If you already have started a new ecommerce business then you must have decided what to sell in your store. If you have done with that part, then you know how much critical to select a product to sell online. The next step is to find the selected product or products and trust me this is also hard to decide from where to buy that product.
Product sourcing is the most important part in ecommerce. It helps you to make sales and scale up your store by making profit margin.
This article will help you to understand what is product sourcing and how you can source a product from various sources.
Let’s get started!
What is product sourcing?
In a simple way product sourcing is the buying of products from reliable wholesalers or manufacturer for your store. Product sourcing includes the searching and finding of wholesalers, manufacturers or local vendors who provide you quality products and they may be either physical sources or online sources of your products. There are many large and popular internet marketplaces and websites who also provide wholesale products like eBay, Alibaba etc.
You can also source your products from local vendors and others like garage sales, local merchant, local artisans or from storage auction. Many ecommerce stores and business source their primary products from these local and offline sources at the beginning of their business.
Product sourcing Strategies
The most common question related to the sourcing of products is “where do I start when sourcing for my product?” Most of the new sellers have the similar question and it is quite hard to decide from where to source your products and what are the criteria you should follow.
Well. Experts provide many strategically important instructions to follow when sourcing your products. Here I have described some important strategies which you can follow and adopt when developing your own strategies.
Experts say that it is better to keep sourcing new products and wholesalers to survive the completion. You may make huge profit selling and fulfilling orders but keep in mind that your competitors are doing the same to make profit like you. Ecommerce is an evolving sector of business and here standing still will not help you to save your store. Other sellers would do whatever you are doing to make your inventory rich and it is not immoral if they buy products from you to know from who you are sourcing.
Again sourcing new products enhance your store’s functionality, drive more traffic and customers prefer dynamism of online store. So keep sourcing your inventory and searching for new products and wholesalers.
Let’s think you have launched your new ecommerce store recently and started selling contemporary goods or products like other retailers are selling. What will happen next? Will you be able to make your first sale? Or will you recover costs and make profit? To find the answers of these questions you need to do a lot research on market and market places.
Online business is profitable and many sellers are making a huge profit out of it. They are successfully selling their products and sourcing their inventory because they did and still doing market research. They absolutely know what products are trending, which target group will be their lifetime customers, how they can recover product sourcing cost etc.
You have to do your marketplace research to find out the best profitable products, reliable and advantageous wholesalers or manufacturers to source your products, what other sellers selling, and to calculate your possible profit margin by cutting down product and other costs. There are many market research tools and apps available in Shopify app store which you can use to test your sales.
Online retail is competitive and you have to give your best to win it. You may sell unique and quality products to increase sales and drive customers to your store. But you also have the acknowledgement of what your competitors selling at the same time to survive the ecommerce war.
It is not helpful to source brands and large manufacturer’s products if you are new in selling, manufacturers will not relay on you instead of well-known and successful sellers. So try to follow what successful sellers and ecommerce sites do to source their products and how they manage sales when selling similar products of either same wholesalers or different sources.
When you sell online that doesn’t mean you only have to rely and practice online tools and methods. An important factor of finding product sources and fundamental way of understanding and getting known with wholesalers and sources of product is offline activities like trade shows, trade seminars, local marketplace and local seller’s associations.
Some important offline sources-
You may find product sources by Google searching or by other internet sources but trade fair is considered as the legitimate and finest way to find product sources. Local marketplace is also a helpful place to find suppliers, products and also potential customers for your online store.
It is not always necessary to source products from China while China becomes the powerful hub for suppliers and retailers. Look around you! There are numerous sources for your products near to you and your home. You can easily get closer to these manufacturer and suppliers and get enough knowledge about their products. Try to differentiate and sourcing local products has now a new appeal in ecommerce. Many successful as well as new sellers in USA get involved in selling indigenous and local products like local artisan’s craft and arts, repaired garage items and antiques also.
