How & Where To Buy Your Supplies For Your New Business

Many people have great business ideas, but what trumps their road to success is not doing proper research and development (R&D). This is vital for those who are planning to invest money into building their business, as ideally, you should be getting quality supplies for a fair price. 


The question begs, where does one source the said items needed for their startup? Well, depending on your business category, there are quite a number of places for you to go to! Try having a look at the platforms below to explore your options.



How should you buy supplies for your new business?


1. Figuring Out Your Supplies

Once you’re done ideating your business concept, it’ll then be time to move on to the next phase: the supplies!


Depending on your concept and idea, you’ll most likely be able to list down what supplies you need by either searching up articles online titled like ‘How to start making X’. If you’re more of a visual person, just search up the same query on YouTube for guided tutorials. A tip from me would be to watch it at a playback speed of 1.25 as tutorials can be long-winded. 


Once you have a list of items you need, you should then start looking up the prices online, but at different stores! This is so you can compare prices and know how much your costs or markups will be. Say you decided on a store to be your go-to for supplies, it’s still worth inputting the prices from other stores into an excel sheet for your visibility. Who knows one day another store may offer something better! 


Lastly, deep dive into the cost of your supplies by calculating your estimated profit margins. Ensure that you do this before placing any orders to be able to conclude if your business idea would be profitable and if you can survive without burning too much money.



2. #SapotLokal or Go International?

Before we get to the actual platforms for you to buy your supplies, you should also know that #sapotlokal isn’t just a consumer-to-business relationship. It’s very much also a B2B relationship, that you should know!

Any business owner can choose to buy supplies from local suppliers, or look for international supply chains. If you want a quick rundown of the pros and cons for both, see below: 


Local suppliers

    • Pro: Shipping time is much faster and you can even pick up items yourself on the same day. Depending on the item, you can even inspect the product or material with your own eyes to ensure the quality. 
    • Con: Local supplies cost more as retailers and wholesalers take into account their brick and mortar footprint. It’s not uncommon for local suppliers to buy from international suppliers. The markup wouldn’t be as high as you buying international though, as local supplies usually get discounts for buying in large quantities or being a long-time client. 


International suppliers

    • Pros: One can usually get many more variations of supplies from an international platform as not all services may be available in Malaysia due to low demand. 
    • Con: Shipping costs and delivery downtimes must be accounted for when you want to replenish your stock. Always state your country of origin so the supplier quotes you an appropriate shipping price, as the default for most online marketplaces is in USD.



Where can you buy supplies for your new business?


1. Alibaba

Aside from everything going on with the founder Jack Ma, Alibaba is one of the largest online marketplaces in the world to get supplies!

Source: Storefront


We literally mean the world, by the way, even Western and Nordic countries stop to checkout at Alibaba. This site has so many sellers selling ready-made products, and warehouses that can ship out raw materials to you in the thousands. You can also choose to custom a product with a factory, and they’ll do all the heavy lifting and ship the final product to you. 


Alibaba also ships to nearly anywhere, and you can choose to browse pages and see the cost per item in any currency you desire. Every seller must and will have indicated their rates for different MOQs (minimum order quantity), and be sure to check the fine print as the MOQ is different for ready-made or custom products. 


A few cons you should definitely know about Alibaba is that although all the sellers do speak English, some of the seller’s translators aren’t the most fluent. So, just ensure your request is straightforward, send it in bullet points and not paragraphs. Another note is that you must also do your own research on the seller. Although Alibaba has a rating system, there are no detailed customer reviews like what one can find on Shopee.


2. Shopee

Word around town is that Shopee’s UX isn’t the only great thing about the platform, but they also have a great list of wholesale sellers!

Source: DoanhNhan Saigon


If you want to view prices on Shopee with the wholesale price tag instead, simply type in your search query, and once the page loads, click on ‘Filter’ on the top right. Then, scroll till you see ‘Service & Promotion’, and tap on the tab that says ‘Wholesale.’ The page will load again, and it’ll show you all the sellers who sell items in a wholesale amount! 


You can either buy ready-made products or the raw materials themselves. At Shopee Malaysia however, you can breathe a little more as Shopee Guarantee is a label that you can trust, so the sellers will have a clean record with little to no issues. 


But despite the Shopee Guarantee label, there have been instances where issues can arise with a seller. No fret though as Shopee is usually quick to investigate any complaints. One last con before you move on: the amount of sellers offering custom-made services isn’t that large yet, so you may have limits on what you can work with depending on your idea.


3. Dropee

This Malaysian startup is focused more on B2B sales, by providing wholesale items of popular brands such as Nestle, Anakku and more!


Dropee has over 100,000+ wholesale products for you to choose from. Although it doesn’t have as many categories as Alibaba, its local pricing and locality ensure the best shipping price, so you could potentially save some cost there! Dropee is also a genuine wholesale seller of major brands, so don’t sweat on the legitimacy of their business. 


It sounds great so far, but a quick check on their site and you can already see that they don’t have the most categories under their belt. They only cover suppliers for convenience stores, cafes & restaurants, weddings & events, offices & stationeries, and hotels & accommodations. It’s still worth browsing though!



When it comes to business, my parting tip is that for most cases, anytime is a good time to start. Reason being is that the sooner you crank the engines, the earlier you’ll be able to learn any lessons from A/B testing to start improvising your business product and structure!

A realism artist and an aspiring filmmaker. She’s also a devotee to R&B music and an advocate for racial equality.

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