The process of launching a product can be smooth. Until you realize you can’t find a fair and reliable supplier for your product. It might leave you asking, how do you source a product to sell on Amazon?
That’s exactly what we are here to discuss today. This is your ultimate Amazon product sourcing guide, and for less than 20 minutes, we are going to discuss everything you need to know about where the top Amazon sellers get their products from.
From what makes a winning Amazon product to whether overseas manufacturing is really worth it, and if you should believe all the hype about Alibaba, we’ll take you through it all.
Incase you’re new in the Amazon selling nation and are not completely sure what Amazon sourcing actually is, let’s start off with the basics.☺
Simply put, Amazon product sourcing refers to when you source a product from a third party and then resell it on Amazon. These third party dealers can either be anything from manufacturers, distributors, retailers, dropshipping agents, or the brands themselves.
So Amazon sellers don’t manufacture their own products? Nope. Nah. Nein. Well, at least, most of them don’t.
Next, let’s quickly review what makes a winning product before we get into the nitty gritty of FBA sourcing. If you have already made up your mind on what to sell, this is your chance to have one final look to ensure everything is in order.
Of course, there are other things too. For example, product weight, number of variations being sold, ease of shipment, etc., but the ones listed above are by far the most important to the success of a product.
💡 Pro Tip: Use our Niche Rater Chrome extension to validate a niche on the go and find products that absolutely slay on Amazon. No guesswork, no fabricated numbers; just pure, organic data directly from Amazon to inform your product research.
If you are planning to start a private label business on Amazon, you can look for a domestic supplier or work with an overseas manufacturer to source your inventory.
Anything produced locally has obvious merits. You don’t have to worry about the language barrier. You can drive to the workshop any time and check what your manufacturer is up to. Local suppliers have a good understanding of the market. Payment can be made hassle-free. And who doesn’t like flaunting “Made in America”, “Made in the UK”, or “Made in Australia” on their product? It’s a home-run!
That said, domestic manufacturing can be quite expensive. Also, you may not always find a supplier for your product, which can be a bummer.
You can always reach out to people in your circle and ask for recommendations. Referrals are the lifeblood for most local businesses, and if you are lucky, you might find a good manufacturer who would be able to help you with sourcing.
Besides that, you can look on the web. There are several online ecommerce marketplaces that have hundreds and thousands of suppliers ready to provide you with fully customized, white-label items for your Amazon store. Some of the most popular names are:
A simple Google search should return you hundreds of manufacturers in your niche. You can then contact them and ask if they would be interested in working with you.
To find UK-based manufacturers for your product, simply type: [Your niche] + [Whitelabel UK manufacturers]. Hit Enter.
💡 Pro Tip: Make sure your regional search settings are set to the United Kingdom if you are doing your research from outside the country. You can also use a UK VPN to tailor the search results locally.
Alternatively, you can check the following online directories to find local suppliers for your product:
Reddit is a great option to find manufacturers in Australia. There are plenty of subreddits with honest supplier recommendations that you can check out.
If you really want to deep dive into your research though, online directories are your best bet. The AU region has several dedicated databases for connecting with local suppliers. Here are our top picks:
If you have a limited budget or are struggling to find a local manufacturer for your product, you can look overseas for a solution. In fact, we use this approach more often than not and recommend doing the same if you are just starting on Amazon.
Like local manufacturing, overseas sourcing has its benefits too. So much so, some of them truly invite you in and can be hard to overlook. Low production costs are the most obvious benefit. You also get to have your pickings from a large pool of suppliers.
Perhaps the only drawback in partnering with someone internationally for your inventory needs is that you can’t always be sure of the quality you’ll get. But there is a way to avoid this--hire an inspection service in the country of origin! These guys will check your final order for you to make sure everything is up to the requirements as expected.
💡 Pro Tip: Always ask for samples from your manufacturer. If you are chatting to more than one supplier, have the samples consolidated in one place before shipping them to your doorstep. This will save you money. Also, you’ll be able to get an idea of what each manufacturer has to offer in terms of product quality and design.
You can find suppliers on:
What are the best products to source from India? Textile, metal tools, chemicals, jewelry, ceramic cookware, and footwear.
