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Guide to wholesaler membership schemes

What are they and are they worth it?

So you have worked out a budget and decided the best method of payment, but how do you actually approach a wholesaler? You could stroll up to your supplier, firmly shake his hand and wave a tatty piece of paper listing your requirements under his nose, but there are a few things you should bear in mind first.

First of all, it is worth checking to see if your wholesaler runs a membership scheme. Although fairly uncommon, there are certain suppliers that will only trade with you if you take out membership with them. However, the practice has mainly died out as suppliers that charge for schemes have struggled to retain custom as competition has increased.

Those that do run membership schemes will charge you a ‘subscription fee’ in order for you to trade with them, allowing the wholesaler the power to effectively pick and choose who they deal with.

The benefits that you receive in return will vary according the wholesaler. Usually you will receive a regular newsletter and information on other offers that the supplier feels you may be interested in. You are also, of course, part of an ‘exclusive’ club, and entrepreneurs who prefer a more rarefied atmosphere may want to opt for such a scheme.

Unless the wholesaler that charges for membership has particularly rare, niche market goods that you require, it is best to steer clear as you will be able to save yourself money with another supplier.

“Personally, I have an issue with this method of operation as surely the supplier should be making their profit on the sale of goods, not membership fees?” says wholesaling specialist Richard Grady.

It’s best to steer clear of membership schemes as you will be able to save yourself money with another supplier.

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