Find Products To Sell Online – How To Find Vendors For Your Online Store

Finding products to sell online is where many people get stuck when trying to start an online business. There are 3 main issues to deal with. For starters, you have to decide what you want to sell. Do you want to sell physical products? Do you want to sell software or informational goods?

Unfortunately, no one can answer that question except for you. If you need help in coming up with ideas however, you may want to check out a previous article I wrote on How to Find a Niche Market for Your Online Store.


In general though, I would recommend picking items to sell that meet the following critieria

  • The product should not be fragile and easy to ship
  • The product should not take up much physical space
  • The product’s inherent value should be ambiguous. For example, I would never sell electronics because there is a set value for your goods that everyone is aware of. On the contrary, keepsakes and informational goods are much harder to place a price tag on.
  • The product should be timeless. Once again, I would never sell electronics because they lose value the longer they stay on the shelves

Can You Make Money?
The second problem is determining whether you can actually make money selling your product. The key is to not get too hung up on any given idea because if the target market is not big enough, your product may not be worth selling.

Personally, I use a quick and dirty way to determine if my online store idea is viable. If you are interested, please check out my article on How To Determine If Your Online Business Idea Even Has a Chance.

Finally, the biggest problem is that even if you manage to choose a product or a set of products you want to sell, where the heck are you going to source your products from? How and where do you contact the manufacturer so you can get wholesale pricing? Before I tell you the best way to find your vendors, there are several things to consider right off the bat.

Do you want to deal with only domestic (United States) vendors?
Dealing with vendors in the US is much easier because everything is familiar to you. It is much easier to contact your vendors because they are in a similar time zone and they speak the same language. However, because the manufacturing costs are much higher in the US, you will end up paying more money for your products which will negatively affect your profit margins. The main advantage is that shipping arrangements can be easily made and it’s generally easier to obtain the products you want to sell.

Do you want the absolute lowest cost for your products?
If you want the absolute best deal for your products, then you might want to consider looking in Asia to source your items. These days, you’ll find that most things are made and sourced from Asia. Why? It’s because they offer the best prices. However, it can be a major hassle to import items into your home country. If you do manage to get the process down however, the profit margins are unbeatable. If you want to learn more about sourcing your products from overseas, you may want to read the following articles.


Do you want to carry inventory or dropship?
Dropshipping is great since you don’t have to carry inventory, but you are still responsible for making sure that your customer is happy and satisfied with the purchase. As a result, you have to make sure that the vendors you choose are absolutely reliable. If you choose to drop ship, handling returns can be a major hassle. Even worse, you’ll sometimes have to deal with irate customers even though you were not at fault. Deciding to drop ship also limits your choice of vendors.

How Do I Find My Vendors?

Now that you are aware of your product sourcing options, the best way to find vendors is to attend wholesale tradeshows. For example, if you are interested in importing products from China, you can check out the China Import And Export Fair Website. If you are interested in wholesale fairs in the US, you can check out various tradeshow websites such as Wholesale Central.

Going to tradeshows is ideal because

  • All of the vendors are aggregated in one location. You can set up appointments to meet multiple vendors in a single day
  • They will have samples of their merchandise available for you to see. This is especially important when dealing with overseas vendors because obtaining samples can sometimes take months.

Why Not Do All Of My Research Online?
You might think that you can do all of your vendor research online, but wholesale vendors that you find on the web can be extremely sketchy. In fact, there are many vendors online that are middlemen who pretend to be wholesale vendors just to get your business. It is because of these deceptive practices that I recommend finding vendors at trade shows rather than purely online. For more information on buying wholesale, please checkout my article on Why Buying Wholesale Can Be Misleading.

Wholesale Vendor Services

Going to tradeshows and contacting vendors you find online can be extremely time consuming and expensive. Fortunately, there are many web based services that aggregate and screen out wholesale vendors for you to choose from. Today, if my wife and I were to start all over again, we would probably use these services exclusively over travelling and screening vendors by hand, especially since we now have kids. If you are not convinced, here’s an example of how a company like WorldWideBrands.com can save you time.

WorldWide Brands offers the following services at a very reasonable price:

  • They provide a list of pre-verified drop-ship wholesalers, light bulk wholesalers (orders under $500), high volume wholesalers, liquidation wholesalers and import wholesalers. The best part is that Worldwide Brands has a screening process to make sure that you are dealing with legit companies.
  • They provide information estimating how well your product will sell
  • They provide information on how many people are searching the Internet for your products
  • They provide information on how many other people are selling your products.
  • They tell you who your competitors are so you can see whether the market is saturated.


From experience, I can tell you that it can be very difficult to locate wholesale vendors just by doing random web searches. Why waste your time when there are many services out there that aggregate the data for you already?

Keep in mind though, that these services won’t do the heavy lifting for you. You still have to take the time to contact each and every vendor and create your own business relationships. Finding good vendors and establishing trust is the key to good product sourcing.

Ready To Get Serious About Starting An Online Business?


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53 thoughts on “Find Products To Sell Online – How To Find Vendors For Your Online Store”

    1. @Stephen @Evelyn
      Thanks! This information will hopefully help someone start their own business

  1. You certainly have a wealth of information to share on sourcing products for online stores. Very useful indeed! Thanks!

  2. Three of my vendors are drop ship and I stay in close contact with them whenever I get an order in. I know what they are doing and when they are going to ship the packages. Drop shipping is easy in some ways but its not a total hands off transaction.

    1. Hello Carla,

      Can you please refer me your vendors. Thanks

  3. Great information! Definitely adding you to my Favorites.

  4. Thank you very much for these articles that you have written. They are very informative and have helped me decide whether or not I should get into the online market.

