Boy do I spend a lot of time shopping for and buying beads on the internet. My husband would say way TOO much time! Compared to shopping at my local craft stores, I just love the unbelievable variety of beads available on the internet.
If you’re patient, you can search various online bead jewelry supply stores and find some amazing prices on beads as well. This is particularly important if you are buying beads and beading supplies on a wholesale bead supply basis to make jewelry that you plan to sell.
I’ve been buying beads online for so long now that I decided to put together a list of things that I think make a great bead jewelry supply website. No site on the web is perfect on every aspect, but many of the places I shop on the web do very well in many of these categories.
I put the list in prioritized order of what’s most important to me, but you may have different preferences so please rearrange the list to fit your own priorities as you see fit.
1. Secure Payment Page
I’m sure you hear horror stories on the news all the time about people having their financial information stolen when they purchased from not very reputable online stores.
Make sure you only purchase from a store that has a secure checkout. That means the site uses encrypted servers. How do you know if it is an encrypted server or not? You can identify this when you go to the payment page the browser should have an https:// and not just http://
2. Great Value
Of course, you want to get the lowest prices you can get for what you buy. But make sure that you buy quality as well. That means you should look for the best value (the combination of quality and price), not just the best price.
3. Low or Free Shipping Costs
You’ve probably had the experience of shopping on a website and thinking you found a great deal, then you get to the payment page and get surprised by a large shipping fee. Suddenly, that great deal turns out to be not quite as great as you thought.
Make sure that the bead supply website you’re using doesn’t use low prices to bring you in and then make up for it by tacking on high shipping charges. Look for sites that offer very low, or even better, Free shipping.
4. Large Selection of Products
When you go grocery shopping, wouldn’t you rather get everything at one place rather than having to go to many different places?
In the same way, when you are shopping online it’s nice to have a bead supply store that has a very large selection of products so that you can do “one stop shopping” and save a lot of time.
5. Products Always in Stock
It can be very frustrating to find what you think is a good bead supply website, you place an order, use your beads, then go back to the website to order more, and find out that they are out of stock.
If you sell jewelry then a wholesale bead jewelry supplier that doesn’t keep a stable level of stock can really put you in a bind. Find a supplier that maintains a high level of stock, particularly for items that you use often.
6. Good Customer Care
Even the best suppliers will occasionally make mistakes and ship you the wrong thing, the wrong quantity, or a product will be damaged.
When this happens, you want a supplier who will quickly resolve the problem for you in the way that you choose to communicate with them.
Email, phone, quick response
7. Shopping Cart that Stores your Information
If you frequent a bead supply website often, you don’t want to have to re-enter all your shipping details each time you purchase something at the site.
Advanced shopping carts will store this information for you which makes it much easier, and much quicker to check out once you have all the items you need.
8. Volume Discounts Offered
The more you buy from a retailer, the more discount that store should be willing to offer you on your purchases. Smart retailers know that you will buy more if they offer you a discount for doing so, or give you free shipping or some kind of incentive.
Also, if you are making jewelry to sell to others and buying large amounts of beading supplies, getting discounts on volume purchases means more profit for you when you sell your jewelry.
9. No Minimum Order Required
While it’s true that it cost companies money to process orders, it seems to me very self-serving and short-sighted when a company charges a fee if you don’t purchase a minimum $ amount when you order. It sure doesn’t make you feel like a valued customer.
Fortunately, there are some bead supply sites that don’t have any minimum order requirements. That can be a big help during times when you only need a couple of small parts.
No one likes spam. Many companies will sell their customer’s information to email list marketers, and that’s when you will start receiving unsolicited emails for things you don’t care about.
Make sure the store has a policy of keeping your information to themselves with a commitment to not give it to any third parties without your express consent.
Are there more things to consider? Actually, I have an additional 15 or so things that I look for, which I’ll offer in another article, but the ones listed above are the big hitters. Use these tips when evaluating bead suppliers and you’ll end up dealing with the best.