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eBay Seller Dan Riley Talks Wholesale Product Sourcing: Part One

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Last Edited 04:51:55 PM by News Team



Pop quiz:

  • Are you a treasure hunt seller in search of an inventory source that’s more hit and less miss?
  • Are you tired of creating new listings for hundreds of one-off items?
  • Is your inventory—or lack thereof—holding you back from next-level business success?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above, wholesale product sourcing might be your way forward.


To help you get started, we went back to eBay seller Dan Riley to learn about his experience with wholesale product sourcing.


Dan. How did you get started with wholesale product sourcing?

Well, when I began selling on eBay full-time in 2009, I was doing freight salvage. That essentially means that I worked with national trucking companies like R&L Carriers, Central Freight Lines, Averitt Express, and UPS, to liquidate surplus items they had accumulated. Usually items that were damaged, lost in transit, or had customs issues. I was getting pallets of clothing, electronics, medical supplies, furniture, water heaters, dishwashers, etc. And it was zero money out of pocket because we had a revenue-splitting consignment agreement.


Good deal. How did you keep up? Did you have employees at that time?

I had five people helping from 2009-2011, and we must have sold about 20-30,000 items in that span. But then things started to get too complicated, logistically. I was outgrowing warehouses—which might sound like a good thing—but in terms of efficiency, things were not running smoothly. Mainly because I had so many different types of products and no control over what I was getting. We were working with thousands of one-off or small quantity items. The model wasn’t working anymore. So I let the contracts run out and made the decision to liquidate.


I can see how that would be a problem. No selling niche. That would mean a lot of research, too.

Right. I was tired of being a jack-of-all-trades. I decided I’d be better off having control over my inventory, dominating a few niches, and not trying to be everything to everybody. That’s when I explored how to get started with a different type of wholesale product sourcing: Working directly with manufacturers and distributors.


So many sellers inquire about how to get started with this type of product sourcing, can you list steps to follow for those who are interested?  

Sure. It’s really two-fold. The first part is everything that leads up to finding the right wholesaler and items. The second part is about establishing a relationship with the wholesaler, and negotiating the deal. So I’ll start with part one:


  1. Get your documentation in order. Prior to reaching out to wholesale product distributors, you should have all of the necessary paperwork, including business and wholesale licenses (which vary by state). Most wholesalers won’t even talk to you unless you have this paperwork.
  1. Make your business presentable. First impressions are everything with potential wholesale partners. So make sure your business is well-branded—on and offline—and that everything has a cohesive look and feel: Business cards, brochures (to hand out at trade shows), website, even apparel. Also, since it’s relatively easy to become a seller on eBay, make sure that your eBay account and feedback score speak to your professionalism, and that you have an established history as a seller.
  1. Find the right trade shows. Once you’ve obtained the proper paperwork, and worked on your branding, you’ll be ready for one of the most important steps: Attending trade shows and networking with suppliers. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to travel to Las Vegas, New York, or Los Angeles to find the right show. Just do a search on WholesaleCentral.com or TSNN.com, and look for nearby events featuring items that are of interest to you.


  1. Work the event. Use the show directory to map out who you plan to visit, and be prepared to:

Pitch yourself. Give wholesalers a succinct summary about your business and what you’re looking to accomplish.

Network. Hand out your business materials (cards, brochures, etc.) and gather the same.

Get down to business. Inquire about purchasing minimums, samples, and sales stipulations.

Determine next steps. Find out the best way to get in touch should you decide to move forward.

Resist inking a deal on-the-spot. Wholesalers can be very convincing salespeople. Avoid making a hasty, emotional business decision before you’ve done your due diligence.  


  1. Do your research. When you’ve pinpointed some potential sources and items that pique your interest, the next step is to vet the company and their merchandise:

Make sure you’re dealing with a reputable wholesaler. Learn everything you can about the products they offer.

Check the current demand on eBay. See how many like items have sold for previously via completed items, and take note of the price range and sales frequency.

You can also use Terapeak.com for detailed research on competing eBay listings.


Well, that’s basically the first part. It’s all about positioning yourself to do business with wholesalers, identifying some potential wholesale partners, and researching the market for the items you’re interested in selling. Next time I’ll address relationship-building and negotiations, as well as a couple of “don’ts” that I learned the hard way.


Great. I can’t wait. Thanks for your time on this, Dan. So much good info. I look forward to our next chat. (You can read Part Two of this series here.)


Are you already buying from wholesale manufacturers or distributors? Tell us what you know in the comments below. Also, feel free to send this article to your eBay colleagues, and share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.