Practical Ecommerce

How To Find Products To Sell For Your Online Operation

If you want to know how to succeed at something, it’s a good idea to talk to someone who already has. Renowned eBay powerseller Skip McGrath offers some helpful insights on how you can find product sources for your online business. Once you’ve determined what you’re selling, where do you go to get the goods?

Sourcing with a pro

According to McGrath, one of the best sources for products is local distributors because they’re easy to find. Go to and you can search by type. Just enter the word “wholesale” and your ZIP code and you’ll get a list of manufacturers and wholesalers within 100 miles of that ZIP code. And under the company name, you’ll see the kind of products it carries.

For traditional wholesale suppliers, like gift and merchandise manufacturers and overstock distributors, McGrath recommends several online sources:

  • helps you find surplus branded merchandise and collectibles.
  • sells goods by the pallet-load.
  • Google searches — type in the product name and the word “distributor” or “wholesale.” You’ll probably have to drill down to the third, fourth, or even fifth page to find real wholesalers; the first few pages are usually jammed with middlemen claiming to have wholesale prices.
    Research the companies before you use them to make sure they are genuine wholesalers and not retailers.

“The rule in wholesaling is, the closer you can get to the manufacturer of a product, the better your price is going to be,” McGrath notes.

Alternative sources

Nearly every medium and large city in the U.S. has a merchandise mart or gift mart. They’re like indoor malls where product manufacturers have their showrooms. You can see the products and pricing, and place orders. Once you’ve registered at a mart in person, some even have online sites where you can shop the market.

These marts aren’t open to the public, and neither are the trade shows that come to your area. So to get in, you’ll need the following:

  • A sales tax number or a resale certificate.
  • A business card or letterhead that shows you’re a company.
  • A commercial checking account — they may want to see a check in the business name.
  • The good news is, once you’re registered with these marts, you’ll likely get an invitation and tickets in the mail when trade shows come to your area, which saves you the trouble of registering for each one.

Close to Home

A rather surprising source of resale merchandise is eBay itself, McGrath confides.

“On eBay and all the other online auction sites out there, you can often find tremendous bargains.” Sometimes other sellers don’t recognize the value of their goods, or they don’t photograph them well or write a good title or description.

If you know your product market and take the time to present it well, you can turn over some amazing deals in your own backyard.

Practical Ecommerce

Practical Ecommerce

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  1. Legacy User February 26, 2007 Reply

    Hello my fellow e-sellers. You do not need a search engine, nor do you need to call the BBB or any such 3 step act. the best source for reputable wholesalers (at least in my field) is the VAR businesss magazine .

    Frank Dappah
    Director of E-commerce

    — *Frank Dappah*

  2. Legacy User February 23, 2007 Reply

    Hi, All;

    Karen, you make a very good point. In fact, on our website at, we do take great care to tell people that the first few pages of any search engine when you search for "wholesale," "Drop Ship" and other product sourcing terms are the absolute favorite hangout of the scam artist. Probably eight out of every 10 results you see there lead to middlemen, MLMs and other scammers.

    This article was distilled from a radio interview. We had Skip McGrath on our Entrepreneur Magazine Product Sourcing Radio Show a while back, and much of what you see in this article comes from his comments in that interview.

    As others have pointed out, Skip did say that you must drill down past the first few pages to get past the scammers. However, you pointed out that Skip talks about verifying the wholesalers you find before using them, but didn't say how. I'm willing to bet that during the course of that radio interview, we DID say how, but that info didn't make it into this article (probably due to space constraints for the articles we distill from the shows) which I do apologize for.

    So, here are some things you can do to verify that a wholesaler is legit:

    1. Call them. If there's no phone number listed on the site, they're probably a fake. If they answer and just say "hello," they're probably a fake. If you get a person or phone system that uses the company name, that's a point in favor of legitimacy.

    2. If they do NOT require a Tax ID from you, or documentation of your legal business name, run fast and far in the other direction. Any legitimate wholesaler needs some form of Tax ID and Business Name info from you.

    3. Call the chamber of comerce in their town and ask about them. Many times, the chamber will be able to give you info about the business.

    4. Check the BBB national site at The BBB has many reports about companies who are not BBB members.

    5. Google the company name. If someone has had trouble with them, you'll know it instantly.

    6. Go to the "About Us" page, and look for personal names of the principles, and Google them, too. Same reason.

    7. Go to and do a WhoIs search on the domain name. That will show you, in many cases, who actually owns the domain. If the domain is registered to a single person, that can mean a scammer. If it's registered to the same business name, that's another point toward legitimacy.

    Hope that helps, and thanks for pointing out that omission!

    Chris Malta

    — *Chris Malta*

  3. Legacy User February 22, 2007 Reply

    Let's not go crazy, the story cautions people to "drill down" to find more reputable wholesalers. However, that said, going the search engine route is a risk.

