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The New Detectives: How to give your business an edge with reverse sourcing

Have you seen a product that you know your customers would love but don’t know which manufacturer produces it? And even if you think you have found what you want, it’s hard to know you’re going to get a quality item. 

Clea Sherman
April 6, 2022

Give your business the edge with reverse sourcing

Have you seen a product that you know your customers would love but don’t know which manufacturer produces it? With so many consumer goods created overseas, figuring out where to source the ones you want can be time-consuming and frustrating. And even if you think you have found what you want, it’s hard to know you’re going to get a quality item. 

Fortunately, there are ways to find out who manufactures the specific products that you have spotted your competitors selling.  

This is called ‘reserve sourcing’ and it makes life so much easier for retailers of all sizes. 

Here is a quick guide to reverse sourcing and how to do it well. 


What is reverse sourcing?

Some brands create their own products, then have everything manufactured overseas. If this is your business model, you’ll need to find a manufacturer that is willing to take on a new product from scratch (talk to Epic Sourcing for more information about our Epic Suite service.)

Other businesses sell existing products to their customer base. There are so many examples, from water bottles to teddy bears, stationery supplies and everything in between. 

If you’re a retailer and you have spotted a product you think your customers would love, the challenge is to find out where it comes from. 

🔎🔎 This is where reverse sourcing comes in 🔎🔎

The goal with this is not to find A manufacturer, but to find THE manufacturer that already produces the product you want. 

The challenge with reverse sourcing is knowing who to reach out to. With so many manufacturers out there, it can be like looking for a needle in a haystack. 

Why look into reverse sourcing?

Using this strategy, you can:

  • Find the exact production facility that makes the product you want and verify their authenticity
  • Negotiate cost directly with the manufacturer 
  • Keep up with your competition by offering the same or similar products
  • Import directly from manufacturers to reduce costs

There are a handful of different ways to tackle reverse sourcing.

  1. Import Yeti

Your first option is Import Yeti, although it is US-centric.  

Import Yeti is a relatively new platform that was founded during COVID. It utilises US customs records, which are available at a cost. These documents are full of information that can be labour intensive to sort through. Because this information is so costly and messy, in the past, only eCommerce and Fortune 500 companies used custom records. Import Yeti cleverly allows all retailers to access this data.

Search any company on Import Yeti, and you will see all their shipping records, including where they source their goods (and right now, it’s free). 

Type in Nike, for example, and you’ll see that this mega-brand receives goods from Feng Tay Enterprises in China and Taiwan (amongst others). 

However, if you search for Aussie companies like Bonds, you won’t find the same information. Some Australian and NZ companies are listed as suppliers but not importers. This means that the resource is quite limited for ‘down under’ ecommerce and retail businesses. 

Does Import Yeti work for Australian companies?

Unfortunately, the answer right now is no. To find sourcing information for Australian brands, you’ll have to use a reverse sourcing agent.  

  1. DIY

With Import Yeti’s data being limited, another option for reverse sourcing is to do it yourself. 

This is the ‘traditional’ (and very time consuming) method, which may look something like this: 

  • See a product you want to sell
  • Head to or a similar website
  • Spend way too long trawling through for a vendor that seems legitimate
  • Order samples based on low-resolution images 
  • Cross your fingers while you wait for several months for your order to arrive

This may work for you but it’s slow and definitely not risk-free. It can be hard to know if you’re getting a quality product or a substandard knock-off that your customers will see right through (maybe even literally). 

  1. Use a sourcing agent

In Australia and New Zealand, your best bet is to use an experienced reverse sourcing agent. 

Here’s how it works when you have the help of a professional team: 

  • See a product you want to sell
  • Tell your sourcing agent you would like to source and sell that product
  • Sit back while your agent does the detective work to find the best quality manufacturer
  • Receive an email with a Reverse Sourcing Report that tells you everything you need to know (within 48 hours)

Once you have the relevant information, you can take the next steps to place an order and have peace of mind that you will get the exact product you’re looking for. Epic can even help you with the next steps, like customisation, orders or providing help to get your goods through customs.

Use reverse sourcing and save

Using a reverse sourcing agent is the best way to reduce the cost of sourcing goods and get great products into your customer’s hands sooner. 

Here’s why we recommend you find a good reverse sourcing agent:

  • Save time: An experienced reverse sourcing agent has access to the information you need, and a long list of suppliers that they are already in touch with—saving you months of to and fro.
  • Find reliable suppliers: You are less likely to have to switch suppliers repeatedly when you use a reverse sourcing agent. You’ll be able to go straight to the source of the best quality product.
  • Catch up with your competition: If a rival business is stocking products your customers are flocking to, reverse sourcing can be an excellent way to catch up quickly. Your reverse sourcing agent will find the details of the manufacturer, share the information and help you to place an order. 

Once you have used reverse sourcing, you can progress to a standard sourcing agent service, which has the following advantages:

  • Only pay once: You know you are only paying one supplier and not a chain that loops around the world. Often, retailers who source their own goods don’t realise they are actually buying from middlemen. 
  • Get help with shipping: If you like, you can get the information you need from a reverse sourcing agent, then take over ordering on your own. Alternatively, you can use the agent’s end to end services to save even more time. 

Epic Sourcing: The reverse sourcing super-sleuths

While Australians and New Zealanders cross their fingers for Import Yeti to go global, reverse sourcing solutions from Epic Sourcing are the best alternative. 

As well as getting the information you need from us, you get the benefit of a hands-on team with people on the ground in China. 

Here are a few more reasons why our clients rely on us for reverse sourcing and other services: 

Ethical and sustainable sourcing

Ethical sourcing can now make a big difference to your bottom line. More and more consumers take ethical trading very seriously in 2022. Being able to explicitly state that you adhere to the highest ethical standards and that none of your products are created by slave or below-living wage labour can be a strong selling point, especially to Millennials and Generation Z.

Epic Sourcing is committed to supporting ethical and sustainable manufacturing. We encourage transparency from the manufacturers we work with so our clients know they are sourcing goods responsibly. 

Reverse sourcing helps you sleep at night

Running a business is stressful. Reverse sourcing can remove one aspect of stress from your business life. 

You will have much more peace of mind that your products are sourced from a reliable supplier and will arrive in the condition you expect. No more sleepless nights wondering if the next batch will arrive in time or whether you are out of pocket.

Break through the language barrier

With the sheer volume of consumer goods produced in China, it is comforting to know that a company like Epic Sourcing has skilled staff who can speak a number of languages. 

Having a representative mouthpiece in China is invaluable. More than that, Epic’s team stays up to date. We know which manufacturers are the most reliable and which ones to avoid

When you use our services to order products as well as source them, you’ll also be better informed about the progress of your shipment. 

Find alternatives

It happens very rarely that we can’t find the specific supplier you’re looking for, or that the product you want has been patented so you can’t have a carbon copy. If that’s the case, we’ll recommend the next best thing. 

Springboard to a new product

Sometimes, you source the item but realise you can do better. If that’s the case, we can help put you in touch with a manufacturer who will help, and work with you to negotiate the best price. 

Make reverse sourcing work for you

As a retailer, you have so much more to do with your time than scour the internet looking for the manufacturers of the products you want. 

In summary, using a reverse sourcing agent makes sense because: 

  • You save time and money
  • You’re more likely to get quality products
  • You’ll be able to quickly submit an order to a reliable manufacturer

The best part about Epic Sourcing’s reverse sourcing service is that it starts from just $129 for up to five products. We can have this information to you in as little as 48 hours. 

Sound good? Reach out to our friendly team today.

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