By Chris Malta
Far too many people make the mistake of trying to
sell only products that they like on their web sites.
Others make the mistake of trying to sell only the
coolest and flashiest things they can find.
The whole point of starting an Ecommerce web site is
to make money. Thatís something you must not lose
sight of (no pun intended!).
Our business is to show people where they can find
products to sell without investing a single penny in
inventory. The approach is called drop shipping. This
is where a wholesale distributor will ship a single
item directly to your customer from their warehouse,
AFTER your customer pays you for it. Itís the perfect
way to start in Internet business on a shoestring
The Directory we publish covers nearly half a million
products, from over a thousand well-known brand names,
available from dozens of REAL wholesalers who will
So why does everyone who uses our Directory try to
Ok, I guess I did the same thing. When I opened my
first Internet store, I plastered the walls of that
place with things that I though were cool. Stereo
equipment, DVD players, Computer components. The
shinier the better. I had the latest technology up
there. Some of the items cost thousands of dollars.
I think that in the back of my mind, I knew that I
wasnít going to sell much of it, but it LOOKED
really cool. I could show it to my friends and say,
"Check it out... thatís MY store!" They were all
suitable impressed, and I could walk around feeling
like I was pretty slick. Whenever any of them asked
me how much money I was making, I cleverly changed
The truth was that no one was buying much. Come to
think of it, none of my friends bought anything,
either. That should have told me something right
Look, electronics are a fine product to sell on the
Internet. I only use them as an example because itís
a situation I can relate to. The problem is not the
product; itís the COMPETITION.
Most of the people Iíve seen start an Internet store
want to know what the hottest sellers are on the
ĎNet, so they can sell those products too. Theyíre
missing the point, as I did. If you only sell the
hottest sellers, you dilute your available customer
base, because everyone else is trying to sell the
hottest sellers, too! You also run into those
bricks-and-mortar popular-item superstores that have
millions of dollars to purchase tons of inventory at
People buy all kinds of products. They donít have to
be cool or shiny. They just have to be things that
people will buy.
Hereís an important ingredient for success on the
ĎNet: sell those products that people use, but donít
stumble over every time they open a web browser.
When we build an Internet store, we do a little
research first. Since we build stores in Yahoo
Shopping (http://store.yahoo.com), we do our research
in Yahoo Shopping. We know that at least 90% of our
traffic is going to come from the millions of people
who surf through there with their purses and wallets
flapping in the breeze. So when we consider a new
product line, we start a search.
If we were considering selling DVD players, for
example, we would do a search on the term "DVD Player"
in Yahoo Shopping. As of the date of this article,
such a search turns up 7,813 DVD Players available
from 496 stores.
Do we want to become store number 497, add 20 or 30
products to the nearly 8,000 that are already available,
and hope we sell something?
I think not.
Since we use our own Directory exclusively as a source
of product suppliers who drop ship, we go back to the
Directory and look around at some of the available
product types. We notice that one of the wholesalers
we list carries a complete line of Fiskars brand Yard
and Garden tools. Will people buy these products?
Hmmm... people HAVE been known to work on their yards
and gardens, when theyíre not playing with their
electronics. Fiskars is a well-known brand name, so our
customers would feel comfortable with it. It happens to
be late spring, so itís reasonable to assume that
people will be buying garden tools for some time still
So letís check out the competition.
We want to know how many other people are selling
Fiskars products in Yahoo Shopping. So we search on
"Fiskars". Only 54 stores selling Fiskars products right
now! Thatís considerably better than 497 stores selling
the electronics we were considering.
Are these store devoted to selling ONLY Fiskars products?
Wow... not a single one! All the top search returns are
stores selling general merchandise.
When we build a store, we like to specialize in one
product line. There are many benefits to this; chiefly the
fact that customers feel more comfortable in a store that
does one thing, and does it well. Itís also much easier
to rank a single product line in the major search engines
than it is to rank a general store with lots of unrelated
Ok, we have a product line that we feel will sell, and the
competition in the Fiskars brand name itself is minimal
However, when people search for garden tools, theyíre
going to use search words like "Trowel", and "Pruning".
Theyíre not going to search on the term "Fiskars" very
often, unless theyíre looking for scissors. So, we go back
to the Yahoo Shopping search engine.
We search on "Gardening Tools", and we find 113 stores
carrying 324 products. Still not much competition. Even
better, NONE of these stores are focused on just gardening
tools. They are gift stores, general merchandise stores,
etc., who just happen to have the word "Gardening"
somewhere in their product description. We know that we
can put the word "Gardening" in our very product names
themselves (ex.- "Gardening Trowel, Steel, 9 Inch"), and
we will show up right at the TOP of a search on the word
We search on the word "Pruning", and find 81 stores
carrying 418 products. Still not a problem, since the top
returns are BOOKS on pruning, and the rest are more
After a little more searching, weíre convinced that weíve
found a product line that will sell well for the rest of
the Spring and Summer. Since it only costs us $100 a
month to open another small Yahoo Store, we more than
happy to do it. In the Fall, sales will slack off, but
we have other stores that are geared toward Fall and
Winter merchandise. They are also small and focused,
and no matter how many Yahoo Stores we open, we know
that each one of them will easily cover itís $100 a
month cost, and turn a profit of some kind all year
Of course, now that Iíve opened my mouth and told
everyone about Fiskars, weíre going to have to scrap
that idea and go back to the drawing board! Thatís OK,
though... we have nearly half a million others to