The 5 best product sourcing companies

December 22, 2017
Product Sourcing

Finding the right products to sell is the most important challenge you have to face as a Shopify seller. Your products are the lifeblood of your store and customers will abandon your website in droves if they do not like what they see. So how do you source amazing products? What do you need to keep in mind, and most important of all: where do you find eye-catching products to sell in your store?

This blog post will answer all these questions and more.

What is product sourcing?

By its simplest definition, product sourcing is the process of finding products you can sell through your business. In most cases we are talking about a form of eCommerce arbitrage. This is the term given when products are bought at wholesale prices and sold at retail prices.

Factory owners can use economy of scale to increase profits when larger quantities are sold. That is why wholesalers will offer cheaper per-unit cost if you commit to buying a substantial amount. So instead of paying $9.99 for one DVD, you may only have to pay $6, but only if you commit to buying 500.

In this example the 500 units would be known as the minimum order quantity. This is a common term which refers to the minimum amount of products you need to buy in order to take advantage of lower per-unit costs.  

Product sourcing in 2018 usually follows these steps:

  1. Find products in your niche through Amazon, Google, eBay etc.
  2. Research wholesalers/brands that sell the products you want to list on your Shopify store. Use Google and wholesale directories for this.
  3. Contact them through Email, contact forms or social media
  4. Negotiate the per-unit cost and minimum order quantity
  5. Make the purchase and list them in your Shopify store

As you can tell, most of these steps are quite straight-forward. Step 2 on the other hand is often where entrepreneurs fall down. Hopefully this article will help you to source the products you want quickly and effectively.

Here are the 5 best product sourcing companies.

1 - AliExpress - the everything store

The list has to start with AliExpress, because it has an unparalleled amount of products for sale. Regardless of your niche, you will be able to find inexpensive products to fit your store on the chinese platform.  When coupled with Oberlo, AliExpress becomes a supercharged dropshipping machine.  

Additionally, AliExpress has very low minimum order quantities, with some products being sold per-unit. This gives the chinese platform a huge advantage over competitors who typically require some sort of minimum order.

That being said AliExpress is not perfect. Especially for European customers delivery times are often between 2-5 weeks. This can prove an insurmountable problem when spoilt customers expect their items to arrive asap.

Finally, it’s worth noting that many brands and high quality products are missing from AliExpress. If you’ve installed Oberlo on your Shopify store for example, you will know that the products on sale are often cheap for a reason.

With all this in mind, AliExpress remains a must for anyone sourcing products in 2018.

Pros:

  1. Unparalleled number of available products
  2. Easy to navigate
  3. Reliable review system for sellers
  4. Attractive pricing
  5. Oberlo integration for Shopify stores

Cons:

  1. Long shipping times
  2. Occasional poor product quality

2 - Salehoo - Paid product sourcing at its finest

Salehoo is a very different beast compared to AliExpress. Where AliExpress is efficient and cheap, Salehoo is personal and paid. The user experience for both platforms is very different and it even feels strange to compare them. But this list is a recommendation of the top 5 product sourcing companies, and both platforms have to be in this list.

Salehoo is different for many reasons. The first being that it’s a paid directory of wholesalers. So where AliExpress is a platform for wholesalers to sell products, Salehoo is a place for wholesalers to promote themselves.

To get access to these wholesalers you will have to pay a one-time fee of $67. I can tell you though, that this is money well spent. Where AliExpress falls short, Salehoo excels, with a number of top-notch wholesalers listed here.

This is of crucial importance because it gives you access to high-quality, branded products which are much easier to sell than non-branded. Additionally, Salehoo allows you to set very specific filters, allowing you to find dropshipping companies in the “Sports” category, located in the UK with minimum order quantities below $100 for example.

This makes product sourcing much easier, and Salehoo’s vetting system promises you only deal with approved wholesalers.

It’s also worth noting that $67 buys you access to Salehoo Labs. This is an excellent feature which shows you popular items to sell by category. So if you’re store could do with some fresh products, Labs may well be able to help find your next bestseller. Especially for new Shopify sellers this point is of crucial importance.

There is some room for improvement however. Firstly, Salehoo does not display product prices. This is most likely to protect the bargaining power of the wholesalers, but it adds inefficiency to the product sourcing process.

My final gripe concerns the lack of publicly visible email addresses. I can completely understand why it makes sense to keep all communication on the platform, but from a buyers perspective this adds an unnecessary layer of inconvenience.

Overall however, Salehoo is one of the best product sourcing platforms around, and you should definitely check it out.

