How to source products for your online store

How to Source Products for Your Online Store

Product sourcing refers to the process in which products are acquired. The objective of product sourcing is to uncover the highest quality goods and merchandise at the best price. Successful product sourcing allows sellers to mark up their products enough to make a profit.

While it can take some negotiating, most third-party product sources will coordinate packaging and shipping logistics. This gives merchants more time to spend on creative or strategic aspects of their business. However, some merchants prefer more control over their inventory and would rather ship products themselves to add personal flair. The type of product sourcing you choose should reflect your business model and work style.

Product sourcing methods

Most merchants use multiple forms of product sourcing. Some examples are wholesale, dropshipping, and partnering with manufacturers that create custom products. While all of these options are viable, some may work better for your business than others. Below, we describe the advantages and disadvantages of wholesale, dropshipping, and DIY forms of product sourcing.


Wholesale product sourcing lends itself to vendors that don’t want to manufacture or assemble products themselves. The wholesale route is also easy to scale. Products aren’t individually crafted, meaning adding products to meet increased customer demand is fairly simple. Over the last several years, wholesalers have increased the value of distributed goods to 3 trillion dollars, expanded their distribution networks, and connected domestic buyers to international markets.

Conversely, wholesale is a popular product sourcing option. You will likely sell many of the same products as your competition. What’s more, wholesalers often only sell in bulk, meaning sellers must invest more money at the outset.

Research will help you find a manufacturer that strikes the right balance between time savings and upfront expenses. Check references for each wholesaler to ensure they are legitimate. Ask questions about any hidden fees, time-to-assembly, and other related contract terms. Lastly, be prepared to provide necessary licenses or tax information.


Dropshipping involves working with a vendor that charges you for products as they are sold, and ships orders on your behalf. This “hands-off” technique is excellent for merchants who want to ramp up their online business quickly. Dropship suppliers typically have a wide variety of products to choose from and will handle all of your inventory, packaging, and shipping.

One drawback to dropshipping is you will have lower profit margins, implying you’ll need to sell more products to turn a profit. Again, you’ll want to spend adequate time evaluating dropship providers. Try finding your dropshipper in the Better Business Bureau or other online directories. Read customer reviews carefully and ask for samples to assess product quality.

Proprietary product/DIY

Hand-crafted products are a newer product sourcing trend, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. For example, Etsy sold $4.97 billion worth of goods in 2019, meaning many artisans make a living selling their items online. You can also find these products at flea markets, estate sales, antique outlets, and more. The biggest perk of collecting and selling these products is they are unique. No other stores will sell the same products. Plus, when you work with an artist, create your own products, or find them yourself, you have full control over your brand and inventory.

This is a double-edged sword, of course, as you’ll have less time to focus on other aspects of your business and it will be tough to scale quickly. Formulate a contingency plan for an explosion in demand and ensure you have a way to ship your products on time. Find ways to cut down on time to value, whether it’s making items faster or making more of them so you have inventory on hand. Finally, scope out a place to store your products. This could be a rental, storefront, or a third-party logistics company.

Start selling your products today

While selecting a product sourcing method is an important step in online sales, you’ll need an effective ecommerce platform to actually sell your products. Adobe Commerce is the leading ecommerce provider. With its out-of-the-box features and third-party integrations, Adobe Commerce customers create memorable shopping experiences that complement their product offering while delivering a seamless path to purchase.

Start crafting the perfect platform for your business with a free demo today.