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How to find a wholesale clothing distributor for my retail store?

18 November 2022

The clothing industry is at an all-time high and consumers are willing to pay fair prices for high quality designs and well-made sustainable clothing. The challenge therefore for retail stores is to find great wholesale clothing distributors to make sure they have the best quality for the best price whilst meeting customer needs and the target market. One of the first and most crucial steps when operating a successful retail store is finding trustworthy and reputable wholesale clothing distributors. Read on to discover the tips and tricks to help you find the perfect wholesale clothing distributors for your retail business.

Clara Jammes

What is a wholesale clothing distributor and how does it work?

In retail, the wholesale clothing distributor is an essential component in the retail logistic. They are the link between manufacturers and retail stores, as the wholesale distributor purchases directly from manufacturers going on to then distribute them to retailers for a profit. The clothing distributor will often buy retail products in bulk as they will receive a much better price. It is their job to directly supply the product to retail stores. They normally have large distribution centres containing their stock and a team of people ready to ship and supply demands to retails stores all around the world. 

Purchase order

A wholesale purchase order is a document that an official buyer sends to the seller. The purchase order is a binding contract that represents the official order the buyer must pay to the seller. This document specifies precisely the quantity being bought and for how much. The purchase order is  crucial to both parties involved. 

Disadvantages of wholesale clothing distributors 

The main disadvantage of retail wholesalers is that when a quantity is bought in bulk there is no guarantee that this will eventually sell in store. When buying in bulk this also takes up a lot of space to store the large quantity of items. Retailers need to think carefully about how and where they will store these goods before they make it to the shop floor. They also need to think carefully about their customer, what they want to see and buy in store and why! 

Advantages of wholesale clothing distributors

Wholesalers can of course save retail stores money and make their purchasing system a lot simpler. However, they may not always be the best fit for some businesses. It is important to know the facts and take them all into consideration before choosing a wholesale distributor for a retail store. One of the main advantages of retail wholesalers is that there is no marketing involved as the orders are normally fixed and it is the producer of the company who does the main marketing for the product.

Payments terms

Payment terms are the conditions of purchase that retailers receive then buy anything from a retail wholesaler. There are some more specific payment terms that give retailers the chance to purchase now and pay later. The payment terms outline how long the retailer has until the payment is due, alongside what they have bought and how much they have spent. Ankorstore in particular offers very flexible payment terms for retailers. Retailers will enjoy a fluid online checkout experience with option to even pay later or even pay in instalments. brands will then receive payment in full upon the delivery of the goods. 


Clothing wholesale distributors are the easiest way for a retail store to ensure they have a constant flow of stock. Purchasing stock for a retail store is made simple as retail owners do not have to visit manufacturers or negotiate prices with brands. All you need to do is know what you want and place your order. As soon as you know it, you will have a delivery ready to be seen in store. 

Money Saving  

The main advantage for any business is that working with a large retail wholesale distributor will allow you to buy in bulk at much lower prices. Purchasing stock at the lowest prices possible then selling it at a reasonable profit will provide a steady turnover and profit for any retail store. As mentioned, wholesalers normally buy in bulk which means the more items a retail store purchases the less expensive they will be per unit. However, if certain items do not sell, a retail store could end up with a large amount of inventory that cannot be moved. You may not always need an extremely large quantity of retail products. To help gauge this, ensure that the retail store has a strong purchasing strategy in place before committing to large quantities of stock from wholesale distributors. 


Clothing items bought from wholesale distributors have been sourced straight from the manufacturer. This means that these items have not been passed on through several intermediaries so the clothing will be less likely to have defects or have been tampered with in any way.


Specified clothing wholesale distributors normally have a huge variety of choice and are up to date with current trends. They also work within the seasons. In general retail wholesalers work to the times, they know what will sell and what will not. The retailer will have a large choice as to what they want to sell in store. 

How to find the perfect clothing wholesale distributor? 

