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how do online business get merchandise or inventory?

    • 3 posts
    October 20, 2008 8:50 AM EDT
    Just created a website for eco-friendly cool design bags. I`d like to add more inventory/merchandise to my website but I can`t afford to spend 1,000s of dollars to acquire them. How do other websites do it? I`ve seen a lot of websites that list their manufacturers and promote their products. Is there an affilate program? Or reseller program? How do I go about becoming a seller of those products?
     
    I appreciate any help. Thank you.
    • 3 posts
    October 20, 2008 12:17 PM EDT
    Thank you for your reply for your help. I really appreciate it. Are you drop shipping with erbaorganics?
    • 3 posts
    October 20, 2008 12:20 PM EDT
    Hi Kathleen,
     
    Thank you for your reply. It was very informative and does warn me about the potential hang ups in business. -clg
    • 2 posts
    December 28, 2008 11:47 AM EST
    I am starting an online clothing business and I am having a hard time figuring how much inventory to order for a start up webstore. I know for a brick & mortar store inventory is based on square footage of the shop but not sure how much to order for online sales. Any advice?
  • October 20, 2008 11:30 AM EDT
    I sincerely hope I don`t come off as Ms Cranky Pants but this will be a bit trickier than you`d imagine and for several reasons.

    First of all, you`re new so it`ll be hard to get established products in the door via drop shipping or affiliation. Good brands are particular about who they sell to because they need to maintain their image in the marketplace. Now if you don`t care about good established brands, you could get lucky by selling products from people struggling for a foot hold in the market but then... if they`re also new themselves, they may not come through with delivery. A friend of mine recently went out of business because she sold product to be drop shipped, paid the vendor (you have to or they won`t ship, anymore than you`d ship to a customer without being paid) and he never came back with the goods so she was stuck refunding the customers and she was out the money. You`d think after one or two orders she would have figured it out but the product was customized with a 6 week lead time so she didn`t find out until after taking brisk orders for six weeks that he was late, and then finally, never came through.

    Second, let`s look at the whole supplier/vendor relationship in sewn products which is my industry. Just as you don`t want to get stuck with unsold inventory, neither do manufacturers. Manufacturers -good ones- produce to order or demonstrated sales cycles. Iow, for you to have an order filled, you must order it, after which it is produced. Iow, if you just want to sell onsies and twosies to mitigate your risk, it`s unlikely they`ll fill those orders because it really isn`t fair to expect them to take a risk if you will not. Besides, they can`t cut onsies and twosies on demand to fill your orders even if they did accept them within a time frame you`d find acceptable (the aforementioned 4-6 week turnaround).

    Now this doesn`t apply to all industries but it does to the clothing business. If this were a food product with a relatively low production cost, perhaps it`d be no problem. Otherwise, you will be exposed to risk somehow. That`s why this is a business. If everyone could get drop shipped product at good margins with little or no risk to themselves, they`d be doing it and frankly, the field would be so cluttered with competition, I don`t know how you`d make yourself stand out to garner those customers. Even with risk, the competition is fierce. I personally don`t know that I would be starting a venture like this now. You`ll have to compete somehow. If it`s through low cost, selling too far under the manufacturer`s msrp, they may not sell to you anymore because you will be diminishing the value of their brand -and their other vendors- in the marketplace.

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    ~Nurture people, not products~
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