I am just curious how webmasters here who own eCommerce websites source goods for their products. Is it all through third party affiliate sites or does your own firm make goods? Or is there a third alternative that I am missing?
Anyway, how do you typically go about it, LifeInAsia? Do you simply take an order and pass it on to the manufacturers to supply or do you stock your own goods? I'm trying to understand how 1-man or small team website owners do this.
Products are all through affiliate programs. We mostly do services, but it pretty much works the same way. We use affiliate programs and direct contracts for the services.
The aff programs work the same as with products- the customer comes to our site, clicks on a link to the aff site, purchases there, and the aff partner handles fulfillment.
For "re-selling" we take the order on our side and our partners handle the fulfillment.
In terms of percentages, probably 90% of service revenue is through direct contracts, although it depends on the location. Our primary market is about 95% direct contracts, while other markets are 100% affiliate programs.
We are towards the other end of the scale. Pretty much all products we ship go out from our office, either from stock or ordered in from our suppliers and shipped out the next day - we quote 2 days for delivery. (UK based as are our suppliers, so next day shipping is easy and cheap)
We do drop ship occasionally to resolve problems, but it is usually more expensive so we avoid it where possible.
I'm trying to understand how 1-man or small team website owners do this.
I don't think there is any great mystery :) A few big boxes of stuff come in, many more smaller boxes of stuff go out. As long as you're prepared to spend a significant part of your working life changing one into the other, you have a functional business... :P
1. figure out something you want to make 2. contract with local job shop to make it 3. order in a couple weeks supply and stock it 4. ship individual orders 5. goto step 1
There are many small job shops in any city. You can find them in the yellow pages etc. They can make plastic parts, metal parts, custom cardboard boxes, electronic parts, almost anything you can think of. I will note that you often have to get your metal parts from CompanyA, your packaging from CompanyB and your other bits from CompanyC - but the nice thing is that all the companies A, B, C probably already know and work with each other and will give you referrals. makes finding suppliers pretty easy.
This strategy also works with suppliers in Asia, although I have little experience with it. Most of my suppliers are within 10 miles of me.