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Product Sourcing: What it is, How to, And More

Product Sourcing: What it is, How to, And More
Product sourcing is when products are bought from a third party and then resold. Find out how to improve product sourcing for your import/export business.
By
Jacob Lee
November 30, 2021
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Last Modified: December 3, 2021

There is a demand for just about every product imaginable. Retailers have been implementing something called product sourcing to fulfill that demand. Product sourcing has been used by retailers for a long time but what exactly does this process entail?

Product sourcing involves researching products to be sold for profit, buying them from a supplier, and then reselling them. It’s important to do your research, calculate costs, and negotiate in order to find a product and supplier that meets your needs. Online product sourcing platforms are useful when searching for suppliers.

There’s a good amount of information that you’ll need to run your product sourcing company. Our guide below will give you some general information you will need to know to get your product sourcing company rolling. 

What is Product Sourcing?

As we have already mentioned, product sourcing is when a product is bought from a third party and then resold. Product sourcing is utilized by all retail businesses in some way or another. 

Global product sourcing might seem overwhelming but all it is are just a few simple steps.  Most of those steps are nothing more than extensive research into products you want to source.

Having Trouble Sourcing Products For Your Business?

Speak to a Licensed Customs Consultant and Get Help Importing Today!

How to Source Products

When you want to source a product there are a total of 4 steps that you should follow. These steps are:

  1. Researching a Product
  2. Comparing Prices
  3. Analyzing Suppliers
  4. Keeping Your Options Open

Research a Product

The first step you should take is conducting thorough research on a certain product or products. It's important for retailers to study the popularity of certain products. You can determine the popularity of products by looking at store data sales. 

What products are flying off the shelves at other stores will tell you what people find popular. Reviews on products are also a great method to use.

Good reviews will tell you what product a customer likes which makes it easier to find the product that you order. Bad reviews on a product are helpful because you can use them as clues that will lead you to better products in the same category.

Following trends is another useful method of research. Trends are most prevalent on social media. Seeing what people enjoy and do the most will tell you which products will be most relevant at the time.

Comparing Prices

Researching prices is important as well. You want to be able to cover the costs of the products you purchased but at the same time, you don’t want your products to be too expensive for buyers. Comparing prices on a given product from different retailers will give you an idea of where to set your prices at. 

You can compare prices of products that are similar to the one you want to sell. Looking at how the prices of similar products to the one you want to sell is helpful too. This will give you an idea of how expensive your product will be going into the future.

Analyzing Suppliers

Analyzing product sourcers is extremely important. Before you reach out to one, you need to already know what you want to get out of the interaction. Do you want to contact them for further information on products, their shipping methods, or for samples?

One method of analyzing the suppliers shipping methods is by making a test - run order. How the supplier does this will give you an idea of how they conduct themselves. Asking for samples is useful in a similar way because you know how much quality the suppliers products have.

Keeping Your Options Open

Lastly, you should keep open options for product sourcers. There are many product sourcers that make the same type of category of products. As a retailer, you want to have a variety of products for your customers to choose from, and having multiple sourcers is a good way to do that.

Some companies will inevitably stop conducting business or be bought out by other ones. These factors could potentially disturb your supply of a certain product which is another reason why having other suppliers is important.

Having Trouble Sourcing Products For Your Business?

Speak to a Licensed Customs Consultant and Get Help Importing Today!

Product Sourcing Strategies

Product Sourcing Strategies

There are many strategies that you can use to source products. No one strategy is better than all the rest because they all come with their benefits and downfalls. It all comes down to which strategy fits you and your business the best. The strategies you can use are:

  1. Manufacturers and Wholesalers
  2. Dropshipping
  3. Trade Shows
  4. Handmade Products

Manufacturers and Wholesalers

Manufacturers are great for large retail companies because manufacturers have large minimum order quantities or MOQs. This means that manufacturers have to produce a large amount of a certain product. 

For smaller retailers, manufacturers might not be the way to go. A smaller retailer will have a smaller clientele and will not be able to sell all of the items. Smaller retailers probably won’t have the storage space either. 

