what is product sourcing

It isn’t easy to find the products you want to sell at prices that allow you to make a profit. Researching, finding the right suppliers, and maintaining a high level of product quality can prove to be challenging. To be successful, you need a good strategy for product sourcing.


What Exactly is Product Sourcing?

To put it simply, product sourcing is the process of finding products to sell. It means finding reputable suppliers to buy quality products at a good price.

There are numerous methods you can use to source products. Most ecommerce retailers use a combination of the four most popular methods: working with a wholesaler, a manufacturer, creating handmade products, and partnering with a dropshipping provider.


Popular Methods of Product Sourcing

One isn’t necessarily better than the others, but there are factors to consider before making a decision.


#1 – Wholesaler

This option is ideal for sellers who aren’t going to manufacture or assemble their products themselves. It’s also great because it allows you to scale your business. In other words, you can add more products as your brand grows and your customers want more.

Pros and Cons: Working with a wholesaler allows you to sell unique products without committing the time required to make them yourself. However, when you go this route, you’ll likely have to invest more upfront because many wholesalers require you to buy products in bulk. You’ll also sell the same products many other retailers are selling which means stiffer competition.

Sourcing products: You may have to do some online research to find a wholesale supplier who offers the type of products you want to sell. Consider a supplier like Alibaba, that offers a huge product catalog for online retailers. An online directory is also a good place but may be time-consuming to sort through. Finding the right partners means your business will run much smoother, so the time is well spent.


#2 – Manufacturer

For many ecommerce retailers, working directly with a manufacturer is great because it cuts out the middlemen – typically trading companies. It is also great to build relationships with those open to private label or white label products. However, establishing a professional relationship with manufacturers can be a challenge.

Pros and Cons: It’s common for manufacturers to require minimum order quantities (MOQ) that depend upon the product. That means that while you may be able to get your products for lower costs than with a wholesaler, you may still have to buy in bulk for manufacturers to want to work with you. This can make it difficult for smaller businesses who have smaller budgets.

Sourcing products: Like finding wholesale suppliers, you may have to search online for manufacturers that you want to work with. Additionally, you may want to consider attending trade shows, expos, and other industry events near you. These events will allow you to meet face-to-face with manufacturers (and wholesalers, too).


#3 – Handmade Products

Handmade goods are all over the internet, and there are lots of buyers who are looking for unique, hand-crafted products. Many artisans can make a living selling handmade items online. If you are thinking about going the DIY route, there are some things to consider.

Pros and cons: One of the biggest perks of selling DIY products is that no one else will be selling exactly what you are. And, you will have complete control over your brand and your inventory. The factors to be concerned about when selling DIY products are your time and the scalability of your business. Making your own products to sell takes time. So, you must consider whether you will still have enough time to run your business effectively. Additionally, you have to consider if sales really take off and the demand for your products increases quickly. Will you be able to keep up? What is your plan B?

Sourcing materials: Your first step is to source the materials you’ll need to make you products. You may already have a source, or you may need to visit craft stores or sites, flea markets, estate sales, or other retail stores. Identify all the materials you need, where you’ll get them, and how much they’ll cost. That will help you determine pricing for your products.


#4 – Dropshipping

Dropshipping is a hands-off product sourcing method that allows you to list products to sell from a supplier and pay for them when they sell. Once the sale is made, the supplier sends out the order to your customer. You never have to handle the items at all. When you use dropshipping, you can start an online store quickly and have access to an endless variety of products.

Pros and cons: The hands-off part of this sourcing method means that you don’t have to handle inventory, packaging, or shipping. The drawback is that you’ll have more competition because you won’t be the only retailer selling those products.  You’ll also typically have lower profit margins with dropshipping, so you have to sell more products to make a good profit.

Sourcing products: When you’re using a dropshipping supplier, sourcing dropship products is simple – you have access to thousands of options at your fingertips. You should, however, spend some time researching and evaluating the suppliers you’re interested in using. Make sure that the products meet your quality standards and that the company is reputable and has good customer reviews and feedback.


Final Thoughts about Product Sourcing

The above ideas are meant to be a starting point for you, so don’t stop here. The main point to remember is that it’s important to find the right products to sell, and the right supplier to provide them, for your online business. The strategy that you come up with should keep your customers happy and your bottom line growing.


Do you have any product sourcing tips? Share them in the comments section below!



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Ecommerce Product Sourcing Strategies for Every Business Model
Ecommerce Product Sourcing Strategies for Every Business Model

Product sourcing is where skill and talent come together for online retail. But like any other skill, you’ll perform better with proper training and instruction. Here, we cover the best and most practical advice on product sourcing for the 8 most common business models.

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