How to start a wholesale business from scratch (2023)

November 17, 2022

How to start a wholesale business a zero experience

With consumerism hitting record highs, and eCommerce flourishing, “how to start a wholesale business?” is a question that beats many wannabe entrepreneurs. If you’re one of them, you’ve landed on the right page.

In this article, we’re going to cover all the basics you need to know about starting a wholesale business from scratch and excelling in it. We even went the extra mile and spoke to several professionals from the wholesaling sector to ensure we got the best tips for you

Starting a wholesale business – what do you need to know?

Before you let your mind weave an entire wholesale business plan it’s important to understand its essence i.e. what is wholesale business? Moreover it is also important to learn how to buy wholesale for resale purposes.

Wholesalers are business entities that buy goods in bulk directly from manufacturers or distributors, and then sell them in smaller quantities to retailers.

Although in modern times there are examples of B2C wholesaling, wholesalers per definition sell their goods to other business entities. This means their buyers are not the end consumers, but instead the retailers and similar business organizations the consumers buy from.

Because wholesale businesses buy in bulk, they usually get special discounts and overall cheaper prices.

In conclusion, wholesalers are sort of mediators between manufacturers and retailers. This puts them somewhere in the middle of the supply chain

18 tips for starting a wholesale business from experts

We asked fifteen exeprts to share with us the 

1. Get an ERP system set in place that integrates with your inventory management tool such as scanners.

2. Have an accessible website that allows for wholesale pricing that integrates with your inventory system and accounting system

3. Set incremental sales goals every 6 months to build steady growth

4. Determine the wholesale or distribution model. Wholesale and distribution are two different models. Wholesale is to connect wholesalers and retailers, and then retailers sell products to consumers. And distribution directly links the manufacturer or wholesaler with the final Consumer.

5. Choose a suitable and reliable supplier. Understand and analyze suppliers through multiple channels and multiple dimensions, and reach cooperation. Suppliers cannot be selected based solely on the price of the Product.

6. Know the necessary legal documents. Before starting a business, you need to obtain the necessary wholesale license


7. Find a direct supplier of the goods or products you want to sell because if it will come directly from them, the products will be priced lower compared to if you will be buying it from other resellers too.

8. Find an in-demand product that is not easily perishable so you won’t have any problems even if you won’t be able to sell everything all at once.

9. Find resellers whom you would pass your products to. These resellers will be the ones to sell the product for you and you would serve as their supplier.

10. Don’t forget to focus on service. It’s a core function which will create the most customer loyalty for your business – whether that means answering customer questions, pushing out upgrades on your products, or repair and maintenance.

11. Your relationship with the manufacturers of the products you distribute determines your strategy. Whether you primarily focus on margin or volume depends on how much exclusivity the manufacturers will grant.

12. Build an A-team to help you manage all the complexity of a wholesale business: managing supplier relationships, developing new customers, tracking inventory and warehousing, purchasing, estimating, billing, and financial reporting

13. Most important is to ensure you’ve got the basics right:

  • Have you worked out a sales forecast?
  • Have you got enough stock to fulfil the forecast, not just the initial pipeline fill, but also onward sales.
  • Have you calculated enough margin for everyone in the chain, including building in a promotional allowance.
  • Hitting launch date is all important. Make sure you’re confident of production timelines.
  • Marketing campaign is next and whilst it runs in tandem with stock, logistics and warehousing, it really is no good if you have nothing to sell.
  • Focus on selling online, use popular ecommerce tips to see how to take advantage of online opportunities for wholesale. 

14. Build trust not only with your customers but also your suppliers:

  • Make sure to build a rapport of trust. There will be times when cashflow is tight and someone will let down the other.
  • Trust is nurtured at the outset by being clear from Day 1 particularly around trading terms, payments, deliveries etc

15. Have a clear vision:


  • As I have often been told by those around me whose words I listen to, ‘nothing good ever comes easy’.
  • Have a plan for the best of times ahead but be absolutely prepared for the worst of times. Plan ahead and try to foresee scenarios of things going wrong with the business and its supply consistency. These times will come, so best to be prepared.
  • At the end of the day though, try to have fun. This is business, its trading, not healthcare. So take a deep breath and get stuck in!

