Ecommerce is developing rapidly worldwide. Starting your own online store is an exciting opportunity to take part in this market. Before launching your online store, you will need to find products to sell. Where do you purchase them?
Because of the ecommerce growth, there are many other entrepreneurs starting an online store. The competition online is fierce. Your store and the products you sell should set you apart from your competitors. A first instinct might be to try and sell a wide range of products with low prices, but there are a lot of established competitors already doing this.
Find products you want to sell online
You will need to find out where you can purchase them to stock your online store. Small, starting entrepreneurs often check out thrift stores for unique products. But if you want to fill your online store with a larger assortment, you will need to look for suppliers or wholesalers. What options are out there and what are the differences between them?
Buying products at wholesalers and suppliers
If you’re looking to buy products in bulk, a wholesaler is the place to go. The prices of these products are lower than when you’d buy them in small quantities at a store yourself. But you can also choose to get your products from a brand or a supplier.
Wholesalers often have a large assortment, which means that you could fill your online store with just one wholesaler. However, most online stores try to incorporate products from several suppliers in their store. If problems arise with one of the suppliers, product supply will still continue because they don’t rely on just one supplier.
Orderchamp is a European wholesale platform that brings independent retailers and brands together. It finds unique brands and uses machine learning to connect them with the right retailers. It offers low minimum order values and free shipping on a purchase of 250 euro or higher.
The Spanish dropshipping supplier BigBuy has an extensive catalogue, of more than 80.000 products. It has an international approach, and is able to dropship all over Europe. Product categories range from home and garden, beauty and health, sports, toys, fashion, and electronics.
This platform has an online database of more than 8.000 suppliers worldwide. It claims to verify each seller and provides a full guarantee on your purchase in case of damage or fraud. There are more than 1.6 million products in 75 categories available. You’ll need to create an account and pay 67 dollars to get access to the database.
Users of ecommerce software Shopify can choose Oberlo, Shopify’s own dropshipping-plugin. The plugin is a popular choice among dropshippers because of the gigantic range of products, as well as their low prices. Most of the dropship suppliers listed are from China. Oberlo has three subscription plans, which increase in price.
Purchasing products from a wholesaler will take some effort
For starting online stores, it can be pretty difficult to start buying products at a wholesaler. Wholesale companies often have rules in place that help them weed out useless applications. First-time customers will have to pay higher prices, or order a large quantity of items.
Sometimes, the minimum purchase for first-time customers is as high as tens of thousands of euros. Other wholesalers want their customers to also have a physical store. Some wholesalers also have a no-return policy on their products for first-time customers.
These requirements are often unattainable for small online businesses. It will take some effort and creativity to purchase products from a wholesaler. If you can show a wholesaler that your online store is already selling some products, how much traffic your online store generates and what your monthly revenue is, the wholesaler will probably be much more interested in selling to you. Show the wholesaler or supplier these data and make sure that your first purchase is of interest to them. This will increase your chances of success.
European versus Asian suppliers
The location of your supplier is also something to keep in mind. As most of the products available on today’s market are made in China, it’s not surprising that many entrepreneurs look for a supplier in China. There are some factors to keep in mind. It’s not like you can just travel to China and get to know your supplier, have a look at the products and negotiate a good price.
When online retailers from Europe search for products to sell, they often look for a supplier in China.
On average, products from these Asian suppliers are cheaper than products from a European supplier. This is why smaller online business also want to purchase products there. They usually turn to websites that make the buying process easier, such as Alibaba.
It might be easier to start selling these products than waiting for a European supplier that’s willing to sell to you. You should, however, keep in mind that the European safety standards for products are a little different from Asian ones. Some products or materials aren’t allowed on the European market, but are often sold by Asian suppliers. You will have to make sure the products you sell in Europe meet European standards. With a European supplier, you won’t have to check this, as these suppliers will make sure they meet those standards themselves.
Commonly heard complaints are different product sizes than expected, sometimes the products are very different in real life from what was pictured. This is why you should always order some sample items before you decide to buy in bulk.
Something else to keep in mind is the fact that Asian suppliers come with higher shipping costs, which can vary per supplier. You will also have to pay customs fees, and sometimes other additional costs. Buying from Asian companies such as Alibaba suppliers comes with a lot of advantages, as well as disadvantages.
Another way to find products you can sell is through dropshipping. With this way of doing business, the products in your online store are sent directly from your supplier to your customers. This means that you don’t stock up. You will therefore have less costs before you can actually start selling. For starting online businesses, dropshipping is an easy way to try out the online market.
There are suppliers that gear towards supplying online dropshipping stores. If you’re interested in dropshipping, always make sure to research the supplier and order sample items before adding them to your store. Even though you’re not in charge of the shipment, you’re responsible for the product that your customer receives. This means that you will have to take care of any problems that might arise.
How to find products ideas: what to sell online
Trying to compete with the current competitors is hard for starting online stores. Focusing on a smaller range of products and target group will make your online store more coherent, which helps when you try to distinguish yourself from competitors. Here are some tips for product ideas to keep in mind:
1: Choose products in a higher price range
As said, most bigger competitors sell a large range of products, while catering to a large target audience. This means that competitors are always trying to sell products for the lowest prices, as this will generate more orders.
One way to set your store apart from others is by selling products in a higher price range, like luxurious goods. There aren’t a lot of online stores selling new cars, luxurious toys or expensive office supplies. These products are more expensive to purchase, but catering to a specific group of people looking for more luxurious products will make you become the expert in this area. It also means that your store will be able to fulfil a gap in the market.
2: Choose a specific target audience
Even if you do choose products that are in a highly competitive market, there are ways to distinguish your online store from others. Setting a specific target audience is one way to do so. Don’t just launch an online electronics store, but keep a target audience in mind. You could sell electronic appliances to farmers or people living in the countryside. Make sure that your products and lay-out reflect who you are targeting.
3: Target a region
Launching an online store means that you can sell to customers anywhere. However, it can be quite difficult to become successful worldwide. Focusing on a specific region and choosing products to sell accordingly will help generate sales. What products are not yet widely known in your area? Launch an online store selling those products!
Large online businesses often buy from large factories or suppliers. If you can find small regional or national manufacturers, your products are more unique. Chances are that this way, you will also build a much better relationship with your wholesaler or supplier.
4: Use current events to your advantage
Using current events to your advantage doesn’t mean you need to closely follow the news every day, but just be aware of trends and events going on around the world. If you’re selling toys, try to find out what the trends for the holidays next year will be. Make sure to sell those products at the right time, to generate more sales.
But also keep an eye on pop culture and global events. If there’s a new superhero movie coming out, you can use that to your advantage by selling merchandising, toys or other related products. With a specific domain name, a targeted design and the right products, you can definitely compete with other major players in the field.