    Top notch friend

  5. Nice information!Thanks for sharing great thought:)

  6. Michelle says:

    Hello,

    I am curious to know if you have heard of the global supplier Alibaba? If so, any thoughts? I have read good and bad reviews.

    http://www.alibaba.com

    Thank you!

    1. @Michelle,
      Yes. Alibaba is a place where you can find various vendors in Asia but you have to do your own legwork. Personally, I’ve found the interface to be somehwat cumbersome but I do know several of my friends who use the site to establish initial contact….Actually, I take that back. Just visited the site again and it’s been completely redesigned. Looks much easier to use now. In any case, Alibaba is definitely legit.

  7. Hi Steve, very detailed article I must say. Yep, many people reaaally really want to start an online business and product is the most crucial aspect of it. I wanted to recommend Trendwatching, I find it really resourceful showing you the latest trends as well as the trends in the past. I believe it can help many online entrepreneurs to decide on their product especially if their budget are flexible. (btw, great photo of you and your little one)

  8. Charles Harrill says:

    Steve, I am impressed with your website, the honest information and the “feel” of the site make it comfortable and very unintrusive. I am looking at starting a web business and your site is exceptionally informative. Thanks,

  9. Mr. Steve,
    Hello,
    You have very good information in this article are given. For this we are eternally be grateful and heartfelt thanks to folding.
    Please help us and give us some more: –
    - We make our store of Rediff Shopping in Blog, commission Basis means to sell stuff. How to contact sellers with products in India and Asia?
    Sanjeev.sehgal.hansi @ gmail.com my email address in detail the procedure to the trouble of telling.
    Thanks,
    Rajesh Sehgal, Hansi – 125033
    Distt. Hisar, Haryana – India
    Mobile – 09034691440

  10. am says:

    Great Info. I am adding your website into my favorites

  11. John says:

    Steve
    Thanks for the information. This seems helpful. I just signed up for a domain name, service, etc for various outdoor product lines – patio furniture, grills, patio heaters, birding products and I hope to expand into outdoor kitchen items – refrigerators, built in grills, etc.
    Do you have specific advice for someone who only wants to do this on the side and not full time and secondly, how do you address offering a link to related sites? Do you simply have a written agreement with those other entities for a certain percentage of sales? Also, I am a landscape architect and have a website started. Is it appropriate to have a link to that?

    1. Hi John,

      If you want to do everything on the side with as little monetary risk as possible, I would pursue either dropshipping or being an affiliate. If you are going the affiliate route, you will need to seek out those companies that specifically offer an affiliate program. That way when you guide a customer to their website, the click is tracked and you get credit for the sale. If you go the dropshipping route, again you will need to form some sort of arrangement where you generate the sales, collect the money and they ship the product to the end customer.

  12. Not come across Clickbank before. I used to use Commission Junction once upon a time, but I am looking into finding a new network. I like the look for the gravity performance statistic, it appears to be a powerful tool. As the Web has expanded, and therefore the amount of affiliate publishers, you are without doubt right that it’s important to pick the right product, which I should think will be a niche product.

  13. Deloris says:

    What do you recommend for people wanting to sell personalized items online?

    1. Hey Deloris. Could you be more specific?

  14. I’ am a beginner on E-commerce . I was trying to start doing it with drop shipper DOBA but quantity of products is very limited or out of stock.
    What could be a better way to start making business online?

  15. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for giving us such precious advice!

    Dear Steve, i would be very thankful to you if you would list an items that are hard to find in US but, can be easily imported from India or other nations as well.

  16. Stephen says:

    Hi Steve,

    I have no idea about which product I might be interested. But I found out that lot of tradeshows open for vendors only, so should i get a business license first in order to move forward? If so, how should I start? Thanks.

    1. Hi Stephen,
      Most tradeshows will not allow admission unless you have a business license. Getting a business license shouldn’t cost very much and should not be a big deal to obtain.

  17. This is useful for different countries. It’s great!

  18. Hello everyone,

    Anyone out there looking for jobs ? We have Big opening for Jobs in Oil Rigs and Social Media Jobs.

    1. Galina Elmik says:

      Hello,

      can it be done from home too? And not in US but from Estonia?

      I have done data entry job for swiss company and know many programs. Maybe I can be useful? The company, where I worked was this one: http://www.geomatic.ch/xml_1/internet/fr/intro.cfm

      If you have any questions, please ask :)

      Galina

  19. N Pat says:

    i want sell things on your website. things like clothes

  20. HI,i just start a small jewelry business.you can see my facebook.com/stylishjewelryusa page. I want to sell on online.I tried on ebay but i sell only 2 items.Maybe i need help someone.Pleae give me a good advise.

  21. Thanks for your information. I worked on my product and creating my site, however Im stuck now. I don’t know how to market my product – I feel like google is running the online world and they make it almost impossible for newbies. How do I work to start getting some sales – or get my name out?

  22. Luci says:

    As a young person (17) looking to start an online business in the near future, this article has been by far the most helpful and most informative bit of information I’ve found yet. Hopefully with this as my boost I can soon get started :)
    Thank you very much for all the time and effort you put into this, it is most appreciated.
    Thank you again,
    Luci

  23. Gilbert Jaramillo says:

    Do you recommend using Big E Commerce or volusion or websites like them to use once you have a product to sell or do you know if they have products you can sell from them.Thank you Gilbert.

  24. Great tips, I have been an eBay sellers for years but there’s always something new to learn and always a need to find better , cheaper product to sell

  25. Samantha Wilson says:

    I don’t know about the sites above but I use Adfora and its great and also simple to use.

  26. Janefrances says:

    Please i live in Nigeria and looking for how to start buying and selling online. But am confused on the products to choose and websites to buy from. Your contributions are welcomed.

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