There are millions of wholesale products out there. How can you identify one worth investing in? And with so many wholesale marketplaces promising cheap products in bulk, which platform is most likely to have hidden gems?
If that’s not confusing enough, there’s a lot to think about when buying wholesale—like where you’ll source products from, how many units you should buy, and what profit margins you should aim for when finding cheap wholesale products for resale.
In this article, you’ll learn how to spot the best wholesale products, where to buy them, and some best practices to follow when buying wholesale items to resell.
Table of contents
Why consider cheap wholesale products for resale?
There are many benefits for online retailers who resell cheap wholesale products through their own online store. Here are three of them.
The product development process is complicated. From finding raw materials to assembling and testing products, the wholesale business model is a chance to bypass the entire process and go straight to selling.
Buy discounted products
Entrepreneurs who sell wholesale give other brands their products for a much lower price than than end customers pay. You could get products for 30% to 60% cheaper than retail, leaving you with more profits in the bank once an item sells.
“As a karaoke systems small business owner, I purchase karaoke machines, microphones, speakers, and related accessories wholesale from my contacts in a direct warehouse in China,” says Michael Chien, CEO of 101 Karaoke. “Buying these products in bulk allows me to better control my inventory and benefit from volume discounts.”
Strong relationships with suppliers
You can cultivate a strong relationship with a supplier depending on how many items you buy from them. There’s the opportunity to lean on them if you ever need to place a last-minute order—like if you were to host a Black Friday sale, sell your inventory quicker than you’d imagined, or need to replenish stock to prevent a stockout.
Examples of the best cheap wholesale products
Before discovering what makes a good wholesale product, here are some starting ideas to find cheap wholesale products to resell:
- Face masks
- Pet supplies
- Men’s, children’s, and women’s clothing
- Home décor
- Kitchen utensils
- Party supplies
- Phone accessories
How to choose cheap wholesale products to resell
- Calculate profit margins
- Find the median retail price
- Analyze the competition
- Estimate consumer demand
- Check for seasonal trends
- Calculate shipping costs
You must know what makes a product a good bet before you start sourcing new products. Here are six steps to identifying top wholesale products you could resell through your own store.
1. Calculate profit margins
A gross profit margin is the difference between how much a product costs and how much you can sell it for.
When you purchase wholesale goods in higher quantities, you can usually get them at a low cost per unit—and, as a result, increase your gross margin. This concept is referred to as economies of scale.
Before you commit to buying any wholesale products, use a profit margin calculator to confirm there’s enough money left in the pot when you’ve paid for it.
NYU Stern School of Business reports that a good profit margin for online retailers is around 42.78%. Treat this as the bottom level—the bigger the margin, the more profit you make when reselling wholesale products.
“We purchase NFC business cards in bulk, brand them, and resell them via our Shopify store,” says Georges El-Hage, founder and CEO of Wave Connect. “We purchase the products for around $1.50 and the packages for $2.50 each. If we include shipping and customs at the border, that will increase the cost by 60¢ per unit, totaling $4.60. The price for our most popular product is $49.99, so we net $44.99. Our profit margin is 90%.”
Remember there are other costs associated with reselling wholesale products—including your ecommerce platform, marketing, and advertising costs. Make sure there’s enough profit left over to cover these business expenses once you’ve paid the wholesaler.
2. Find the median retail price
It can still be challenging to turn a healthy profit if the price point is too low, even if you find wholesale products with a big margin.
If you purchase pencils for 10¢ and sell them for 50¢, for example, you’ll make 40¢ a unit—that’s a whopping 80% margin. However, you’d have to sell thousands of pencils to make a good income from your online store.
On the other hand, if the manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP) of a product is too high, you’ll likely find it harder to land sales. People buying a $150 jacket have more complex decisions to make than those purchasing a $40 item.
Check the MSRP before buying wholesale products, and start with products that retail between $15 and $200.
If you’re purchasing several products within that price range, you can even use products at different wholesale prices to upsell and cross-sell. For example, if someone is buying your $30 moisturizer, you could increase average order values by cross-selling a $15 sheet mask or upselling them to a more expensive cream.