Finding the right partner can be complicated but it is always worth taking the time to scout out the best wholesaler that works for your retail store. A small business can have one or more distributors, but it is important to make sure that these suppliers are the ones that will best fit your business model. 

There are four important questions to ask before finding the perfect retail wholesale distributor: 

  • What prices can you afford? 
  • Does this wholesaler serve my geographical region? 
  • Does this wholesaler have a good reputation? 
  • Do the products correspond to my target market? 

Once you have the answers to these questions the search will become a lot more efficient! 

Distribution Channels 

There are many ways that a product can go from manufacturers to eventually inside a retail store. 

Different types of wholesale distribution channels include: 

  • Manufacturer 

For some products it is possible to buy directly from the manufacturer. Boutiques or more niche retail stores tend to do this as their products are less widely produced. A manufacturer does not at all mean that it must be produced in mass. The manufacturer for example could be a local artisan! 

  • Regional Distributors 

Regional wholesale distributors are most commonly wholesalers who deliver in very large quantities. 

  • Exclusive Distributor 

This is a type of distribution in which only one distributor is allowed to sell a product within a particular territory. The legalities of this distribution can vary depending on the circumstances. 

  • Jobber 

Jobbers are individuals who deliver directly to brick-and-mortar retail stores. 

Decide what to sell

Before finding a wholesaler, the retailer must decide what they want to sell. Above all, knowing and understanding your target audience and market is of the utmost importance. When this research is concrete it will be easier to narrow down what wholesale distributors work best for your customer. If searching online for wholesalers, be sure to include keywords from your products which could include product names, model numbers and particular brands you are trying to get hold of. It is also a good idea to investigate several wholesalers selling the same product you wish to sell in your retail store. This will allow you to see the industry price, make comparisons and negotiate prices. 

Online retail wholesale directories and networks 

It is possible to find many wholesale directories online. It is one of the fastest ways to find wholesale distributors anywhere around the world. Searching the web is also a great way to find more experienced retail owners who could be a wonderful source of valuable information. Finding the right contacts and online forums is a way to network to gain advice to find the best wholesale distributor for a retail store. Furthermore, the only cost involved is having a good internet connection! 

Tradeshows and publications 

Attend a tradeshow! They are one of the strongest ways to build any business. Tradeshows are created for retailers to connect with manufacturers and distributors. They are an absolute must for anyone working in retail and who is looking for a wholesale distributor. They are great networking events as they allow you to speak with several different wholesalers all under one roof. Trade magazines are also another way to gain valuable information about the retail wholesale industry.  

B2B Marketplaces 

B2B marketplaces online allow retailers to purchase large amounts of products at very low prices. It is important to find a marketplace that is suitable to your region and industry specific. B2B marketplaces can be found online! Ankorstore is a wholesale B2B marketplace that connects thousands of independent brands with over 200,000 boutiques and retailers across Europe. This model is extremely effective as it makes life much easier for retail store owners. An easy to use platform for retailers who can discover different types of products and brands all at the click of a button. 

To help you launch your retail business and find the perfect wholesale clothing distributor then look no further than Ankorstart. Ankostart is a free support programme to help retailers set up shop. From the initial business plan to how to manage a business, Ankostart will guide you through the important steps to retail success!


How do I find a great wholesale clothing distributor? 

The quickest way to find a wholesale clothing distributor is to search online by using keywords and model or brand names. To find a great wholesaler, talk to people with experience! There is nothing better than first hand advice from an expert in the industry! 

What is the difference between wholesale and retail? 

Wholesale and retail make up part of the supply and distribution chain. The wholesaler purchases the products from the manufacturer and sells it on to retailers. The retailer will then sell on to the consumer, the last part of the chain. Wholesalers usually deal in large bulk orders. 

Can I buy from a manufacturer instead? 

It is possible to buy directly from the manufacturer and miss out the step of the wholesaler. However this can be costly for startup businesses as you will have to buy in large quantities.