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RobynLee, post: 157647 wrote:
Hi Vir3n,

Wishing you the best with starting your business, it’s certainly a great experience though not without its ups & downs :)

I sell homeware/giftware on eBay and online and am slowly building up my business.

First of all, it is a fairly competitive field as you are competing against well established brick & mortar stores here, large online stores and overseas sellers who are often able to offer very low prices and cheap shipping. I would suggest that you select products that are unique and not in every Kmart/Hot Dollar store around the country. Find a niche within giftware/homeware and concentrate on that. Also, provide something to your customers that is unique and different from what others are offering.

While it is a hassle to buy from overseas, your cost of goods will be much cheaper depending on how much you order. If you are just purchasing a carton of goods, shipping from overseas will add to your costs to where it’s probably the same as buying from a local wholesaler. But if you are buying in bulk you will save substantially if you find a good overseas supplier. Having said that, I know it’s pretty daunting to source overseas and import.

Learn all you can about SEO even if you have someone else handling your website. If you can’t rank in the search engines for the products you are selling, it will be harder to get people to your site to buy from you and you will need to know how to title posts properly, keywords to use to sell your items, etc.

eBay is less profitable for me than my online store. You are competing against a lot of Chinese sellers who sell very cheaply. On the plus side, a lot of people who buy on eBay prefer Aussie sellers. With eBay there are more costs. I offer free shipping (baked into my price to a degree), have to keep my prices on a par with what others on eBay are selling for, there are fees to list your items once you get past a certain point and you pay eBay a percentage for items sold. Then there’s Paypal fees — I usually only list the higher priced items on eBay and at present are using it mainly to test how well items sell.

I do not find adding postage costs onto items sold on my online store to be a deterrent at all, and my profit margin is higher because of the fewer other fees paid.

Advertising and branding is important if you want to attract people to your site. I regularly sell at markets and while it’s not a great money maker it gets my name and brand “out there” and offers an opportunity for some direct market research gained through talking with customers and people who drop by my stall. Send out name cards with everything you post and set up an email newsletter that buyers can sign up to — a good way to bring in repeat customers.

With giftware itself there are a few things to note. First of all, especially with homeware items, sales can be fairly seasonal. Pre-Christmas, Pre-Mother’s Day sales are usually the best but you may find yourself in a bit of a slump especially the first few months of the new year so you do have to plan for that. I don’t know what type of giftware you are planning on selling, but you may want to also consider selling some consumable products as well. I sell teaware, and honestly if people are buying for themselves they usually only buy one teapot, they’re not repeatedly buying more (though they are glass, heh, and they do break — and some people actually “collect teapots” :D ) So, I also sell other items that they can buy later such as glass teacups, teapot warmers and other odds and ends. I also sell tea, which is my “consumable” and that results in regular customers who keep my business going.

Some other random tips: Be mentally (and emotionally) prepared for failures as well as successes with items you sell. Religiously set aside a percentage of profits for restocking no matter how much you need to infuse a little extra money into your personal budget (lesson learned the hard way in the beginning) and don’t expect overnight success — though it can happen, it’s not a ‘given’.

I’d be happy to discuss or answer any other questions you may have, so please feel free to get in touch. I enjoy my online selling adventure and love seeing my business slowly growing, but there has been a bit of a learning curve involved in getting to where I am now–which is really still just at the beginning.

Cheers,
Robyn

Hi Robyn

Are you interested in indian home decor and terracotta items(Homewares)