Home – New Forums New here? Share your story Hi everyone – new member starting homeware e-commerce

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  • #987548
    SamJ
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    • Total posts: 5
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    Hi there.

    After considering lots of ideas I’ve finally decided to startup a niche online homewares store.

    I’m sourcing from Australian distributors and have my preferred list of products / brands / wholesalers together.

    My main issue, and I suspect it’s the same for everyone, is limited startup funds. I’m using Weebly and doing the site myself but as I’m sourcing from a range of distributors the main stumbling block is minimum buy limit and minimum quantities per item.

    I don’t want to start the site without a full range of products (I think that will influence perceptions at launch) but can’t possibly buy them all at once and may have to do some as pre-orders. I’m also very nervous about taking credit for large quantities and would prefer to have small quantities until I know what sells.

    I was wondering if anyone has had success with big distributors being flexible for startups and reducing the initial purchase amount or allowing products to be listed prior to purchase.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    Hopefully I can in turn share my experiences as I continue with my venture. It’s so exciting to start seeing your vision materialise!

    Thanks,
    Sam

    #1163293
    sam_leader
    Member
    • Total posts: 660
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    Hello Sam,

    Exciting times ahead! And a few challenges too, it’s all part of the fun of flying solo.

    Can I suggest you add a signature to your post? That way visitors can see who you are at a glance.

    The selling online section of this forum would be a good place to start, although you’ve probably spent hours on there already!

    Love your work,

    Sam on behalf of the FS team

    #1163294
    Anonymous
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    Hi Sam,

    Welcome to FS, you are at the right place for any ideas on business. I am fairly new to business myself however i have been around here for years and there is just so much to learn.

    Have you thought about asking your preferred suppliers to do Drop Shipping for you?? I know some Aussie wholesalers will do it as i have some that are now my clients that will. And the best part is you do not have to hold/store the stock yourself then. The only draw back is you will not make as much profit, as the supplier usually charges more per unit/item for drop shipping as they have to do most of the work, but that is something you would need to negotiate with them of course.

    If you would like to contact me, i have a homewares supplier on board that might be able to help you with either small minimum quantities or drop shipping. If you could let me know exactly the products you are after i will see what i can do for you. Feel free to PM me at any time.

    Kind Regards
    Kim

    #1163295
    Sam J
    Member
    • Total posts: 7
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    Hi Sam,

    Put full range of your products on your website. Stock the items which you think might be the most moving ones. For other items which you haven’t stocked, mention on your website that the item is in high demand (or some better reason) and the delivery may be delayed. On getting order for those items, immediately place order to the supplier. If the supplier is in Australia, you should get the goods in 3-5 days and on receipt immediately dispatch it to the customer.

    Sam

    #1163296
    Hatching_It
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    • Total posts: 414
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    I’d always been of the opinion that you should launch with a nice full website with plenty of items to buy and anything other than that would be a waste of time.

    And then I had an epiphany.

    What sells more? A website with only a few products, or a website that doesn’t exist?

    foodoversex-meme-jesus-thank-me-later.png

    *not meant to cause offence, it was the first thing that came up when I googled an image for that text

    I think your main problem is going to be that you’re using Weebly. It’s not a strong eCommerce platform, particularly for Australia. Do you literally have $0 budget for the website?

    #1163297
    SamJ
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    • Total posts: 5
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    Thanks Kim.

    I thought about drop shipping but wanted more control over product range. But it would definitely be less complicated than holding stock.

    Thanks again,
    Sam

    #1163298
    SamJ
    Member
    • Total posts: 5
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    Sam J, post: 189126 wrote:
    Hi Sam,

    Put full range of your products on your website. Stock the items which you think might be the most moving ones. For other items which you haven’t stocked, mention on your website that the item is in high demand (or some better reason) and the delivery may be delayed. On getting order for those items, immediately place order to the supplier. If the supplier is in Australia, you should get the goods in 3-5 days and on receipt immediately dispatch it to the customer.

    Sam

    Thanks Sam.
    One of the supplier has terms that I can’t list what I don’t have but guess I find a different supplier. Fake it till you make it?

    #1163299
    martin.firth
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    • Total posts: 259
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    As a web designer, I second the notion that Weebly is going to be your biggest obstacle down the line. Pay someone (maybe these guys) a few hundred bucks to set you up with a solid foundation on Shopify.