Wholesalers have the same pros and cons as a manufacturer. The difference between the two is that the wholesaler is a middleman. They act as a go between for a manufacturer and the retailer.

Dropshipping

One great benefit of dropshipping is that this strategy doesn’t require you to have to handle your inventory. The drop shipper will fulfill the customer order and ship it to them instead of you having to do it yourself. Dropshipping is much cheaper than going to a manufacturer and you won’t be required to make bulk purchases.

The downside to this strategy is that you don’t have much control over what the quality of the product will be. Competition is another downfall to this strategy because retailers will be sourcing the same products as you. 

Trade Shows

Trade shows are not as popular as they once were but are a great place to form relationships with sourcers through face-to-face interaction. Another benefit about trade shows is that any questions you have can be answered right away.

As we discussed, trends are important for knowing what product to source. Trade shows will have plenty of products that reflect current trends and even what will be trending in the future.

Lastly, trade shows will have plenty of products for you to sample.

The downside is that they can be time-consuming because you have to travel to where they are located to attend.

Handmade/DIY

The last strategy that you can utilize is handmade products. This  strategy works well if you already have the skills to make your one-of-a-kind product. Having your own original product means you won’t have to worry about competing with other retailers. The interest in handmade items is slowly growing and making your products to source gives you full control over your own products.

The only downside to this strategy is how long it takes to make these items and making sure that you have the resources to do so. You will also need to have plenty of space to put your products together. 

How to Find Suppliers to Source Products From

How to Find Suppliers to Source Products From

The best method for finding a supplier would be to use a product sourcing platform. The benefit of a product sourcing platform is that it will connect you with sources immediately and make your research process easier. 

Product sourcing platforms allow you to search a certain product and then connect with suppliers. They can come in the form of either a website or an app. They allow you to find products, determine how close a supplier is and where the nearest supplier is located at.

In order to use a product sourcing platform you just have to download the app if applicable and then make your account. After that you can start searching for suppliers. 

One extremely popular product sourcing platform that is used is Alibaba. This is a Chinese platform with an extremely large selection of products to choose from. While Alibaba is a great choice, there are plenty of other product platforms at your disposal. Check out our article that discusses 19 other great platforms for product sourcing

Which Countries Should I Source Products From?

Sourcing products from other countries is beneficial because of how cheap it is. Asian countries are great for product sourcing for retailers due to the low labor costs.

The top five countries that the U.S. imported from in 2020 can be found below.

CountryValue of Imports
China$303,296.7
Japan$85,094.6
Vietnam$56,891.9
South Korea$54,543.9
Taiwan$43,666.0

Source: https://www.trade.gov/data-visualization/us-goods-trade-global-partners 

U.S. Importers source more products from China than any other country around the globe due to its low labor cost and expansive network of suppliers. 

Japan and South Korea are also both excellent options to source products from because of free trade agreements that exist between the U.S. and each of these two countries. These trade agreements have reduced or eliminated duties on specific products imported from Japan and South Korea.

While India is just outside the top five, it too is a great option for product sourcing due to its cheap labor expenses. One of the primary languages of India is also English which makes communicating with potential suppliers easier. High quality goods can be found in Vietnam and Taiwan as well. 

There are plenty of other countries that you can source from besides these five, both in Asia and on other continents around the globe. Alternatively, you can source products domestically as well. However, sourcing domestically is often more expensive. 

Get Product Sourcing Help from the USA Customs Clearance

USA Customs Clearance will help you with your global product sourcing needs. As we noted earlier, we can obtain a customs bond and importer registration for you. Our experts have all the knowledge on CBP regulations and more so you never have to worry about your imported products being put on hold.

On top of being able to obtain a customs bond and importer registration, we offer 1-on-1 consulting sessions. If a consulting session is not what you're looking for then you can contact our team who will help you determine what your next steps should be.

Having Trouble Sourcing Products For Your Business?

Speak to a Licensed Customs Consultant and Get Help Importing Today!

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