How to Buy in Bulk Online – Discover, Connect and Purchase

Sep 05, 2023 Chapter 1. Sourcing

Buying in bulk online is often an important cost-saving strategy for businesses. That is one of the reasons international B2B buyers visit Alibaba, where they can access the world’s largest marketplace of wholesale suppliers.

However, as with many aspects of product sourcing, there are several moving parts to keep in mind. For starters, does buying in bulk make sense for your business? What should you be looking for when evaluating wholesale product suppliers? Finally, how do you navigate this sometimes complex environment, and what tips can help you make a successful purchase?

This quick guide will explain everything you should know about buying in bulk online.

There are many reasons why people choose to buy in bulk online. For B2C buyers looking for great deals on household items such as groceries, snacks, or other bulk foods to stock their pantry, sustainable shopping and low prices are the main reasons.




Wholesale vs. Buying in Bulk

A common question frequently asked is, “What distinguishes wholesale from bulk buying?” These two concepts are actually quite distinct but often get muddled. Let’s delve into the disparities.


What is Wholesale?

The term “wholesale” pertains to a business model that involves procuring substantial quantities of products directly from manufacturers and/or distributors. These products are then stored within the wholesaler’s own warehouse and subsequently retailed in smaller quantities to either retailers or consumers.

The pivotal advantage for wholesalers lies in their capability to stockpile large quantities of products, which allows them to secure discounted rates from manufacturers.

For manufacturers, producing small quantities of a product is cost-prohibitive because the startup expenses remain consistent whether producing 100 units or 200,000. Wholesalers, by virtue of their ability to cater to multiple customers’ demands simultaneously, can generate profits with each sale.


Let’s illustrate this with an example:

Suppose a retailer orders 1,000 widgets, and the manufacturer charges $15 per widget. Conversely, a wholesaler places an order for 100,000 widgets and is charged $5 per widget by the manufacturer. The wholesaler subsequently sells 1,000 widgets to the retailer at a rate of $10 per widget.

In the final analysis, all parties involved—manufacturer, wholesaler, and retailer—derive profit from each stage of the supply chain.




What is Bulk Buying?

Bulk buying, on the other hand, revolves around the acquisition of multiple units of a product in exchange for a lower per-unit price. Retailers or consumers, based on their requirements, engage in this form of purchasing.

Examples of platforms where bulk buying can be done include Amazon, Amazon Business, and large retail chains often referred to as big-box stores.




Why Buy in Bulk Online?

However, from a B2B perspective, there are more reasons to buy wholesale than just finding ridiculously low prices on bulk foods.

Lower Purchasing Costs

 Buying in bulk cheap can save on purchasing costs. One study found that when purchasing items from the grocery store, a 10 percent larger package resulted in a 5 percent lower unit price. Also, buying in bulk often results in better deals, such as discounts if you buy a specific weight in ounces, pounds, or kilograms.

Buy in Bulk Online for Resale

Buying in bulk can also be profitable if the purchase is for manufacturing or resale purposes. Buying inputs at wholesale prices can result in higher profit margins on your next sale.

Provide a Large Inventory

Buying in bulk offers excellent purchasing opportunities for buyers who want to start a trading business or engage in direct sales. 

Remember, buying items at a bargain price does not necessarily mean you have a low-quality product. Once you find a seller with a good product and a better price, you can enjoy a constant stream of quality, low-priced items.

Room to Expand at Will

Finally, bulk buying can be an excellent catalyst for growth because of the convenience it promises. If your business is in a phase of frequent growth, having a trusted bulk supplier will help you cope with the growing demand.



Criteria for Choosing the Right Wholesaler and Bulk Buying Site for Your Business

While bulk buying can create huge advantages for your business, choosing the wrong supplier can easily wipe out those gains. Much depends on finding the right online supplier, including product quality, shipping, and ease of the entire process.

Buyers can explore a variety of options when looking for a bulk supplier. Local U.S. options include Costco (including Instacart), eBay, Amazon, and Boxed, while Alibaba is a popular international option. So how do you find the right supplier on these online wholesale sites? It helps to ask these questions.

Have You Assessed Your Needs? Buying in bulk is a great deal for most businesses, but not all. Assume you don’t have the sales history, storage space or projected sales to justify a bulk purchase. In this case, it would be a waste of time and money. In addition, clarifying all these points in advance will help you understand which volume suppliers you should look for and what products to buy.

