Blog / Beginner's handbook / Product Sourcing: How to Find Products to Sell Online
Pst . . . you . . . yeah, you! Come learn the magical art of sourcing products for selling.
Elders consider it to be the most essential of all ecommerce arts. It’s an art that teaches you how to summon products that you can sell online and make a profit.
As a sourcing-meister, I’ve already summoned some products that’d look dazzling on your online store. But we’ll get to those at the end of the blog. As for now, young mage, I’m here to teach you the basic product sourcing spells so you know how to source products.
Master the spells, and your store will always be stocked with exciting items that attract customers.
First things first—what is sourcing?
Product sourcing is the process of finding and getting products you want to sell on your storefront.
The goal of product sourcing is to find quality products and get them for a reasonable price. That’s how you maintain a premium feel for your brand and still make a profit from a sale.
But how does one get quality products? Unfortunately, there isn’t a single spell for that. However, there are five great methods you can use to source products, so let’s start with those.
Dropshipping is one of the most popular product outsourcing methods. It’s a business model where you sell third-party products without keeping inventory.
Yes, the magic of selling products online without inventory is real. The products are kept in third-party warehouses and shipped to your customers on your behalf.
Let’s say you have an online store and use a dropshipping service. When a customer orders from your store, your dropshipping company receives the order, fulfills it, and then ships the product to your customer. Ta-da!
The following product sourcing method is similar to dropshipping, but has its own charm.
Print-on-demand (POD) is a business model similar to dropshipping—you sell third-party products on your storefront without keeping inventory. What makes POD companies different, is that they also print on the products. You can create as many designs as you want and have them printed on mugs, embroidered on bags, engraved on jewelry, and much more.
The way print-on-demand works is—say you have an online store and use a POD company like Printful. When a customer orders something from your store, your POD company receives the order and notifies you. The company then prints, packs, and ships the product to your customer on your behalf.
Both print-on-demand and dropshipping product sourcing methods allow you to sell products without owning stock. But there are other sourcing spells out there—ones that empower you to sell products you have on hand.
Wholesale is the business of selling products in large quantities at low prices. When you use wholesale to source products, you buy items in bulk and then resell those goods to customers with a markup.
To source products for your online store, you must first find a wholesaler that offers products you’re interested in. You then have to buy the products in bulk and either:
The next product sourcing spell is similar to wholesale. Come closer, and I’ll show you how it’s just a bit different.
A manufacturer, just like a wholesaler, is a company that sells products in large quantities and at low prices. The difference between a manufacturer and a wholesaler is wholesalers resell products made by someone else, but manufacturers sell the products they made themselves.
The way you work with a manufacturer is similar to working with a wholesaler. You find a manufacturer that makes the products you want to sell. You then order the products, the manufacturer produces them, and, depending on who handles your customer order fulfillment, ships the inventory either to you or your 3PL company.
Alas, we’ve come to the final product sourcing method to learn about. And this one is all about making magic with your own hands.
If you don’t want to work with a company to source products for your online store, you can create the products yourself. Decide if you’ll want to make them per order or pre-make in bulk.
Depending on which product-making method you’ll use, you can then either ship the ordered products yourself or entrust a 3PL company to do the work for you.
And voilà! We covered the five sourcing spells: dropshipping, print-on-demand, wholesale, manufacturer, and handmade. Now that you know how to get products for your store, let’s take a look at the products I already conjured up for you.
If you’re just starting an online store, it makes sense to sell print-on-demand items. POD products are relatively easy to customize, and you don’t have to invest in inventory.
But if you’re someone who already knows their way around dropshipping, I encourage you to take it to the next level—sell unique products manufactured according to your specs.
I present to you—5 manufacturers you can order custom products from.
The best part about pins is, they can be anything you want: classy, trashy, colorful, monotone, and they’ll still look great on almost anything! Plus they’re great to sell alongside apparel, bags, and jewelry.
Here’s what you can get with Wizardpins:
Price per 1 pin if ordering 100
P.S. Wizardpins has this handy pin designing guide if you’re down to make pins.
Business cards are great promotional freebies for your brand. Use them to promote your social media handles, brand values, or other things you want customers to remember you by.
To add promotional materials like business cards in your Printful product orders, you have to keep a stock of the cards at Printful warehouses. Then, once a customer orders from you, we’ll add the freebie to their order.
Here’s what you can get with Vistaprint:
Price per 1 business card if ordering 100
Magnets are a nice fit for almost any home & living product collection. You can market magnets for kitchens, office spaces, and anywhere else with a surface that creates a magnetic field.
Similar to pins, you can customize magnets to suit your brand and make them look funny, chic, inspiring, and everything in between. Here’s what you can get with Sticker Mule:
Disclaimer: Printful might earn a commission from signups or purchases completed via the above link. Read more.
Price per 1 magnet if ordering 100
Bandanas are high in demand because of their versatility. You can use this piece of fabric for literally anything, even to blow out your nose (I don’t judge).
Here’s what you can get with Printology:
Price per 1 bandana if ordering 100
Scrunchies go well with activewear, leisure, and everyday outfits. They look good in both hairdos and on your wrist. Plus, they’re fun to style and market. What more could you ask for?
Here’s what you can get with Elastic Bands Co.:
Price per 1 scrunchie if ordering 100
So you’ve bulk-ordered your pins, scrunchies, and business cards. What next? You have two options.
1. Turn your living space into a warehouse and ship out the products to your customers yourself
2. Mail the inventory to Printful and let us store it and ship it under your name
Printful offers fulfillment warehouse services to business owners who look to outsource their inventory management. You can store your products and promotional freebies like stickers at Printful warehouses all over the world. International warehousing means your products won’t have to travel far and long to reach your customers.
Our marvelous journey to learn the art of sourcing products ends here. I’ve taught you the basics of product sourcing, and now you’re ready to find your way to products.
I’m confident that in no time you too will start teaching others the craft of product sourcing. However, should you become dumbfounded by some of the more advanced spells, like handling inventory, feel free to flip through this fulfillment warehouse handbook. Good luck!
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Una specializes in third-party logistics and knows Printful's Warehousing & Fulfillment services from A to Z. She enjoys digging deep into marketing psychology and developing her creative writing skills.