    Good luck!

    #1163300
    SamJ
    Member
    • Total posts: 5
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    martin.firth, post: 189298 wrote:
    As a web designer, I second the notion that Weebly is going to be your biggest obstacle down the line. Pay someone (maybe these guys) a few hundred bucks to set you up with a solid foundation on Shopify.

    Good luck!

    Hi Martin,

    Just curious re the negative feedback on Weebly. Can you let me know what the problems are with it?

    I know other people who use it and are happy with it. I’ve got the style now that I’m happy with and have set up a few products and categories, etc. I’m planning to upgrade to the paid version in the next few days which has the unlimited products, shopping cart and credit card processing. I’ve had to use a few workarounds as there were some limitations with the template I chose but I haven’t found any significant issues yet. I’d rather not be dependent on a developer.

    Any detailed advice on the issues would be useful before I commit.

    Cheers, Sam

    #1163301
    martin.firth
    Member
    • Total posts: 259
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    Hi Sam,

    Most of the negativity I’ve found with Weebly has come from new clients who aren’t happy with it’s flexibility. They just can’t get it to do something specific they need, or they just can’t find a third party app that integrates the way they want.

    I’ll admit that most of these clients are people who have successfully used Weebly for a little while, but when they need to take their site to the next level, they end up having to migrate.

    In my mind, flexibility always comes with difficulty, and it follows this scale from easy to hard: Weebly, Shopify, Magento. Magento is in my opinion the most customisable bit the pain in the ass. I find shopify hits the sweet spot, being automated and modular but still leaving room for a developer to get her hands dirty.

    Hope that helps!

    #1163302
    pollypolkadot
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    Hi Sam!

    I also am starting a niche homewares ecommerce business, (without a lot of funds!) so it is interesting reading peoples responses to you.

    Re: weebly/what kind of website platform to use, I suggest having a look around in the ‘selling online’ forum category, there is lots of useful info in there. This thread in particular is still going and is probably relevant to you – http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums/selling-online/28889-bigcommerce-versus-drupal-versus-wp.html It doesn’t talk about Weebly in particular, but there are some interesting points made about different platforms in general. IMO it really depends what you want to do with it; what kind of functionality you need, the design, the reporting features, SEO, scaleability etc. Also, as they talk about in the thread I linked, it is important to consider the “total cost”, as something that starts out looking cheap might end up costing a lot more than you expect. I have been considering a few different ecommerce platforms after looking at what they all have to offer, and I still don’t know which one is going to best suit my needs, but I certainly believe it is imperative to gather all the info you can before making the jump into a site that may not work for you in the longrun.

    As for getting around large orders from wholesalers, I have found (both from Australian & overseas) that they generally have a minimum spend BUT the minimum amount you need to order of each particular item can be quite low. Therefore you can get a larger range of items with only a small number of each thing, so you can just up the numbers on the things that sell best in your next order. Thats what I plan to do anyway! Just use your knowledge and judgement about your target market to pick the initial items and numbers. I don’t think the minimum spend amounts are unreasonable (or at least for the wholesalers I am looking at- eg $300), but I suppose it depends what exactly your products are as to how much you will need to spend to get them.

    I’m interested to hear what your niche is, if you are willing to share! Mine is vintage/retro reproduction items.

    Look forward to seeing you around the forums :)

    Polly

    #1163303
    AngusMcKinnon
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    Another easy low risk way to get started sometimes is to find a retailer who would be happy to let you receive a significant discount for any sales. Ive done it several times. Pitch is “if I buy to resell $1k of your products a month would you give me a 20-40% discount off the retail price. Think of me as a new salesperson you have hired but you dont have to pay $40-60k year in salary”. The retailer gets some additional margin they wouldnt have otherwise and potentially better buying power if they are selling more.

    Basically for whatever wholesaler you are interested in, find a retailer who carries their range and who will do business with you. You can ask them to give you the Wholesalers entire catalogue and you can put it online and resell via the retailer. You lose a little in margin, but you reduce your risk significantly.

    Even easier is to find an ebay seller of the products and do a deal with them. They are trained to have significant customer service values (or face a bad rating) and know how to drop ship etc.

    Build up your sales history then approach the wholesaler.

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