In the days of old, merchants embarked on long journeys for their trades. For merchants in those days, it was mostly about getting the most spectacular and never-before-seen products to entice customers. That mindset led them to travel far and wide in ships, caravans, horseback(you name it!) just to source products that would wow local folk.

Back then, sourcing products entailed traveling, no matter the dangers or the difficulties involved. Luckily, however, merchants can now make the same journey to source products without leaving the comfort of their homes.

Thanks to globalization, there is an increased movement of goods, services, and people in and out of countries. It is now literally a small world, and sourcing products is now much easier.

Following the rampage of the COVID-19 pandemic, more products are now being sold online, that is, as ecommerce. As an ecommerce seller, you need to have a steady supply of outstanding products that will satisfy and delight your customers. You need products that are actually in demand to sell well. And in addition to that, you need to source your products in a way that will be more profitable to you.

Undoubtedly, this is going to be a lot of work. First, you must have found your niche products that will be very profitable and have a target audience. Also, you must have taken the necessary steps to build an online platform. After doing that, all that’s left is how to source the inventory for your business. 

Well, you have come to the right place. 

How to source ecommerce inventory

Inventory sourcing for ecommerce is the process of attaining the products which businesses intend to sell online on their ecommerce store. There are different options to get this done and we will break it down so you find the right method and utilize it for your ecommerce business.

  1. Manufacturers

The setup here is that manufacturers either produce custom goods according to your specification or they sell their stock with customizations to you. This method eliminates the need for middlemen like wholesalers.

Working with manufacturers like factories gives you the highest authority over the product. In fact, it basically puts you in control. Here, you can compare and influence prices, negotiate discounts, influence the quality and branding of the product, and have better control of supply.

However, the downside to this is that it is expensive. It requires high startup costs as most manufacturers require a minimum order quantity (MOQ). This would be a substantial amount that could run into hundreds and thousands and it gets tougher with the fact that you have to pay before work begins.

  1. Wholesale

Wholesalers supply you with the inventory they have purchased on a large scale from the manufacturers. This is another good option if you cannot produce the goods yourself. Wholesalers take on the burden of sourcing inventory (like importing, customs, warehousing, etc.), and all you need to do is place orders.

This is a good way of sourcing inventory, especially if the products you want to sell already exist in the market. You would most likely get products for low prices, and as such, you’d end up with higher margins.

However, the issue with this method is that it requires high startup capital to purchase inventory upfront. Also, you would have less influence on the pricing.

  1. Dropshipping

This is another fantastic method of sourcing inventory for prodycar that already exist and even products that you’re looking to create brand new. Dropshipping involves the use of a third party to fulfill your orders on your behalf. You as the retailer do not have to deal with inventory, packaging, or delivery. The third-party is responsible for all these. All you have to do is forward orders to the manufacturer or aggregator who then fulfills and delivers the orders directly to your customers.

Most ecommerce stores opt for this method because they can sell products they don’t own or keep. This is a great method to start an ecommerce business, as it allows for a wide selection of products to choose from. It is also cost-effective because you don’t have to store inventory or pay warehousing fees.

But the problem with dropshipping is that you have little control over the quality and packaging of the product. It also tends to lower profit margin as order fulfillment is done by someone else. You would need to make substantial sales to make a profit.

  1. Private Label

This entails the purchase of generic products directly from the manufacturer or wholesaler and selling them as your own brand. This is a legit method of sourcing where all you have to do is add your own labels and brand the products as yours.

Here, you would need to find a manufacturer that would allow you to brand their products as yours. In most cases, you can find such manufacturers overseas. The advantage of this is that you eliminate the need for a lot of middlemen since you are selling your brand. With this, you significantly reduce costs and increase your margins.

However, the disadvantage to this is that it is expensive. It is quite similar to wholesale, meaning that it requires high startup capital. Also, it is quite a lengthy and arduous process because it often requires you to work with a vendor who is most likely based overseas. This translates to language barriers, different time zones, and so on.

  1. Yourself

Yes, you read that right. Have you ever considered that you could make your own products yourself? It may seem amazing, overwhelming, or even foolhardy. But it does have its perks. Manufacturing your products yourself is quite doable especially if you know and choose the right business niche and if you have a reliable team.

Let’s use hair care products as an example. You could develop your own formula for shampoos, conditioners, hair creams, and oils. You can can take it further and have handle the manufacturing process yourself. Alternatively, you can find a manufacturer to make the products while you package, brand, and sell them. Or you can even let the manufacturer take care of the entire process for you. If you decide to do this, you would need solid contracts that guarantee, specify and solidify your ownership.

To manufacture products yourself, you would need to source raw materials, consider where and how to store inventory, calculate the amount of time of production, decide on packaging and pricing, and determine how to ship and deliver orders. Making your products yourself means that you have the highest control and authority over the decision-making process. You may also have less competition in the market. 

The downside to this is that you have to invest a lot of resources including time and money. Also, your profit margin would be split between you and the manufacturer.


Starting an ecommerce venture can be nerve-wracking. With so many products and big names out there, it may be overwhelming to determine the products that would make you stand out as well as the sources to make this possible. With this article, you can determine what works for you and source inventory for your ecommerce startup the right way. 

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