You can search for suppliers on, Bizviet, TradeKey, and VietnamB2BDirect
What are the best products to source from Vietnam? Clothing, plastic and rubber items, wooden products, headgear, and briefcases.
Yes, you can. In fact, most Amazon private label sellers source their inventory from China. Find a reliable supplier on Alibaba.com, 1688, Global Sources, DHgate, Trillion Source, or other similar Chinese B2B websites, get your product manufactured, and have it shipped directly to Amazon FBA warehouses—while sitting at your home. All praise the power of the internet.
Sourcing and reselling products from Alibaba on Amazon is perfectly legal. You’ll find many suppliers on the platform who deal in specialized manufacturing for Amazon private label businesses. These suppliers also have connections with freight forwarders, so they can help you ship your inventory at reasonable rates too, via sea or air, whichever option you may prefer.
Alibaba has over 10 million items listed in 40+ categories and subcategories. Most of these items are manufactured by Chinese companies, but you can find suppliers from other countries too.
The available product categories include:
Besides providing sellers with a one-stop sourcing solution for their private label products, Alibaba is also one of the safest and most trusted platforms for B2B shopping.
The Trade Assurance program protects you against all potential frauds or scams, providing a full refund if you get into any quality or shipping-related dispute with your manufacturer. The resolution time can vary from 7 to 10 working days, depending on your registered payment method. This service is available to all members and can be availed for free.
That said, you must always do your due diligence when choosing a supplier to avoid any troubles down the road.
Here are a few things you should look at:
💡 Pro Tip: Always register your trademark in the country you are sourcing the product from, in this case, China. This is vital for protecting your ecommerce brand in the long run.
Anyone can sign up on Alibaba to buy products for their Amazon ecommerce store. You don’t need to have a company to use the platform. However, sellers with a registered LLC may find it easier when negotiating terms with the suppliers, who are much more accommodating to businesses rather than individuals.
Negotiations are a common thing in the Chinese business culture. Most manufacturers will quote you a higher price the first time. Don’t accept it right away. Play hardball but stay polite. Leverage offers from multiple suppliers to drive the rates down. Go for a higher MOQ—if your budget allows it—to get a healthy discount on your order.
Also, talk to your manufacturer and try to get the sample price adjusted in your final bill. That way, you can save on the sample cost and shipment.
Shipping cost on Alibaba.com varies from supplier to supplier. On average, you can expect to pay anywhere between $2 and $3 per kg for sea freight and $4.5 and $6 per kg for air transport. The former takes 30 to 45 days to deliver your inventory to an Amazon FBA warehouse in the US, while the latter ships in 10 to 15 working days.
What about the suppliers who promise free shipping?
There is no free shipping on Alibaba.com Any manufacturer who claims otherwise is lying to you. Companies add the shipping cost to the unit price to make the final offer look heavily incentivized. Don’t fall for the gimmick.
Customs fee is a part of the shipping expenses. You must pay it on all your imports, regardless of whether you are sourcing from Alibaba or any other marketplace. Typically, your freight forwarder is responsible for taking care of the customs fee on your behalf unless you opt for EXW as your preferred mode of transport.
The chart below explains the different types of shipping expenses involved when sourcing items from overseas for Amazon FBA. It also mentions the responsible party for each transport mode.
Here, at ZonGuru, we recommend using Delivered Duty Paid, or DDP, for shipment. It’s the most convenient mode of transport and allows you to send your inventory directly to your desired Amazon FBA fulfilment centre with the least hassle.
As long as your manufacturer or freight forwarder is in charge of the shipment process, you don’t need an import license to ship inventory from Alibaba.
AliExpress is another popular online marketplace to source goods from China. It is owned by Alibaba Group, the same company that owns and runs Alibaba.com.
Unlike Alibaba, AliExpress is more B2C in nature. It has lower MOQ requirements, and the prices are almost always fixed unless you buy in bulk.
However, the main thing that sets the two platforms apart is the type of business model they support. Alibaba is great for white label manufacturing, while AliExpress is best if you want to do wholesale on Amazon. Some people also use AliExpress to source products for their dropshipping business.
Of course, private label is not the only way to sell on Amazon. There are other business models that you can try too. That said, private label is the biggest opportunity on the smiling A, and it’s where you’ll find the most money.
