There are all kinds of things that you can sell online and various platforms in which you can sell them.
For someone that is new to eCommerce in general, it can be a bit overwhelming. Where do you find suppliers? Should you sell on eBay, Amazon, or your own store?
I have a bit of experience with selling online so I’ll share the pros and cons of some platforms and what method I prefer most.
How to Figure Out What to Sell
First things first, you will need to figure out what to sell. This can be a matter of doing some market research on particular niches.
You can use Google Trends and type in different niche keywords to see how well they are trending in the search results.
For example, let’s consider the podcasting niche. I put the term podcast equipment into the search box and this is what was returned:
As you can see, this particular niche is popular and remains to grow steadily. There are all types of podcasting equipment that can be sold such as:
- podcasting microphones
- digital recorders
- power adapters
- microphone shock mounts
- pop filters
The next step is to find suppliers for this type of equipment so that you can resell them for a profit online.
One of my favorite resources is AliExpress. You can find almost anything you can think of on this site to include podcasting gear:
You can find other suppliers by doing a web search. However, it can be a hassle trying to narrow down all of your results.
This is when a reputable wholesale supplier directory comes in handy. However, if you do come across a supplier you like, then it is a matter of setting up an account with them.
Often times wholesale suppliers require you to have a wholesale license and sometimes want you to have a well-established eCommerce store of your own.
This is why I prefer to use AliExpress as a wholesale supplier. They do not have any requirements to source products.
You can buy items in bulk and shipped to you so you can resell them.
Why I Don’t Like Selling Items on eBay or Amazon FBA
A couple of years ago, we began selling on eBay on a whim. Some of our family members were doing some spring cleaning and we asked if we could sell what they didn’t want on eBay.
We had some really good inventory such as name brand purses, shoes, clothing, and more. We even had an almost new iPod to sell.
Everything we listed sold fairly quickly. We then decided to keep up the momentum and began sourcing items from thrift stores to resell.
Unfortunately, a lot of the knick-knack type items did not sell well. We did come across some brand new men’s golf shirts and they sold fast.
Soon, we only sourced men’s clothing such as golf shirts, Aloha shirts, and name brand jeans. Our eBay selling came to an end much sooner than we had hoped.
Here are the issues we ran into as eBay sellers:
We thought that sourcing products from thrift stores would mean less competition. We couldn’t have been more wrong.
There were other sellers selling the same things, even the same exact items of clothing. There was no way we could compete.
Not only that, but our listings weren’t showing up very highly in eBay’s search results. We didn’t want to pay extra for our listings to stand out so we had to deal with the results.
2. Ebay and PayPal Fees Add Up
When sales were made we were ecstatic. That excitement wore off quickly when we logged in to check how much fees had to be paid to eBay.
PayPal took their cut right away. The fees ate into our profits big time. There are listing fees and fees for each sale that we made.
Between the fees and the lack of our listing being displayed often enough, we simply couldn’t continue selling on the platform.
3. Customer Ratings and Feedback
I also disliked being at the mercy of customer’s ratings and feedback. We did our best to provide awesome products and excellent customer service.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t stop people from being negative without good reason. Our first negative rating hit us hard.
Fortunately, our lower rating didn’t affect sales all that much.
We tried selling on Amazon FBA for a much shorter time than what we spend selling on eBay. Our reasons for not continuing were similar.
You have to pay for shipping fees when you ship your products to Amazon and storage fees so that they can fulfill your orders.
There are also fees for when your items sell. While they do handle the shipping and handling for you, the fees still add up.
Many FBA sellers manage to do well but it takes a lot of preparation and understanding of fees, shipping, and figuring out what will sell well.
Also, keep in mind that user ratings on Amazon are huge. Anything less than four stars and you may not make many sales.
A Better Option with Dropshipping
Although we didn’t have the best experience with selling on eBay or Amazon, it doesn’t mean that you couldn’t.
My preferred way of selling physical goods is by dropshipping and sourcing products from AliExpress.
Dropshipping has many advantages over selling on eBay, Amazon, or even a typical eCommerce store.
These advantages include:
- No need to buy or store inventory
- No shipping or handling
- Offer a wide variety of products
- Set your own prices
- No worry about user reviews
- No seller fees, storage fees, etc.
If you are not familiar with dropshipping it is the process of finding various dropshipping suppliers and placing their products into your eCommerce store.
When a customer orders a product, you pay your supplier and pass along your customer’s shipping information.
Your supplier then ships the item to your customer. The difference price between what you charged your customer and what the supplier charged you is your profit.
This flowchart shows how the process works:
If I continue on with our podcast equipment example, I could place an order for a custom dropship store with AliDropship.
The AliDropship team would handle all of the details of creating my store to include domain registration, web hosting, on-page SEO, and more.
In a matter of days, I would have my podcasting equipment store ready for sales.
Unlike other third-party shopping cart platforms, AliDropship has no recurring monthly fees to use it.
I also like the features that come with having an AliDropship store. Some of them include:
- Search and import products
- Auto updates product information
- Pricing automation
- Fulfill orders automatically
- ePacket shipping filter
- Auto order tracking
Dropshipping is a low-cost and easy way to sell a variety of products without tying up your cash into buying inventory that may or may not sell.
I hope this post has helped you to get a better idea of how to figure out what to sell online and the best method in which to sell items.
Even though I didn’t have the best experience with eBay and Amazon, it isn’t to say that you wouldn’t if that is the path you want to take.
Dropshipping is my ideal choice because it offers more control in terms of what you want to sell, how much you want to charge, and more.
As an online business owner, I feel it is better to be in control of your business rather than to be at the mercy of web-based eCommerce services.