Brought to you by Oberlo:
How You Can Start An Online Store and Ship Straight To Your Customers Without Leaving Your House
These are challenging times for specialty storeowners. Whether you own a fashion boutique or a crafts shop, a second-hand store or a home goods shop, you’re either closed because your business is not considered essential or your aisles are empty because very few people want to venture out even if you’re allowed to keep your doors open.
With so much uncertainty swirling around about when life will return to what passes for normal, shop owners are understandably searching for more sustainable alternatives to their primary business. Fortunately, there are some similar businesses you can pursue from home that don’t require you to handle any product yourself.
What if you could decide which products to sell, sell them, and ship them – all without touching a single product yourself? That’s the idea behind dropshipping.
In this business model, you do the selling, and the manufacturer of each product does everything else. You can scale this business as high as you want by working with multiple manufacturers.
Your experience with your own shop will help you pick which products to sell, but this is also a good way to start selling even if you have no experience. It’s a whole lot easier when you don’t actually need to handle any inventory.
One of the first things to determine is just how specialized you want your online store to be. Do you want to sell a broad range of products across the gamut of categories? Or do you want to pick a single category or even a single product? There are pros and cons to all three options.
Sell a Broad Range Of Products
If you already have experience working with multiple manufacturers, you should be able to translate that to your Dropshipping business and sell a broad range of products if you wish. This way, you’re not putting all your eggs in one basket. If one type of product doesn’t sell like you thought, you’ve got plenty of other product ranges for sale. Odds are that at least one of them is going to sell well enough for you to meet your goals.
On the other hand, coordinating with multiple manufacturers can be a stressful process. It requires time, patience, and experience. If you’re just starting, you may want to stick with a more specialized range of products.
Sell a Specific Category
Put on your merchant cap and do some thinking about what’s likely to be in high demand given the unusual circumstances in which we find ourselves. Then, use that info to select one particular category of products to sell.
For instance, most people are doing more cooking than they normally would, so kitchen supplies and accessories might be a great niche to pursue. Pets are also becoming increasingly popular. What if you could set yourself up as the go-to for pet clothes, pet toys, or other pet accessories.
Selling by category means you don’t need to coordinate with multiple manufacturers. You can start with products from one manufacturer and add others as you become more comfortable with this business. However, the same manufacturer likely makes hundreds of products, and it may be a challenge to pick which ones you want to carry.
Sell Variations of a Single Product
If you want to dip your toe into the dropshipping business, one option is to pick just one product and sell different variations of it. You would want to pick something that’s inexpensive to manufacture, which would allow you to charge a significant markup.
For instance, everyone needs a phone case. Silicon phone cases are cheap to produce, and they come in a broad array of colors and patterns. You can present shoppers with enough options to satisfy just about any personality.
Of course, if for some reason the product you pick doesn’t sell well, you’ll have nothing to fall back upon. Researching what’s popular today would be essential before you narrowed your focus to just one product.
A dropshipping business is simple and cheap to start, requires no inventory management on your part, and is easy to expand as far as you want to take it. It’s an intriguing alternative to a brick-and-mortar store in these times.
Print on Demand
This is similar to dropshipping, except you’re in command. You design the product; the manufacturer does the rest. If you’re a creative person, this could be your online goldmine.
In these times, people are thinking outside the box. Sports team merchandise isn’t likely to be a big seller if no sports are being played. What if you used a little social media crowdsourcing to come up with a cool shirt, mug, phone case, or similar customized product? You could then use print on demand to get your product out there quickly.
With print on demand, you’re selling totally unique products that people can’t get anywhere else. That means if you have social media savvy and can spread the word about your nifty design far and wide, people will want to buy it from you. It’s a potentially powerful formula that could allow you to make a large number of sales in a relatively short amount of time.
The key here is your ability to create something you know will be popular, either by jumping on something that’s going viral or by starting your own trend. Not everyone has the ability to create or capitalize on these trends, but if you do, print on demand could be quite lucrative.
Dropshipping, though it’s simply another resale model, has more certainty of success built in than print on demand does. With dropshipping, you can start as small as you want and test the waters as you expand. Both businesses are an excellent alternative while you wait for your brick-and-mortar location to become viable once again. Who knows? You may decide that you don’t actually need a physical shop after all.
These are just a couple ideas for businesses that don’t require you to leave home. There are plenty more to explore that may be a better fit for your skills and expertise.