We have covered the topic of sourcing products many times over the past few years. Posts have ranged from sourcing methods and strategies, to the nitty gritty of finding suppliers and working with them effectively.
Many aspects of selling come down to processes and policies – understanding the marketplaces and running a really streamlined operation. That efficiency is crucial, and can be hard to achieve, but really it’s just a requirement so that you can stay in business. The ability to find appealing products at a profitable price is what actually determines your success.
In this roundup, I’ve pulled together our best sourcing posts. They’re grouped into six sections: general, importing, reselling, liquidation, arbitrage and used.
General Product Sourcing
This explains the main sourcing methods: reselling, private labeling, liquidation, retail arbitrage and used items. If you don’t know the terminology, start with this. Read it here.
Here are twelve tips from ecommerce experts around the world to help you develop your own product sourcing strategy. Great general advice. Read it here.
Posts about sourcing products from China, particularly for private labeling, are some of the most popular on the site. Of course you can import products without private labeling (to sell as generics or to resell a foreign brand, for example). You can also source products domestically to private label. So importing and private labeling are not the same thing, but a lot of the time they do go hand-in-hand.
- How To Attend a Chinese Trade Show Like a Pro. Gary Huang gives a lot of practical advice on making the most of trade shows.
- Hard Lessons Learned on My Sourcing Trip to China and the Canton Fair. Danny McMillan gives a blow-by-blow account of his visit to China and Hong Kong.
- Alibaba Alternatives: 10 Other Ways to Source Products from China. Gary Huang again, spelling out some of the best ways to source from China without using Alibaba.
- 3 Different Types of Chinese Suppliers: Which is Right for You? Ashish Monga explains the differences between manufacturers, trading companies, and sourcing companies.
- Working With Chinese Suppliers: Myths and Facts. Mark Houng covers 11 common misconceptions about Chinese suppliers.
Also take a look at our posts on private labeling.
Reselling is where many successful sellers end up. It has a lot going for it: stable sources of product, recognizable brand names, and the ability to scale easily – just add more SKUs. But it’s also the hardest to get into, and can be difficult to manage in the long-term if you build up to hundreds or thousands of products.
Andrew Tjernlund’s Amazon sourcing strategy, focusing on domestic suppliers and building a large catalog of products. Read it here.
Meghan Gleason explains the science of sourcing from brands, and how to pitch your value to suppliers. Read it here.
Also check out our posts on Inventory Management, which address the issues of managing a large-scale business with a high SKU count.
Liquidation or clearance products are items which retailers have decided to sell off cheaply in bulk. Retailers might decide to “liquidate” any stock that they can’t sell at full-price, such as customer returns, out-of-season stock, and product lines that they simply bought too much of (overstocked).
Everything you need to know about sourcing clearance products: how the liquidation business works, pitfalls to be aware of, and tips on how to profit. Read it here.
The story of how and why UK Sports Warehouse decided to add regular lines to its long-standing business selling clearance products. Read it here.
This is buying products from ordinary bricks-and-mortar stores (or online retailers) for resale through online marketplaces. It’s attractive to many beginners in ecommerce, because you can start small and don’t need any special business or tax registrations.
- Tools for Online Arbitrage: Sourcing, Research and Profit Calculation. A look at some of the product research tools available for arbitrage buying from online stores.
- Retail Arbitrage at Scale: An Interview With Robyn Johnson. An in-depth look at one of the top arbitrage sellers.
- The Truth About Amazon to eBay Arbitrage. A look into the shadowy world of buying products on Amazon to sell directly to customers on eBay.
Selling used products is probably the least glamorous of all the methods, but it can be very profitable. It can also scale to be a very large business – some of the highest-volume sellers on Amazon and eBay sell used items.
This covers the category where most sellers of used products focus: media. Brennan Burns of Monsoon takes an in-depth look at selling books, music, DVDs and video games online. What are the current trends and challenges, and the best channels for selling media? Read it here.
Germany’s Momox are one of the world’s largest sellers, with over 100 million dollars in sales. They only sell used items: books, CDs, DVDs, games and designer fashion. Read it here.
I hope you’ve found this roundup useful and wish you the best of luck with your product sourcing efforts!