Finding Products for Your Business

Is It Legit?

When it comes down to it, there is only one good way to research genuine wholesale suppliers: Ask the manufacturers. Contact the manufacturer of the products you want to sell, and simply ask them who their authorized wholesalers are. They know. They'll tell you, and you'll be sure you're not being scammed.

To find a product manufacturer:

  1. Buy a sample of the product, or look at a display model. Somewhere in the box or on the product you'll find the name of the manufacturer.
  2. Call the corporate headquarters of the manufacturer, and ask for the sales department.
  3. Tell the sales representative you are a retail business owner, you want to sell their products in your store and you need to know who their factory-authorized wholesale suppliers are.

It's as simple as that.

However, this research process does take time, especially if you want to locate drop-ship and light bulk suppliers, which are fairly rare. If you're going to do the research yourself, you should start now, and continue doing a little research each day.

Sourcing Success
Frank and Teresa Solano, 45 and 44, respectively, understand the importance of product sourcing. As an airline pilot affected by cutbacks in that industry, Frank launched BestHealth-andBeautyStore.com with his wife, Teresa, in 2006.

"We launched the site in March 2006, and by June, we were profitable," says Frank, whose 2006 sales hit $30,000. "By October we doubled our sales. Our success with Best-HealthandBeautyStore.com has prompted us to launch our second site, Way2GoGPS.com, selling products for all kinds of air, land and sea GPS needs. As an e-commerce merchant, the number-one thing you have to take care of right away is where you're going to get your product and how much it's going to cost. That's the bottom line." The Solanos have other e-commerce sites in the works, such as PetsHealthMart.com, HotDivaShoes.com and TheBestGroceryStore.com.

Startup retail entrepreneurs who take the time to understand product sourcing have won half the battle before they even begin selling. Take that time, and you'll be doing the best you can to ensure your success.

What to Sell
It's not enough to simply know where to get inventory--you need to know what products people are buying. Market research is a critical part of product sourcing, and these resources can help.

The Real Deal
There is a small number of truly legitimate internet sources offering information on genuine, factory-authorized manufacturers and wholesalers. Here are three.

  • www.ThomasNet.com: A comprehensive resource for finding information on suppliers of industrial products and services in North America. ThomasNet is a good resource if you choose to do your own product sourcing research by identifying the manufacturers of products made in North America.
  • www.GlobalSources.com: Listing thousands of manufacturers and wholesalers overseas, with an emphasis on China, this website connects you with overseas manufacturers looking to work with small and large businesses alike.
  • www.WorldwideBrands.com: Creators of OneSource, this site is the only comprehensive directory of genuine wholesalers that is certified by eBay. Designed to be used by any kind of online or offline retail business, OneSource is a searchable database of thousands of pre-verified wholesale sources representing millions of wholesale products with fully integrated market research tools.

Info to Grow
Product sourcing isn't just something you do once and forget about--it's an ongoing process that continues throughout the life of your business. You must take the time to learn what you're doin gin this critical process if you truly want to succeed.

  • www.WorldWideBrands.com: This site contains several free e-books, a large collection of free articles and videos, a product sourcing newsletter and more
  • www.ProductSourcingShow.com: Home of The Entrepreneur Magazine Product Sourcing Radio Show, a weekly show dedicated to product sourcing information, interviews, articles, podcasts, audio archives and more.

Chris Malta is host of The Entrepreneur Magazine Product Sourcing Radio Show, product sourcing editor of The eBay Radio Show, and founder and CEO of WorldWideBrands.com.

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This article was originally published in the February 2007 print edition of Entrepreneur's StartUps with the headline: Straight to the Source.

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