In my last article, we talked about the five most important questions you should answer before starting a business. Of these crucial starting success questions, "What does your buyer want?" is not only the most important, but usually the hardest for new entrepreneurs to answer. So often, I see new online sellers purchasing items that they like in order to resell them.
Remember, it doesn't matter what you want to sell, it only matters what your buyer wants to buy. But how do you go about finding the products that people are willing to purchase? Let's start first with finding out what your buyers want.
Profitable products are everywhere; otherwise a lot of brick-and-mortar businesses would go out of business really quick. Open up your business eyes and look around. Here are some of my favorite places to start getting ideas on what the buyers are buying out in the real world:
- Endcaps in stores: These are usually filled with new, hot merchandisethat's why the store is willing to give it such prominent position.
- Magazines and newspapers: If you're just starting out, the local newsstand is by far the best place to begin looking for profitable products. But if you have found the focus of what you want to sell, stores like Borders carry every niche magazine out there that features an abundance of hot products, item reviews and manufacture information all having to do with a specific topic. I recently located a huge specialty market having to do with going "green." This is a $104 billion industry in which 40 percent of the buyers state that they can't find enough of the products to buy!
- TV shows: Yes, even watching TV can help you locate hot trends in buying behavior. My favorites are the home channels that show the "new" products coming out for pets, kitchens, organizing, bedrooms and more.
eBay contains a goldmine of information about buyers behavior on the site including:
- Seller Central (www.ebay.com/sellercentral): Locate the section of What's Hot in order to utilize the power of eBay's own data in locating what the buyers want to spend their money on. From this detailed list you an easily locate products from numerous categories that the buyers are already interested in. This hot list is also what eBay will be promoting in its own marketing materials including catalogues and homepage adsgiving you additional stretch on your advertising budget for these products.
- Pulse (http://new-pulse.ebay.com): Use the Popular Searches option on this powerful page to find the top keywords (and products) that buyers are searching for on eBay, as well as across the entire Internet. You can drill down into six main categories for niche information. For example the top keywords right now include, with no surprise, Wii, Xbox 360 and iPod. However, if we click into the Lifestyle section, we are provided with seven more sub-niches of information. Clicking on Sporting Goods brings up quite a few specific searches for golf and fishing products. Pulse contains not only the current top searches, but also "new" top searches. New top searches are popular items that buyers are starting to search for. When we check out this list for the same Sporting Goods section we see, interestingly enough, keywords like baseball, bicycle and canoe. Another new search result that eBay Pulse has included is the Biggest Mover section. These are product searches that have moved or jumped (both up and down) the most in the top 1,000 keywords. We see that Turkey Callsalthough no. 1 right noware moving down. We also see the keyword "treestand" (notice the unique spelling) is moving up, and so is scuba gear.
You can also locate hot buyer pockets using the powerful research tool Terapeak. Data from this online seller's tool allows you to quickly locate hot items, categories and even titles that the buyers are spending their money on. I recently used Tereapeak's Hot Search to locate a product, of which one eBay business is selling $61,000 a week! (You'll have to head over to OSI Rock Stars sourcing forums to read more about this one). Terapeak's in-depth market analysis, going back as far as two years, allows you to get a complete picture of what the buyers are seeking.
The important part about locating what to sell is to be persistent
You have figured out what the buyers want to buy, but where do you get the products? Sourcing products for online sales is not that much different than locating products for a brick and mortar. Contacting manufacturers, liquidators and true wholesalers would provide you access to these items. However, how are you going to find legitimate companies to work with? Try typing the search term "buying wholesale" into Google. Go ahead, I'll wait. Close to 1 million entries come backand I can bet that most of them aren't legitimate suppliers. Many are middlemen suppliers who make money off of your purchase which in turn diminishes your bottom line. Many are also fraud sitesoffering lists of "true and legitimate" wholesalers for a price, yet these lists are sometimes decades old and contain invalid information. You will rarely find true wholesalers showing up in the Google search. So how can you gain access to them?
Trade shows offer diverse opportunities to source from a variety of merchantsgeneral or niche.
- Trade Show Directory (http://tsnn.com/): Utilize this directory to find the niche trade show you need in the U.S. or internationally.
- BizTradeShows (http://www.biztradeshows.com): A great way to find out about upcoming trade shows worldwide. You can browse shows by industry, city, country, date, or by the name of the trade show organizer.
- Global Sources (http://www.globalsources.com/): This site not only provides you with information on large international trade shows, but you can also import products and contact manufacturers directly from them.
WorldwideBrands is a company that does much of this research and sourcing work for you. With a database of more than 7,000 researched and pre-qualified legitimate wholesalers who carry millions of products, WorldwideBrands is an online seller's best sourcing tool. With a lifetime membership you receive unlimited, direct access to guaranteed wholesalers, import liquidation products, extensive coaching/training as well as market research telling you what's selling the best right now. Basically, they do all the hard work for you! And they even have a "scam watch" section on the site to help keep you away from the fast-talking fraud sites online.
The important part about locating what to sell is to be persistent. Not everything will be available to you (i.e., iPods) and not everyone will sell to you as an online seller. However, if you follow these steps, you will locate unique and profitable niches that will explode your online growth.
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Janelle Elms is a best-selling author, inspiring educator and Visionaire of the OSI Rock Stars. You can hear her on wsRadio every Wednesday on Ask Janelle Radio. Learn the success information you need to grow your business at www.osiRockStars.com. For step-by-step training on how to set up an eBay Store for maximum exposure and profit, visit One Percent Coach.
Opinions expressed here may not be shared by Auctiva Corp. and/or its principals.