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Ecommerce Forum

This 31 message thread spans 2 pages: 31 ( [1] 2 > >     
The old good question, what should I sell?
How do you decide what to see over the internet?

 6:39 am on Jun 3, 2007 (gmt 0)


How do you decide what to see over the internet? What do you sell? If services, what kind of services do you provide?




 8:54 am on Jun 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

Whatever you sell, many thousands of others will be selling the same thing.

So sell what you can source below market prices, else you'll never make a profit - because you'll be competing with people willing to accept one cent on the dollar.

Other than that key point of capitalism ;) - sell what you know about - then you can add informaton to your site, and give buyers confidence that they may not get from other sellers.

Plus you'll see the scammers coming, which is always useful.


 9:56 am on Jun 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

"to see over the internet" I meant "to sell over the internet"



 10:56 am on Jun 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

I don't really expect everybody to spell out what exactly they sell, but I want to know how do you generally say, "I have got to sell this".


 11:08 am on Jun 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

You have to look around for a niche. Look for products that are in demand, that you can write content for, and that you think you'll be able to compete against competitors for. Or pick a target market to sell to, figure out what they buy, and again - how well you'd be able to compete. It's also a matter of how the business is set up, who you'd be able to get the products from, pricing and markup, whether you'll stock them or use drop-shipping, etc.

It takes researching, a lot of it.


 11:25 am on Jun 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

but I want to know how do you generally say, "I have got to sell this".

Sorry, I don't understand. There is no "got to".

Please rephrase; what do you actually want to know?

Two of us have discussed the process of selling; what further do you want?


 11:31 am on Jun 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

I was trying to put it as brief as possible. I have sold flowers over the internet for the last 4 years, and the only reason I chose this was because I couldn't get something else in my reach which can generate a certain income by creating an online store for it. The only thing I thought back then would generate income even to the smallest extent was selling flowers and including some gift items.

When do people know when they have to setup a store? How much of a a research is enough? When do they know that a certain item or service is worth of setting up a store?


[edited by: Habtom at 11:33 am (utc) on June 3, 2007]


 2:23 pm on Jun 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

It doesn't much matter what you sell if your site uses grey text on a black background.


 3:02 pm on Jun 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think the only exception to what's been said above is where you can offer something due to your geographical location.

For example, if you are in a country where it is hard to find shops stocking a good range of wines and spirits, then you can charge market rates and still make a lot of sales.


 3:21 pm on Jun 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

The answer to this question is "what are you passionate about?"

Shoppers can tell if you don't have a clue as to what you are selling. So if you care about a thing, you will develop valuable content around it; this will bring customers back to your site for information, which will instill confidence in buying from you. If they have support questions about your product, you will be able to answer. It's like writing, write what you know, and sell what you know.


 5:32 pm on Jun 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

You need something fairly light and high value.

Look up trade shows for subjects you like and go along and see what you find.

Thats how I do it


 6:09 pm on Jun 3, 2007 (gmt 0)

You need something fairly light and high value

Yes, in theory LOL. We have a popular < 1 pound brand name item that sells easily for $50 to $150 and is NEEDED world wide.

The perfect web product? I thought so. Unfortunately, so did dozens of others. Very popular with Nigerians, too.

Result: it's now worthless to sell that item on the web given the tissue-thin margin and considerable fraud risk.

Sometimes wonder if non-obvious is the way to make money on the web (for example, shoes). May be easier to make money selling barbells and bowling balls (with free next day air)


 3:56 pm on Jun 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

It doesn't much matter what you sell if your site uses grey text on a black background.

An important point. Why make your text difficult to read? Try black text on white.


 4:21 pm on Jun 4, 2007 (gmt 0)

You need to find something already selling on the web and then do it cheaper / better / with a new angle.


Find something that has not yet been sold on the web and take it on-line.

Easy .. ;-)


 4:14 am on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

What Rocknbil says is very important, it has to be something you are passionate about or have an above average knowledge about.

After that, you have to analyze it and see if you can make money at it, sell it or market it better than someone else.

The best way to get started is to take a personal inventory of what interests you.

Personally I know I could build out a great website selling fine china, but would it succeed? Probably not, because I barely know the difference between fine china and regular dishware. Frankly, I'm ok with eating off a paper plate.

[edited by: Ledfish at 4:16 am (utc) on June 5, 2007]

Oliver Henniges

 10:19 am on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

> Whatever you sell, many thousands of others will be selling the same thing.

This is definitely not true.

Right from the start in 2001, when I first put a mere table-list of my products-database onto the website (without any shop-functionality then), we received the first requests via mail, because my website was the only one, which contained theses words in an SE-friendly manner. It is a niche B&M store, however with large overlaps into the normal household-needs. And it is really amazing, which products turned out to be selling good.

When I read all these posts, the inductive - deductive dichotomy came to my mind: It is typically anglo-american to think "deductive": sit in your office and brew over what might be selling good, do some research about it and then start your business. In contrast I pursue an "inductive" strategy: I am constantly trying to get database-compatible material from my suppliers and import it into my webshop, meanwhile amounting to more than 12000 items. Many of these products are only available in full packages, and to my surprise we received quite a number of orders for such chunks. Whenever such an item has been ordered for the second time, I test listing and storing it, in order to be able to deliver more quickly and in single items.

