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The Complete Guide to Sourcing Products for Online Business

Congratulations, you have found a great product to sell online and you just started your online business. The next step any merchant will want to get right is the sourcing of the products from a reliable supplier with good track record of quality and delivery of products.

Where do merchants get their products from?

Merchants usually have different means of sourcing products such as manufacture the product themselves or finding wholesaler, manufacturer and dropshippers.

In this article we will cover each one of the above means of attaining products:

Merchants make the products themselves:

Many merchants can produce the product themselves. This is very common in the cases of selling home made foods such as birthday or wedding cakes or apparels and bags. Merchants in this case are in full control of the production process and are able to deliver the product up to the required quality.

Some merchants sell services that they can produce themselves such as playing music at concerts or house parties or be a holiday guide. The shift to sell services or soft goods is very common in the modern economy and many ecommerce platforms are built to sell products.

Merchants who manufacture the product themselves find themselves responsible for arranging their own raw materials necessary for the making of the product. They also invest their own time in making these products.

Arranging delivery is another task for make it yourself merchants.

In summary, DIY merchants can make great profit margin but at the expense of their own time.


Wholesalers are a vast source of finding products. There many local and international wholesalers who are prepared to supply goods to merchants at a great discount however many wholesalers prefer to deal with big merchants who make regular large orders rather than small merchants especially if you go for international wholesalers.

Dealing with wholesalers come at the expense of buying large inventory but the profit margins are handsome if you have the capital to invest in an inventory.

Physical inventory is not for small merchants who do not have the space to store it. For merchants who can deal with wholesalers the advantages are plenty to count. Wholesalers can supply your products at a great price and the required quality.

Some wholesalers in the UK are the whole salers. If you are looking for an international wholesaler then you can find many at alibaba


Finding a manufacturer to produce your products is really great if you want to sell unique products and make your own brand.

Manufacturers will be happy to step in if you have proof of concept or a mock-up example of your product so be prepared to present manufacturers with complete specifications of the product you want.

Product mock-up example can be made using software or actual materials.

How to select a manufacturer?

Some of the factors to consider when selecting a manufacturer to your products:

  • Quality: be sure of the quality of the product that your manufacturer is going to produce. Have a precise specification of the materials that the manufacturer should use for your product.
  • Cost: calculate the final cost of the product for each manufacturer.
  • Time to market: measure the time to market of each manufacturer to meet your expected demands.
  • Shipping costs: calculate your shipping costs.
  • Retail price: calculate your retail price for each manufacturer and measure the impact on demand.
  • Domestic vs international manufacturers.

The UK, China and USA has a directory of manufacturers to shortlist some.


Dropshipping is the process of finding a supplier that can ship your customers’ orders directly to your customers’ shipping address. The main advantage of dropshipping is that it lets you manage the business side without having to worry about the logistics.

Although Dropshipping offers many advantages to small merchants who do not have enough capital to invest in inventory, dropshipping has a major disadvantage namely that it reduces your profits margins.

For a more complete guide to dropshipping in the UK, Visit Martave blog to read about it.

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