In order to sell products on your eCommerce store, you must source these products. Product sourcing is a challenge that eCommerce businesses face continuously. You must consider quality, cost, delivery time, and more when choosing where to source products. Once you have chosen the type of products to sell, it is time to source them. How you source your products is the foundation of your business and underlays all critical business functions. Here we offer a guide to sourcing products.
What is Product Sourcing?
Product sourcing is really as simple as it sounds. It is the process of attaining a product to sell. Before product sourcing, you will need to determine the exact products you want to sell, then your product source to actually get the products. There are numerous methods for product sourcing, and you can use multiple methods for your online store. The most common methods are dropshipping, wholesale, print of demand and custom manufactured.
Finding Ideas for Inventory
Before you attain your products, you must first determine which products you would like to sell. Getting fresh ideas to stay ahead of the curve is no easy task. Here are some ways to brainstorm new product ideas.
- Put yourself in the shoes of your target customer. Imagine what they do, their daily challenges, and the questions they ask. Brainstorming these scenarios will help you come up with products that solve common pain points for your target demographic.
- Examine the social media channels of customers. This is an easy way to way to get a detailed look into their daily lives and what they find important.
- Ask your customers and listen to their feedback. Send out surveys and use social media to create polls about what your customers want to see next from you. Listen when customers provide their input
- Research keywords. Keyword research with Google’s Keyword Planner tool can help you find keywords related to your business, and thus new ideas.
- Attend trade shows. Businesses promote their products and services at trade shows, making them a great place to find new inventory to sell.
Product Sourcing Options
Creating Your Own Products
For starters, you could always create your own products. When you create your own products, you can sell something completely unique and execute full control over your brand. There are some channels, like Etsy, dedicated solely to handmade goods. While startup costs are low for DIY products, you must continuously put time and effort into making the goods. It may be challenging to scale your business with DIY products, so you must be very thorough and plan ahead. In order to sell DIY products, you will need:
- A method for sourcing the materials.
- A strategy for shipping orders.
- A detailed timeline for how long the products take to make.
- A place to store inventory.
- A plan for communicating timelines on your store.
While DIY products are possible and have some benefits, they are not realistic for all businesses and will be very challenging to scale.
Manufacturer or Wholesaler
Another option is to partner with a manufacturer or wholesaler. When you do this, you hire them to develop your product. Even if you started out making your own products, you may eventually need to move to a manufacturer or wholesaler to scale your business effectively. When you work with a manufacturer or wholesaler, you have the ability to create unique products without doing so yourself, but you will need to invest more upfront. You get control over your brand and product, but assistance with production. In order to partner with a manufacturer or wholesaler, you need:
- To find products.
- To find the right partner to create your products. Check references and reach out to others who have used them. The Better Business Bureau is a great place to start.
- Do your research. Ask questions about the cost, production time, shipping/inventory management, contracts, communication, and minimum order quantities.
- Get a sample prior to signing with anyone.
- After weighing your options, choose the best fit.
Dropshipping involves purchasing products from a vendor and listing them on your online store. With drop shipping, you do not need to handle inventory, packaging, or fulfillment. However, you will likely have steep competition since the products from the drop shippers are available in other places on the internet as well. There is a wide selection of products available from drop shippers, but the profit margin is lower and you will need to sell a lot to make a profit. In order to choose a drop shipper, follow the same basic process as when finding a manufacturer or wholesaler.
After sourcing your products, it is time to sell. We are here to help. With Listing Mirror, manage listings, orders, inventory, and your warehouse from one simple platform. As the #1 multichannel product listing software, we make it easy to work less and sell more. Learn more about how Listing Mirror will simplify your multichannel eCommerce selling by contacting us or registering for your free demo.
Erin is the Co-Founder of Listing Mirror.