March 9, 2016 by Andrew Minalto - 0 Comments

REVERSE Sourcing – From Product TO Supplier!

reverse-product-sourcingOne thing that I’ve covered in great detail on this blog is how to find good suppliers for the niche you want to sell in, but what if you want to find the supplier/manufacturer of a very specific product?

The idea for this blog post actually came to me from a question that was sent in by one of my EAB customers, who had found a terrific product for sale at a local market and wanted to source it to sell on eBay.

After a few minutes of searching he had found the “same” product and then purchased a sample order. But when it arrived it was nothing like the original product he’d found – the finish was significantly worse, the colouring was slightly off, and even the materials used were of a lower quality… clearly the two seemingly identical products weren’t manufactured by the same company/factory.

So the subject of today’s post is – how to find the exact supplier of a particular product that someone else is selling?

This could be an item you’ve seen on:

  • eBay
  • Amazon
  • In a local B&M
  • At a market
  • Etc.

Well the first thing I’d suggest is GOOGLE! But you really need to do some extensive searching, using a variety of search combinations. Here’s a good starting list for you to use:

  • manufacturer + product
  • manufacturer + brand name of product
  • supplier + product
  • supplier + brand name of product
  • wholesale + product
  • wholesale + brand name of product
  • Alibaba + product
  • Alibaba + brand name of product
  • bulk + product
  • bulk + brand name of product
  • And so on…

Although I usually find Google’s search algorithm to be more reliable, you should also replicate your searches directly on Alibaba, Global Sources, Made-in-China etc.

If you’re lucky, you’ll come across the supplier in this first step. BUT there is one crucial step after that – confirming it is the correct supplier (which is what my EAB customer didn’t do). But more on that a bit later.

However, if your search barrage doesn’t yield any results, then there are still a few things that you can try.

B&M Store

This is a bit of a sneaky technique, but I’m going to share it with you anyway, after all – all is fair in love and war and business!

Basically what you need to do is ask how many items come in a box, saying that you may want to buy a whole box. You should have a reason for this thought out beforehand, depending on what the item is – for example if it’s something child related like a toy, you can say that you’re planning to use them as party bag gifts for an upcoming birthday.

Most of the time when you ask this, they will head back to the store room to bring out a full box for you to look at. And 99% of the time that box will be the same one that the item was sent in, so you should pay close attention to any name or other information on the box. Quickly write it down, or better yet take a picture, and then you’ll easily be able to find the manufacturer later on using Google.

Another tactic is to just casually ask about the product! Not everyone is that guarded about their items (though that may change after this post :-)) and you can usually get a lot of info just by asking where the product is made. Often you can simply go right out and ask what brand it is, and they’ll head to the back and check the order/main box and let you know!

This is obviously a rather grey-hat technique, but it’s certainly nothing illegal.

Online Items

Simply asking about the item is harder to do on eBay or Amazon, where from my experience sellers are more suspicious in the first place, but it’s still worth a try. Sometimes the simplest solution is the best one.

Of course it’s usually harder to find the original supplier for online items in general, as there’s a much larger variety of sellers and product sources… but another easy to use tactic is to do a reverse search for the product images being used. Not many people know about this but it’s incredibly easy to use.

All you have to do is find an image for the product, right click on it and then select Search Google for image.

search-for-google-imageThis will automatically open a new tab, showing searches for that image!

search-results

google-resultsAnd as you can see Google also gives us a suggested search term, “paisley bandana”. Of course in this fictional example we already knew that from the eBay description, but this can be an incredibly helpful tool when you don’t know exactly what to call the product.

I would now be able to go back to step 1 and search Google using this term:

bandanaAnd what do you know – this method provided a huge number of results from AliExpress with the exact same image being used.

aliexpress-resultsWhen using this product image tactic to find the original supplier, you still need to verify it! This goes back to what I talked about at the beginning of this post, as you want to be sure you’ve found the same actual supplier.

Luckily enough this is very easy, and once again really all you need to do is ask them outright. Chinese suppliers are incredibly open about this sort of thing and if you simply say “do you supply Bob’s Bandanas” they will happily answer you and on occasion will even provide proof!

Of course this depends completely on the particular supplier and how big they are and the company you’re asking about is. For example, a factory producing parts for Sony or Samsung isn’t going to reveal that to you! Such brands guard their supply chain information and heavily restrict who their factories deal with anyway.

But for these mid-level suppliers, the ones who we usually deal with on Alibaba and other such similar sites, this straightforward tactic works incredibly well and it’s what I suggest for the “verification”. Of course if you used the sneaky in-store method and got the supplier’s details from a box, you don’t really need to waste time with this.

And don’t forget that finding the manufacturer/factory isn’t the end of it, just because they’ve supplied this product to someone else.

You still need to follow ALL of the normal importing procedures and supplier verification steps that I’ve covered numerous times on this blog, all of which you can find here on the Blog archive page here. Just scroll down to Product Sourcing and Importing.

Also, as covered in my post – How to Create New Products to Sell on eBay and Amazon – don’t forget about modifying the product to make it even better and add more value for your customers (and profit for you!).

Okay, that about brings us to the end of today’s post. I hope you found this small guide useful, and hopefully it’ll remind you to keep an eye out for that great product whenever you’re out and about or just browsing online.

As always, if you have any questions then don’t hesitate to post them below in the comments section and I’ll personally get back to you within 24 hours, Monday to Friday.

Otherwise, until next time!

All the best,
Andrew

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