Yep, if you purchase in wholesale you will need to store it somewhere, so if you have the space at home to do so, it's the most convenient and cost effective way. Once you make a sale, you pack the item and use whatever shipping method you want to go with. Everything from post to courier is an option for you, just depending on the dimensions of the item and the speed and which delivery is promised.
Wholesaler won't store products for you, that's essentially what a dropshipper does and there is the big difference between them. With a wholesaler, you have to buy in volume and have the order all sent together to a single address. That of course gives you storage problems and no guarantee of selling all the items you've purchased, but you get the benefit of getting the best possible price.
A dropshipper holds the stock and then sends it order by order to your designated address, so you don't have storage problems and there is no risk of having stock left over that you can't sell. But of course you pay them for that level of convenience and service, so you don't get the same discount as you do with a wholesale order, less discount equals less profit potential.
So you have to weigh up the pros and cons to each supply model to see which best suits you.
Storage space. no matter where it is, will cost you money. There is no way getting around that and then when you add a fulfillment service in (someone unpacking, repacking and distributing) for you, then you have that cost on top of your basic warehousing fees.
It's true, buying in wholesale will limit the amount of products you can list on eBay because you will have to purchase X amount of the one item to secure the best price. You could of course consider both wholesale and dropshipping by using dropshipping to add to your WS listings to give yourself a larger stock profile.
Regarding test batches, one word of advice I would say in relation to test batches is to not be all your confidence in one batch. Try to keep your MOQ (initial minimum order quantity) as low as possible, even if you're happy with a test batch. You need to see how the product stacks up over multiple sales to really identify any issues.
What, if any are the problems being reported. How many, if any, need returning for replacement or refund and how well the supplier responds to you concerns about and products. These are things that will never show up in a test batch. Yes, you might get 6 good units and then make a large purchase and find that you're getting a return per every 3 sold.
Yes, getting a test batch is always a good idea, but it's also a good idea to remain cautious until you know the product and service inside out yourself and that only comes from longer term sales, not from any test batch.
You can buy anything wholesale pretty much, both branded and non-branded items. Wholesale essentially means (buying in volume) where as Dropshipping means (buying in single item only) When dealing with a wholesaler or dropshipper with branded (licenced) products, you cover yourself upfront by asking for "proof of authenticity documentation" from the supplier, if a supplier can't do that, then don't purchase. If you are talking about buying branded items from a Chinese supplier, either WS or DS, my advice would be NOT TO DO IT.
If you want to buy wholesale from China, you can also use a sourcing company like IMEX Link hidden: Login to view
They are a Chinese sourcing agent, so they can validate suppliers for you.
It's important to understand what Alibaba is, it's not a supplier in itself. It's a directory of independent suppliers. Each supplier there works on their own terms, they don't work for Alibaba itself. All Alibaba does is advertise their business's in their online directory essentially.
Have you considered liquidated (surplus) stock?