Trade Resources Blog The ultimate 7 step sourcing process

The ultimate 7 step sourcing process

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By Celinelee on Aug 25, 2021
Tags: 7 step sourcing process

This article will make it easier than ever before to find your perfect products. Whatever kind of business you have, this 7 step sourcing process will simplify every stage of sourcing, explaining everything that you need to do. Follow this guide to make sure you choose the right products and make a great business decision, taking the stress out of sourcing while allowing you to enjoy it. Steps include collecting information, researching, choosing suppliers, asking questions, making a decision, finding product reviews and finally, placing your order. By knowing the information in this article, you can reduce the risk that comes with any investment, making sure you know exactly what to expect before placing an order. You will be able to use this piece as your sourcing guide, meaning you no longer need to search for multiple advice articles online to understand the steps that you need to take. As well as helping you to source products successfully, it will also help you to impress customers, keeping standards as high as possible and saving you plenty of time, while creating a business model that makes ordering and fulfillment streamlined and easy. It’s that easy to choose the right supplier.

7 step sourcing process

What is a sourcing process?

This is the process of simple steps that you follow every time you purchase a product. It makes sure you don’t miss out on any important steps and keeps you organized. As you will see in this article, it is made up of multiple steps, breaking it down to keep it nice and easy. There’s no need to make sourcing over complicated.

Why do you need a sourcing process?

A sourcing process helps you to have a strategy. It means you can approach it in the right way to ensure every investment is the right one. With a sourcing process, you can follow it step by step to make sure you know exactly what you are doing. When life and work get busy, it can be easy to miss a stage or forget to do something if you do not have it listed. By breaking it down into steps, you can use it like a checklist every time you are sourcing a new product. It also means that this information can be shared with others, allowing other people to take care of the sourcing instead of you if needed.

Benefits of a sourcing process

We will now look at the benefits of having a sourcing process.

- Easy to follow
- Keeps the process the same every time
- Helps you to source carefully
- Saves time
- Delivers great results

7 step strategic sourcing process

7 step sourcing process

We will now break the sourcing process down into seven simple and actionable steps. By following this 7 step sourcing process in order, you can make sure you don’t miss out on anything important, making life easy for you and your customers.   

1. Collect necessary information

The first step in the 7 step sourcing process if to gather all of the information that you need. This involves research and note taking.  

Begin by writing down what you know about your target market. Carry out surveys and market research if needed, finding out the types of products that they like and buy. Think about how often they buy certain products, the amount they are willing to spend on them, any specific features they prefer, the colors they like, the amount of time they are willing to wait for delivery and any other information that could help you to sell them the product. All of this information will be relevant when you look for a supplier or manufacturer.

You should also collect information that will determine what you need, such as minimum or maximum order quantities, the amount of space that you have available, the budget you are able to spend and the amount of time that you have for delivery.

When you have found out this information, make sure you record it in a user-friendly way so it is easy to look back at and understand. This step is essential as it will shape the decisions you make in every step coming up.

2. Choose the type of product that you want

Now you have the research and information that you need, you should use this to decide which type of product you want to source. Think about the types of products that you found out are popular through your research. Combine things that customers said they like, for example, types of product that fall into the price range of most customers, as well as colors that most people said they like.

By using your research to make these decisions, it makes sure there is reasoning behind every choice. This helps to make sure that the decisions you make are based on demand, and not just a guess or based on what you personally like. Remember, the main thing with sourcing is to make sure that whatever you choose is perfect for your target customers.

7 step procurement process

3. Start looking for suppliers

Once you have a rough idea of the type of product you are searching for, it is time to begin looking for suppliers.

Looking online is the best way to start as there are so many different manufacturers and suppliers to choose from. Many platforms are designed to make this step simple and enjoyable, allowing you to compare many different manufacturers and see which you like best.

Begin by searching for what you are looking for, scrolling through the various options. You will see that many suppliers feature very in-depth descriptions of items, as well as pictures and additional information that buyers need to know. Take your time to look through as many as possible to make sure you do not miss out on any potentially great options.

