We wish we could direct all sellers towards one gigantic store where they could buy their online store’s inventory- right from pins to planes. A one-stop-shop where sellers could browse for hours, fill their cart, pay the bill, take the stock home and start listing on ecommerce portals. But there isn’t! And that’s not how it works.
How and from where a person can buy goods to sell online depends largely on what kind of seller they are.
Therefore, the first question that you need to ask yourself is ‘What do I want to sell?’ If you don’t have an answer to this question, then it’s going to be an overwhelming task to source inventory.
Once you know the category you want to sell, the task to narrow down on the inventory source becomes a little easier.
Sell established brands
If you wish to sell brands like LG, Apple, Sony and Samsung, then you have two options:
- Become an authorized dealer
- Contact authorized dealers to buy products for reselling
Option A is for those who have the bandwidth to become an official distribution channel of big brands like the ones mentioned above. You not only need to have the capacity to buy (‘minimum order quantities’ is quite high) and store products in bulk, but also meet their other requirements.
For instance, to become an Authorized Apple Reseller, the company’s asks for 3 references (client, industry, or vendor), business & financial documents and Resale Tax Certificates right at the pre-application stage. To become a Samsung dealer, you can fill up this form. And to buy Sony gadgets in bulk, you can write or call them.
Option B is a much easier choice as all you have to do is contact the existing authorized dealers in your city and negotiate a deal with them as per your capacity. Most small electronic stores that sell multiple brands buy their stock from authorized dealers rather than acquiring individual rights from each brand. You can find the list of distributors on most of the companies’ websites. For example, to find Sony’s distributors, you have to feed your location, product category and store type (choose ‘distributors’) in this search bar.
Some ecommerce companies ask sellers to submit brand authorization letter or proof of purchase while listing products. Indian Online seller asked Sanchit Goyal who sells both type of products, (established brands & his own brand) about this marketplace practice. He shares with IOS,
“We are authorised distributors for 10+ brands of different products and sell those brands only. Ebay doesn’t ask for any certificate or any authorisation of any sort. Amazon asks for authorisation/vat bill 1 time per category. For example, if you are selling mobiles and provide them the invoice for Samsung purchase they would open the category for you. After that you can sell LG, Apple etc and no one would bother!”
Import and sell
Importing inventory, rebranding it under your own brand name and then selling it works for both – those who want to sell mass produced products in large quantities and those who want to sell rare, innovative products with great potential.
Again, there are two ways to source imported goods to sell online. First – buy online through Alibaba, Aliexpress, and DHGate. Second – visit countries, look for products you wish to sell and import through the offline medium.
“I have a retail showroom as well and source products from Indiamart, Canada, China etc. There are many local manufacturer/importer/trader etc who have good products but no time to sell them online. So it might also be a good thing to identify such products and sell them online.”
“For sourcing through other countries it’s a complicated process. You require Import export license and shipping tie-up with courier company such as dhl/fedex or a supplier willing to ship at reduced cost. For newbies, I suggest they can look at Aliexpress and buy in lots and sell individual products.”
Sell without Stock
Yes, it is possible to sell online without stock. Ever heard about drop-shipping? All you need to do is find a trusted supplier by scanning B2B & B2C marketplaces, wholesale supplier directory, drop shippers like Seasonsway, Printrove, local manufactures and trade & business magazines who can fulfill orders on demand, on time, every time.
And how to find trust-worthy suppliers?
“Frankly when I buy from a seller on Indiamart or even some other country it’s purely on the basis of trust! And thankfully there hasn’t been a bad transaction. Mostly sellers on Indimart are genuine. Buyers can look for tags such as “verified supplier” “trust seal” etc to look for genuine sellers there and can buy in small quantity if they are doubtful earlier,” says Goyal.
Partner with Artisans & Artists
If you have been blessed with the natural talent to spot good art (designs, paintings or any creative/one-of-kind/refined product) then you can collaborate with artisans and artists and source products to sell online directly from them.
We have two great examples to explain the above concept of acquiring stock. Lakshmi Chaturvedi that IOS featured in this article meets local Indian weavers directly to procure rare sarees for her online store.
On the other hand, Captain Kyso and similar startups team up with individual designers, who with the help of their creativity transform regular products into something unconventional. You’ll need a base product like plain cotton t-shirts, phone cases that you can buy in bulk from B2B portals or local suppliers. Some of the products that you can work with are jewellery, clothes, bags, shoes, mobile phone cases, home décor items, coasters, key-chains, coasters, mugs and many such things. Startups like The PostBox join hands with artists & artisans to create a niche line of products as well.
Made and Make in India
Online seller Abdul Kadir Natali’s advice for the new entrants in the ecommerce world is to be creative and observant instead of selling existing brands and standard mass produced products. He says,
“It’s better that the newbies start thinking of MAKE IN INDIA and engage local labour into creating Local Brand.”
So in order to stand out in a crowded marketplace and also to support the local businesses, think of a product, service or technology, which can be made in India and sold nationally & internationally.
When IOS asked if he can share some tips to find the right suppliers/wholesalers, Natali asserts,
“There are no right suppliers. We need to look for better options keeping in mind our margin and profit which we will earn in marketplaces… Financial planning is most important. But anyone can start from little.”
Luck doesn’t favour fools and luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. So run a good brainstorming session to figure out what is it that you want to sell; the path to build inventory will automatically open. Be a smart seller and find your own way.