For many people one of the most challenging aspects of buying to sell for profit is knowing exactly where to look to find reliable wholesalers. There is a mountain of information out there and sometimes it’s difficult to separate the wood from the trees. Too much information can seem daunting, especially with those all too common horror stories concerning fake websites and bogus suppliers.
Three sourcing experts reveal their top tips for sourcing to sell for profit!
Why search engines shouldn’t always be your first choice when looking for reliable suppliers and where you should be looking instead…
Unsurprisingly, the most common and the most obvious place to look for wholesalers is by searching online using the Google or Yahoo search engines and it’s easy to understand why this is where most of us do actually begin our search. But did you know that these search engines, although highly useful for wholesale searches, are not always necessarily the ‘best’ places to visit to find wholesale and dropship suppliers?
Don’t get me wrong, search engines are a fantastic tool that we would be hard pushed to live without but there are a number of different methods you can use to find the best, most reliable suppliers which you really should be using as part of your research.
I know that searching online for wholesale and dropship sources can be really frustrating. Been there, done that! And although plenty of reliable suppliers can be found through the search engines, many excellent product suppliers don’t even bother advertising on the Internet so it’s almost impossible to find them unless you are aware of them already or know where to look.
And that being the case, you might be wondering if, instead of wasting more time searching for wholesale suppliers and dropshippers, you should begin looking for manufacturers of products you want to sell and ask if they might dropship their products direct to your buyers.
Good thinking, but unfortunately many manufacturers will refuse your request. This is usually because they are not set up for dropshipping and prefer to sell their products in bulk because that’s how they make their profits. Don’t worry though, because there are other options.
What you must remember is that approaching a wholesale supplier and ordering stock, or even asking them to dropship for you, is much easier than convincing a manufacturer to dropship for you. But how do you find these good, reliable product sources?
Well, rather than doing a basic Google search you can try these alternative and very effective ways of finding reliable sources instead:
* Use ‘wholesale specific’ search engines.
* Buy trade magazines.
* Look at active wholesale and dropship forums with searchable databases.
* Visit trade sites with current, verified suppliers in lots of product categories
How to find profitable products using trade shows
I’m sure you’ve heard the term ‘trade show’ bandied about when it comes to sourcing products. A huge number of businesses attend these events – and they are all looking for people to sell their products to.
There are a large number of products being ‘shown’ off at these shows – and there are also a large number of trade shows in tons of markets. That means there’s potentially thousands of products out there for you to discover, many of which could be the foundation on which to grow your own successful, eBay enterprise.
How do you find these shows, and what are we going to do to turn them into an eBay business?
Well, the first thing to do is work out how to find them.
A site like www.exhibitions.co.uk is a good starting place. You can sort different shows by venue (choosing those closest to where you are, for example) or industry. Seriously, you won’t believe the sheer number of shows that are held every year, all over the UK, although obviously the majority are in London.
I had a quick look this month for some of the upcoming shows. In April, I found the ‘Totally Trade Expo’ which is explained like this: “Totally Trade Expo offers an exclusive experience for trade-to-trade businesses. Solely dedicated to companies who don’t sell to end-users, Totally Trade Expo exposes visitors to myriad manufacturers, trade distributors and trade suppliers who can fulfil all your business needs.” So – OK, this show might not be what we are looking for (although it’s a starting point), but there are literally hundreds of shows featured on this site. There is bound to be a show that will feature the kind of products you’re looking to sell.
So, OK, let’s push on and look at another trade show and see what we can find. I’ve just come across a listing for the ‘Off-Price Show’. It’s explained like this: “From big sports and leisure brands, to the world’s top fashion designer names, to high quality unbranded imports, the unique Off-Price Show gives retail buyers a fantastic opportunity to order fashion stock, for immediate delivery, at amazingly low prices.” Doesn’t that sound like the kind of place you’d find hot products? Certainly does.
If you think of how many shows there are each year…and multiply that by the number of products…then there’s plenty for you to have a go at! Tons of products that have already been developed, and are ready to be sold by eBayers like us.
Sourcing from car boot sales
Getting up before the crack of dawn on a Sunday morning isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. But the thought that sunny summer mornings could be just around the corner makes it a little more bearable.
Add to this the fact that getting up with the lark might inflate your bank balance by a few hundred pounds each day and you should realise we’re talking about attending car boot sales, as a seller, or more likely as a visitor (even as both) looking to get first pick of valuable products selling for pennies on the day.
