When setting up an online store, it can be difficult to find suppliers of good quality products at reasonable prices.
At first, consider several different suppliers and a fairly wide range of items.
Then, by a process of trial and error, find out which are the best and most reliable sources of goods that can be sold for a profit. Here are five places to begin your search.
If you’ve dealt with wholesalers in the past or have a clear idea of the products you wish to sell online, wholesalers could be your first port of call. However, it may take some time to find a wholesaler that provides the specific items you’d like to sell at competitive prices.
Bear in mind that most wholesalers have a minimum order value or quantity, and shipping costs are charged if you’re unable to pick up the goods. Other fees may also be added to the invoice.
Ask for samples and check the quality of the goods offered before placing an order with a wholesaler. When you’re setting up an online store, it’s a good idea to order relatively small quantities of each item first. You’ll then be able to order larger quantities of the products that fly off the shelves.
You could purchase wholesale or job lots with new items on eBay and then resell each item individually for a profit. When looking on eBay for wholesale or job lots, use the advanced search option to search for buy-it-now lots that have been listed within the past hour. You’ll be more likely to find a wholesale lot at a competitive price that hasn’t been noticed by other sellers.
If you have a specific product range in mind, you may not find a wholesale or job lot on eBay. If, however, you’re more flexible about the type of products you wish to sell, eBay could be a good starting point. Buying on eBay is usually easier than buying from wholesalers, especially if you don’t have experience of doing so.
Artists and Craftspeople
Hand-made or hand-crafted products can sell very well online. They include:
- original artwork,
- wooden items,
- home accessories.
You can either sell products you’ve made yourself or offer items on behalf of local artists or craftspeople in return for commission.
Bringing these unique products to a national or global audience can result in more sales at potentially higher prices than if they were sold only on the local market. To get ideas, if you are going to produce or white label a product on your own, then looking at items, or projects, that have received a lot of attention and sales on crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo and Kickstarter can be a good use of time in your journey of product research and sourcing.
Sometimes goods can be bought cheaply at clearance sales in brick-and-mortar stores and sold online. However, before buying such items, find out if there is good potential for making a profit. If the products haven’t sold well in a retail store, they may not be popular online, even though there is a larger number of potential customers.
Seasonal items can often be purchased in clearance sales and held until the following year when they can be sold for a profit. A good example is purchasing heavily discounted Christmas products immediately after Christmas and selling them online during the run-up to Christmas the following year. Bear in mind, though, that this strategy will affect your cash flow, so use it in conjunction with other strategies.
Drop shipping is when you sell an item on behalf of a supplier, and inform your supplier of each purchase. The supplier then packs and ships each item directly to your buyer.
The main advantage of this method of online selling is that you don’t need to make large up-front purchases of inventory. You also don’t need to store inventory, invest in packaging materials, and send lots of parcels in the mail.
However, the success of drop shipping relies on having an excellent relationship with an extremely reliable supplier.
If anything goes wrong, such as a product being unavailable or a shipment being lost in the mail, your buyer will complain to you rather than your supplier.
You may therefore have to deal with a lot of issues if you don’t have a supplier you can rely on consistently and continuously.
Now is a good time to open an online store. Over 903 million people worldwide purchased goods or services online in 2012 and this number is forecast to rise to 1.32 billion in 2016, according to Statistica.com, a website that compiles statistics. When setting up your online store, consider using several different types of suppliers and purchase goods from a few of them on an initial trial basis. Over time, you’ll discover which suppliers can offer you the best quality products at the most favorable prices, helping your online store to grow and prosper.