Remember this simple, but important stage in the product sourcing process and avoid damaging your online seller reputation As an online seller, your aim is to ensure that you source and sell products that make you a profit. Of course it is – that’s obvious to most isn’t it? But, as a serious seller, you should also have another aim; and that is to ensure that the goods you source are always of the utmost quality. Yes, it’s tempting to go with goods that you know you can source under budget, but quite honestly if those cheap goods live up to their name and are also of cheap quality, then your customers will disappear in droves and your reputation will suffer. This is why it’s absolutely vital that you always request samples of products before you place a larger order. I know it’s tempting to bypass this stage of the sourcing process – after all, you may have to wait for samples to arrive, particularly if you are sourcing from overseas, which could cause you frustrating delays in getting the product listed for sale, however, it’s not worth skipping the sample stage to try and speed up the process, because you may end up with shoddy goods that you can’t sell anyway! Why do I need product samples? Quite simply, you need product samples for a number of reasons.
  1. So that you are able to actually see and feel the product – basically you can check it over and make sure it reaches the standards you expect, to be able to confidently sell the product to your customers.
  2. You can use samples as a ‘test sell’ – in other words, list that products for sale and gauge the interest of customers and work out your ultimate price point.
  3. Ordering a sample will allow you to judge the professionalism and efficiency of the supplier. For example you’ll be able to note how quickly the sample is dispatched, how long it takes to arrive and how well it is packed.
  4. If you are ordering from overseas and are unable to visit the supplier or factory to view the product in person, then a sample is the next best thing.
  5. You can’t just rely on photos of the product. A photo that you receive of a product may not be the actual product that you are interested in. You can’t look at the product from all angles and you can’t touch it. It’s simply not the same as seeing the product with your own eyes.
Now, ordering a sample should not be difficult! However, if a supplier creates a fuss about sending you product samples then it’s definitely best to choose another supplier. Why would you place a large order for a product if you haven’t actually seen the item for yourself? Why risk your reputation? A genuine supplier will understand this and will be happy to send you samples – either at a minimal cost or for free. And there is absolutely nothing stopping you from ordering samples from more than one supplier either. In fact it’s a good idea because it allows you to compare items easily. The scary bit! If you are a newbie online seller and are not yet entirely confident when dealing with suppliers – particularly overseas ones – or you generally just don’t like having to ‘ask for things’, you may be wondering what happens if you receive a product sample and you need to go back to the supplier and request a ‘better quality’ product or for some improvements or upgrades to be made to the product.
  • What if the supplier gets annoyed and tries to increase the price?
  • What if the supplier is offended and doesn’t want to deal with you?
  • What if requesting a different sample or asking for improvements causes further delays in you actually receiving an order and being able to sell the product?
Any of these things ‘could’ happen – but it’s unlikely they will. You are a professional – and you are dealing with professionals, so it’s hugely important that you assert yourself and if you are not happy with something, you do make it known. Remember that ultimately the product must be to your standards as it’s your reputation at stake. Whether you are considering ordering stock from a UK supplier or International manufacturer, the rules are the same… it’s important that you work with the supplier. You are much more likely to get exactly what you want – particularly if you are having a factory create a product for you.
  • Don’t rush the process
  • Stay in constant contact with the supplier
  • Be clear about your exact needs
What if I order a sample and it’s great but when my full order arrives the product looks different and the quality is poor? Yes, this can happen, although mostly this might occur when you are looking at getting a product manufactured from scratch rather than buying in bulk from a wholesaler. Sometimes a manufacturer will create an absolutely perfect ‘prototype’ of a product. It will look AMAZING! It will be of the highest quality possible – and this is what you may receive as your ‘sample’. As you may have already guessed, the ‘sample’ is designed to make you think ‘wow’, and before you know it you’ve gone ahead and ordered 1000 units without really thinking about it. Don’t let this happen to you! All you need do is when requesting a sample, always ask for an ‘off the line production sample’ – basically a sample from a real run of the actual product, literally off the production line. This is a true sample and will allow you to see the quality for real. So, next time you go through the sourcing process, don’t try and fast-track things by missing out this key stage. It’s worth taking your time and getting things right rather than making a costly mistake. Enjoy the bank holiday weekend!