The online market is vast and growing by the hour. If you are wanting to sell online and jump straight in you are going sink like a stone. You need to realize what’s out there and understand how it works before you launch your venture.
If we look at eBay for example, you’ll find that there are millions of sellers selling billions of products. Just take a look at the categories and see how many products are for sale in any one particular category. There are that many categories that there is a need for sub categories and sub sub categories to help direct buyers in the right direction, otherwise they would get lost just looking for things. And that’s just eBay.
eBay has become such a powerful selling tool that the big corporations have now seized the opportunity to sign up and you’ll find that many big high street stores either have their own eBay stores or have an ‘outlet’ store where they off load old stock, returned and refurbished items at knock down prices. Added to this are the eBay pewersellers who have become giant retailers in their own right.
The reason I mention these is that, as huge businesses, they have the power to buy in bulk and sell cheaply. You can’t, on a sustainable basis, undercut them and make a living. Nor can you offer your customer the same level of buying confidence that comes with a trusted brand or the quality of service such as warranties or repair services.
To make a a sustainable and reasonable income online you need to find a market that is not dominated by the big guys or undercut by cheap products being shipped internationally from China or Hong Kong. So selling things like phones, iPods, computers and other top sellers is a no go for a new outlet.
So what do you need to do? You need to find yourself a niche market. Take a minute and have a search on eBay. Find a category, find a subsection of the category and find a subsection of that. There’ll be a someone there who specializes in a small range of products within that category and that’ll be the niche that works for them.
Take ‘Health and Beauty’ – under there you’ll find 18 sub categories. I clicked on ‘Hair Care and Styling Tools’ and there were 18 sub categories under that heading. I then looked on stores that were selling in that category – there were over 750 eBay stores, not including individuals selling a few things here and there.
These stores are owned by people who have focussed on a particular niche and are making a successful living out of eBay. But wait, there’s more. If you drill down and begin looking at these stores you will find that some are high street names that may have a hair and beauty department, whilst most of the others will have a smaller range of goods that they focus on.
It’s this small range of specialized goods that is your starting point for your niche.
So what niche do you choose? There are two routes you can take. The first is to research and find the most profitable – the problem is that all niche markets can be profitable if you have the right strategies in place to sell, but just becuase someone else is making money from those products doesn’t mean you can. You may find yourself going round and round in circles and never getting anywhere.
My preferred option is to search yourself. To really make a success of it, you need to find products that you are interested in. There are several very good business reasons for this approach. Firstly, if you are selling things you know about and enjoy you’ll be more enthusiastic at selling them and enjoy your business more – this will help give you the determination and resilience to succeed. If you love make-up and know a good foundation when you see one, then make-up might be your thing. If you are an angler and have an interest in different rods and reels, then the same applies to you. Do you have a disability and have found products that help make life a little easier? Then that is a possible area for you. The possibilities are endless.
Besides giving you enthusiasm, choosing a niche you are interested in also means you a likely to be far more knowledgeable about the products you are selling. You will be able to write better descriptions and reviews for your customers. You’ll know the benefits, the pitfalls, the value and the features of what your selling and this will give you clearer ability to buy and sell and the right price. This puts you at an immediate advantage over your competitors. The opposite is also true. Selling items you can make money from but don’t know about can lead to all sorts of problems.
There’s more too. If you are selling online today, it’s beneficial that that you market in a number of ways. Using social media is an increasingly powerful way to drive customers to your products. Put your items on eBay, write a blog about your niche market, write an article on your blog about the products you are selling on eBay and put a link to your eBay listing and people will follow the blog to the product. Once the blog article is written, post it out on Twitter, FaceBook, Tumbler and Google+ and drive interested people to your blog and from there to eBay. If you are going to set up a blog to write about your niche market and your products, then you will obviously write more enthusiastically and accurately if you are writing about things you are interested in.
Further Links and Resources:
Ten Little-Known Highly Profitable Niche Markets on eBay by Skip McGrath
Fishing for Niches by Debbie Henry