One of the biggest questions I get asked is "how did you source the products you sell". The answer is simple, find what you love and either sell that or make it yourself. Can't find what you love, even better. I remember looking for a dress for my daughter's 3rd birthday party and I wanted it to match the theme of her party. I searched high and low for a dress and never found one...so I had one made. I found a niche for birthday themed clothing and began selling that. Then, I found smocked clothing that was beautiful but not worth the hundreds of dollars it costs to buy matching outfits, so I sourced my own and offered them at a reasonable price. That's the key, find something people will want and make it affordable.
There are several options for filling your first on-line store. First, you can open wholesale accounts with manufacturers that you love. I would go to boutiques that I liked and look at clothing, check out the tags (sometimes even take a picture of the tag) and then do my research online. At the bottom of most websites you can see an option for "wholesale" and fill out the wholesale request form. Once you do that they will usually approve you and you will have access to wholesale pricing and put together your first order.
Here is a screen shot of the bottom of a popular gift company's website where you can see the link at the bottom for "Wholesale".
You can also go to Market to meet wholesalers and place orders. AmericasMart is a huge market in Atlanta, GA. You can meet your vendors and start to build a relationship in person while filling your store with items your customers will love. One thing to remember is that you are purchasing in advance so plan ahead.
There are many markets and trade shows that you can attend to purchase and source products. I highly recommend attending a trade show if you plan on sourcing your own designs. Here is a list of the Top 100 Apparel and Clothing Events.
Another option is to find products to offer in your store that are drop shipped directly to the customer. Drop shipping is a supply chain management method in which the retailer does not keep goods in stock but instead transfers the customers orders and shipping details to either a manufacturer, another retailer, or a wholesaler, who then ships the goods directly to the customer. It is a great option if you are starting out with limited funds. You will not make as high of margins but you will be able to offer a wide variety in your web store without having to fork over a ton of investment to fill your store. You can checkout the Ultimate Guide to Drop Shipping for more information on how to get started.
The next option is to source the products yourself. For this option you can do it one of two ways. One you can attend a show such as Magic or a trade show specific to your products that you want to sell. At these shows you can match up with a factory that can work with your designs to produce your products for you.
The second option for sourcing would be to use Alibaba to find products that you want to sell. You can purchase from them or have them private label for you. You should make sure to get samples first, check the samples for quality and check references.
Those are just a few options to consider when sourcing products to sell online. Now it's time to get started stocking your store! Finding products can be so much fun and I encourage you to start exploring several of these options to get your online businesses filled with hot inventory and cranking out orders!
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Do you dream of opening your own online boutique?
Finding the perfect products, building a killer website and coming up with a catchy business name are only small parts of the process of starting an online boutique. So how do you go from dreaming about starting an online boutique to actually opening an online boutique?
Not sure? Don't worry...I've been there, done that and came up with a few simple steps to get you started on the right path to success.
If you have ever thought about starting an online boutique, you've probably asked yourself...Should I sell on Facebook or start a website?
And you are not alone...many boutique owners ask themselves this exact question every day!
Let's say you decide to start an online boutique right on Facebook. You create a Facebook page, pick a cute name and start posting items for sale. You add your friends and family to the page and they invite their friends and before you know it, you are almost to 100 fans (cue the confetti)