    — *Alex*

  4. Legacy User February 22, 2007 Reply

    I think that this is a point that can be made about almost every article in Practical eCommerce magazine. Many articles have great suggestions that you need to do this or that but fail to answer the how question. (Recommending people to Google "wholesale" is irresponsible advice at best due to all of the scams out there. Recommending people research the companies is all well and good — but he makes no mention of how to do so.)

    — *Joel*

  5. Legacy User February 22, 2007 Reply

    "Recommending people to Google "wholesale" is irresponsible. The amount of money lost by people looking to get rich quick on eBay or by creating an ecommerce store could probably pay for the war in Iraq."

    Well said!!!

    — *Kate*

  6. Legacy User February 22, 2007 Reply

    Recommending people to Google "wholesale" is irresponsible advice at best due to all of the scams out there. Recommending people research the companies is all well and good – but he makes no mention of how to do so. The amount of money lost by people looking to get rich quick on eBay or by creating an ecommerce store could probably pay for the war in Iraq.

    Also, if a legit "wholesaler" is easily found on the web chances are there are already thousands of eBayers/store owners who already know about them.

    — *Karen*

  7. Legacy User February 22, 2007 Reply

    Greetings Joel:

    If you're interested in one of the "how to" articles on product sourcing, you can do a search at the site. Or, one of the stories is located here:

    <a href="">Sourcing Options for eCommerce Firms</a>

    — *mitch@pec*

  8. Legacy User April 26, 2007 Reply

    The prices on are way overpriced . I saw the same items on other sites for almost half the price .

    — *Hey Frank Dappah*

  9. Legacy User July 30, 2007 Reply DOES NOT have wholesale prices–PERIOD.

    — *frank dappah*

  10. Legacy User September 13, 2007 Reply

    I've heard that theres is a software that brings up all the majority of wholesalers names. All that you need to do is type the category that you are looking for, for example "cell phone" and it will pop up most of the hidden suppliers. Is such a thing true of existence?

    — *Has*

  11. Legacy User October 9, 2007 Reply

    There is a website that does that – it's a search engine rather than software called

    — *Kari*

  12. Legacy User December 22, 2007 Reply

    This article is a complete and total sham… Note as quoted in this "so called" interview:

    * helps you find surplus branded merchandise and collectibles.
    * sells goods by the pallet-load.
    * Google searches — type in the product name and the word "distributor" or "wholesale."

    Point: This supposed article is an obvious plug for since the other site mentioned ( forwards to Also, anyone one with a single brain cell (functioning or not) will try searching Google on their own without someone suggesting such a bright idea to them – DUH, AND THANKS FOR SUGGESTING WE SEARCH GOOGLE… As for, after spending a "couple of hours" digging though it, I'm under the impression the the site itself and its offerings are pretty bogus. If your looking for GENUINE deals on items to resell, you're better off looking on eBay's Wholesale Lots, which you can find at
    As most of you already know, a lot of companies use eBay to move excess inventory for pennies on the dollar. Trust me on this one, forget about the advice in this article and concentrate your efforts where real deals are available for you to make a profit. MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY SELLING!
    Now get out there and make some money!!

    — *Bubba*

  13. Legacy User February 9, 2008 Reply

    O.K. lets talk about what we can lern from each other rather than where the other person might be wrong.
    I am a manufacturer and a wholeseller and honestly speaking I have much difficulty in getting resellers as much you guys have finding a wholeseller.

    I am a clothing manufacturer of plus size womens clothing and accesories and to run a wholesale campaign on Google or Yahoo costs close to $8000-$10000 a month(all the keywords). Organic search results is out of question as I am not a webmaster (to get my site on page 1 og google search) and not such a big wholeseller that I would employ webmaster(if I was as big I would have started supplying to walmart). These are simple business basics…The amount of money I make on Each Order value (wholesale) doesnt not supprot me to advertise online. So any one claiming to be a wholeseller through online ads is most probably…….. or a newbie(like i did in starting-not anymore) bottom line is if you are looking for success be part of successful network. I would also suggest to get up from your comfy seat and travel to places, you will not only source products but also learn a lot, and ofcourse it is better option than keep giving thousands…
    Good Luck in 2008 to all

    — *Peter*

  14. Legacy User April 7, 2008 Reply

    is this for real?

    — *sara*

  15. justiceleagueus1 March 19, 2010 Reply

    Becareful of some sellers selling fake stuff at
    This one seller: Wholesalemakeup selling fake Mac products. Already reported them to, and guess what, the very next day they don’t use the "Mac" word any longer on the title, and they edited out the "Mac" word in their pictures. AND Wholesalemakeup is still selling fake Mac products at