With 182 million buyers, 476 million app downloads, and activity in 190 different markets, eBay empowers individuals across the world to start their own eCommerce business. But, the secret to making your eBay business venture a success is finding the right products to sell.
So, how do you source items for eBay? You’re about to find out.
The importance of properly sourcing items for eBay
When you first start your eBay business or think of a new product to sell, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement, jumping straight to listing before properly researching the best product fit.
But first, you should do product research and strategic sourcing. This will help you increase profits, optimize operations, and beat the competition.
Creating a profit
You want your products to sell. Therefore you need to sell products that people want to buy from eBay. Sourcing items that are in demand (or about to be) guarantees consumer interest in what you’re selling, providing an audience to target.
Increasing your profit
But, demand doesn’t always guarantee a profit. Low margins, high shipping costs, and fading trends can lead to an overstocked warehouse and an empty bank account. Product research highlights potential profit, enabling you to make a business decision rather than an emotional one.
Managing your competition
Product sourcing is also vital for understanding the potential competition for the product you’re about to sell. No competition might indicate a gap in the market or difficulties in selling; high competition might indicate huge demand or an impossible market to target.
Optimizing your operations
Early-stage research is also necessary for planning and optimizing your eCommerce operations. This includes essential considerations, such as how easy the product is to source, how much storage space you need, how easy the product is to package, and how much the product will cost to ship to customers.
Think of product sourcing as testing the waters – you want to take a good look before you dive right in.
How to source items for eBay – product research
The first stage in sourcing items for eBay is product research – finding out everything you can about your intended product and what your business’ future looks like with that product in it.
1. Researching sourcing options
Research the ease and cost of acquiring the stock to sell. There are five main product sourcing options to consider.
Wholesale involves buying stock directly from a manufacturer or supplier at a price below your intended resale price.
Dropshipping involves listing the products of a third party supplier who is also responsible for storing and shipping the goods directly to your customers.
White labeling is buying products from a manufacturer, but labeling them as your own brand to sell.
Arbitrage is buying products from another seller to resell at a profit – for example, purchasing goods from yard sales to market and sell online.
Self-produced is making your own products to sell – for example, handcrafted or upcycled items.
We’ll come onto how to vet suppliers later in this blog, but for now, you want to know that you can source your product, the different options available and a rough cost idea.
2. Calculating current demand
It’s essential to know if there is an interested audience for your product. The best way to do this is by researching the current demand using an eBay product research tool.
Popular research tools include;
Trending on eBay
eBay itself gives you a heads up as to what is currently popular on the platform. Look at the Trending on eBay page to see the top nine popular products on the online marketplace, their search volume, and example listings.
Nearly half of US consumers start their product search on Amazon – making eBay’s rival a good source for demand research. Check out Amazon Best Sellers to see the hour’s most popular products per category.
eBay partner Terapeak is a more advanced product research tool, and it’s free for Basic, Premium, Anchor, and Enterprise eBay Store subscribers. Use the research tool to access real-world eBay sales data, including average pricing, shipping costs, total sales, and best selling times.
3. Predicting future demand
You also want to anticipate future demand by analyzing historical trends. Trending on eBay, Terapeak and Google Trends all produce historical trend charts that you can use to identify:
- Seasonal demands – for example, Christmas stockings may only sell well October – December
- Pricing trends – for example, sunglasses are priced higher in hotter months
- Flash in the pans – for example, fidget spinners were all the rage in spring ‘17 but not before, or since
4. Analyzing competition
The competition you’re about to make friends (or enemies) with is also necessary to understand. Your competition’s performance can show you the success to be had when selling your products; their monopoly can tell you how hard it will be to compete against them.
- Amount of competition on eBay
- Market dominance of the top 10 sellers
- Pricing and shipping of your competitor’s products
- Keywords that you can realistically compete for
5. Predicting profit margins
Finally, once you’ve found an readily available product that’s in demand, predicted to stay in demand, and has competition that you can confidently beat, it’s time to ensure that you can make a profit. Predict your profit margin by calculating the costs of:
How much can you source the product for, including any delivery costs, and minimum order quantities?
How much will it cost to list and sell the item on eBay, including any advertising fees, and free shipping?
How much will it cost to package and ship the product, including any storage, staffing, and insurance costs?
Pro tip: use a fulfillment calculator to compare the prices of in-house fulfillment and outsourced fulfillment.
eBay Fast n Free Guarantee
eBay’s fast shipping program, called Fast N Free Guarantee (formerly eBay Guaranteed Delivery), improves your product’s visibility in the search results with fast shipping tags and inclusions in fast shipping-filtered queries. While the program doesn’t charge itself, you should still calculate how much it will cost to ship items in three days or fewer.
Use these figures to calculate the price you will need to charge customers to make a healthy profit and compare this price against your research to determine whether you can offer a competitive price. If you can – congratulations, your product research has been successful.
Now, onto the second part of sourcing items for eBay: supplier research.
Supplier research for sourcing eBay items
If you’re sourcing products either through wholesale, dropshipping, or white label – you need to carry out five extra steps to find the right supplier.
6. Identify suppliers
Identifying potential suppliers can be as easy as a Google search, but putting in more effort by attending trade shows or asking other sellers for recommendations can pay off.
When researching potential suppliers, ask:
- What is your pricing?
- Are there any additional costs such as shipping?
- Do you have minimum order levels?
- Do you have maximum order levels?
- Do you have a minimum contract length?
- What are your lead times and how quickly can you ship items to me or my fulfillment partner?
- What is your policy regarding damaged items?
- Do you have referrals from customers?
- What is your onboarding process?
These questions should give you enough information to compare suppliers and also show you how open and communicative the suppliers are.
7. Ask for samples
Once you have narrowed down your list of suppliers, ask for samples of the product you intend to buy. Once received, check the quality, durability, and size to ensure that it matches your expectations and will satisfy customer demand.
8. Order the competition
Order the same product from the leading seller on eBay. This allows you to compare the product itself and see how your competitor packages the items, how quickly the product is shipped, and what post-purchase communication is sent out.
9. Negotiate on price
Supplier pricing should be completely transparent, with no hidden or extra fees. Compare the prices offered by different suppliers and don’t be scared to haggle or negotiate, especially if you’re looking to place large orders in the future.
And finally, give your intended supplier a whirl by conducting a trial with them and ordering a small selection of products to test them and your market out. Most should be happy to comply – if not, you should question why.
eBay item sourcing
To wrap up how to increase your eBay sales; do product research and supplier vetting to identify the right products to sell and the right market to capitalize.
Smart eBay item sourcing may sound like an extra step in a never-ending journey to selling online, but it’s a step that can generate clicks, customers, and more revenue in your back pocket.