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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Home Based Business Model: ShopOfWatches.com

I've been posting about selling products on Amazon and eBay lately in an effort to share what I've learned over the years with my loyal readers (all eight of you!) LoL.

In this post, I'm taking a tiny break from the Amazon & eBay venue to talk about one of my other "irons in the fire" for producing income from home.  It still pertains to selling on the internet but this method avoids paying HUGE fees (up to 25% for Amazon) on every product sold.

I'm talking about setting up your own website and selling products DIRECTLY to the consumer. Yes, it is easier to sell to customers through a well-known platform like Amazon or eBay. They have already established a presence on the internet and people browse them daily. But they also charge you dearly to sell items to their customer base. People who buy from you through Amazon are not truly YOUR customer (they're Amazon's) and they'll gladly remind you of that every sale.

Why open your own website or web-store?

  1. You keep all the profits. As mentioned before, Amazon charged as much as 25% of your sale price (fees are not based on your profit, they're based on your total price!) and always come out of your account BEFORE you get access to any money. Many times, I would make $20 on a sale but Amazon would make $50+.
  2. You are only competing with yourself on your own website. On Amazon, any jack wagon can come along and offer the same item for one penny less than you do and steal 99% of your business. Most people know so little about buying online that the penny-cheaper guy could have the WORST feedback history on the page, but people will still buy from him because they save a penny.
  3. You control EVERYTHING: the look of the website, the checkout methods, how you advertise and hours of operation. Amazon even has rules about the images you post to sell an item. It has to be 500 x 500 pixels and the background has to be pure white (and they'll check.) It took me six tries to get "permission" to sell watches on Amazon because my pictures (which were straight from the manufacturer's website) didn't meet Amazon's standards. Wanna take PayPal payments only? You can do that on YOUR website. Wanna answer emails during normal hours and not on weekends? You can set those rules on your own website. Amazon grades you on how fast you respond to ANY customer inquiry, even if it left at 2am on a Sunday.
 Setting up your own website is fairly complicated to a newcomer but not unmanageable. I'm experimenting with BigCommerce and Shopify at the moment. These two companies are in direct competition with each for out-of-the-box website business startups. With little experience, I'd guess that within in hour or two, you could have a website completely up and running and ready for business (including accepting payment from PayPal or a credit card accepting company.)

To bring my thoughts around full circle, this post is about making income from home and using an internet webstore to do it. Find an item or items that you want to sell and put them out on the internet for everyone to see. There are numerous things to consider when doing this:

  1. Is the item you are selling popular?
  2. How many other sellers are out there selling the same product?
  3. Is the item you are selling found in every corner store or is it unique?
  4. Do you have a passion for the item you are selling? Is it meaningless to you?
One item I have chosen is wrist watches. The way I see it, everyone needs a watch. Yes, I do know some people (Wifey) who don't wear one and are constantly asking "What time is it?" And YES, that is VERY annoying. But for the most part, just about everyone wears a watch. This is an item that has been around for 100+ years and comes in many styles.

Eventually, I plan to offer many different styles from multiple manufacturers. But to be profitable, you have to be able to buy them at a good price. This is where wholesale prices and/or dropshipping comes into play. Through Doba, mentioned in my post here, I can offer hundreds of watches in many styles and (theoretically) buy them at wholesale prices. I say "theoretically" because I have noticed a trend whereby sellers claiming wholesale prices on Doba are merely resellers themselves trying to act like wholesalers. For example, I see a seller offering a certain watch to me at a wholesale price of $400. A quick price check against Amazon or eBay tells me that other people are selling that exact same watch for $350. How is that possible if the Doba seller is a "wholesaler?" Simple...he isn't. He's portraying to be a wholesaler to members of Doba in hopes that nobody will know they can buy cheaper on Amazon.

Anyway, one of my favorite brands of watches is the Invicta brand. I have always found them to be very stylish and they have few lines that offer huge watches. As a big guy, I like a big watch. So I chose a domain name: ShopOfWatches.com and purchased it for $7 at Dotster. You can buy domain names at any of 100 places. I've used Dotster for years.

I signed up for a free trial at Shopify (7 day free trial) and pointed my domain name at the Shopify store that I created to sell my watches. Now when people type in ShopOfWatches.com they will be taken directly to my Shopify webstore. Using the free trial, I set up the store the way I wanted it to look including banners and a theme. I went with a free templet theme and just typed in my information where I was prompted.

I loaded up watches for sale and chose to accept payment through PayPal because I already had a PayPal account established. Within a few days, the store was ready for customers. That leads to the next step: how to get customers to your store.

Internet marketing is a vast arena and there are almost a limitless amount of ways to drum up traffic for your store. Some gold standards are: paid advertisements either on the internet or in print, cross-linking in various places on the internet, email campaigns and others. I have yet to do any of that. For now, I've just got it up and running and ready to accept orders.

Total cost so far...$7.  Once my trial is over with Shopify (and BigCommerce is just about the same), I'll have to pick a monthly package (which comes with a monthly payment plan) depending on what features I wish to have available. I'll probably settle for something around $25/mo with hopes that I sell more than that. As with any business venture, there's always a gamble. I'm gambling $25 a month that I'll be able to sell more than $25 and make a little profit.

I'll post more about how this home based business is coming along in the near future.I'm just getting started and wanted to share it with you readers. Remember, if we can get enough multiple income streams coming into our household that we can pay a majority of our bills, we are that much closer to complete independence. Add in growing as much food as you can in your garden, caring for some livestock, using alternative energy sources and capturing rainwater...you just might become 100% self sufficient and live by your own rules, your own schedule!

Stay tuned for more...

~OJD

PS Don't forget to comment about what interests you and what doesn't. I can expand on things that matter most to you.
PPS I finally turned on captcha blocking. The spamming was reaching rediculous proportions. After it dies back down in a week/month, I'll turn the captcha back off. I've never had it on before but things were just out of control from these spamming jack wagons.

6 comments:

Warlock Sundance said...

good read

Anonymous said...

Here's a few thoughts about selling watches from the trenches (been selling them for a large retailer for over 2 years now) -- be careful who your suppliers are, knock-off or faulty watches are commonly sold through the 'grey-market' and can do a lot of damage to your reputation. With how common cellphones are for basic time, they are often more prestige/jewelry items than time pieces. Also, watch manufacturer warranties DO NOT carry through unless you are an authorized dealer for the brand -- this can be very important to watch customers, especially if you are going to sell brands that have an above average failure rate *cough*Invicta*cough*. You may get angry customers coming back to you expecting you to cover the cost of repairs.

The Orange Jeep Dad said...

Thanks for the advice. I'm starting with Invicta because I landed a resellers license. The only problem I've had with my Invicta are the band's failing (cracking /tearing). Finding replacements are tough. I'll take all the advice you have and appreciate it!

B said...

You need better, more detailed descriptions on your site.....What movement? wind up? auto? quartz?

basics are fine, nut there needs to be a way to find beter info without going to the INvicta site to get it.

Just my $0.02.

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