Jan 8th 2017 by 819lavoie • 19 Questions • 233 Points
My short bio: I've been in the online retail industry since 2004-2005 where I was working for a bicycle retailer who wanted to sell online to help go through the long winters here in Québec, Canada. We sold mainly on eBay. I worked there until 2010-2011 because I wanted to do my own thing and I needed to finish my studies. In 2012, my ex-employer won eBay Canada's entrepreneur of the year.
In 2011 I started my own online business with a friend and started selling adult toys (very few people know this) because that was the only account we were able to open with a wholesaler. After about a year, we were able to open an account with Globe and Dwindle; which mainly sold us shoes, apparel, skateboards and longboards. Not too long after, my friend had to leave town for studies and I purchased his remaining part of the business.
In 2013, I finished my bachelor's degree and opened a retail store front where I could store stock from distributors. Lots of manufactures require that you have a bricks and mortar store to open an account with them.
So basically I've been selling on eBay since 2004 for my ex-employer and since 2011 more seriously an full time for my own business. I've been selling on Amazon.com since late 2015. 2017 will be my second full year selling on there.
My Proof: Recent articles:
- The Globe and Mail
- Radio Canada (french) interview
- La Presse (french) article
- Tweet from Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau
- Picture of me!
How did you come up with a product idea?
Like mentionned, I started selling adult toys at first. I then moved from that to skateboards, longboards, apparel and shoes. At this point, around 75% of my sales are sneakers/shoes.
How much time did it take ?
It took me a good +- 4 years to figure out what was, for my situation, the best items to sell on eBay and Amazon. I'm still learning and I'm always surprised to find new items that sell incredibly well... or incredibly badly!
Where should I search for an idea?
It all depends. Are you looking to do this full time or part time? Do you have lots of time to put into this? Browsing through Amazon and getting yourself some Amazon Pricing plugins on Chrome will help you analyse pricing from products. You'll then be able to figure out if some times can be worth it.
Is there a niche that I could be successful at?
Certainly. People are buying more and more online. But businesses don't seem to follow. Very often I find that the product I have access to isn't even listed on Amazon. It took me a while to figure out the best way to list it and to sync everything with my website and eBay. It always takes a little time for a new product to get some traction, but once it does, and you're the only one selling it, it can be a little gold mine! You simple have to test different things.
Is it at all worth it?
The right question for me would be: was experimenting selling on Amazon worth it even if you were already selling on eBay. My response would be: absolutely! Things work differently on Amazon and eBay. I would confidently say that those two completely different marketplaces nicely complete each other; for a seller like me at least! As someone who sells online for a living, I wouldn't see myself "not selling" on Amazon.I'll be glad to try and answer any question you might have! Thank you! Edit1: So many questions, thank you so much for your interest. I'll try to answer everyone :) Edit2: Here's a picture when I had my two businesses. The hamburger joint only lasted 8 months.
So to get this straight, your best advice is to find an underrepresented product on Amazon or ebay and become a steady supplier?
Yes. But the hard part is probably being able to get a steady supply of whatever item you're trying to sell. I normally suggest people working with whatever they're familiar with. If outdoor sports is your thing for example, you might want to stay in that branch. It makes things much more interesting and easier for you.
I've been able to do it for my niche. But I guess that each niche needs to be approached differently though.
How do you feel about the sellers who buy up all the stock of hot items and scalp them for double price?
You're probably referring to re-sellers? For sneakers for example? I think it's really a small portion of the market that gets badly influenced by that. I mean, it's not a new technique. People have been doing that for ages. It may work at a small scale, but if you're selling hundreds or thousands of different items, you'll probably won't have to worry about artificially spiking the prices of a specific item.
I personally try to find the items that are the most popular that will sell quickly. If I can give a good price and still make good profit and sell them faster, I think that's the best situation for me. People tend to be happier in the end and I make a quick sale/profit. I learned that being too greedy doesn't get you anywhere. Just my two cents!
I am about to start selling on ebay. I have a decent amount of collectables and other items that I have been unable to unload through craigslist. I already have a verified PayPal account. Any advise or tutorials you'd recommend?
Sell worldwide. If you're in the United-States, I think you have access to the Global Shipping Program. If you're comfortable shipping worldwide yourself, do it. If you don't want to take the time to verify international shipping prices, simply opt for the Global Shipping Program.
Hey! I love this stuff. As a college student, do you think there's any way of being able to do this on a smaller scale to make money? Obviously not as much as you are making, but maybe even a thousand or even less a month? That goes a long way as a student trying to make side money. I'd really appreciate any advice.
For sure! That's how I was able to go by during my studies.
A good friend of mine had some spare time after his office job. He always stopped by my store to say hi. After teaching him a few tips and tricks, he started purchasing from Canadian Governement Surplus. Basically it's items the government are getting rid of. He bids on items and picks them up from a governement warehouse not too far from our city. I quickly Googled "US Governement Surplus" and found that website.
It's just an example. As long as it sells online, why not! Selling on eBay would be your easiest option. Once things get rolling bit, you'll have so much fun doing it. Hope this helps!
Must be working for myself. My confidence in myself, especially for business decisions, has grown considerably.
The best part of it is choosing your own hours. The idea of getting stuck in traffic just demoralizes me. I start at 11am and finish around 6pm. Never do I need "Travel time to job" notifications from Google :)
Haha I'm not a huge professionnal sports fan. Though I respect everything about it. Since I'm in Quebec, I go to Montreal Impact soccer games or Ottawa Senators hockey games when I can. But I have to say that I have a small preference for the Montreal Canadians :)