How to source the right products for your online store

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ecommerce shopping online

When starting an e-commerce business, it’s crucial to source the right products to sell to your customers. Global e-commerce sales are set to soar to over 6 trillion US dollars by 2023, so becoming an online seller can be an extremely profitable venture in today’s climate. The process is simple; source products from a supplier and resell them online.

While the business model itself may be straightforward, choosing products that will resonate with customers can be challenging. Picking products with little thought for your audience can lead to a lack of consumer interest and poor profitability.

This article covers how to source the right products for your e-commerce business and where to find suitable product suppliers.

How do I decide what products to sell?

Narrowing down which products to sell online and what will be in demand can seem overwhelming. However, if you conduct the relevant research, sourcing the right products won’t seem so daunting.

Market research

Taking a look at major online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay will help give you an idea of what products people are selling right now. Whilst it’s easy to see what’s popular and currently selling well before you decide to go down the same route, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is the product easy to ship? Easy to ship products help keep shipping costs as low as possible. It’s best to look for small, lightweight products, as items which you can send inexpensively can increase your ability to profit.
  • Are the products easy to source? You need to be able to source a similar product yourself quickly. Take a look to see if you can easily access suppliers offering this product.
  • Is it a seasonal product? Assess whether the product will only be popular at certain times of the year. It could be more profitable to source products that are in demand throughout the year.
  • Is there too much competition? You’ve found a popular product, but if there is an abundance of other online stores selling the same thing, it could be difficult for you to stand out from the rest of the marketplace.
  • Is there enough profit margin? You’ll need to do some calculations to ensure that your business can easily profit from selling the product. Think about how much it will cost to source the product, how much you will resell it for, fulfilment and shipping costs etc.

Where can I find product suppliers?

The most obvious place to source product suppliers is online, whether it be a supplier website or an online supplier platform. Trawling through websites trying to find the right products can be a laborious process. Therefore, it can be easier to search via a supplier platform. Some of the most notable platforms for sourcing suppliers include:

Trade shows are another popular way to source suppliers, with the primary benefit being that you can see the product first-hand without the need for a test order or sample. There are various trade show calendar websites that allow you to see what shows are coming up in your local area. Meeting the supplier face to face can also help you build a relationship and see if this is someone you want to form a partnership.

Should I have more than one product supplier?

Whilst it may seem complicated, it can be beneficial to source products from multiple suppliers. Some of the benefits of multiple suppliers include:

  • Having a greater range of products to sell
  • Someone to fall back on if one supplier encounters difficulties
  • Easier to manage high demand with a steady flow of supply

That being said, multiple supplier strategies can also cause potential set-backs:

  • Information sharing can become complex
  • Suppliers may be less responsive to businesses with lower order volumes
  • Can be more time consuming to liaise with multiple people

How do I reach out to a supplier online?

Websites like Alibaba make it easy to reach out to a supplier, but you may need to email the supplier directly in other instances. When emailing a supplier, always keep your message as succinct as possible, requesting and stating the following:

  • Product specifications
  • Product photos
  • Product samples
  • Lead times

If you decide you like the product, ask for a test order to be run to evaluate the supplier fully. Before deciding, it’s important to assess:

  • Did the product meet your expectations?
  • Was it delivered in good time?
  • Were they easy to liaise with?
  • Were the costs reasonable?

Should you find that the supplier falls short on the above points, it can be helpful to offer constructive feedback and outline the reasons why you have decided not to pursue the buyer-supplier relationship.

Doing your research and understanding what sells, with an awareness of cost and logistics, can help ensure that your e-commerce business sources the right products and becomes profitable.

When it comes to storing and shipping products to customers, it can be more cost-efficient to outsource your order fulfilment. If you’d like to know more about how Pointbid could save you time and money on your e-commerce fulfilment, please give us a call on 0121 326 7368.

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