16. Consider what IP (intellectual property) you may be able to build into your business. You don’t just want to sell other brands, you ideally want to build up a brand that you also own.

17. Cash flow.  As a wholesaler yo u will be dealing with a large number of customers, each with different payment terms.  Think carefully about what terms you are getting offered from your suppliers, and try to extend those as much as possible to offset the terms you will need to give to your customers.

18. Marketing and product training.  Products don’t just sell themselves, so think about how you can support your customers with marketing, promotional initiatives and product training to make sure that your customers are doing everything they can to sell your product to their end customer.

9 wholesale business ideas to help you started

Here are some ideas that could help you decide your niche before you start your wholesale business.

1. Home improvement products

We’re all at home. Even after the lockdown eased up, we’re still gravitating towards our home. So it’s no surprise that people have turned to renovations, DYI projects and home improvements. Considering that, the demand of home improvement products is rising and will continue to do so. Especially in the Northern Hemisphere where summer is at full speed.

2. Food

Food is something that has always been and always will be in demand. That’s for sure. However, food sales have hit record highs during the lockdown, so it is no wonder that refrigerated distribution services are on the rise ass well . And since people are still scared of a second wave, they won’t stop stockpiling. Especially not when autumn arrives and colder temperatures are on the horizon.

3. Electronics

Food is something that has always been and always will be in demand. That’s for sure. However, food sales have hit record highs during the lockdown. And since people are still scared of a second wave, they won’t stop stockpiling. Especially not when autumn arrives and colder temperatures are on the horizon.

5. Beauty products

I don’t know who the first woman was, but I guess it all started from her. Women love beauty products. And as appears, in recent years men seem to like them too. There isn’t a single celebrity left without their own beauty line: Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Kylie Jenner, Gwyneth Paltrow… The list goes on and on.

According to Forbes “The cosmetic industry is growing faster today than ever before with an estimated market value of almost $805 billion by 2023. It is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.14% from 2018 to 2023.”

6. Backyard entertainment

I may have come up with that term on my own but trust me on this one. Borders are closed, travel is restricted. In other words, a lot of people won’t go on their traditional summer vacation this year. So they’re naturally looking for alternatives. A friend of mine recently wanted to buy an inflatable pool. And guess what: 6 stores he went to were out of stock! 

Market potential! Heck yeah!

Add grilling, outdoor furniture, pool floats, sunbeds, umbrellas, lighting, sound equipment… to the equation and you have a ready-to-go wholesale business idea.

7. Fitness

As contradictory as it sounds, the most obese generation in history is also the most athletic one. Everyone’s (at least trying to) eating healthy, exercising daily, jogging, meditating… Many during lockdown started exercising because they were afraid to get fat with all that food and staying at home. 

I mentioned the celebrities owning beauty brands, but activewear and athleisure are not far behind.

8. Kids toys and educational materials

With the closing of many kinterdens, nursery schools, playgroups and maternal schools around the world, parents are practically held hostage. They are expected to work and take care of their children at the same time. 

The logical direction of this situation is that children need to entertain themselves and parents will buy all sorts of toys to have just one uninterrupted video call with their boss.

9. Organic goods

Organic this, organic that. Suddenly, the food, cosmetics, and consumer goods we used until yesterday are no good and causing all sorts of health problems. Several years ago it was hard to find a shelf in the deli with organic products, and now we have entire stores selling organic-only products.

This isn’t going away anytime soon and the demand is growing by the day.


Starting a wholesale business from zero can be a dauting task for anyone new in the field. We hope that with the extensive list of resources that we have gather in this article, you will feel more bold when it comes to work on your dream and start your own wholesale business. 

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