If you’re thinking about selling products online, the eBay marketplace is a great place to start. The platform is easy to navigate, you don’t have to shell out a lot of money to start selling, and there are millions of eBay shoppers to sell your products to.
Though, don’t let the fact that it’s so simple fool you. There are challenges you’ll encounter when selling online, no matter which platform you choose. One of the biggest hurdles you’ll need to overcome is deciding where to source your products.
While you may have an idea about the types of products you want to sell on eBay, figuring out how to find those products can be difficult. Make product sourcing for eBay easier with the tips below.
#1 – Know Your Sourcing Options
One of the first steps to finding products is to learn what sourcing methods are available. Here are the top 5 ways to source products to sell on eBay:
- Arbitrage– This method involves buying discounted products from stores (brick and mortar or online) and reselling them for a profit. If you sell handmade items on eBay, you still need to consider sourcing options for your materials. Gathering materials for crafting is similar to a retail arbitrage seller gathering products, especially when you buy from retailers like Hobby-Lobby, Michaels, or JOANN stores.
- Dropshipping– You list a catalog of products from a supplier for sale on eBay. Once a customer buys the product, you notify the supplier of the purchase. The supplier ships the product directly to the customer. With dropshipping, you never touch the actual product and you don’t pay for it until it’s sold.
- Bulq – In November 2020, eBay began a partnership with the wholesale liquidator Bulq. It allows sellers access to products that customers returned to big retailers, like Target. Many stores don’t reshelve items that are returned, rather, they hand them off to liquidation firms because it’s cheaper. This is big news because it provides sellers with a new sourcing option that isn’t affected by COVID-19 lockdowns. The Bulq solution is simple. Sellers can seamlessly purchase and resell liquidation lots (returned and excess merchandise from major retailers) on eBay. Once you purchase a lot, it’s shipped directly to you. You’ll have access to a listing solution that pulls product information from the lot’s manifest and automatically creates listings which you can then review, edit, and publish directly to your eBay store.
- Wholesale– This method involves buying stock directly from a manufacturer or supplier in bulk at a discount. You can either contact the manufacturer directly or buy from wholesale marketplaces such as Alibaba.
- White Label/Private Label– White labeling means you buy generic items from a manufacturer directly and sell them as your own product with your own branded labeling. Private labeling means you work closely with a manufacturer to develop your own version of a generic item that is exclusively yours. These options can be lucrative, but confusing. Check out our beginner’s guide to these two methods.
If you sell handmade items on eBay, you still need to consider sourcing options for your materials. Gathering materials for crafting is similar to a retail arbitrage seller gathering products, especially when you buy from retailers like Hobby-Lobby, Michaels, or JOANN stores.
#2 – Consider the Feasibility of Your Product Choices
While deciding what and how to sell the products you source, there are some key considerations to think about. Ask yourself the following questions about your product choice before you start sourcing inventory:
Is it easy to source?
The products you sell must be readily available. Look for multiple methods or suppliers to obtain your products from should there ever be a problem with your primary supplier.
How shippable is it?
Efficient shipping is an important element of success for any ecommerce business. Your product choice will need to be shipped to customers as quickly, safely, and inexpensively as possible. Consider the size and durability of the products to determine whether customers can receive their purchases intact and affordably. Here’s a great guide for choosing the best products to dropship.
How much demand is there for it?
It’s important that your product choice is somewhat popular. Do research to learn if there is enough demand for your product in the market. Consider whether you can add value or bring something new to customers with your products. Using Google Trends is a great way to find data to support your choices – use this step-by-step guide if you’re new to the tool or need a refresher.
#3 – Establish Your Expected Profit Margin
Choosing products that you enjoy marketing and selling isn’t enough. Can you make a profit on it? Even when it seems like a great idea, you have to know that your product choice is going to make money – that’s why you’re selling on eBay, right?
Estimate your expenses (also known as Cost of Goods Sold) and projected revenue to determine whether the profit margin you’re left with makes it worth selling.
#4 – Get to Know the Competition
While you researched the demand for your products (in tip #2), you likely found some of the other sellers online who offer the same or similar products. For this tip, it’s important to deepen your research and learn more about those competitors. Try the following to get an idea of what the competition is doing and how you stack up against them:
- Online Search– Google your product. This will show you which ecommerce channels are at the top of the results, which will help you decide what your best options are for launching the sale of your product. It will also help you understand proper categorizations, effective product titles/descriptions, and whether the market is too saturated.
- Paid Tools– There are also some paid online tools that allow you to enter product keywords and see the websites that are ranking highest for those keywords. You can then explore those sites to see what is making them successful.
- Explore eBay– Take a good look at Explore eBay, an eBay tool that allows you to see exactly what is trending, popular keywords, best-selling products, and the value of products purchased in the last month, 60 days, and 90 days.
Takeaways for eBay Product Sourcing
The eBay marketplace is a great place to start your ecommerce business – when you source the right products. Follow the above tips – where to source, considerations to think about, profitability, and your competition – and you will have the foundation you need to start selling those products on eBay.
Once you have your products, check out our list of free eBay listing tools to get those ready for sale!
Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published December 2018 and was updated in May 2021 to reflect more accurate and relevant information.