Source products from Asia – How to

As a business owner in the retail sector, one of the most crucial aspects of running your operations is sourcing the right products. But did you know that you can source products from overseas? And that in many cases you can actually save an awful lot of money? In this article, we’re going to look at how to source products from Asia and how doing so can benefit your business. 

What is product sourcing?

So, what is product sourcing? In a nutshell, product sourcing is finding products that you want to sell in your store – whether that be online or in a brick & mortar store – buying them from a supplier and then reselling them as your own. Here are two examples of product sourcing:

  • Cosmetic companies: There are many cosmetic brands that do not produce their own cosmetics and instead source them from reputable manufacturers either nationally or from overseas and white-labelling them as their own.
  • Desktop / laptop computer manufacturers: Many computer manufacturers (e.g., Dell, Lenovo, Sony) – product source their operating systems (Windows) from Microsoft. This is slightly different from “product sourcing” as it refers to software, but it’s the same principle.

What are the benefits of sourcing products from overseas? (specifically Asia)

Why source products from Asia? What are the benefits of doing so – as opposed to sourcing products locally?

  • Lower costs: One of the greatest benefits of product sourcing from Asia is the cost saving implications. There is a large and ready labour force with considerably lower wages than most Western countries, making sourcing from Asia a cost-effective solution.
  • Supply base: Given the high level of competition for product sourcing in Asia, there is a grand selection of high-quality and reputable suppliers in Asia who provide a premium quality service.
  • Product quality: Sourcing from Asia can not only save you money – but without having to sacrifice on quality. In fact, in some cases, depending on the product you are sourcing, you may even end up with a superior quality to what you would get from a local supplier.
  • Efficiency: Production and manufacturing companies in Asia are renowned the world over for their efficiency. Again, this is largely due to the fact that there is so much competition and a demand to stand out from the crowd.

What products are sourced in Asia?

What kind of products are typically sourced in Asia? Let’s have a look at some examples of Asia’s biggest exports:

  • Integrated circuits
  • Phone systems and smart phones
  • Crude oil
  • Processed petroleum
  • Computers / optical readers
  • Cars
  • Gold
  • Automobile parts and accessories
  • Computer accessories
  • Jewellery
  • TV monitors / projectors
  • Women’s clothing
  • Handbags
  • Insulated cable

This is quite a broad list – but it should give you an idea of some of the products and materials that can be sourced from Asia. Depending on your business model and the types of goods that you would like to sell, you should be able to find something to suit your requirements.

How to source products from Asia? (a step by step guide)

Now onto the important part: how do you source products from Asia? Here’s a step by step guide to get you started:

  1. Research your product thoroughly: The first step is to carry out extensive research on the type of product that you are looking to source. In order to find the best suppliers, you need to understand the product through and through – taking into account things like store data, consumer demand, and what’s currently on trend.
  2. Contact potential suppliers in Asia: Before you begin reaching out to suppliers overseas you to know exactly what it is that you need from an Asian supplier. For example, with your initial contact, are you just looking for information? Do you need to secure some samples? Are their specific products that you need? Knowing exactly where you are at and what you need will ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible. Consider looking at various Asian trade shows, product sourcing engagement platforms, or reaching out to a reputable third-party product sourcing company to take care of it all for you.
  3. Request samples: Before going ahead and signing a contract with a new supplier you really need to know what you are buying. Request samples and ensure that the quality meets your expectations and will be consistent with you brand image and consumer expectations.
  4. Trial-run an order: It is not uncommon for companies to trial-run an order when product sourcing from overseas. You can request a certain amount of units and see how smoothly the transaction goes. If you are happy with the quality of the product, the efficiency of the delivery, and the consumer feedback – then you may be on to a winner!
  5. Evaluate your supplier carefully: Before committing to any form of long-term contract with an Asian supplier, first you must evaluate their performance. Did the product meet your expectations? Did it over perform or underperform? How was the interaction between you and the supplier? Were they clear and timely in their communication? Did shipments arrive accurately and on time? Was the quoted cost on point as anticipated? These are the key details that can make or break a supplier relationship so be stringent and precise.
  6. Keep other supplier options open: You are not necessarily bound to the one supplier forever. Whilst you should endeavour to maintain long and beneficial relationships with your suppliers, keep other potentials on stand-by in case you need to jump ship and find somebody more appropriate. It can also help to ensure that you are always stocked with the products that you need and have several suppliers to fall back on in case of an emergency.


Ultimately, sourcing products from Asia could be of huge benefit to your business. With the improved product quality and cost-saving implications, it may just provide your business with the opportunity it needs to climb to even greater heights.

However, this isn’t something that should be rushed. Follow the step-by-step guide and take your time when reaching out to potential suppliers.

If this is something that you are keen to explore further but you are feeling overwhelmed, then please do not hesitate to contact us today. The team at UCT (Asia) have a wealth of experience with product sourcing in Asia and would be delighted to help you navigate the process with greater ease.