The Nonprofit Buyer's Guide to Buying Wholesale

If you are the one tasked with buying for your nonprofit, you face many challenges – especially if purchasing isn't in your career background.

You may be ordering supplies for one-time events, or for ongoing supply, but either way, it is of great benefit to buy wholesale for reduced pricing. What many nonprofit buyers don't know is that you can purchase products with wholesale pricing even if you are not going to be reselling the items.

Click to view Wholesale information.

For many buyers in these scenarios, the implication of “wholesale” is that you have to have a store to buy wholesale – but you do not! So, begin saving and put your money where it really counts.

Don't know where to start? No worries – we've got you covered.

Here are our top 10 tips for nonprofit buyers:

  1. Look for economical brands.

    Look for economical brandsMany name brands have competing products that cost less. Sometimes it is even the same exact product with a different label, or it is something made for institutional use that is at a much lower price point. Do your research and find the cheapest option!

    Browse the Personal Care aisle for economically priced brands.

  2. Be open to vendor suggestions.

     Be open to vendor suggestionsSometimes the vendor has experience in selling to your type of entity and might have some cost savings or other valuable suggestions. Be sure to ask for their ideas and input.

  3. Be open to short-dated or overstocked items.

    Be open to short-dated or overstocked itemsIf you are going to be doing an event in the near future, sometimes purchasing something that is close to its “best by” date is a great way to get a discounted price on something that is perfectly good to use. Similar to short-dated items, items on overstock are often significantly discounted.

    Check the Clearance aisle for short dated and overstock products.

  4. Be aware of your timing needs, and follow-up.

     Be aware of your timing needs, and follow-upIf you have a deadline for an event, or regular re-supply, be sure to get a clear understanding from the vendor of items being in stock, when they will arrive in stock, and when they will ship. And, follow-up. If this is a frequent need, be sure to attribute value to a vendor that delivers reliably. Sometimes this may be more valuable than a lower price – something may be cheaper, but if it doesn't arrive in time, it is no good to you.

  5. The more time you give a vendor, the better they'll be able to work with you.

    The more time you give a vendorYou don't want to pay extra for last-minute shipping. Be aware of your schedule, vendor location, and transit times for shipments. Additionally, a vendor may be able to keep an eye out for you for special deals, discounts, short-dated items, etc. that can offer you an economical solution.

  6. You'll get the best pricing when you buy in quantity.

     You'll get the best pricing when you buy in quantityThe more you purchase in quantity, the better off you are, so be sure to purchase at the most economical level. If you need to purchase periodically, you may be able to purchase twice as much, half as often, but get a better price because you are purchasing more at once.

  7. Investigate pre-assembled kits, versus individual products.

    Investigate pre-assembled kits, versus individual products.Depending on whether you have volunteers assembling kits, it may be better to have a vendor that can also kit items together for you so you don't need to ship to two vendors to cover what is needed. Some vendors have “packing party” sets of products that include popular items for creating the individual kits you need. These are great if you have volunteers to help assemble.

    Packing Party Kits of economically priced toiletries and food.

  8. Look for the wholesale or bulk button or option.

    Look for the wholesale or bulk button or optionPerhaps it seems obvious, but many buyers don't even notice that there is a wholesale option with a vendor that has a product being sold at retail. Be sure to ask your vendor what discounts they have for ordering in bulk as well as anything special for non-profits.

  9. Work with a company that offers "net terms" Instead of paying by credit card.

    Work with a company that offers "net terms" Instead of paying by credit card.The law has changed in the last few years that allows vendors to charge a convenience fee for using a credit card. But, they do not charge this for paying by check, and often will discount people who pay quickly by check. For instance “2% 10, net 30” means that you have 30 days to pay by check, but you get 2% off your order if you pay by check within 10 days.

  10. Be aware of your sales tax implications.*

    Be aware of your sales tax implications.Just because you are a non-profit with 501c3 status, doesn't mean you are exempt from sales tax. If the products you are purchasing are going to be re-sold in any way, be sure to get a re-sellers permit from your state. Make sure to show this to vendors when you are purchasing so you do not get charged sales tax. If items are not going to be re-sold, depending on the item type and your state, you may be subject to paying sales tax.

(*this is not intended to be professional tax advice; please consult your tax professional for a proper understanding of your tax implications)

Armed with these tools, you are sure to get the best bang for your buck. Good luck!

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