Local Sourcing Techniques: Product Sourcing For E-biz Newbies

By Chris Malta & Robin Cowie

Many would-be online merchants have no idea where to begin locating products to resell. According to Lynn Dralle, of http://TheQueenOfAuctions.com, who has made a full-time living selling on eBay for years, "Garage sales, estate sales, thrift shops, and consignment stores provide great sources of merchandise. They're especially ideal for beginners because there's very little risk or investment involved." Local sourcing affords a simple, inexpensive way to learn the ropes of E-Biz product sourcing, while you gain experience and become comfortable with online retailing.

An Expert's Advice

To get the most out of local sourcing, it helps to observe some proven practices. Dralle offers the following tips to help you derive maximum benefit from your product sourcing trips:

•Start small. Never spend over $5 on any one item until you’ve been at it for a while and know what you’re doing. You’ll save yourself a lot of money if you set a low limit in the beginning and stick to it.

•Don't hold out for those "once in a lifetime" deals: they're called that for a reason. The big hits are few and far between; you'll make a much better, not to mention steadier, living by selling a large number of ten and twenty dollar items consistently. Be open to a large variety of low- to medium-profit items - these will most likely comprise the bulk of your eBay sales.

• If it will sell, buy it. Selling in a niche is always smart, but don’t ignore items you know will turn a good profit on eBay just because they’re not what you usually put in your auctions.

•Make a plan. Your time is far too valuable to wander aimlessly. Open the newspaper the night before you go garage saling, and choose which sales you want to hit. Look for ads with key words and phrases you’d like to target: “Lots of USC Merchandise,” “Nike Sample Sale,” “Antiques and Collectibles,” etc.

•When you’re shopping, turn the items over. Keep a special watch for the following, as they tend to sell well on eBay right now:

Name brands
Signed items
Goods made in the U.S., Europe, or Japan
Goods mint in the box, or mint with tags
Unique, unusual items
Items that remind you of your childhood
Things from the baby boomer era (1947 to 1969), such as super sleek mod plastic, vases, glassware, etc.
Things from the 70s or 80s, like yellow smiley faces or rainbows

•When negotiating price, ALWAYS wait for the seller to offer a figure first. It’s a very old negotiating technique that still produces wonderful results: Whoever names the price first, loses. Don’t get impatient and blurt out a number. Insist they suggest a figure – very often they’ll go even lower than what you would have offered. So hold yourself in check – it will pay off.

A Piece of the Whole

Even as your online business grows and you begin using renewable sources, like drop shippers and light-bulk wholesalers, local sourcing can still provide an excellent supplement to your regular product line-up with unique and interesting pieces. Says Dralle, "As you expand, you can combine this style of sourcing with many other methods. Whether you're a beginner, or a seasoned seller looking to add some flavor to your inventory, it's always fun because you never know what you're going to find."

Chris Malta and Robin Cowie of WorldwideBrands.com are the Writers and Hosts of The Entrepreneur Magazine EBiz and Product Sourcing Radio Shows. Click Here for more FREE eBiz info from Entrepreneur Magazine Radio!

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