by Mic Burns, Customer Success Manager
Product sourcing – arguably one of the most important aspects to any retailing business. For most retailers, finding new products to sell is essential to the growth of the business. Yet the majority of online retailers we work with seem to have little structure or resource dedicated solely to this task.
Without going into too much detail (and for fear of turning this blog post into a 200 page eBook!), there are many ways to source products. From attending trade shows and exhibitions, wholesale, distribution lists, product auctions, importing direct from manufacturers and private labelling. The list goes on and seems to grow each year. Although resource requirements vary for each, they all take time and without doubt, time is the most valuable resource to any business owner.
Over the last few years our Customer Success Managers have been working hard to get more involved with each of our customer’s businesses. They identify weaknesses and challenges, and work to plug those gaps with either knowledge, function or process. We’ve put together a list of challenges around “sourcing product” and have come up with some possible solutions that may help you find more products in less time.
Weaknesses & Challenges: Sourcing
A lot of business owners deal with suppliers over email in a reactive fashion, generally waiting for news about new products to magically appear in their inboxes.
You have to pick up the phone and start forging stronger relationships with your suppliers. A lot of the time new products are already allocated to other businesses by the time you receive the email from your suppliers.
Having a strong relationship with your supplier means not only will you likely be able to achieve more competitive buying prices, but you’ll be in a much better position to gain insights into your market. What products are currently doing very well? What trends are they seeing within their business? What are they sourcing for the next season? Are there any opportunities to have them source something exclusively for you to help you stand out?
You can quite easily gain insights into what’s currently selling without any additional tools or subscriptions to third party services. In eBay, you can view their “what’s popular” which gives you information on what’s currently selling well.
Once you have a product idea in mind, you can research eBay’s “completed listings / sold items” to see the volume of sales. A good place to start is simply to look at an item one of your competitors are selling, and click the “x sold” link above the BUY IT NOW box:
This shows you the velocity of sale, and which product variations (if applicable) have the better performance.
On Amazon, you can see similar data by adding an item to your basket, editing the quantity and entering “999”. In most cases when you click “update” you’ll see the following message: "The seller has only XX of these available. To see if more are available from another seller, go to the product detail page".
This insight is valuable as you can then run this same search each day for a number of days, and get visibility into the velocity of sales per day.
Chances are, you don’t have time to check, product by product – that’s a full time job, and a very inefficient one at that. In the next part in this blog series, we’ll cover the best tools to use to get insights into your products.