Tips for Finding eBay Vendors
Get the eBay products you want--and the quality your customers demand--with these tips for finding a product supplier.
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More than 724,000 entrepreneurs make a living on eBay, and manygot started with just a few items from a garage sale or off a dustyshelf at home. So how did they move from eBay as a hobby to eBay asa business? Savvy product sourcing.
Finding products customers want to buy at a price they'rewilling to pay requires strategic planning. The goal is to identifysuppliers with quality merchandise you can afford and in quantitiesyou have room to store. The list may include manufacturers,wholesale and closeout distributors, liquidators or job lottraders.
Trade shows, online marketplaces and trade portals are efficienttools that offer a snapshot view of what's selling and at whatprice, as well as company contact information.
Trade shows provide access to hundreds of potential suppliers,giving you the chance to see what's hot in the market and checkproduct quality firsthand. The face-to-face contact alone may beworth your attendance. "The human element never goes away interms of getting a better deal," says Sam Bundy, grouppresident of VNU Expositions-ASD/AMD Merchandise Group, a tradeshow management company in Santa Monica, California.
For exhibitor information, check with the local convention andvisitor's bureau in the host city or with the show'smanagement. Some show managers post a list online with hyperlinksto exhibitor information. If the selection is too broad, look forsmall regional shows with a narrower product focus.
Jen Lowe, 33, and Tom Nessen, 31, co-owners of Boom BoomPercussion LLC (eBay User ID: boomdrums) in Atlanta, turned totrade shows to diversify their line of musical instruments."The show was a good place to go and start buildingconnections with new vendors," Nessen says.
When meeting with vendors, avoid asking questions that peg youas a newbie. Asking about payment and credit terms or productfeatures is a big no-no. "These are questions you wouldn'tbe asking if you were experienced," says Eric Lau, 26,co-founder of Vision Decor Furniture (eBay User ID: visiondecor) inCity of Industry, California, with $7 million in annual sales."They put doubts in the vendor's mind."
If trade shows aren't an option, online solutions offer aconvenient, affordable alternative. Companies post wholesalepallets for sale on trade portals and bulletin boards. The MichiganState University Center for International Business Education andResearch hosts a comprehensive website that lists many of thesesites as well as a trade leads bulletin board.
For products overseas, a service for exporters in China isavailable from Global Sources Ltd. (eBay User ID:globalsourcesdirect) and for general buyers at its online store,www.global sourcesdirect.com. "It's a good place to startfor somebody new to importing," says Peter Zapf, vicepresident of Global's Singapore location. Though importingintroduces issues of customs clearance and duties, Zapf says,"those complexities are offset by access to products at muchlower cost."
PowerSellers can also find merchandise through eBay's newResellerMarketplace, which provides access to inventory directly fromsuppliers without having to qualify with each supplier or meethigh-dollar minimums. Howard Rosenberg, eBay's director oftrading platforms, says offering "merchandise in a widevariety of categories available at any given time provides anopportunity for PowerSellers to grow their existing business orexpand to new product categories."