Pointers for Sourcing Product
April 22, 2011
Posted in Monetization
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Do you want to sell hard goods online? Are you considering an online store as one of your income streams? Either you make the products yourself to sell or you find third party "makers" and sell their goods. The hunt for the latter is known as "sourcing product."
Start your search close by. You may know people who create their own products (artist, designer, pewter maker, sculptor, welder, wood carver, writer, etc.). Do their products fit with your site's theme? Yes? Contact them, and set up a sales agreement. You market and distribute their products, and they pay you an acceptable percentage. This way, no out-of-pocket expenses are required to stock inventory on your part.
When you are sourcing product, all it takes is a little creative "outside the box" thinking to locate an opportunity that "fits" with your e-business. Instead of being a "creator of product" become an "aggregator of products."
An "aggregator" is someone who pulls different things together from different places and creates something new, wonderful, and valuable. In a sense, your online store becomes your product - that is what you are selling to visitors. If they "buy" your store (its concept), they'll buy your products.
Actually, the Net makes it (almost) easy. Source at websites like ThomasNet.com or Yahoo! Directory (drill down to the correct category rather than doing a keyword search) or by doing searches at Google or Bing. Sites for trade shows, trade directories and other industry resources related to your theme will take you even further.
Another worthwhile sourcing option is dropshipping. You can offer your audience a wide variety of products that match their needs, without having to stock and ship products. While dropshipping pays out a lower profit margin for you, it does have one big advantage. You can open your own store without spending thousands of dollars to develop a product inventory. And best of all, you can easily experiment and change your stock according to the responses generated by your visitors.
As was mentioned earlier, check out offline sourcing opportunities as well. Is there a nearby flea market with some terrific local artisans? You could aggregate their offerings into a cool, online store. Do you have a friend with an offline gallery or retail operation? Be partners and run the online division. Is your area famous for anything? Napa wines, Inuit sculptures, smoked B.C. salmon - all are good examples of things that can be easily promoted and sold on the Net.
Bottom line? Be creative and forward thinking. And whether you are sourcing product online or offline, make it a point to deliver what your visitors want, while still staying true to your business theme.
See this related article, "What to Sell a Product? Focus on Its Benefits".