Picking the Product and Target Market
‘Picking your products’ and ‘choosing your target market’ for your online boutique, go hand in hand so it is important to talk about products and target market together. You need to decide what to sell, how to sell, where to sell, whom to sell and when to sell. But it is not easy. Some businesses have a great product idea or a lot of inventory, and then they find the customers that will buy the product, while others choose a target market or a particular group and then look for products which their target audience is willing to pay for. There is no wrong or right way to make these choices, the important part is to just do it.
Since there is no right way I’m going to jump to products straight away. First let’s talk about what are your options. There are 3 typical ways to acquire products.
Handmade or Have Them Made
A lot of great online boutiques start out with a hobby and then they eventually started earning money from their hobby. From scarves to baby blankets they make and sell them, or if they have a concept work with a company that will manufacture it for you. The good thing about this option is you usually start out with a small offline market before you think of expanding your business or more preferably your target market. For example if you have been knitting woman’s accessories it may help your online store to make smaller versions and have kid’s accessories too.
The major issue to consider when deciding to open a handmade product store is will you be able to produce enough products to earn profit. For example if you only make 1-2 items a month that sell for 100$ each then the time and effort is not rewarded rightfully here.
Whole Sale Products
With wholesale, you find wholesalers that offer items in bulk at a reduced cost and then you resell the items to individuals at retail price and get your profit. Simply put, you buy products from wholesalers and sell it to individual customers via your online store.
This option gives you a lot of freedom in what to choose and the market to serve. Majority of the people go for products that mirror their own interest but I recommend a more calculated approach. Jot down a few ideas and research them. Here are a few things that you should consider:
- Do you know where your ideal consumers are?
- Do they buy these items online?
- How you will convince your target audience to buy from your store?
- How will you market your products and store?
The biggest issue with this method is to make sure you do it the right way. It’s really important to track what customers are buying, what they are viewing online, etc. You don’t want to stock your warehouse and home with hundreds of items that your target audience is not interested in. I have seen online stores doing preorders and post surveys to get public opinion before they buy any new products.
In the resell scenario, you acquire products that are gently used or ones that do not sell in other venues (closeouts) and you sell them on your online store. There are huge sites like eBay, Craigslist and many others that show that this is a bustling market. Truly one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. In case of reselling products, your target market is driven by the products you are able to acquire.
The biggest issue with reselling is finding continuous stock and ensuring quality products. Just because it’s used doesn’t mean that buyers would expect a broken or weird product, they expect good quality products from you so it’s important to monitor product quality and have a premium customer service strategy in place to handle issues as they arise.
You see, it really depends on what products you sell will drive the target audience to your store. If you are into hair care tools then most likely your audience will be women. The important point here is to make sure that your products and the needs of target audience match. Now this doesn’t mean as business grows you can pivot your business to incorporate more products and add another target market. Yes of course you can do that but it needs a lot of time.
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