The interesting thing about online buyers is they are extremely price sensitive. A survey done by Forrester Research shows that 73 percent of surveyed online buyers expect prices on the Internet to be cheaper than in stores. No wonder auction marketplaces are thriving. Among the most popular auction marketplaces growth of eBay is especially notable! Its market share is growing at roughly twice the pace of the over all market. So, it's only natural if you like many other wannabe entrepreneurs thinking seriously to start an eBay business.
Say, after spending long hours on the eBay and doing much research offline and online, you finally have come up with a niche category of products to sell. But, there is one little problem! You don't have a slightest clue where to get regular supply of this product for wholesale price. Often, entrepreneurs with great product ideas fail to materialize their dream business plan just because they are unable to find a right supplier. How to tackle this problem?
Finding a local supplier
Success in any trading business depends not only on how good you are in selling, it also relies greatly on your ability to source the product at right cost. If you have a fairly large list of products that you are considering to work with you have a variety of options to choose from. You may start your eBay auctioning business based on local liquidators, closeout dealers, government auctions, newspaper classified or Drop-shippers (http://ezine.rusbiz.com/article/39). But to start a real niche business you need to find a constant source supplier, which could be a manufacturer, a distributor or a wholesaler. Obviously, Internet is the easiest place to get the initial contact information. Try http://www.thomasnet.com/ or http://www.tgrnet.com/ - both websites are good information sources for industrial products manufacturers.
Bear in mind that many manufacturers simply aren't able to handle small orders and don't sell products directly to retailers. Some times, the minimum sales lot is way too big for a small start-up company to manage. However, even if the manufacturer does not sell directly to retail levels, they will provide you with information on their products and refer you to their wholesaler or distributor companies, which will be in a position to cater your needs.
For some category of products, your best option is to attend trade or industry shows in order to locate a supplier. Check out websites of some exhibition centers in your vicinity and find one or two trade shows of your area of interest. Make sure that participants of the trade show are distributors and wholesalers as oppose to large manufacturers. After all, you need to find a supplier who will agree to work with your initial small orders.
Trade journals or publications of your related field also could be a great source in your quest to find a supplier. Trade journals publish information on industry trend, articles on major players, various industry related event schedules such as trade shows, and often carry classified sections. Sometimes, they also publish specialty issues such as a buyer's guide or a who's who issue. You may consider getting those issues by contacting the publishers.
Professional and trade associations similar to local chamber of commerce and other groups offer a variety of services, which are extremely useful to members and general people a like. Promotion of the industry and its products and referral services for buyers trying to find specific products are some of the services that they offer. You should not hesitate to contact these organizations for help.
Competition in world's largest electronic marketplace is fierce! If you have to buy products from a middleman, you may find that your prices are not workable at all. What to do? Since most of the consumers products are imported any way, you may consider outsourcing your product from a foreign country. Today, thanks to globalization importing products are no longer as difficult as it used to be! If you are trying to buy a labor-intensive product, the best places are probably China ? which is the hottest at this time, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Bangladesh and some other Asian countries. If you are looking for medium quality electronics and computer parts, your options are China, Taiwan, Korea, Singapore, etc. For high-end designer products Italy, Germany and France are your best bet. For intellectual property related products, Russia and other Eastern European countries are still a paradise.
There is a good chance of finding a supplier through online B2B portals. If you are looking for a supplier from China you may try www.alibaba.com and www.globalsources.com. Two of the largest trade leads aggregators on the Internet. For products from India you may try searching the database of both www.indiamart.com and www.trade-india.com. For products from Russia and other CIS countries www.rusbiz.com is a great option.
Here are the steps you must take in order to import products successfully:
? Locate several suppliers either through online resources or by contacting Trade Commissions of respective countries.
? Contact the suppliers and see if they are in a position to deliver the right product. Make sure that the suppliers are not your direct competitors. Many foreign suppliers are actively selling products through eBay.
? If you find their price and quality of the product are acceptable get several samples. It is very important to give them an exact copy of the product you are looking for. Without a prototype you might end up getting something far different than you expected.
? Work out your cost, which include buying cost, packaging, shipping, insurance, customs duty, excise duty if any, financing and handling charges, etc. You may also incur other expenses depending on products and your location.
? Check out your supplier. If possible make a trip to visit the supplier. Ask for references. Contact their bankers if necessary. Importing requires absolute due diligence.
? Check with a logistics consultant about shipping and exporting rules of the country.
? Contact a customs broker to verify latest duty and other regulations related to importing of this particular product.
? Don't forget to consider product life cycle, shipping time, seasonality of the product and other characteristics specific to your product.
Importantly, do your homework! You can sure make money by importing and selling goods on eBay. Thousands are already doing this. But, the key to success relies on your entrepreneurial spirit, due preparation, sound judgment and hard work. If you think you are ready, go for it!
Nowshade Kabir, is the founder, primary developer and present CEO of Rusbiz.com ? a Global B2B Exchange with solutions to create e-catalog, Web store, business process management and other features to run a business online. You can read various articles written by Nowshade Kabir at http://ezine.rusbiz.com.