How Product Sourcing Makes or Breaks a Product Launch

Amazon FBA Product Launches

How Product Sourcing Makes or Breaks a Product Launch

The Role of Launch Platforms

Understanding what launch platforms do not do is just as important as understanding what they do. The purpose of a launch platform is to generate visibility and a temporary boost in order velocity by offering a compelling promotion. This external traffic source is a necessity for newly listed products that have little or no visibility on the marketplaces.

A successful Amazon launch delivers traction to your product listing, getting it to a position on the marketplace where organic shoppers begin finding and purchasing your item. In reality, a launch platform can deliver early traction to nearly any product, whether or not it is deserving of a high organic rank.

Products of poor quality, uncompetitive price, incorrectly described, or with other inherent flaws often experience the illusion of early success during the product launch phase, only to fall back down shortly after. 

A product launch is simply a push. Great products need just a temporary push to gain momentum. The synergistic effects take over from there. Positive reviews accumulate, customers share your product with their friends and your organic sales increase. This further increases sales and a powerful, positive force take hold. 

On the other hand, products with the flaws described earlier are always fighting an uphill battle. While they may achieve initial success during the launch phase, negative reviews, returns, and poor conversion rates weigh heavily on these products. Temptations to buy positive reviews to dilute the effect of negative ones lead sellers down a dangerous and stressful path.

Amazon Product launch

Start with Sourcing

Product value is comprised of two key components, concept and quality. The concept is what the product is intended to do. If you sell phone cases that promise to protect phones from damage, that is the product concept. Product quality is how well your product delivers on this promise.

For the purpose of this article, we’ll assume that you have established an Amazon FBA product concept and focus primarily on quality. Since you’re not the one physically making your product, in many cases you’re relying on the good faith of a supplier to produce and deliver a good quality product. But often good faith is not enough. Product quality needs to be spelled out in detail and verified as part of your order contract. 

Failure to do this will inevitably lead to costly issues with low quality or defective products. A single incident of defective product units can cause irreparable harm to your product listing or brand as a whole, so it’s critical you get this right.

Amazon FBA Product Sourcing

Lessons from 10 Years of Sourcing

You are not just negotiating price

Amazon FBA sellers often view themselves as good negotiators. They scour Alibaba and juggle multiple supplier conversations until they find the lowest price. They then negotiate with the lowest bidder to get a few percent lower price before confirming the deal.

The problem with this strategy is the manufacture you are negotiating with is a business too and they have their own margins to consider. While you are pushing them for a lower price, they are simultaneously looking to see how they can manufacture your item at a lower cost, which often means lower quality.

For this reason, detailed product specifications are a necessity. Things like exact material composition, thickness, and weight must be included in your purchase order and order contract.

Trust but verify

Using a product inspection service is a necessity. Even if product specifications are closely spelled out in your order contact, defects or deviations from the intended design can still occur. 

Using a product inspection service that conducts a review at your supplier’s facility avoids difficult situations weeks down the road. If a defect or deviation is identified before the shipment leaves your supplier’s facility, it is much easier to negotiate a resolution. 

If the defect is discovered upon arrival of your shipment at Amazon, you have limited options and may have to consider shipping the cargo back to your supplier if they’ll accept it. Worse of all, if the defect is discovered once at an Amazon fulfillment center or 3PL, you’ll be faced with a significant cost to remove it.

So be sure to get every shipment inspected before it leaves your supplier’s facility. Even if it is a repeat order for the same product from the same supplier, defects can still arise and the inspection cost is minimal compared to the cost it potentially saves you from incurring.

Time is Money

One of the biggest challenges faced by Amazon sellers is replenishing inventory and cash flow. Most sellers source their product from overseas suppliers with production and delivery times that run months out. In addition, most sellers are paying for at least part of their orders upfront. This means you have cash tied up for prolonged periods and are often at risk of costly stockouts. 

Amazon FBA Cash Flow

If you source your products from Asia and sell in the U.S. you are highly advantaged by importing your goods to the west coast. Transit times are 50% faster and about 35% less expensive from Shanghai to Los Angeles as compared to Shanghai to New York.

Additionally, if the goods you sell are subject to a high tariff rate, research the Section 321 exemption. By importing and warehousing your goods in Canada, then sending them to the U.S. in small periodic shipments you can legally avoid paying import duties. This strategy may give you a strong price advantage over sellers of comparable products who do not use this available loophole.


All brands that want to achieve enduring sales and profits must be obsessed with their product and the value it delivers to customers. If you focus on this it will virtually guarantee your product launch is a success. This is true regardless of the algorithm changes on the marketplaces, advertising changes, and other factors that are beyond the control of brand owners. Products that consistently meet and exceed customers’ expectations will be rewarded with high visibility positions, referrals to friends, and other perks reserved for the best products.

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