Use This Simple Checklist for Smart On-the-Go Sourcing

By Aron Hsiao  on June 27, 2016

Many online sellers make their start by sourcing on the go.

Step 1: Log in to Terapeak.

Summer-friendly sourcing opportunities like thrifting, yard and garage sales, estate sales, and flea markets can yield a lot of interesting inventory for beginners. At the same time, growing sellers might gravitate toward liquidations, auctions, and similar sources of unsold and overstock inventory.

If you're doing some of this kind of sourcing, keep in mind that the goal is to make a profit, not take unnecessary risks. Sourcing on the go often requires snap decisions, but this doesn't mean that they have to be guesswork.

The Profitability Checklist

Here's a simple, rapidly completed checklist that you can use to decide—on the spot—whether it makes sense to buy inventory that you're considering.

  • How much does this item or product sell for online? Obviously, the average online sale price of items like the one you're considering needs to be higher than the price you'll pay—and high enough to leave you some profit margin as well.

    Step 2: Open Product Research.
  • How many of them are sold every week? More weekly sales means a greater chance of selling one-off items, and if only five or ten sell in a week, you may want to avoid buying a lot of 250 items.

  • How are shipping costs going to affect your margins? If average shipping costs are zero or near zero, you'll need to take into account the fact that buyers are tending to expect free shipping for this item or product—and take into account how funding shipping yourself will affect your margins.

  • How many other sellers are already selling similar products? If there are many more of this item sold every week than there are other sellers, you're probably in good shape. On the other hand, if there are a lot of sellers for the number of items being moved, competition—including by lowering prices—is likely to be fierce. There are many other details that can be considered for larger business and selling strategy questions, but for sourcing on the spot, especially for sellers just starting out, this is a simple, basic checklist that produces good results.

    Step 3: Enter your search.

Getting On-the-Go Answers

There are a few ways to go about trying to answer these questions, but the most complete, obvious, and hassle-free method is to use Terapeak on your mobile device. Here's how.

  1. Log into your Terapeak account. Visit in your mobile browser. The browsers of most mobile devices sold over the last few years are supported. You'll be asked to log in with your Terapeak username and password, just as you do when you use Terapeak on your laptop or desktop computer.

  2. Visit the Product Research tool. After logging in, tap the square icon at the upper-right of the page to open the navigation menu. Then tap on "Research" to open the list of research tools, then tap on "Product Research" to open the Product Research tool. If you've used Terapeak's Product Research tool on your desktop, the mobile view of the tool will be instantly familiar to you.

    Step 4: Note average sale price and shipping costs.
  3. Enter your search terms and parameters. Type in keywords for the product you're researching—make and model are always a good bet, but in the absence of this information, more general product terms can also be used. Set a date range if you'd like to see sales over a longer period of time. Tap the search button (it looks like a magnifying glass) to see search results.

  4. Note average sale price and shipping costs. You'll notice that you see average sale prices and shipping costs right away (you may need to tap on the arrow button to expand this list). These are the most basic indicators that tell you whether or not you'll be able to profit on a sale, and they answer the first and third checklist questions, "How much does this product sell for online?" and "How are shipping costs going to affect your margins?"

  5. Scroll down to the General Stats box. In the General Stats box, you'll find additional basic statistics, including the product's sell-through rate and the average number of sellers offering the item every day. This data answers the second and fourth questions in the checklist above.

    Step 5: Note sell-through rate and average daily sellers.
  6. Briefly note other information. As is always the case with the Product Research tool, you'll find a wealth of other supply, demand, and listing-oriented data that enhances your picture of this product's marketability and sales potential. Scroll up and down if you like and look for any other relevant data about listing strategies, durations, and so on that may bear on your ability to sell the item.

Having completed these steps, you've answered each of the questions on the checklist above, and you've also gained enough additional context to make an informed decision about whether or not to buy the item(s) you've spotted for resale—and all without having to do anything but pull out your mobile device.

Make the Right Decision and Profit

As a last note, remember that it's okay to decide against sourcing a product, even one that seems exciting or rare at first. The goal is to make a profit—and if the numbers say that you can't, that's a good thing—it means that you've saved yourself the headache of buying products that you can't ultimately sell at a profit.

So if the first one or two items you research don't pan out, don't get discouraged—move on to new opportunities, repeating these steps and completing the checklist each time, until you return from your sourcing adventures with lots of new and profitable inventory ready for resale.

Research a full year of online sales in detail for any product or keyword—average prices, sell-through rates, top listings, and more. Try Terapeak Professional today!

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