3 Ways to Source Products for your Online Store

Reading Time: 7 minutes
Reading Time: 7 minutes

What is product sourcing?

Once you have made the very crucial decision of what product to sell online, the next biggie is sourcing the product. There are various options available to source a product for your ecommerce store. You need to choose one which suits your business the best and promises you maximum revenue and growth.

3 ways to source products to sell online

1. DIY products or locally sourced products

In this method, you either make the products yourself or buy them from small-time local manufacturers of hand-made goods. This model of sourcing will require a lower capital investment but higher investment in terms of time and efforts.

You have full freedom of innovation since you are involved in the production. Success depends on how innovative your product is. Keep evolving as the market changes.

  • Where will you get your product from?

If you’re not making the product yourself, identify from where you will source your product and at what rate. You can source your products from different places- maybe a local reseller, flea market, art and craft store or even your acquaintances.

  • How long does it take to make your product?

Determine how long it takes to manufacture the product. You may choose to produce goods after receiving an order, to keep inventory or a mix of both depending on the time it takes to manufacture the product.

  • Where will you store inventory?

Look for a place that can scale with your business. You can rent a warehouse, open a storefront or use third-party logistics.

  • How will you package the product?

When you sell locally manufactured goods, you are responsible for packaging as well.

Figure out how you want to package your products. How you package your orders will affect your branding and eventually the customers’ experience of shopping with you. Try unique packaging or include a personalized message with each order.

Ensure that the packaging keeps the product undamaged. It’s a bonus if you do not use plastic in your packaging – go eco-friendly!

  • Where will you source your packaging material from?

Once you’ve decided on the how – look for the where! The packaging material should be of good quality but cheap so that the price of the product stays affordable. Unless you’re selling a premium or luxury product, where you can justify the cost of the product, and customers don’t mind spending more for the sheer experience.

Remember to add the packaging cost to your product price.

  • How will you ship orders and what does it cost?

When you start small, it is easy to go to the post-office yourself to ship the orders, but as you scale you will require a shipping service.

Decide if you want to offer free delivery to increase sales and absorb the shipping costs as a marketing expense or you want your customers to pay the charges.

Factor in all the shipping charges and have them clearly visible on your ecommerce store.

“No one likes surprise shipping costs while checking out and it results in abandoned carts”.

  • How long will it take to ship orders?   

When buyers shop online, they like to know the estimated delivery time. Factor in how long it will take for your to ship orders once you get them Communicate this to your customers via SMS or emails. Send them tracking information and have a tracking system in place.

An ecommerce platform that comes integrated with shipping carriers simplifies this for you. VARStreet’s ecommerce stores integrate with ALL major shipping carriers and tracking information is automatically sent to customers as soon as they place an order on your VARSreet ecommerce platform.

  • How will you handle returns and refunds?

Have a policy in place for returns and refunds. Speak to the manufacturer to see if they’d absorb the shipping costs for returns of damaged goods. Have this clearly stated in the contracts you sign with your manufacturers.

Returns and refunds will add to your shipping costs so be very clear on how you want to handle this.

2. Working with a bigger manufacturer or wholesaler

This option of sourcing your products will require a larger capital than the previous one as you have to buy inventory and stock it if the wholesaler doesn’t dropship. What is dropship? Read more on dropship here.

Find out if the manufacturers of the product you want to sell, sell directly to retailers. A lot of them may not, but that depends on the size of your business.

If you are a known brand, manufacturers may agree to sell directly to you. In this case, you can also look to private label your product and maintain control over the product development.

  • Look for manufacturers or wholesalers.

Make a list of manufacturers and suppliers. Do a background check on them to confirm they are legit and reliable. You do not want to err in your choice of your suppliers, especially if they will be dropshipping your orders.

  • What is the minimum order amount?

Find out the minimum order amount and weigh if you’d be getting those many orders on your store. You do not want to eventually be stuck with a lot of inventory, especially if your product is one that is technology-driven and has the risk of getting redundant frequently.

  • Will they ship orders directly to your customers?

Will the manufacturer or wholesaler dropship orders for you? If they do, it will save you money in warehousing, packaging and labour costs.