To stay with the example (I hope still within TOS): there are quite a few dozens of widgets in different sizes, round and square, plain white, coloured and some with decoration. You get packages of six or ten or twenty in the supermarkets, and the larger catering-companies buy boxes of 500 or a thousand, sub-packed in hundreds. We sell the hundreds, much cheaper than the supermarkets, and there is hardly any gross-seller who opens these large boxes. A fine niche, but you have to find out which sorts of widgets do sell.

Investigating the long tail this way over a long period of time is a gold mine, because you will find quite a number of niche-products, where you have absolutely zero competition. In particular, full packages are the best protection against competition. Most people active on the web want to make quick money: No storage, drop-ship. As soon as you have a store, as soon as you take the risk to buy the wrong things, competition gets tremendously lower.

So, I would say: It doesn't really matter, what you are selling. Just give it a start and then finetune your store according to your experiences. Listen to your customers. And, yes, as rocknbil said: Passion is very very important. I mean, I'm not really passionate about paper plates, but building/programming interfaces between my suppliers data and my own webshop-database is something I really like to do.

[edited by: Oliver_Henniges at 10:20 am (utc) on June 5, 2007]

[edited by: lorax at 5:13 pm (utc) on June 5, 2007]
[edit reason] widgetized [/edit]


 10:48 am on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

On of the threads on this site, someone pointed out that a site doesn't have to be necessarily built only after a research shows that there is a demand for it, but you can take the approach of "Build it and they will come". Does this make any sense?



 3:20 pm on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

Whatever you decide to sell - I would just make sure that you are passionate about it. It is so much easier to sell a product that you take genuine interest in.

Beyond that, think: niche, niche, niche.


 3:39 pm on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I'm not really passionate about paper plates, but...

Hilarious! Who would think that paper plates sell well on the web...or could be very profitable to sell.

Oliver Henniges

 5:46 pm on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

> Who would think that...

This is what I mean. Any form of deduction and thinking has to be accompanied by induction or experience if you want to grab real life. But this is not without any risk: It really helps to have an ordinary store where people can stumble over (and buy) the mistakes you made during this process. Some items tend to lay like bricks in the shelfs; I guess this is why we call it bricks and mortar;)

> profitable

in another thread someone suggested an average 40% margin should be the minimum target for any webshop. You cannot acchieve this in competitive markets unless you have already become really really big.

But I don't want to be misunderstood: You won't be able to make a living selling paper plates over the web. This is just one product line where we surprisingly made some interesting sales.


 6:59 pm on Jun 5, 2007 (gmt 0)

I agree with 40% though as you mentioned that is difficult to do in a competitive market unless you already have some major pull.

My first E-Commerce business had a profit margin of 20-30% which appears fine to the untrained eye but after including authorization fees (2.2%), marketing, occasional charge backs, and everything else one in the internet retail business has to deal with - that margin certainly shrinks.

40% is a great number to shoot for IMO.


 3:20 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

Ive tried running sites ata 30% margin, couldnt do it in teh long run you add in the thieves doing charge backs etc etc youll soon be crying in your beer.

I have two sites both are subjects Im very keen on, one is history based and im always happy to help people with emailed questions.

It does show in your responses whether or not you love your subject.

Oliver Henniges

 5:20 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)

> It does show in your responses whether or not you love your subject.

Yes, but it is also a question in how far you love to simply satify the needs of your customers. In the end, you are still dealing with human beings, even if much more anonymously via mail.

I still believe the best way to have success selling products is NOT to simplify things too much, particularly in the start-phase: You get a lot more feedback and orders if you have your telephone number on every single page, but it is far from easy to handle those requests.

Sometimes I think some people are simply BORN for such direct contact with customers and some are not. A matter of your character, which is probably unchangeable. My sign is gemini, ruled by mercury, the ancient godness of traders (and thieves;): a great advantage.


 11:20 pm on Jun 6, 2007 (gmt 0)


In Internet, it seems always good so sell a long-tail goods, since you might have a DB only and not an actual stock:


Me personally sells books in English :-) No, I'm not Bezos, but there are still some markets out there.

Last time we considered offering services, since there is always better margins than selling tangible goods. Our new offer will be a local market oriented on-line CRM solution.


 5:42 am on Jun 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

If we decide to accept phone calls only limited hours of a day, for the rest of the hours, if a customer calls and gets no response, do you think they get frustrated. I myself expect any company to have a call center whenever i pickup a phone.

How do you deal with this?


[edited by: Habtom at 5:43 am (utc) on June 7, 2007]


 5:49 am on Jun 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

Finding something to sell is very difficult

Last week i was searching and found this drink to sell its retail price was around 85 and i searched for its wholeseller and found supplier who can give it for 40...to my surprise i searched ebay and it was available there for 20 . so you cannot search product with that ease it does require lot of time to search supplier etc for sure

may be some you share some tips with this regards too


 5:10 pm on Jun 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

I myself expect any company to have a call center whenever i pickup a phone.

It really depends on the company. If it's a critical service, 24/7 maybe - but to call a retailer outside working hours, that's just too much to ask.

Oliver Henniges

 9:34 pm on Jun 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

You cannot expect a callenter to have the necessary competence if you go niche.

Oliver Henniges

 9:37 pm on Jun 7, 2007 (gmt 0)

And vice versa: Customers seeking for an expert on any question will not expect this expert to be awake 24/7. That's what Mails are for.


 6:48 pm on Jun 20, 2007 (gmt 0)

Find something that has not yet been sold on the web and take it on-line.

This was true 10 years ago. What is available retail today that isn't selling online?

This 31 message thread spans 2 pages: 31 ( [1] 2 > >
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