3. Analyze the competition
A market is saturated when there are many retail businesses selling a particular product. It can be tough to stand out from the crowd if you’re operating in a saturated market, hence why it’s easier to buy wholesale products in a market that has low competition.
Check marketplaces like Amazon to gauge the competition and find bestsellers. How many businesses are already selling the product? Hundreds of thousands of listings indicate it’s a competitive market. But it could be your opportunity to swoop in if there are just a handful of brands selling that product on the platform.
4. Estimate consumer demand
It might seem like you’ve hit the jackpot if you discover a cheap wholesale product that has low competition. But if very few other businesses are selling a particular product, it may be because nobody wants it.
You can determine the demand for a product by using Facebook Ad Library, which allows you to search for live ad campaigns on Facebook. If you can find a few businesses running plenty of ads for a product, there’s a good chance that the product is making them money—and therefore, there’s high demand.
If you’re struggling to find wholesale products with low competition and high demand, try searching for more niche products. The product’s uniqueness will differentiate it from others on the market, which can increase demand.
F&J Outdoors, for example, buys outdoor furniture covers from wholesalers. Owner Wendy Wang says: “The decision to go for these types of products was based on identifying a market segment that needed high-quality, durable, and stylish outdoor furniture cover options.”
5. Check for seasonal trends
Sales of seasonal products ebb and flow throughout the year. Whether it’s the holidays, summer, or a major event, there are many products you can sell to cater to seasonal demand.
Before committing to a wholesale product, check for any seasonal trends that could impact sales.
That’s not to say that seasonal products should be ruled out. They can be a profitable way to sell products online, especially if you can’t commit to running an online business year-round. But there are two main caveats:
- Timing is key. Planning a seasonal ecommerce strategy often takes months—if not a full year.
- Sales won’t be consistent. If you work hard to sell holiday-related products, your sales will plummet when the season is over.
If you’re relatively new to buying wholesale products to sell, or want to grow your store year-round, avoid seasonal products and opt for evergreen products instead.
6. Calculate shipping costs
When you buy wholesale products, you can choose from suppliers on the other side of the country or even the world. If you run an ecommerce business, you need to consider the cost of receiving products from your supplier and shipping them to customers.
While it’s possible to make money on larger, heavier items like furniture, you’ll likely run into more logistical problems.
Small, lightweight products tend to be cheaper and easier to ship. For this reason, many businesses follow a simple rule of thumb: the product should be small enough to fit into a shoebox and weigh less than 2 kilograms (4.4 pounds).
Also consider the product’s durability when evaluating your shipping strategy. Shipping handmade glassware or Bluetooth speakers is a lot more challenging than shipping jeans. The glass could break or the wires inside the speakers could come loose.
Durable products with fewer moving parts are easier to transport. Plus, they’re less likely to go wrong once in the customer’s hands, which will help reduce your returns rate.
The best online marketplaces for cheap wholesale products
Faire is an online marketplace for small business owners. It’s used by more than 100,000 brands in the US, Canada, and Europe who rely on the platform to find cheap wholesale products they can sell through their own retail stores.
Purchases made on Faire sync seamlessly to your Shopify admin through the apps Faire: Buy Wholesale and Faire: Sell Wholesale. It’s free to join Faire, and brands only pay a commission if Faire connects them with new retailers through its marketplace. Brands can also extend additional benefits to the retailers they bring over, such as 60-day payment terms (for eligible retailers) and free returns on first orders.
Alibaba is the world’s largest B2B marketplace globally, serving brands in more than 240 countries and regions. It is arguably the best place to find cheap wholesale products from suppliers and distributors in China.
eWorldTrade provides a handful of ecommerce services to facilitate trade between manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers. You can post a listing on the site to tell suppliers about your needs.
TradeIndia is another platform that champions Indian suppliers. It boasts more than one million registered users who find suppliers and cheap wholesale products they can resell through their own company.