But let’s be honest, there’s an awful lot of junk lurking alongside good and potentially really valuable products at car boot sales and the chances of finding a rare Faberge egg amongst a box of old toys are pretty remote. But there’s good and regular potential for sourcing plenty of unusual items that could sell for £10, £20 or even £50 more on eBay.
Finding the best boot sales:
As trader or visitor only on the day you should try and visit as many car boot sales as possible when you first start sourcing this way, and then focus on the best.
You can choose from big, commercially run car boot sales right down to small events run by charities, schools and community groups. The smaller ones are often ignored by professional product sourcers and can represent excellent places to find otherwise overlooked bargains going for a song. That’s because smaller events are not usually extensively advertised and very often sellers are not out for big profits, most want to offload unwanted household and personal goods. And that sometimes means goods are better on the day than others from major boot sales where sellers are knowledgeable and some are full time traders and prices can be much higher than at smaller events.
You’ll find most boot sales, large and small, are advertised locally. And that means you should scour all your local newspapers, shop window cards and notice boards to find details of imminent events. A personal favourite website – www.carbootjunction.co.uk – lists a lot of the bigger, commercial sales that are usually worth visiting and often turn up valuable finds for rock bottom prices. But always check details before travelling because some sales are only seasonal and some are cancelled if the weather turns bad.
Although the best bargains are probably found from private sellers you should not ignore stalls run by traders who sometimes offer really good bargains. That’s because car boot stall traders don’t usually sell on eBay too. (If they did they probably wouldn’t be at the car boot.) So they don’t necessarily know that something they have might fetch a lot more money on eBay. Remember most antique dealers make some of their money by buying from/selling to other traders, so you can too.
Boot sales sourcing strategies:
Be early. This is critical. The best bargains are often sold out in the first twenty minutes of the sale …. this is when the shrewdest trade buyers do their best buying. (It is still possible to get some great bargains at the end though, and during the day …. see later.)
Be ruthless! Being jumped on and hassled for discounts is annoying when you’re a car boot seller, but it’s the name of the game when you’re buying. So you should be ready to descend on sellers as soon as they unpack and hunt out their best items. Some buyers indulge in sneaky tricks here …. they also take a stall as a seller. This allows them early admission before most visiting buyers.
Don’t let on you’re an eBayer! Some sellers don’t like the idea you could make more out of an item than you’ll be paying them!
Be methodical. Work down the rows one at a time, one side at a time. Don’t be misled by crowds. The fact that a stall is empty of buyers doesn’t mean it doesn’t have bargains, and vice versa.
Decide what you’re looking for before or as you arrive at the event. Don’t go looking for just ‘anything’, otherwise you won’t be able to spot bargains from the masses of junk. Be sure to check eBay for saleability/prices of whatever you’re planning to buy before you spend money.
Make sure it’s practical to resell. Opt for products that are not too large and not too heavy, and which are also in good demand. What you must avoid is thinking something is an ‘amazing bargain’ at a car boot only to subsequently discover it’s not a good seller on eBay.
Be realistic about buying prices. If you’re buying at a car boot to sell on eBay you shouldn’t normally pay more than half of what you’re likely to sell for …. and ideally less. Beware of sellers who have unreasonable expectations …. suggesting for example that if something will sell for £30 on eBay it’s worth £25 at a car boot sale. It usually isn’t! Always make an offer or haggle.
Don’t be afraid of enquiring after unpriced items, i.e. those without a price sticker. The seller could have a ridiculously low price in mind for them!
Think three times. Before parting with large amounts of money, £50 for example, is a good ballpark figure. The more expensive the item the less likely it will fetch a good profit on eBay and vice versa.
Check condition. Car boot buyers tend to be much less particular about condition than eBayers are – there can be some really tatty junk – so be selective. Items with their original packaging, boxes/cases, accessories and instructions where appropriate are always better sellers on eBay.
Come back later, towards the end. Notwithstanding that you need to get to a car boot sale very early to get the best bargains it’s often worth having a last look round at the very end. This is especially so for items you made an offer on and which the seller rejected earlier. They could be willing to take what you offered (or less) now simply to avoid taking the item back home. You’ll also find some sellers buy from the public on the day and their stock is very different towards closing time than when they arrived.