  • Where will you store inventory?

If the wholesalers do not dropship then you need a plan for storage, packaging, shipping etc.

  • How long does it take for your manufacturer to make and ship the product?

You need to ask your manufacturer this to plan your inventory and orders. The manufacturing and shipping time will determine your order management.

  • Will they take back old and unsold stock?

Can you return unsold products to them within a specific period? What are their terms and conditions if they accept products back?

  • How good is their support?

Check how efficient their customer service and support team is. Do they update their inventory, product details, and availability frequently?

  • What is their policy on returns and refunds?

Will they accept returns if the product is defective or of low-quality? If yes, will they refund the whole amount or a percentage of it?

Always check for references, read reviews on their website and most importantly, ask for sample products before you sign a contract. Check the product quality, time taken by them to manufacture and ship, the packaging, etc. Finding the right supplier is very crucial for your business, take your time and make the right decision.

3. Dropship suppliers

  • What are dropship suppliers?

Dropship suppliers are vendors who let you showcase their products on your ecommerce store without buying inventory from them. When you receive an order on your store, you place an order with your supplier, who then delivers it to the customer on your behalf.

This method requires minimal investment as you do not have to invest in inventory or storage. You do need manpower at all and can single-handedly manage your ecommerce business or outsource some processes.

  • Look for dropship suppliers.

It is important you find the right dropship supplier for your ecommerce business as your reputation depends on your supplier your business. If your supplier isn’t efficient, you will be the one accountable to the customers, not the supplier.

Google dropship suppliers for the product you want to sell. You will get plenty of options to choose from, but they might not all be reliable. So ensure you do a thorough background check as scam suppliers are plenty in the dropship industry.

  • Where is their warehouse?

Don’t trust someone who doesn’t have a place of operation. Confirm that the address mentioned on their website is correct.

Another reason to know the location of your dropship supplier is to determine delivery times.

An overseas supplier will take longer to fulfill your orders as compared to a local supplier. Are you okay with the longer shipping time for a cheaper product or would you pay a little more and look for a local supplier?

Think about it before you choose and consider all factors before deciding on a supplier, local or overseas.

VARStreet integrates with 40 + IT and office supply distributors, ALL who are based in the United States and Canada. This cuts down delivery times considerably resulting in happier customers.

  •  Place sample orders

Place sample orders with the suppliers you shortlist. Receiving samples will give you first-hand experience of the product quality, packaging, and shipping.

  • Evaluate your options

Once you have answers to all your queries, compare the sample products, quality of service, shipping costs, delivery times and all other variables. Weigh all your options and choose suppliers that rank high on all parameters.

  • Partner with multiple suppliers

A single supplier means too much dependency on just one. What if they do not have products in stock and cannot fulfill orders? What if they shut operations? A back up is always a good idea!

  • Get an ecommerce platform with distributor integrations

A great option is to look for an ecommerce platform that comes equipped with distributor integrations.
VARStreet is one such ecommerce platform that connects you to 40+ well-known and trusted IT and office supplies distributors like Ingram Micro, Tech Data, Synnex, etc.

Why you should choose VARStreet’s ecommerce platform

  • Distributor connections

VARStreet integrates with 40+ IT and office Supplies distributors from the United States and Canada. We have aggregated the product feed from all these distributors to form one aggregated catalog and a single-window view of price and inventory from these distributors.

You can source your orders from the distributor who gives you the best price. Sourcing products for your online store cannot get easier than this!

  • Rich content

You get rich content like high-quality images, tech-specs, product descriptions, and related products, etc FREE!!

  • Design-templates

Stunning yet user-friendly templates let you design your ecommerce store in no time. You can customize your store and add your corporate branding.

  • Auto updates

VARStreet downloads price, availability and order-status information from all distributors every day. When your sales and purchasing teams come to work in the morning all data is instantly available from within the application modules. This helps them make intelligent and informed procuring decisions.

“Make informed procuring decisions with VARStreet!”

  • Integrations

All VARStreet ecommerce stores integrate will all major accounting, ERP and CRM applications to give your customers personalized shopping experiences, and you, a smooth and seamless ecommerce business. See all our integrations here?

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