Sometimes, at this stage, you may realize that what you had hoped to purchase does not exist, or that your criteria are too strict. For example, you may be looking for an exercise resistance band that is a particular size, strength, color, material and price. If this is not available, it may be worth broadening your search, perhaps considering different colors and seeing if this helps you to find more suitable matches. It is important to make it as suitable as possible for your target customers, however it does not have to be exactly what they have requested, especially if it is not possible to purchase it at your required price.

Create a shortlist of your favourite suppliers, based on what you see. Putting this in a document with an area for notes will allow you to record your thoughts. For example, you could write that a certain product is perfect, however it does not use sustainably sourced products. Or you could note down that a product meets all requirements, other than the fact that the minimum order quantity is higher than you wanted it to be.

Having this information written down in an easily accessible way makes it quick to refer to and will help with the next step.

7 steps of strategic sourcing

4. Choose the right supplier

This is where the fun begins. Now you have a deep understanding of your own requirements, as well as the products that suit your search best, it is time to choose the right supplier.

At this point, you should go back through your shortlist of favourite suppliers from the previous step and begin to eliminate the least suitable ones until you find your favourite supplier. It is worth keeping the full shortlist in case you need to refer back to it at a later date, for example, if you needed more than one supplier or wanted to switch to a different manufacturer. This will help you to save time in the future.

Here are some of the points that you should consider when choosing your supplier:

Imagery

This is one of the first things you will have noticed about a product. It’s essential that it looks presentable and attractive, as this is the same first impression that your customers will get, particularly if you plan to sell them online instead of in a physical store. Make sure the product merchandises well and looks great. You could even ask if you are able to use their imagery, as this can enable you to start selling products before they arrive with you.

Reviews

Using reviews is key in any sourcing process, as this will be other people like you sharing their experiences. Make sure the manufacturer that you choose is reputable and that their customers are happy. If you are finding negative reviews, this may be a cause for concern, as you do not want to encounter any issues.

Order quantity

The minimum and maximum order quantities are very important, as this will impact the amount of spend required to place an order, as well as the number of products that you will need to store and sell. Make sure you are able to order a number of products that fits your needs.

Price

Price is a key piece of information. Sometimes, the price per unit will be reduced for larger quantities of items. You must make sure that the price is within your budget and that the cost per item is reasonable before placing an order.

Materials

If materials are important to you, make sure you find this information out. This is particularly important for brands that want to sell eco-friendly products, or ones that do not cause allergies.

Delivery time

Delivery time is another important piece of information as you must make sure this works for your business. If it is too long, it can delay the date you are able to start selling, or it may keep customers waiting which can damage brand reputation. Make sure you know this.

7 steps of sourcing

5. Contact the supplier and ask questions

You should now reach out to your favourite supplier and contact them to ask any questions that you may have. This step is also a great way to test their communication, showing whether they respond quickly, if they are helpful and if they are able to speak the same language as you. All of this will play a key role in the success of your sourcing.

6. Request a sample if possible, or use reviews

Asking for a sample is a great way to receive the product and have the same experience that your customers will have, if it is possible. If not, you can get an idea of the product by reading other people’s reviews. 

7. Place an order if you are happy

Once you are happy with the product and believe that your chosen supplier is suitable, it is time to place an order! This step is typically very simple, but make sure you take your time to ensure you enter the right information. By making sure all information is correct, you can reduce the change of any mistakes, miscommunications or delays. It’s that simple – just like that, you have sourced your perfect products. 

How often can you use this 7 step sourcing process?

You can use this process as often as you want. It is recommended that you use it every time you source a product. Sometimes, it can even be a great idea to use it when you are already selling, carrying out the steps to see if there are any improvements that you can make to the current products that you stock. The reason for this is that the market is constantly changing and you should make sure you are always sourcing the best possible products for your customers. This is the best way to stay ahead of trends, be seen as a forward thinking brand and make sure your business continues to grow and evolve with the industry. 

Get started
Now you understand the 7 step sourcing process, it’s time to get sourcing and find your perfect products. Most importantly, make sure you follow every step in this guide and have fun!

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