products to sell online - Product Sourcing Strategies - New Trends that Will Work for Your E-Biz
by Chris Malta
In recent years, online shoppers have gotten more computer-savvy and more comfortable making purchases over the Internet, and their expectations have grown. They know what they're looking for and they have more choices, so they're more discriminating about where they'll shop. That's why it's important for online sellers to adapt the way they source products and give their customers what they want. Fortunately, some new trends have emerged in product sourcing that are particularly ideal for the home-based retailer:
• Vertical Product Sourcing
Consumers want to buy from eStores with specialized product lines. Lisa Suttora, founder of WhatDoISell.com, explains, "Vertical product sourcing means going very deep and very narrow into a product line, focusing on a very narrow niche." For example, if you sell general home décor, you might concentrate on teen home décor or home décor made from organic materials. But stick to products that are closely related - variety stores don't work well online.
• Target a Demographic
Consumers want differentiation, so you as a seller need to look at what makes your business unique and sets it apart from every other eStore. Focus on your customer base - design your web store and word your listings to be appealing to your target market. Give them information that's relevant to them - if you sell old movie memorabilia, sum up an article on old film stars, or share behind-the-scenes tidbits that will give your customers a reason to come back. Do something to add value to your web site and make it stand out.
• Cater to All Seasons
Everyone knows that snow boots sell best in the winter months and pumpkin décor sells best in the fall. But most people don't realize that almost every product sells best at a particular time of year.
You can maximize your sales by constantly adjusting your line-up to the changing seasons. For instance, if you sell tableware, start catering to wedding shoppers around June - carry certain types of silverware, napkin-holders, toasting flutes, etc.
If your core products are season-specific, find related alternatives for your standard products' off-season. If you sell lawn furniture, you might not sell a single grill in December. But you might do quite well with heat lamps, or other products for people that want to spend time enjoying the outdoors. Just because it's chilly out is no reason to lose out on sales.
• Source Multiple Venues
While there's nothing wrong with working with particular wholesalers on a regular basis, be sure you don't get stuck in product sourcing rut. If you're not taking advantage of the many available product channels, then you're not making the connections you need, or exposing yourself to the many highly specialized products you may not even realize are out there.
Consider integrating localized sourcing. Many brick-and-mortar stores in your area may be interested in having an online presence, but be unsure of how to get started. Suggests Suttora, "This represents an opportunity for the eCommerce sellers who work from their home, or out of their office, to partner with these other companies - and it can greatly increase people's income. Utilizing multiple suppliers lets you strengthen your product line without increasing your overhead."