The Art of Finding Products and Suppliers – 11 Unexpected Places to Look

author Kaya, Mar 31st, 2017

You asked, we’re delivering…

Recently I emailed 1,000’s our subscribers and asked them what they needed help with most, the top answer (27% to be precise) said they needed help with finding and sourcing suppliers and products for their subscription box. We hear you. This is definitely a head scratcher and so we’ve pulled our heads together here and came up with a series of blog posts to help with this topic. Starting with this one, 11 places you can look for suppliers.

Don’t forget if you want us to write about anything specific then please subscribe to our email list or follow me on twitter.

Without further ado let’s dive in

No matter how shiny or speedy the delivery, a subbox is only as good as the products that fill it. Click To Tweet

When choosing products for your subscription box, you have to consider relevance, cost, size and whether your subscribers will even like it. It’s an ongoing headache that only subscription box entrepreneurs can relate to.

To make sourcing products a little easier, here are eleven places to get box-filling inspiration.

 

1. Etsy

Etsy is the online home of homemade goods. The best sellers on Etsy tend to offer personalized or unique items, making it a fruitful hunting ground for anybody looking for inspiration or outlandish box fillers.

You can browse through Etsy categories that spark your interest, or you can check out the Etsy Trending Items page to see what’s hot.  

 

2. eBay

eBay is the original mack daddy of online retail. Since its launch back in 1995, eBayers have sold everything from socks to private jets — which means you’re bound to find a product or two to fill your subscription box, no matter your niche.  

Also, the eBay Market Research tool is an eBay-powered platform that lets you track product performances to gauge market demand, and study data relating to things like popular keywords and categories.

 

3. Amazon

Amazon is another popular online marketplace that serves up tools to help you study the metrics within.

First up is the Amazon Bestsellers page, a self-explanatory section of Amazon that helps you identify the kind of products that consumers are swooning over.
The Amazon Movers and Shakers page is perhaps a more interesting section to keep tabs on. It refreshes hourly, presenting products that are experiencing big sales spikes.

 

4. Crowdfunding Websites

Crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter and IndieGoGo are full of product prototypes that consumers are willing to put money towards.

You won’t find ready-to-go products to buy and put in your box, but you may be inspired by something you see. IndieGoGo ‘s detailed categories and the Kickstarter Discovery page make that hunt for inspiration much easier.

 

5. Instagram

With over 600 million users, Instagram is buzzing with activity. Although it may seem like a vacation photo album on steroids, it’s also a great place to spot consumer trends — particularly if you already know the theme of your subscription box.

The trick is to search Instagram via hashtags relevant to your niche to find products that fit the bill. Using that strategy, you’ll likely come across a product curation account related to your box’s theme, which is basically like finding a gold mine.

 

6. Social Curation Sites

Speaking of product curation, there are a host of sites dotted around the web that exist only to find unique and niche-specific products.

Here’s a list of top social curation sites to get you started:

  • Polyvore: Polyvore’s global community has created over 80 million collage-like “sets” that are typically based around fashion and home decor.
  • Fancy: Fancy describes itself as part store, part magazine and part wish list. It curates products from a wide range of categories.
  • Wanelo: Wanelo (“Want, Need, Love”) is a community of shopaholics. You can start searching for products via Wanelo’s trending people page.

 

7. Pinterest

Some consider Pinterest to be nothing more than just another social curation site — but they’re wrong. Pinterest is a fully-fledged social media platform with over 150 million active users, 85% of which are females.

So if women are your target market, look no further.

Pinners commonly share fashion, design, interior design and culinary related Pins, many of which make it into Pinterest’s Popular section.

 

8. Local Thrift Shops & Markets

Sometimes old school is the best school. If the internet is giving you no joy in your hunt for product ideas, head down to your local thrift shop and sift through their wares.

It may not be the best place to buy stock (large orders or repeat orders would almost certainly be out of the question), but you’ll likely be inspired by a stray item or even an entire market stall.

 

9. Online Forums

Online discussion forums like Reddit (which is packed with niche discussion boards called “subreddits”) allow you to tap into what consumers are talking about.

If you have already have the theme of your subscription box in mind, you could track down a subreddit or online forum related to your theme.

Alternatively, the subreddit “Shut Up And Take My Money” is bursting with unique and clever products that that people have fallen in love with.

 

10. Consumer Trend Publications

Consumer trends are forever evolving. Sure, you can use some of the websites and apps from above to make observations, but sometimes it’s best to rely on the experts.

Consumer trend publications focus on what buyers want — and what they don’t want. To find products worth investing in, here’s a short list of consumer trend publication to keep you in the know:

  • Trend Watching: Trend Watching is an independent trend firm that scans the web for promising consumer trends and insights. Their team of trend watchers span the globe, residing in locations such as London, New York, São Paulo, Singapore, Sydney and Lagos.
  • Trend Hunter: Trend Hunter is the world’s largest trend-watching community. Their global network is made up of 137,000 members and 3,000,000 fans.
  • Springwise: If you want to keep tabs on business ideas, Springwise published daily newsletter that updates readers on new entrepreneurial ventures and trends.

 

11. Industry Influencers

The power of influencer marketing is undeniable, but an influencer can do more than just promote your subscription box.

Influencers set trends by recommending products, and many also sell their own products, like t-shirts. If the influencer in question relates to your niche, a t-shirt with their face on it could be exactly what your subscribers want.

 

Choose Wisely

Searching through these different websites and apps is a surefire way to get inspired about your subscription box. However, you need to pick your niche and products with wisdom, as recommended by Courtney Sperlazza, Founder of Agent Ribbit:

“My advice would be to determine what you’re upper limits are. If your model includes sourcing from all mom-and-pop type places (as in specialty foods, etc.), you may find that there’s less wiggle room as far as pricing and mass ordering goes. Choose a product where you see lots of freedom.”

My advice would be...determine upper limits....Choose a product where you see lots of freedom. Click To Tweet

 

Good luck with finding suppliers and products, and if you are wanting more help, feel free to reach out. Or even if you have more ideas to add! Would love to hear them. Also join our Facebook Community where we share knowledge with one another.

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