Posts Tagged ‘things to sell online’

PLMA 2013 Tradeshow Report

November 22, 2013 Leave a comment

I just returned from the Private Label Manufacturers’ Association (PLMA) Tradeshow in Chicago.  It was a good show, and took me two pretty full days to talk to all of the exhibitors I wanted to see.

It was my first time at the show, and one of the things that really stood out for me was the number of companies making private label food products.  If you’re looking to sell your own brand of food, definitely go to this show next year.

Besides talking to the manufacturers I had pre-arranged to see, I also spent some time just wandering around the aisles to get ideas for other things I might like to sell but haven’t thought of.  I did come across one type of product that’s related to my current sales strategy that I don’t sell yet.  The trip would have been worth it for just that one revelation, but of course I got a lot of other business done, too.

In addition to products to sell, there were also some exhibitors there offering services to retailers.  For example, if you’re going to sell private label products, you want attractive, professional-looking packaging.  There were exhibitors at the show to help with all steps in creating your own packaging.

If you attended the show let me know what you thought of it.

There’s another good trade show for private label manufacturers and retailers coming up in March, ASD Las Vegas.  Check out their site, especially Source Direct, there’s probably something useful there for you to attend.


Liquidation Companies

May 25, 2013 Leave a comment

If you’re looking for things to sell online, and you should always be doing this, a good source can be liquidation companies.  These are companies that buy excess inventory from retailers and manufacturers, and re-sell it.

Of course, the success of this strategy depends on knowing that you can actually sell what it is you’re buying, so you need to know how the product does on your sales channels.  Success also depends on knowing the price you’re paying will allow you to get a good profit margin, so don’t buy anything unless you know what you can sell it for, and what your fulfillment costs will be.

There are liquidation companies that do this online.  E.g., is a marketplace where sellers can list their excess inventory, and buyers can bid on it.  This can make your job a lot easier, because you can simultaneously check out what’s available online, and what you can get for it.  As a side note, I’m not endorsing here, I’m just pointing them out as an example.  You need to do your homework and find a liquidation company that works well for you.

Of course, the downside to this strategy, which is the same as the downside to any strategy involving one-off products, is that it’s time consuming.  In addition to the time spent searching for things to sell, which will only be amortized over a fairly small number of items, you also have to spend time creating a listing.  But, if you’re just starting out, or don’t have much capital to buy inventory, this could be a good way for you to get your online sales started.


I’ve updated my list of potentially good things for you to sell, this is the May 2013 list.

Selling Clothes Online

May 10, 2013 1 comment

I wanted to talk today about selling clothes online.  There are a lot of good things about choosing clothes:

  • They’re always in demand, even in a weak economy
  • There’s a huge variety, so people are willing to buy clothes even if none of their existing clothes have worn out
  • There’s a large number of manufacturers, so even if one manufacturer won’t sell to you (as an online retailer), there will be others that will
  • They’re relatively high-priced, so you can earn a good income per hour of your time invested

Unfortunately, there are also a number of drawbacks:

  • The return rate on clothing tends to be much higher than for other products
  • It can be hard to judge demand for a specific style / size / color of clothing (e.g., you know there’s good demand for a particular jacket, so you buy it in ‘large red’, but the demand is heavily concentrated in ‘medium blue’)

To touch on the return rate problem a little more, unlike a store where people can try on different sizes to see which fits best, there’s no way to do this when shopping online.  So buyers will try it and just return it if it doesn’t fit right.  One of the most frustrating things as a clothing retailer is to see someone order a particular item in two or three sizes, you know with near certainty that all but one of those will be returned.

Amazon is a good marketplace to sell clothing.  One specific downside to selling clothing on Amazon, though, is that Amazon sells a lot in this category themselves.  If you see Amazon selling a particular item, it’s going to be hard to compete.  They’re getting lower wholesale prices than you will, and they price very aggressively.  That’s great if you’re a buyer, not so great if you’re a seller.  They sell most of the well-known brands, and are particularly aggressive about selling women’s clothing.

If you’re just starting out and don’t have a lot of capital for inventory, one strategy you could try is to buy clothing in outlet stores and re-sell it online.  You’ll need to do your homework to make this pay off, of course.  You need to check what’s available in the store, then go see how it’s selling online (eBay, Amazon, Sears Marketplace, etc.), then go back to the store and buy it if it’s a good match.  If you focus on a small number of brands and go to the outlet stores every day, after a while you’ll know what sells online without having to double check, so it will get more efficient.  But when you’re just starting it will take a lot of your time.

You could even create a listing for clothes you haven’t bought yet, knowing they’re available in the outlet stores.  Then when someone buys from you online, you go to the outlet store and buy it.  You’ll get some extra negative reviews from people if you’re not able to fill the order because the store sold out before you get there, though.  You’d want to at least check the store every day and remove listings for items no longer available.



Things to Sell Online

March 1, 2013 1 comment

The one question I get asked the most is, what are good things to sell online?  Whether you’re selling on Amazon, eBay, Sears Marketplace, or your own website, you can’t be successful if you don’t find good things to sell.

Let’s talk about what makes something good to sell.  If you’re selling on one of the marketplaces, one criterion is how well the product already sells on that marketplace.  If there’s a lot of demand it’s potentially a good product for you to sell.  I say ‘potentially’ because, if it’s very popular, there will be a lot of sellers, which means margins will be very low, or non-existent.  So you want products that are popular, but not too popular.  That’s the type of product I include in my list of potential products to sell on Amazon every month.

Another important consideration is how much it costs to ship the product.  Buyers are getting used to ‘free shipping’, though of course there’s no such thing.  If the item is large or heavy shipping costs are high, and you (the seller) have no choice but to pay it.  You also have no choice but to pass the cost along to your buyers.  Smaller items are generally better choices to sell online than large items for this reason, though if you can charge enough to cover shipping costs and still maintain a good margin don’t shy away from larger items.

Product size is also important.  To make money in retail you need high volume, which means you need large inventory.  Whether it’s your garage or a fulfillment service provider, keeping more inventory (by volume) is less desireable than less inventory.  Small products are good for this reason, too.

How likely an item is to be returned is another consideration that’s often over looked.  Some items just naturally have higher return rates, like anything that must fit just right and there’s no way to tell from a picture if it will.  Another reason for high return rates is poor manufacturing quality.  Processing returns is expensive, not to mention the fact that the returned items often cannot be resold.  For all of these reasons, avoiding products that have a high return rate is usually a good idea.

How much an item costs doesn’t seem like something that would make a product good or bad to sell online, but it actually is.  Very inexpensive items will have high shipping costs relative to the product price, and buyers will have a bad impression of you if the shipping fee is higher than the product price.  Expensive items can be a hard sell online unless they’re bought through a very trusted site, like Amazon.  People are naturally reluctant to risk a large amount of money on an online retailer they’ve never heard of before.

If you’re looking for good things to sell online (and you should always be doing this), pop on over and check out this month’s list.  I find a few good things every month that way.