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Sep 1, 2008
by Judi Perkins
Amazingly, SourcingMap.com's current incarnation only came online in December 2006. Now, it is probably the only source in the world for the popular hamburger phone from the movie, Juno. Moreover, a customer can receive thousands of them within just eleven days.
To hear Lewis Chan, Founding CEO of SourcingMap.com, however, 15,000 items is nothing compared to what he will be implementing. The current Internet model has two websites. There is one in English for retailers that shows real time inventory. "If it said 74 units and you grab nine, a minute later it shows 65," said Chan. The second website is in Chinese, and caters to the factories. It, too, tracks SourcingMap.com's inventory, allowing the factories to plan for production, and also to collect their money for items sold. The factories now send the items to SourcingMap.com. The company then takes the pictures, writes descriptions and uploads the information. However, when the new platform is rolled out, Chan said, "We are talking about hundreds of thousands of SKU's since we will not have to upload the information. The factories will load their catalogues onto our platform and the items will be immediately published." SourcingMap.com will continue to warehouse the products and handle inventory management, fact-check the descriptions and perform quality control.
Even with a mere 15,000 items, the array is mouth watering. There are 23 categories which include watches and clocks (2,171 choices), fashion jewelry (1,774), tools and hardware (742), cell phone-related items (2,028), home goods, electronics, toys - the list seems endless. Sunglasses consists of 779 items within 17 subcategories. "We inventory all this product," said Chan. "Our warehouse is about 300,000 square feet. It is huge."
The first part of the business model that makes this possible is that SourcingMap.com functions as a factory rep for hundreds of OEM factories who put their products on consignment with them. "Some products are better brands, and some are not as high end brands," said Chan. "Sometimes they are overstock or new development items, or items that have not been made exclusive by their customers."
The second part of their successful business model is their policy of no minimum order and the vast array of options. "Customers tell us they like the variety," said Chan. "And I keep telling them the current variety is nothing. We think we are playing The Long Tail," he said, referring to the book by Chris Anderson, in which he discusses the impact of the internet on selling, and is essentially about offering a mind-numbing variety of choices, but only selling them in small quantities. For example, Rhapsody.com, a digital music service, sells by plan rather than by song. "The top one percent of most downloaded songs accounts for 38 percent of their business," said Chan. "But the top one percent is 10,000 titles."
That's why Chan says their 15,000 product inventory is nothing. It is also why SourcingMap.com will supply retailers in twos and threes, if that is what the retailers want. "It is real just-in-time wholesaling, because they can get products in very small quantities. This lowers their inventory risk, while enabling them to offer the latest stuff," said Chan. "We know the newest products. After the development, production and distributing cycles, we can get new designs to the retailers in maybe nine months."
Since there is no minimum order, they build value through tier pricing. "We allow our customers to buy ones and twos for samples, since they don't know what will sell and what won't. We know they have limited amount of space," said Chan. Shipping for one item is $5. Shipping for additional items is $2 per item. For six items or more, retailers receive bulk rates and choice of shipping method.
SourcingMap.com maintains its comprehensive tactics even in their website functions. Conveniently, there is no registration required to purchase or even to benefit from the customer loyalty program. If you buy often enough, you are automatically included in the customer loyalty program. One of the great features of the program, which is still in development, is preferential pricing (when possible) and rebates in the form of buying credit. Another is not only receiving first-hand information on the latest products coming out of the factories, but receiving it six to nine months before the product hits retail shops. "For example," said Chan, "customers were buying lots of iPhone 3G accessories before the phone actually hit the shelves."
The website is efficiently designed with 23 categories listed on the left side. Clicking on one category brings you to its subcategory page, where scrolling up and down is a thing of the past. "We added a 'flipping the page' feature - it is like flipping actual catalogue pages."
Clicking on a specific item, as with most sites, will move you to an item close-up with additional information. SourcingMap.com's close-ups provide product details, suggestions for similar items, product reviews, a FAQ payment info link, a FAQ shipping info link (with a comprehensive comparison chart), wish list features and a wholesale price link with a quantity pricing chart.
With customers all over the world, each individual product page offers the option to pay in U.S. dollars, Euro, pounds, or Australian dollars. Also, on the top right of each page is My Wish List, an effective storage place for possible future purchases (which is certainly easier than looking through all 779 pairs of sunglasses again).
Other features include a Permanent Cart, where any products added to the online cart remain until they are removed or checked out; Order History, which allows customers to view their history of purchases; and an address book in case the buyer wants products delivered to another address.
SourcingMap.com's goal reaches far beyond selling product from a website. They also function as a liaison, if you will, for companies who want to do private label manufacturing; or who have a product idea that they would like designed and manufactured. "Then the process goes offline. We hook them up with the best factories and they do a couple rounds of sampling and product development. Sometimes it becomes an order and sometimes it doesn't, but we put them together."
Even though they hook up the large retailers, said Chan, "We help the 'small guys' more, because the large companies have their own buying organizations." The bulk of their customer base is the mom-and-pops, individuals with one small shop, ebayers, flea marketers and other similar buyers. "We get a lot of orders which are twos or threes of a hundred different things. Then we get the same order every two weeks."
Chan said their focus is to innovate the speed of the supply chain. "That is the power of this business model," he said. "We want to serve. We have a new business model and the fastest supply chain. It is 'just-in-time' sourcing. It is the flexibility of choices that we bring. I want custoers to think of us as a direct platform into the factories, and the advantage is time, cost, and the newest products."
Minimum order: none
For more information:
1001 BayHill Drive, Suite 200
San Bruno, CA 94066
Toll Free: 800-741-1388
Hong Kong Operations:
Unit B, 2/F, High Fashion Centre,
1 - 11 Kwai Hei Street, Kwai Chung
Worldwide Tel.: +86-755-29620083
Email form on website
Topic: Company Profiles
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