Pros:

  1. Unmatched list of high-quality wholesalers
  2. Access to branded products
  3. Global coverage
  4. Fantastic “Labs” feature which helps find popular products
  5. Ability to filter for dropshippers, wholesalers and more

Cons:

  1. Product prices not visible
  2. Communication with wholesalers is inefficient

3 - Big Buy - Reputable wholesaler with lacklustre customer support

The third entry in our list is Big Buy, one of the leading wholesale dropshipping platforms in Europe. Located in Spain, Big Buy offers Shopify sellers access to thousands of products in every imaginable niche. Using this third-party APP, this process becomes even easier.

The prices are a little steeper than on most other platforms listed here, but the products are typically worth the money.

The thing that sets Big Buy apart however, is the impressive dropshipping functionality. Big Buy makes wholesale prices available for single unit purchases, and there are no minimum order quantities. Additionally, the spanish dropshipping company will store and ship all items, freeing you of the hassle typically associated with these steps.

Particularly attractive in this regard, is the ability to add your name and company image to every order Big Buy ships. This significantly improves your branding and builds trust with customers. The end result is often more repeat purchases and more loyal customers.

The final positive feature I want to mention, is Big Buy’s multi-channel integration. Essentially, they make their product catalogue available for you to sell not only in your Shopify store, but also on eBay, Amazon, Rakuten and more. In a time when eCommerce marketplaces are thriving, it’s more important than ever to be visible on key platforms.

With the positives out of the way, let’s look at the negatives. My main gripe here is the often sub-par customer support. Emails seem to be completely ineffective, with phone calls offering the only real solution. But even then, support is often slow to solve issues and is generally painful to deal with.

Pros:

  1. Amazing dropshipping functionality
  2. No minimum order quantities
  3. High quality products
  4. Vast range of available niches
  5. Multi-channel integration with eCommerce marketplaces

Cons:

  1. Poor customer support
  2. Prices relatively high

4 - Doba - Paid access to world-class dropshipping wholesalers

If you are looking for products to dropship then Doba is a must. The US-based platform brings together thousands of wholesale dropshippers selling over 2 million products. This vast array of products covers every imaginable niche and even includes some branded products.

Luckily, Doba provides powerful filtering and exporting functionality allowing you to find products which fit your niche and organize them into lists. Then you can then export these lists to your preferred eCommerce platform.

Indeed, the ease with which products can be manually exported from Doba and imported into your Shopify store is impressive. The Doba Shopify APP offers an extra layer of automation but is poorly reviewed. Nevertheless I suggest you give it a try if you want to use Doba.

On to the negatives, we have to talk about the price. Access to Doba’s dropshipping wholesalers does not come cheap, with prices starting at $29 and climbing to $249 a month. This does not include the $0.99 per-order fee which further bites into your profit margin.

Pros:

  1. Access to millions of products from every conceivable niche
  2. Convenient product export/import
  3. No minimum order quantities

Cons:

  1. Relatively expensive
  2. Subpar Shopify APP

5 - DHGate - Sophisticated global wholesaler

Next up, it’s Beijing-based wholesale platform DHGate. Founded all the way back in 2004, DHGate has established itself as one of the best product sourcing companies out there today, winning numerous awards in the process.

DHGate stands out with industry-leading transparency. Whereas other platforms often require lengthy email communication to negotiate the price, DHGate provides an up-to-date breakdown of pricing according to minimum order quantities. This makes product sourcing much more efficient than on platforms like Alibaba for example.

Additionally, DHGate has over 33 million listen products for you to choose from. This again may be industry-leading, and will almost guarantee you find what you want. This often includes branded products as well, meaning you can stock the shelves of your Shopify store with high quality products.

The final positive point I want to raise here is that DHGate offers guaranteed shipping. Specifically, the platform offers guaranteed 2-5 day delivery time on a large number of products. Compared to the shipping times of most product sourcing companies, especially based in China, this is a massive advantage.

If you are looking for manufacturers rather than suppliers, you will want to check out their sister company DHport.

But no wholesale supplier is perfect and DHGate is no exception. My quibble here is that although branded products are available, they are often priced uncompetitively. This means you will have a hard time selling them for a product.

Finally, it’s also worth noting that the process of listing products in your Shopify store is more time-consuming than it is with most of the other providers mentioned here. There is no way to export products and you will need to list products in your store manually as a result.

Pros:

  1. Over 33 million products available
  2. Guaranteed delivery times
  3. Price transparency
  4. Available in multiple languages

Cons:

  1. Branded products often priced uncompetitively
  2. Importing products into Shopify store is a manual process

Conclusion - The 5 best product sourcing companies

There you have it! The 5 best product sourcing companies active today. There are many others out there, but I think these 5 are the ones you need to check out.

But what do you think? Agree with my list order? Think I missed something?

Leave it in the comments below, and I’ll be happy to discuss it with you.

Thanks for reading.

Chris Grundy

Chris is the co-founder of Product Percy and a lifelong Shopify enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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