If you’re planning to start an e-commerce business, and have no idea how to source products, let me be your guide. Unless you’re manufacturing your items, product sourcing will play a major role in your business. If you’re unfamiliar with that term, sourcing products is buying stuff from a wholesale supplier to sell in your store.
Deciding where to source products to sell requires plenty of research. You will also be surfing through the internet and local suppliers to see which store would benefit your business the most. An important reminder is never to sacrifice quality for a little price difference. That would lead your business to crash. Ensure that the supplier you’re sourcing products from doesn’t compromise the quality.
Through this article, I’ll walk you around the essential factors to consider to source products.
To source products, first things first, conduct a detailed analysis. The Internet will prove to be a great help here. If you already own a store and are looking to add some new items to the shelf, make sure you don’t go out of your store’s niche. This will help in building a customer base. They would know what kind of products your store sells and are likely to explore other stuff too.
If this is the beginning of your shop, pick a relevant niche and stick to it. By relevant niche, I mean stuff that is in demand or would catch customers’ interest when they’re told about it. You wouldn’t want to pick a niche where demand is low, and supply is high. You can survey social media platforms to see which products would be easy to sell. Google Trends is also a great tool to know about the popularity of things. You can also use free research tools like LINER to help you with Google research. This will also help in predicting the demand for the items.
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Look for Suppliers
Now that you have decided on your products, time to look for a supplier. You can find suppliers online, in the physical market, and at trade shows (an event where people showcase their latest products and services).
Platforms like Aliexpress, DSers, global sources, and Alibaba are great to source products from. There you can find wholesalers and dropshipping suppliers from around the world. You can either go for an overseas seller or a local supplier. Both have their advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of sourcing products from overseas suppliers:
1. Access to technology and items unavailable in your country.
2. Number of options to choose from.
3. Product sourcing from international suppliers can be cheaper.
4. You might even find goods of higher quality than domestic produce.
Disadvantages of sourcing products from overseas suppliers:
1. Complex logistics.
2. Currency fluctuations might lead to less profit or even loss.
3. You will have to deal with the rules and regulations applied in different countries.
4. Risk of quality.
5. Language and cultural differences can cause complications.
Go to Trade Shows
At these events, businesses display their latest products. You can find several interesting products. Trade shows last for several days. They cannot only be a great platform to source products to sell but also spark creative ideas.
Partner up With a Manufacturer
Partnering with a manufacturer when you have a unique idea for a product is a good way to go. Conduct a survey and research to know if your idea is a hit or flop. Once you’re ready to manufacture it, decide if you want to source products from a private label manufacturer or a white label.
Private label manufacturer
A private label product is created by a manufacturer but sold under the retailer’s name. Say you are a retailer and partner with a private label manufacturer. Then your products will be produced by someone else but sold under your company’s name. You will get to decide everything from packaging to pricing.
White label manufacturer
A white-label product is a generic item manufactured by a third-party manufacturer to be sold under the retailer’s brand name. Here you don’t get to decide what goes like in private label. These products are the same for all retailers.
Make Your Handcrafted Products
If you don’t want to source products from suppliers for some reason, you can always make your handcrafted goods. Many people turn their hobby of creating jewelry, clothes, or beauty products into a business.
It can be cost-effective but hard. When handcrafting products, you will need to consider the cost of raw materials, labor, electricity, and storage. For a selling platform, you can use low-priced website builders, such as Strikingly, to set up your online shop. That way, the profit margin will be even better.
Furthermore, Strikingly has a reseller program, in which you can enroll and grow your business.
Shortlist Some Suppliers
Once you’ve looked across all the platforms and found suppliers for your products, shortlist them considering the criteria you had set. Consider the time that will be taken for delivery, price, quality, and stock requirement. You can check the quality by requesting a sample.
How to Request a Supplier for a Sample
It’s a no-brainer that before your first order, you need to request samples. You cannot solely rely on reviews. There are multiple reasons why you should request a sample.
- You can check the quality of the product. Some pictures can be misleading. And there’s so much more to stuff than just appearance.
- You can check the supplier. This includes how they communicate with you, how much time they take to get back to you, and other things like delivery and packaging.
- It will tell the supplier that you’re serious. Suppliers communicate with hundreds of people, and not all give orders. When you request a sample, it will give the impression that you’re interested in building a long-term business relationship.
Don’t be shy to ask the supplier to add an “of no commercial value” tag to the sample. It will save you from paying duty charges. Be specific about the product (model, colors, size, etc.) you want, and confirm with the supplier if they understand.
When providing samples, suppliers might send different types of samples.
- Factory batch. These are already produced items which are not customized as per the buyer’s specifications.
- Pre-production samples. You would get this type of sample if you asked for customized products.
- Batch samples. These products are a part of mass production.
Should You Work With Multiple Suppliers?
The answer to this question solely depends on you and your business. Working with multiple suppliers can mess up the supply chain and lead to loss. But, it’s wise to build a relationship with multiple suppliers for backup. If you use this strategy, the chances of losing customers due to a shortage in production or extended delivery time are very low.
If you can manage well, only go to multiple suppliers to source products.
Time to Sell Your Products Online
Now that you’re done sourcing products, it’s time to sell them. To sell online, you’d need your online shop. If you’re thinking of one more thing to spend money on? The answer is no. You don’t need to spend any money on developers or web designers for your store. Do it yourself. And no, you don’t have to be a developer to do that.
Checkout Strikingly. Over 12 million users around the world have built their websites using Strikingly that, too with little to no money.
Simply sign up if you haven’t already.
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Select any of the templates you think would be best for your store.
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Modify it according to your needs.
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Select one of these pricing plans if you want access to the pro features and templates. Strikingly Blog articles will keep you updated about the latest templates.
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Market Your Store
To drive traffic to your shop, you need to market it. There are different paid and unpaid options you can select from.
- Start a blog about the trending topics in your store’s niche. Ensure to publish SEO content. In the beginning, I’d suggest writing the blogs yourself. Or give a chance to newbie writers to write for your website to build a portfolio. Tell them they can become a published writer which would be helpful to get clients. It’s a win-win situation for both.
- Run paid Google or Facebook ads.
- Send PR to influencers. You can even decide on an affiliate fee with them. An affiliate fee is when they earn a small percentage of money on each sale of your product they marketed.
Now that you’ve learned to source products, and built an online store, sell and keep an eye on customer demands.