Product sourcing: finding wholesalers and drop shippers information for eBay and Amazon

Recently, I published an article by Stephanie Chandler on locating wholesale sources. It’s a good article for beginners and covers a basic introduction to product sourcing whether for online shops or brick and mortar ones. You can read it at “How To Locate Wholesale Suppliers.”

Of course, there are any number of reasons you may want to find wholesale sources. Sure, you might be starting a real store or a website in a niche market. But you might also want to get into the craze of selling on eBay and/or Amazon.com. Furthermore, you may want to source components for your own product creations — after all, why would you want to pay retail prices and taxes on your parts and supplies?

So now that Chandler’s article has reminded me of it, I’d like to say a few words on the subject.

I don’t usually write about product sourcing because there is a certain amount of controversy and conflicting information out there about it. There is also a great deal of hype. Not to mention that there are innumerable scams involving product sourcing.

The most controversy and a great deal of the misinformation and outright scams seem to revolve around the issue of finding products to sell on eBay and Amazon.

I was taught when I was a child — and believed it — that if something sounded to good to be true, it probably was a scam. If I see an offer that says “Get your eBay account today, and be making $20,000 a month within a week, without risk,” I think it is obviously impossible and a lie. But, I’ve learned that many people fall for that kind of hype daily.

Also, there is a lot of well-intentioned, but misleading advice dispensed for free in forums or article farms. So, would-be eBay and Amazon sellers come to believe that they should be able to find hot products — like brand-name video games and iPads — at wholesale, which they can get drop shipped for them after advertising them in auctions for the lowest price available. No. Uh-uh. Not going to happen. Why not is a long, long discussion.

Instead of trying to explain how it works, I’m going to refer you to two resources. They both have information products to sell, but they give you plenty of information for free. Enough information that you can figure out what you need to know on your own. Enough information that you can figure out if they are legitimate and their products are worth buying.

First, there’s Skip McGrath http://www.skipmcgrath.com/. He’s been selling on eBay and giving advice to others since eBay’s early days. He has a great straight-forward, down-to-earth style of writing. His advice is solid, practical and based on his own experience.

If you’re thinking about selling on eBay and/or Amazon, you need to read his free articles and sign up for his free newsletter. They will cover more than you get in many of the useless ebooks that others have for sale. Of course, he wants you to buy his information product and he’ll advertise them to you both on his website and in the newsletters. But, by the time you’ve gotten his free information, you’ll probably be glad to fork over a bit of cash to get more details and guidance.

I have an old copy of his manual “The eBay Wholesale Buying System.” Back in about 2002, I wanted to help my parents start an eBay business, and McGrath’s manual was the info product I selected after a lengthy investigation of the field. I found it to be a valuable resource, along with the newsletters he has automatically sent for all these years since. I’ve kept an eye on how he has developed his business and his advice and have been impressed. I don’t recommend products lightly. But, I am confident that if you read his articles and the back copies of his newsletters, you’ll be pleased with what you see.

As with anything I recommend, however, I must remind you that you are the one that has to investigate and make the final judgement. Never substitute my references for your own choices. I’m giving you a link to his home page for you to start your own research. Skip McGrath http://www.skipmcgrath.com/.

You might also like his free ebook: 77 Tips and Tools for Selling on The New eBay

Also, considering that some of McGrath’s products get a little costly, it’s nice to know he offers a money-back guarantee of your satisfaction.

My second resource is WorldwideBrands.com. (If you go to the McGrath site I recommended, you’ll find he also recommends them. His book and newsletters are where I found out about them. )

I have a membership with them, and have had since about 2003 or 2004. They provide everything they promise. And the membership, although expensive, is a lifetime membership. When I’m offered a “lifetime” anything on the internet, my first question is “does it deliver what it promises?” and my second question is “how long can it be counted on to really run — what is a lifetime?”

It wasn’t as much of a risk to me as it may be to you — I got the membership for much less than the current price.

What I can tell you is that it actually has a huge database of wholesalers, liquidators, and drop shippers. What I cannot tell you — and neither can Worldwide Brands, is whether or not you’ll find the products you want to sell from the suppliers they have listed. Worldwide does, however, have a money back guarantee.

