You can find suppliers through a variety of online and offline channels. Looking at different sources may give you more options to shortlist possible suppliers. No matter where you look, the search is likely to be easier if you know exactly what you’re looking for.
Decide in advance what type of supplier you need and consider the levels of service, quality and price you are willing to accept.
Seek referrals and recommendations
Word of mouth can be a good place to start. Ask friends and business acquaintances about their experiences. You're more likely to get an honest assessment of a supplier's strengths and weaknesses from someone who has used a supplier before.
Search business directories
If you're looking for a supplier in your local area, it's worth trying online directories such the Northern Ireland companies directory.
Consult business advisers
Invest NI's Business Information Centre has extensive market research, company databases and worldwide business directories that you can use to help find suitable suppliers. Other local business support organisations, such as local enterprise agencies and Chambers of Commerce can often point you in the direction of potential suppliers.
Contact trade associations
If your needs are specific to a particular trade or industry, there will probably be a trade association that can match you with suitable suppliers.
Visit trade shows and exhibitions
These offer a great opportunity to talk with a number of potential suppliers in the same place at the same time. Before you go, check the exhibitors are relevant and suitable for your business. Use the events finder to find business events near you.
Check trade press
Trade magazines feature advertisements from potential suppliers. A selection of trade publications and trade press listings should be available at your local business library.
When you identify a number of potential suppliers, you’ll have to assess their offering against your business' needs and requirements. Read about the criteria for selecting a supplier.