Retail arbitrage is one of the oldest business models on Amazon. It operates on a simple process. You visit your local stores (online stores count too); find, scan and buy products to sell on Amazon; and then list those products in your Seller Central to make some cash.
While RA is a quick way to generate income, it’s not the best for scaling. At the end of the day, you are at the mercy of the retailers and never in full control of the sourcing or pricing. Furthermore, it’s quite risky too. You can get your account suspended if you are not careful enough.
We are not big fans of retail arbitrage—and you can see why. But if you are still interested in doing it, here are some of the places you can source your inventory from:
Don’t forget to use a scanning app when searching for items for retail arbitrage. The Amazon Seller scanner app is by far our favourite, but you can also try other apps like Scoutify, FBAScan, Profit Bandit, and Scan Power.
No, you can’t use Amazon as a supplier. That’s against Amazon’s TOS. Besides that, Amazon doesn’t provide you with actual invoices anyway, so you can’t consider it a legitimate supplier.
Next, we have wholesale. In this business model, you source products directly from brands and resell them as new on Amazon. It is arguably one of the safest ways to earn and scale on the smiling A.
Wholesale sourcing for Amazon is a completely different ballgame to private label or retail arbitrage sourcing. Here, you must reach out to the brands and ask for their permission before you can start selling products on Amazon. This can be a tedious job.
Some brands refuse to work with new sellers. Others agree but only on their own terms. And some others simply aren’t interested in taking their brand to Amazon. As a seller, you must constantly churn out emails and make cold calls to try to get brands on board.
One word: Google!
Search for brands in your niche using Google. If they run a website, they’ll pop up in the search results. Some may show up in the local pack. Contact them, make a pitch, and get their approval. Most brands have an MOQ requirement that you must fulfill to place an order successfully.
Alternatively, you can check relevant forums and directories to find wholesale brands in your niche. Some popular ones include: The Supplier Central, Wholesale Central, Cellpex, Toptenwholesale, Salehoo, Amazon FBA Wholesale Sellers, and Worldwide Brands.
Yes, you need to have a tax ID to buy wholesale items to sell on Amazon. Without it, no brand or wholesale distributor will entertain you.
Dropshipping continues to be an in demand business model on Amazon despite the competition. It is easier to start, requires little to no investment upfront, and can be quite lucrative if done right. However, like retail arbitrage, it carries risks, where even the smallest of mistakes can get your Amazon account suspended.
Finding dropship suppliers is easy. You have plenty of dedicated directories and platforms that connect you with dropship suppliers all over the world. The top ones include:
ZonGuru’s world-first collaboration with Alibaba.com brings Amazon sellers exactly what they have been asking for: a way to make sourcing easy.
We have developed the strongest and most powerful sourcing tool available on the marketplace, Easy Source. It integrates with Alibaba.com to find suppliers with a proven track record of delivering results in a clear user-friendly layout iconic to the ZonGuru platform.
Easy Source gives complete control to the user to filter suppliers based on their exact private label requirements like:
... and much more!
The filters make light work of the copious amounts of data available and cuts search time down dramatically, connecting you with the right supplier faster.
Easy Source works closely with Alibaba.com to ensure only dependable, high-quality suppliers that you can trust are provided. The results are given in a super user friendly format with key metrics and pictures of products clearly visible for quick analysis. To start a conversation with the supplier, just click on ‘Product Details’, and you’ll be taken to the supplier’s Alibaba.com contact page. Simple!
But wait there’s more! If you’re using the ZonGuru Chrome Extension you will notice another icon above the menu bar - SOURCE ON Alibaba.com.
This nifty little button brings you all the information you need to find the right manufacturer, all while never leaving an Amazon listing. Simply navigate to a product page, let ZonGuru analyze the data, and receive a curated list of proven, reliable manufacturers straight from Alibaba.com.
Let Easy Source be your trusted guide and direct you straight towards your ideal supplier match. Integrating seamlessly within the Chrome Extension or used on its own as a supercharged tool, Easy Source delivers stellar supplier options every time!
Want to see Easy Source in action? Check out the tutorial video below or start your free Easy Source trial and begin your sourcing journey today.
Discover opportunities. Maximize your sales. Grow your Amazon business!