword" matches. But she was looking for something beyond keyword matches. She wanted a supplier who was willing to sell small wholesale quantities to a shop in New Orleans. The Product Locator Service goes beyond search capabilities by allowing wholesale buyers to have direct, detailed conversations with multiple suppliers all at once.
Using the Product Locator Service is easy.
- The first step is to join the free Wholesalecentral.com Buyers Network at the following URL: www.wholesalecentral.com/BuyersNetwork.cfm?submit=join
- After you have joined, login and go to the Product Locator page, and click the "Post a Request" button.
- On the request form, simply type in the name of the product you are seeking, and offer as much detail about it as you can. Then choose from the 41 different product categories.
- Click the "Send" button and you are on the way to finding your merchandise.
What happens next is that your request is emailed to all of the suppliers on Wholesalecentral.com who have subscribed to receive requests in that category. The request is also posted on the public Product Locator Board for 60 days. When suppliers respond, Wholesalecentral.com emails the replies to your private email, as well as posting them on the public board. Replies to your requests are also stored in your personal "Message Center" in your Buyers Network account. It is important to note that the sellers have not seen your email address at this point, unless you have included it in your request. Your personal information is kept private until you decide to disclose it to the sellers you are interested in working with. This is an excellent way of preventing you, as the buyer, from being spammed.
If you have made several merchandise requests, the buyer dashboard is probably the best place from which to track seller responses. The dashboard not only gives you a list of all open product requests but also lets you track requests within specific date ranges, a very helpful feature for high-volume buyers in particular.
A Safe Haven
Security is a high priority at Wholesalecentral.com. Once you make a request for merchandise on the Product Locator, a very select group of 1,300 registered suppliers compete for your business. Each of these suppliers have paid a fee to be listed in the directory. The staff of Wholesalecentral.com contacts with every company listed, and if a company ever becomes unreachable at the contact information in their listing, they are promptly removed from the site.
Such diligence helps the site maintain its strong reputation in the wholesale industry, and keeps the quality of suppliers very high. However, if you feel that a supplier is either spamming or scamming you, it is an easy matter to report them to Wholesale Central. Wholesalecentral.com has a two strikes and you are out policy. They issue one warning, and if the supplier repeats the behavior they are banned from using the service.
This is part of what makes Product Locator the superior alternative to unmoderated, Wild West-style wholesale marketplaces in which you never really know who you are dealing with, and where every transaction is a gamble.
A Powerful Network
"Using the service is very convenient," said Alice Antonucci, owner of Alice's Treasurers, a Florida based reseller of figurines, collectibles, lamps, novelties and radio controlled cars, among other items. Antonucci made a request seeking a wholesaler of radio controlled cars, which she sells at flea markets and at her eBay store, located at http://stores.ebay.com/Alices-Treasures. "We received eight responses within hours," she said.
Antonucci likes the fact that sellers come to her, and that she can review responses quickly, because she attends weekly flea markets in northern Florida and needs to make transactions fast, in order to have merchandise for her booth quicker than her competitors. "It has been a positive experience," Antonucci said about using the service. "The sellers are out there and they are really looking at your requests. It put me and my business in the places we needed to be, and in touch with the right people."
"It is very different than selling to a store out of the blue," said Donny Lowy, owner of Closeoutexplosion.com, which sells everything from DVDs to comic books to hip-hop apparel. Lowy is a supplier listed on Wholesalecentral.com who has responded to countless requests and adds that he probably would have never connected with those buyers without the Product Locator Service.
Tips and Tricks
Regardless of what you need to buy, the best way to use the Product Locator is to be as specific and realistic as possible. The more you tell your potential suppliers, the easier it is for them to gauge their readiness to serve you. The merchandise requests with the highest quantity and quality of responses on Product Locator typically offer a lot of information: for example, name brand, subcategory, quantity, price, and physical location requested.
Resellers should note that the category of a request is important. For example, Apparel is currently the most trafficked category on the Product Locator, but some resellers post their Apparel requests under less popular categories, like Licensed/Trademarked Items or General Merchandise. When you can fit a merchandise request under more than one category, try to choose the one that has the most traffic. You can make this decision simply by looking at the main index page of the Product Locator, which shows you the current activity level of each category.
It is also important to have a real world idea of supplier limitations, you probably will not find Nintendo Wiis at half price! Also, if you want to buy many different kinds of merchandise, take the effort to post each request under the appropriate category, rather than requesting many different products in a single post.
The same principles apply to suppliers. If you believe you have the right product for a reseller, offer as much detail as possible in your Product Locator reply. If you do not have exactly the right product, you should be careful about replying, because the buyer could flag your response as spam. Also remember to include your website address and other contact information, but do not assume that just copy-and-pasting your URL is sufficient to close a sale. If the reseller has specific questions, e.g., if a specific item is your main product line, answer these up front before providing the URL.
Go For It!
So if you need merchandise that you have been unable to find, give the Product Locator Service a try. It is easy to sign up, post and track requests, protect or disclose your identity, and deal with legitimate, pre-qualified suppliers who are eager for your business.
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