Landing Overseas Distribution With Limited Resources
Bloomberg Businessweek, July 11th, 2012
I sell a patented children’s shoe line at a local mall; my products have attracted regional media coverage. However, I am a Lebanese small businessman who works with local shoemakers and I have no bank loan or venture capital. One online U.S. retailer has asked for 1,000 pairs but wants two-day shipping and wants me to absorb the inventory that does not move during a three-day sales event. This is a promising business, but I’m considering shelving it until I find a good retail option. Do you have any advice?
—F.S., Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia
Congratulations on the progress you’ve made on protecting your idea and finding a market for your product. Thanks to social media and e-commerce, novel items are getting increased visibility—and it sounds like you’re capitalizing on that. At a certain stage of development, however, many small businesses run into the trouble you are now having meeting increased demand with scarce financial resources.
…Or you could use a vendor such as Shipwire.com, which handles order fulfillment for a monthly fee that starts around $25. The company has warehouses in the U.S., Canada, Europe, and Asia, says Chief Executive Damon Schechter. “Many retailers and distributors are unwilling to make the inventory investment on an unknown international product brand,” he notes. Using an order-fulfillment service, you would store inventory in warehouses close to your buyers and ship it at domestic ground rates in one to two days if needed. “You can sell inventory through multiple channels to reduce your risk, if your retail buyer can’t move units,” Schechter adds.
Read the full article here.