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The Ultimate 2022 Guide on Making an Effective eCommerce Procurement Process

eCommerce Procurement Process

Launching an eCommerce business is a lot of work, from finding a suitable platform to managing inventory to planning a marketing strategy. Sourcing products to sell is a big hurdle for a lot of eCommerce owners as well. Even if everything else is running smoothly, you’re out of business if you don’t have inventory to sell.

Fortunately, procurement doesn’t need to be challenging. Once you get your procurement process down, you’ll find that sourcing inventory gets easier. Here’s how to go about it.

Choose a Supplier

One of the biggest challenges in sourcing inventory is finding the right supplier. Most suppliers are low profile, and the market is saturated with product sourcing sites with questionable sellers and merchandise.

There’s a shortcut, however. Most products are subject to labeling restrictions, so you can order one sample of a product you’re looking to stock. When you get it, check the label to see the supplier or distributor or the website. Now, you have the information you need to search for the supplier and make contact with them.

If you don’t have any luck connecting with a supplier using this method, try networking on LinkedIn. You may be able to find contact information for high-level managers or directors, and you can message them about placing an order. While this should be the last resort, it can be effective if you’re running into dead ends otherwise.

Do Your Due Diligence

Finding a supplier is only half the battle. Once you do, it’s important to do your due diligence. Look at the supplier company and the products you intend to buy – remember, the quality of the service and product ultimately reflects on your business. There are plenty of scams out there as well.

If possible, meet with the supplier in person. If not, conduct extensive research to learn more about the company. Here are some things to consider:

  • Is the company trustworthy?
  • Can you speak to existing customers?
  • Is the company registered as a business?
  • Do the phone numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses exist?
  • Does the company offer payment options that give you added protection, such as PayPal or a credit card with purchase protection?
  • Have you received a sample and have you been assured that all products match the sample’s standards?
  • Are the products compliant?
  • Are the products genuine?

While due diligence can be cumbersome, it’s a necessary part of the procurement process to ensure you’re working with a verified business and sourcing products that will reflect positively on your brand.

Negotiate a Discount

negotiation process

Most suppliers will offer a discount or perk outright, but you can always try to negotiate a better deal. If they’re not budging, ask to speak to someone with more decision-making power like a manager or supervisor.

Keep in mind that suppliers offer different types of discounts on top of the wholesale price. This isn’t always ideal because you may not be able to get the full retail price, so that built-in profit margin is slimmer. Suppliers understand this and may offer different types of discounts, such as a greater discount percentage or added benefits like free or discounted shipping.

Don’t be afraid to stand your ground. You never know what you can get unless you ask, and it’s not personal. The supplier is likely to refuse or counter, but you’ll end up with a better deal than you had originally.

Gauge Demand

Knowing how much inventory to carry, and how much to purchase initially, is difficult. You have to have a good idea of the demand, which may take some work if you’re just launching your eCommerce business. Here are some tactics to use to gauge demand:

Leverage Google Keyword Planner to see what users are searching for regarding your potential product. Be specific and include the exact product name and words that indicate purchase intent. If you’re not finding a lot of keywords, that could mean there’s not a lot of demand.

Search for sold items on Amazon. You can look for the number of items sold on a listing and common alternatives, giving you an idea of what’s been popular recently. You could also look for other listings in your niche and see which products are performing well.

Research competitors product lines. As a startup, you probably don’t have the capital to source the entirety of your suppliers’ product lines. You can check competitor sites to see what items they stock consistently, which indicates they’re popular. That’s a good starting point for what to stock, and as you grow, you can expand your product offerings.

Ideally, order the same number of every product you intend to stock. As you start to sell, you can see which products are most popular with customers and learn for future orders. Be sure to avoid overinvesting, however. Order as much as you can, but remember that you may have some stale stock and you want to limit this as much as possible.

List Products for Sale

All the hard work is finished, so all you have to do is list your products for sale. This isn’t the time to slack – your product descriptions and images matter just as much as every other part of the process. A lot of eCommerce businesses have near-identical product descriptions and boring images that don’t resonate with the customer, leading to poor sales.

Think of your product copy and images as an opportunity to convince your website visitors to buy. This is your chance to sell the product and make it sound appealing with real-world benefits and features. You should also complement the listing with high-resolution images that bring the copy to life.

Take your time. It’s better to list fewer items over a longer period and do it right than trying to get everyone online in a matter of days. Put as much effort into your listings as you did the procurement process.

Get Ready to Sell

Procuring products for your eCommerce business takes a lot of effort, time, and diligence, but it’s the most significant contributor to your success. After your initial procurement, everything will get easier and you’ll be set up to reap the rewards of your hard work!

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