Worldwide BrandsWorldwide Brands (WWB) is one of the oldest wholesale supplier directories online. It lists more than 16 million wholesale products and costs $299 to gain lifetime access to the directory.
How to buy cheap wholesale products
Now that we know what makes a good product and how you can find them, here are the steps you’ll need to take when buying cheap wholesale products for resale.
1. Choose to source locally or abroad
First, decide whether you want to buy wholesale products from your home country or abroad. There are pros and cons to both strategies.
For example, buying American-made wholesale products may be slightly more expensive than purchasing them from another country like China.
However, the logistics are much easier to manage when sourcing locally, as there’s no need to worry about duties, tariffs, regulations, freight forwarders, etc. Communication can also be challenging when working with foreign suppliers, due to time zone differences and language barriers.
If you’re unsure, ask yourself: Do you have experience buying wholesale products online from abroad? Or do you have the money to invest in sourcing partners and customs brokers? If so, you may want to source products from abroad to take advantage of the potential cost savings.
However, if you’re new to buying wholesale products and want an easier process, consider sourcing products locally.
2. Find and verify wholesale suppliers
Securing a high-quality, communicative, and reliable wholesale supplier is crucial to your long-term business success. But it can take time to find a great wholesale supplier.
Head to your chosen wholesale marketplace and find a few promising suppliers that may be a good fit. Marketplaces like Faire allow you to filter brands by location, brand values, and product categories to make the process easier.
Unfortunately, there are many unscrupulous “suppliers” listed on wholesale product websites. Some of these suppliers provide very low-quality products, others are uncommunicative, and a few are straight-up scammers.
Marketplaces have processes in place to rule out bad actors, but before you take the plunge and buy wholesale products, verify suppliers to ensure they’re legitimate and trustworthy.
Ask for official documentation and verifiable testimonials before you place an order. You could also search social media or online forums to find unbiased opinions from other retailers who have bought wholesale products from that supplier.
3. Test wholesale products
Once you’ve verified the supplier, you should verify the wholesale products themselves. The best way to do this is to order samples.
When your samples arrive, evaluate whether they’re durable and of high quality. What do the products look like in-person? How do they feel? If the products are designed to solve a problem or do a task, can they do so easily?
Keep in mind that the best wholesale products are easy to use. The last thing you want is to order a complicated wholesale product and have to invest heavily into customer education or marketing campaigns that teach potential customers how to use it (or worse: Handle an influx of customer support tickets from angry customers who are frustrated with their purchase).
4. Determine product quantities
When buying cheap wholesale products for resale, typically, the more you buy, the lower the cost per unit. Plus, depending on the supplier, you might have to meet minimum order quantities (MOQ) when placing your first order.
It can be tempting to order large quantities from the get-go to increase your margin and start your supplier relationship off on a strong foot. However, you should always validate a product before placing a large order. It’s the best way to confirm that your target market will love the product before you invest too much.
Consider ordering a small batch of products first—like the supplier’s MOQ—and see how they sell online. If they fly off the shelves, you know it’s worth investing in more. But if they gather dust, you haven’t wasted money that will be difficult to claw back.
Turn cheap wholesale products into a profitable business
There’s a lot to consider when buying cheap wholesale products for resale, but success starts with choosing a winning product. Evaluate your profit margins, competition, and consumer demand before committing to any product. Then find a reputable wholesale supplier and test the products before placing a large order.
If wholesale marketplaces are too saturated, you can reach out to Shopify brands using the platform to sell their own wholesale products. It’s a smart way to connect with other merchants who sell unique wholesale products to a select group of retailers.
Cheap wholesale products for resale FAQ
Where can I buy things for cheap to resell?
Faire Alibaba eWorldTrade TradeIndia Worldwide Brands
Can I buy in bulk and resell?
Retail arbitrage is the process of buying products in bulk,at a low price from a wholesale retailer. The brand then resells these products through its own ecommerce site or brick-and-mortar store with a higher markup.
What is easy to buy in bulk for resale?
Jewelry Party supplies Home décor Kitchen utensils Women’s clothing Beauty products.