Careers Business Ownership How to Source Products from Overseas Share PINTEREST Email Print Blend Images - Jose Luis Pelaez Inc / Getty Images Business Ownership Operations & Success Supply Chain Management Sustainable Businesses Operations & Technology Marketing Market Research Business Law & Taxes Business Insurance Business Finance Accounting Industries Becoming an Owner By Karen Waksman Karen Waksman Facebook Instagram LinkedIn Twitter President and CEO of Retail MBA University of California, Santa Barbara Karen Waksman is a former writer for The Balance Small Business and an experienced seller who advises entrepreneurs who sell products to retailers. Learn about our Editorial Process Updated on 06/25/19 Globalization and the internet have made sourcing products from overseas more accessible. The ability to get access to products at significantly lower prices has made sourcing a very appealing option for many businesses. Small and large businesses are utilizing web resources to gain access to vendors that were once out of reach. For those new to the process, sourcing products overseas may seem like an overwhelming task. A simple strategy will help you get started. Determine the Product A well-defined product is the key to success, efficiency, and profitability. Therefore, the first step to sourcing is to decide what product you want to source, taking into account whether the product fills a need within the market. Most people choose to source products overseas because they are looking for a way to earn fast money, however, there are other important variables to consider. For example, you should determine whether there is market demand for your product, whether it is a niche product or variety of products, the benefits, and drawbacks of selling this product, and whether you would personally buy the product and why. These are important considerations, as you will be investing time, effort, and financial resources toward sourcing your product from overseas. Identify Specific Countries Not all countries produce every type of product, and certain countries have advantages that keep costs to a minimum. Therefore, it is essential that you figure out what countries specialize in the products that you are trying to source. For example, unlike other countries, China has access to a large quantity of metal. Therefore, if you are trying to source a metal home furnishing product, China would probably be the best country for sourcing. Two useful resources to explore are Background Notes and Country Commercial Guides. Both sites provide detailed information on the specific countries that specialize in your product. This simple step can save you a tremendous amount of time when looking for overseas suppliers. Find a Supplier Once you have identified the optimal country for production, you need to locate a supplier. There is an abundance of web resources to help you find the supplier that best fits your needs. Thomasnet.com, Globalsources.com, and Alibaba.com are useful resources that can help you get started quickly. Simply type in your product and country of origin and you will receive a long listing of overseas suppliers. Choose the Right Supplier Once you’ve identified suppliers, take a moment to research each of the companies on your list. Begin with a quick internet search and look for reviews, detailed company information, or problems related to this supplier. The more background information you have about the supplier, the better your chances of a smooth sourcing process. When contacting the supplier, make sure you ask the questions that matter to you. For example, ask about the specific products they offer, whether there is a required minimum quantity that must be purchased or discount for purchasing large quantities, the shipping time frame, and whether the final price includes shipping and duties or taxes. Every supplier has their own rules and requirements. You can choose the right supplier simply by identifying the requirements that best meet your business needs. Also, be an informed consumer; don’t be afraid to contact several suppliers to compare prices. Request Product Samples Before you purchase anything from an overseas supplier, insist on receiving a product sample. The main reason to request a product sample is to ensure that you review the quality of the product. You do not want to work with a supplier that skimps on quality. Another reason to request product samples is to have the ability to present actual products to prospective customers. Taking the time to properly prepare for success will ensure a better outcome. Be sure to request a product sample before you finalize any agreement. Finalize Agreement You are now ready to finalize an agreement with an overseas supplier. Make sure you have everything in writing, as issues typically arise when language barriers exist. Some key points of an agreement between an overseas supplier and a U.S. importer include product specifics, such as pricing, payment terms, shipping terms, and delivery. Start Sourcing Now There are seemingly infinite opportunities for sourcing products overseas thanks to globalization and the internet. By following these simple steps, you will be on your way to sourcing success.