It can be frustrating and time consuming to find wholesale product suppliers for your business in Canada, particularly in specialty niches. Whether you’re sourcing supplies to make your own products or stocking your virtual shelves, finding the right supplier is usually a long and involved process. Many factors are involved in the decision, from quality to reliability.
The primary concern is usually price. You can probably find a cheaper price outside of Canada, but you’ll have to deal with language barriers, Customs compliance, high shipping costs, the lower Canadian dollar, and longer waits for order fulfillment. If you source domestically, all of that has been taken care of but you’ll frequently pay more through the Canadian distributor. Of course, supporting the Canadian economy is important to your business as well, however inadvertently.
The holy grail is finding an affordable local supplier, which saves you a lot of time and money. If you happen to live in a major city like Toronto or Vancouver, local sourcing should be relatively easy. If not, explore shipping and receiving options that are designed to reduce shipping costs and other headaches.
Note of caution: When you’re considering price, beware of counterfeit products or other low-quality (or illegal) knockoffs that are dirt cheap.
Finding Product Suppliers For Your Canadian Online Business
Research and know your products well before approaching wholesale suppliers. It isn’t necessary to tell them you’re new on the scene or otherwise lay your cards on the table. Stay in control of the process by arming yourself with a standard list of questions and be prepared to negotiate.
Start the legwork:
- Online – An obvious but often frustrating choice. It can be extremely time consuming to pick through wholesalers and manufacturers online.
- Trade Shows – Local, national or international trade shows have a lot to offer. You can cost compare and research on the spot, as well as network and negotiate.
- Industry Associations – Directories are commonly found on industry association websites and you’ll also find out about events.
- Trade Magazines – You’ll find suppliers advertising in trade magazines and many publications publish an industry directory. Most of them offer free subscriptions and many are published online.
- Directories – As mentioned, these are often published by trade magazines but they’re also available from other sources.
- Library – Local libraries often have business directories on hand.
Once you’ve located potential suppliers, start a spreadsheet and text file to track and compare information about each. Your notes will be invaluable in your final selection, plus it will provide a handy list of backup choices.
Online Wholesale Suppliers & Directories for Canadians
Wholesalers Serving Canadians – This post includes a list of wholesalers & drop shippers that serve Canadians (both inside and outside of Canada).
Thomas – Free access to over half a million North American suppliers in a searchable directory.
Non-GMO Sourcebook – A Canadian buyer’s guide to suppliers of non-GMO and organic seeds, grains, ingredients, feed and foods.
AppScenic – Facilitates and automates every aspect of the connection between ecommerce stores and premium wholesalers, either for bulk wholesale orders or individual dropshipping. Their platform includes products supplied by Canadian businesses, as well as global suppliers. Search by country to find wholesale suppliers in Canada. AppScenic integrates with all major ecommerce platforms. They have five-star ratings on Shopify, Trustpilot, G2 and Capterra.
Canadian Apparel Federation Suppliers Directory – Includes services, textiles, trimmings, machinery and supplies.
SaleHoo Canada – Thousands of verified wholesale suppliers, along with direct shipping manufacturers. They also have a community for anyone who sells online.
Tradekey – Suppliers in Canada as well as international importers.
Dorfin – A major Canadian wholesale distributor.
Canadian Choice Wholesalers – Grocery wholesaler specializing in natural, organic and specialty foods.
Canadian Merchandiser – Listing of Canadian wholesalers.
Canadian Trade Index (MacRAE’S) – Directory for manufacturers, exporters, distributors and service companies.
Scott’s Directories – Contact information for Canadian businesses.
Syncee – Facilitates integration between wholesalers and major ecommerce platforms used by online retailers. Their focus is drop shipping, but most of their Canadian suppliers are straight wholesale.
Faire is an online wholesale marketplace where small business owners and independent makers can buy and sell wholesale online. The platform provides sales, marketing and analytics tools, so sellers can simplify their wholesale business. Users can go straight to a ‘Made in Canada’ page or filter search results to only include companies that ship from Canada.
Retail Council of Canada – Supplier directory.
Do Your Homework
Your worst nightmare is ending up with tons of products that aren’t selling. However, predicting success can be difficult without proper research. Luckily, there are powerful tools to help. You can capture, analyze and refine billions of data points from Amazon with Jungle Scout, for example, plus research competitors and even find suppliers.
We’ll continue to keep this post updated with any resources we become aware of. Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments below.
Discuss this and other online business topics in the Online Business Canada Facebook group!
Note: This post is continuously updated. It was first published in 2014.
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Melody McKinnon's formal education is in business management, which she enhanced with more than 60 certifications revolving around business, marketing, health, general sciences and writing. In 25 years of working online, she has owned or managed both educational and ecommerce websites. Her book, 7 Recession Proof Online Businesses to Start From Home, is available on Amazon.
Melody has worked with many businesses & brands in a multitude of capacities. She can often be found on CanadiansInternet.com, CanadianFamily.net and AllNaturalPetCare.com, as well as other quality digital publications. Her content has earned reference links from highly-respected websites, magazines and university textbooks.