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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.
It takes researching, a lot of it.
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]
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.
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)
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]
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]
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;)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
How do you deal with this?
[edited by: Habtom at 5:43 am (utc) on June 7, 2007]
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