Some possible local sources of products are-
Follow your own passion
It is not mandatory to follow the market or others, listen to your heart and follow your own passion. If you make clay pots or paper crafts than sell them on your store. You do not need to search product sources when you can produce your own products. The biggest benefit of running a business based on your own passion producing your own product is that you can cut down additional costs and scale up your product inventory based on your sales.
Always think out of the box. Maximum sellers at the beginning of their business follow what others are doing or selling and start selling popular products. This may help them making few first sales but eventually they lose the trail among hundreds of sellers of similar and popular products.
You may have question then how do some sellers make example of selling similar and popular products? The sellers have become successful either they are not new in business or they already have established their own brand so it doesn’t matter if they start selling popular products.
Experts suggest to source less priced products and not much popular and selling them with a good marketing strategy.
When selling products through your online store it is really matter how you maintain relations with your suppliers. A healthy supplier- buyer relations help to build trust and loyalty between sellers and suppliers. Your friendly behavior towards your suppliers inspires them to do business with you and when they get new products they would likely inform you first.
Getting closer to the supplier also help to get closer to the manufacturer of the product. Thus you can in future contact with product’s manufacturer and buy products directly.
Always have a backup plans! It is not obvious that you fail but business is all about ups and downs and who knows what will happen in future. It is better and helpful to have backup strategies and you may need them when your main business plant will not work out. Many large and successful sellers and stores have gone through rough times but some of them get back on market implementing back up plans.
What would you do if your supplier stops supplying product having financial problem? Experts suggest identifying alternative supplier or suppliers and get touched with them and whenever you fall into crisis contact them to make your new come back.
From where to source your products
You now have idea how to find your product sources to start your online store. But how do you get it?
At first you have to select the source you want to buy your product from. There are many sources and you can select the best suitable one for your store. The sources are-
Manufacturer is the real and genuine source for your products. Working with manufacturers is really beneficial to your online store as they work with you like a partner and they give you the possible control over the product. Working with product’s producer is also requiring less money and you can create your own brand. It is easy to contact with them if you have any question to ask about their product.
Manufacturers are more concern than wholesalers or distributors on their products fault or damage issue so you do not have to worry about returning or refunding policy.
But getting start with product’s manufacturer can be slow and expensive; they can ask you to open accounts or sign up for legal information.
Wholesalers supply products which are already in market. If you want to sell popular or available products you can use wholesalers or distributors. Wholesalers sell products which they buy from manufacturers and so they may demand relatively higher price than original makers.
Using wholesalers or distributors as product’s source will leave you with less control overprice, and it is also critical to maintain product’s quality as other sellers may also use same source and products. So if you want to work with wholesalers you need to be more careful to manage your inventory.
Drop-ship is now more trending and more ecommerce sites adopt this route to sell online. Dropshipping is what you sell directly from your suppliers without having the products in your stock. Dropshipping is becoming famous for its less capital requirement, easy to do and of course for less complexity of managing product inventory.
All you have to do while dropshipping is to select a supplier who will drop ship your products and then place your customers order from your wholesaler’s inventory and the next step is get busy with another order! Your supplier will directly ship your purchased products to your customers and the best part is your customers will receive their products with your brand names and tags.
Dropship also has some disadvantages. You need to take more risks than standard selling process; your wholesaler may not agree with you about easy return and refund. Margins in this route can be slim as you cannot add price on high priced products.
The best idea of selling craft products is to make it yourself and DIY products are now the most selling products in online market. If you make crafts out of clay, torn papers or used and recycled elements then why not selling them on your own store!
Now you have the wider scope of showing your creativity though social media and people are now more appreciating hand crafts and self-made products. You have full control over your product’s brands and price and do not worry the starting cost is lower than other routes of product sourcing.
DIY products have a demand limitation and you will need to be more careful about your product quality and product variety to ensure sales and customer retention.
Product sourcing is getting evolved with the help of internet but you are not alone. Getting known with newer sources of products and types of products helps you to update your business and product inventory. Keep in mind that, following to other successful models helps to determine your business goals and strategies.