Honestly, though, I’ve never used any of their wholesalers. So, I can’t say how their suppliers are to deal with. But that’s not because of any failing of Worldwide’s or their suppliers. It’s just plain personal. Not long after I got the McGrath manual and the World Wide Brands membership, my Dad became too disabled to try to build a new business and also had to give up the crafts business he already had going. While I know very well how to do selling on eBay and Amazon, having sold my own used books through them, it’s not my line of interest.

At least I can write about the fact that they have continued to grow their directory for many years and have constantly supplied new resources in their weekly newsletter. I recommend that you take a look at their website, where they have a good amount of free information, including articles and ebooks. In fact, here’s the link to the free ebooks. You might like to start there: Worldwide Brands Free EBooks

Are you asking for it? Whether you’re selling a product or selling yourself, you have to ask for the order.

Earlier today I published a guest article by Jessica Swanson, “50 Powerful Call to Action Phrases.” She points out that so many solo entrepreneurs and small business folks who write their own ad copy forget the essential ingredient that gets customers to buy or clients to sign up for service: you have to ask for the order. Ads, public relations spots and presentations of any sort must tell the potential customer/client what to do next. And they must instill a sense of urgency, excitement or desire to do it now. In fact, they do even better when the suggestion to do something is repeated several times or in more than one way.

In addition to being a good article for small business marketing, Swanson’s words reminded me of something else: the advice is good for job hunters. When I was a counselor in an employment agency, one of the pieces of advice we constantly repeated to our applicants was: “Ask for the job.” By that we meant that at the end of the interview we suggested the applicant say something like, “I’m very happy to have had the opportunity to interview for the job. I’d very much like to work here and I hope you will offer me the job.”

Whether you want to get someone to buy a product or buy you as a product (employee), you must directly ask them to do so. Of course, asking for the job will be phrased differently — and maybe less aggressively — than asking someone to buy a car, but seeking a job and selling a product are both sales activities.

Getting your product to market on a shoestring

Today I published a guest article by Stephanie Chandler, Get Your Product to Market on Any Budget. She offers a good selection of very workable outlets, and I’d like to add a few words about one of her suggestions.

Ms. Chandler suggests hosting home-based parties, and mentions Mary Kay, Tupperware and the Pampered Chef as examples of a possible method of selling your own product(s). She advises developing a theme for your parties and launching your start-up by inviting family and friends to hear a presentation about or demonstration of your product(s). (And, of course, buy your product.)

My own two cents on the subject is this: I’ve seen this process work wonderfully well for various different kinds of sales. My first encounter with the variations on home party sales was when we were vacationing in Mexico and met a couple who took very profitable vacations all over the world. They would spend part of their vacations shopping for local crafts and have their purchases shipped back home. When they returned from a vacation, they would fix up their home for a sales party — and I mean they would do it quite professionally, setting a theme for the particular country where they’d bought the sales items. So, if they had brought back goods from Mexico, they would have a buffet of Mexican foods and drinks. They would rent palm trees to line their entrance walkway. They would play Mexican music. And they would build an appropriate display for their Mexican goods. It would be a real party, a social and entertaining party. But everyone knew they were there to buy something. People had fun and all the goods always sold out. At a very nice profit.

They had started with inviting friends, family and neighbors. Their family, friends and neighbors started bringing others. They built a list. They got feedback on what the folks on the list would like to see next. They learned what to buy. They learned who to invite and when. They learned the buying and selling customs of various countries and types of people.

At first, it was just a great way to write off vacations and get some extra cash. As it grew, all they had to do was have fun traveling and throw parties about four times a year and they could make a good living. After a while, a number of friends liked to have them do the shopping and send the goods back to the friends. The friends would reimburse them and then the friends would have their own sales parties.

You can see how the idea of just one kind of home party sale grew and blossomed into something big. It’s applicable to most products and even many kinds of services. Think about the variations you could do with your own product. This is a wonderful way to add a new marketing venue, start up a new product venture, have a sideline business or moonlight while employed.