Is the Seller Reliable? Once you know what you are looking for, evaluating potential supply partners is easier. Asking about a supplier’s reliability is usually a good starting point. If you’re sourcing from the United States, Costco membership gives you access to great deals on a wide range of products from reliable suppliers. On Alibaba, you can assess reliability by looking for suppliers marked as “Gold Supplier”, “Trade Assurance” or “Verified Supplier”.

Do They Have Good Reviews? Reviews indicate what previous customers think of the supplier’s performance. This can help you determine if they have good customer service, know their products, deliver on time, offer good shipping terms, or anything else you need to know. Alibaba makes it easy to find this information. Click on a supplier’s profile to see their reviews and track record.

Are They Flexible? While competitive pricing is an important factor in choosing a bulk supplier, flexibility is arguably more important. Suppliers may initially advertise high prices, but if they are flexible, you may be able to get lower prices in addition to other benefits such as flexible minimum orders, payment terms, etc.



How to Buy in Bulk Online?

Now that you know how to find great wholesale suppliers let’s look at tips that can help you make a successful purchase. Buying in bulk online is an art in itself, which means you need to know the right strategies to make the most of the process. Here are some tips that can help.



Contact the manufacturer

First, you need to know that the supplier may not always be the manufacturer. Thousands of businesses are listed on Alibaba, including manufacturers, wholesalers and bulk suppliers. Sometimes it pays to contact manufacturers directly rather than wholesale distributors. By going through the manufacturer, you are more likely to get the lowest possible price. If they don’t handle the sale, they will notify you and direct you to a wholesaler who can help.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate 

The typical B2B buying process involves a lot of back and forth between buyers and sellers. When you buy thousands of pieces of one product, you have enough leverage to ask what you want. Suppliers also know that you are making a significant commitment, so they are willing to bend in areas you don’t expect.


Get samples first

It is imperative to be absolutely sure that the product you are considering is right for your business. Pre-requesting and receiving samples can help you confirm this almost for free. With samples, you can be sure that you are buying the right item with a long shelf life. Some product types that could easily fall into this category include.

Hardware such as electronics, video games and accessories/Apparel/Jewelry/Toilet paper/Auto parts

Laptop computers/Toys/Fragrances/Paper towels/Bulk foods, such as rice, bulk flour, beans and canned tomatoes


Pay close attention to shipping

You can use a variety of shipping options to get your products to their destination. Standard options include shipping by sea and air. But depending on the size of the wholesale lots you buy, the options you choose can either increase your profit margin or eliminate your revenue.

For wholesaling large quantities of relatively heavy goods, ocean freight is usually cheaper. However, if you are buying lighter items in bulk, air freight will make more sense. The shipping terms offered by the supplier are also critical. Shipping can be ex-works (EXW), free on board (FOB) or cost, insurance, or freight (CIF). Evaluate each of these to determine which terms are best for you.


Prepare adequate storage space

Finally, buying in bulk means you have a safe place to store your product before selling or using it. If you don’t have enough bulk stores, then your inventory is at risk of damage, or you may end up paying more to find the right storage space.




The 6 Sites for Buying Bulk Items

  1. Alibaba: A vast Chinese multinational known for B2B, B2C, and C2C services. Offers a wide range of products from individual sellers, many of whom are manufacturers. Minimum orders can be large.
  2. Made-in-China: Another Chinese e-commerce marketplace, often with smaller minimum order requirements compared to Alibaba. Offers various products at wholesale rates.
  3. eBay: Not just an auction site; it’s also a place to buy items in bulk at wholesale prices. Filter bulk listings in advanced search to find deals.
  4. Costco: Ideal for bulk grocery, paper, and plastic products. Also offers clothing, electronics, and more. Rapid delivery options available, but requires a membership fee.
  5. Global Sources: A Hong Kong-based B2B platform connecting buyers with manufacturers, exporters, and wholesalers. Similar to Alibaba in terms of contacting suppliers directly.
  6. Faire: An American company offering various products at wholesale prices, with a user-friendly website.


Choosing the best source depends on your needs. Alibaba, Made in China, and Global Sources are good for online store owners. For general wholesale deals, consider DHgate, eBay, or even Costco for a variety of items.



Buy in Bulk Online from Supplyia

If you decide to buy in bulk online for your business, there is no better place to start than Supplyia.

As the best China product sourcing company, we helped thousands of buyers to choose from, including direct purchases from manufacturers and licensed wholesalers. In addition, we do not require any membership fees.


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