Many people starting their first e-commerce store are often thrilled with the creative part of designing a website, while dread or feel anxious calling suppliers to sign their first contracts and receive products to sell on their store. So what’s the best way to initiate contact, phone or email? My short answer is phone, but nowadays email is not a problem either and can even be more efficient.
It’s better to phone when calling new suppliers you want to do business with in order to introduce yourself and pitch your store. It’s more personal and people everywhere still value this in business. It’s also especially true when starting out, since you don’t have any solid credibility yet. Once you’ve been selling for a few suppliers for a while it becomes much easier to grow your brand portfolio, and if your site looks professional you should even receive business partnership offers coming directly to you. But keep in mind that a first phone conversation usually follows into email regardless, and many companies nowadays have online dealer application portals where in some cases you will be re-directed to when calling to open an account. Quite often I find myself needing to send account managers “just-touching-base-to-see-if-you-need-any-other-documents-from-us-before-we-can-move-forward” reminders in order to sign contracts and receive product data sheets. Some suppliers are excellent and email you everything very quickly, while others even have all their spreadsheets and photos on their website for you to quickly access. In my experience if you apply to say 40 brands you will get 2-4 who sign you up very quickly, others will take longer because people are just busy, some will reject you, while others won’t even reply to you.
Think about how many hours it would take you to phone 40 brands versus sending them all the same introductory email? Ultimately you will already be on the supplier’s website before calling them, so have a look and search for dealer portal, dealer application, and their contact us pages. Sometimes I first fill out the online application then phone them to introduce myself and mention my application. If the supplier looks like a lower quality ‘silver’ or ‘bronze’ type of brand based on their products and website, I often don’t even bother with their time-consuming online application form and just recycle an old introductory email tailored to them. If I want to sign a ‘gold’, high-quality brand, you can be sure I will first phone to introduce myself and be on top of replying to their emails quickly.
Why don’t you try calling during week day business hours and reaching out via online applications + emails in the evenings and week-ends and see what works best for you?