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"I plan to launch an online store selling wooden products (bowls, candle holders, deco, etc). I choose those products because I think it's less competitive than apparel, books and so on. I believe I can make good margins once they are sold. But it still concerns me whether I will be able to find customers and how should I approach them. In your opinion do you think there are people who want to buy those goods?"
Question originally asked on Quora.
So you're selling something, and you want to know if there's a market for it?
Well, you're in luck! There are billions of people online, and so there's a market for practically anything you can imagine. Wooden products are no different. A quick Google of "Wooden Products" reveals that it's an existing market. There are people out there who do buy wooden stuff. In fact, I'll bet you that there are some people who are absolutely bonkers about wood. Check out this guy, Livio de Marchi, who's so obsessed with wooden carvings he even made wooden panties. (It's really quite artistic.)
You name it, there's probably a market for it, and somebody's probably crazy about it. That's the aggregating power of the internet at work.
So if you want to sell wooden products, what should you do?
There are two sets of people to think about:
- People who are already out there looking for what you're selling (Wood lovers)
- People who aren't looking, but will want what you're selling once they see it (Wood agnostics?)
The first group is a much better target market to focus on, because they're much more likely to make a purchase. They require less persuasion. They're walking around with a wood problem that needs to be solved, and you can solve it for them.
The main mistake that budding ecommerce retailers tend to make is that they struggle to put themselves in the shoes of their potential customers. That will be the most important thing you'll have to do.
- Why will your customers want to buy your products?
- What problem are you going to help them solve?
- Are they buying your stuff because it's durable? Because it's decorative? Stylish?
- What is it for, how does it improve their lives, why is it worth their money?
Don't just pile on adjectives for the sake of it. That's self-sabotaging. If the adjectives don't accurately describe your product, you're only confusing your customers. Worse- you might even confuse yourself, and end up with a sales pitch that doesn't resonate at all with your target audience.
You want your customers to be able to tell their friends about you. "
X's Wood Products," you want them to say– "They're really stylish." Or "They're beautifully old-fashioned". Or "Who knew wood could be so adorable?", or Keep this descriptive sentence succinct. You want to pack maximum meaning into as little as possible.
One of the most memorable lines I've heard was from a luxury leather brand, Saddleback Leather, describing how "Your descendants will fight over it when you're dead!" Now that's an awesome story. It's something that sticks, which is the only reason why I'm telling you about it now. Free marketing for them. Well played, Saddleback Leather.
Once you've got this idea clear, you'll find that it can and should guide everything else about your business. Your design. Your copy. The products you choose to emphasize and focus on. Figure out your promise, the value you're creating, and lean on that. Be clear, be coherent. Make a promise and deliver on it, visibly. Overdeliver. Delight people. Now you've got yourself a brand.
PS: Anybody interested in the "market for everything" phenomenon owes it themselves to read Chris Anderson's The Long Tail, which describes how the internet allows all sorts of previously impractical business models to flourish. It's a big part of why ecommerce is booming today.
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- How Many Online Stores Are There In The US [2013 version]
- 24 of the Best Ecommerce Website Designs to Inspire You
- The Ultimate Guide To Ecommerce Mistakes
- Critical Business Mistakes
- Marketing Mistakes
- Common Website Mistakes
- Customer Experience Mistakes
- Closing Sale Mistakes
- Post-Purchase Mistakes
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- 14 Quotes From Fashion Ecommerce Founders
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- AARRR!!: An Introduction To PirateMetrics For Ecommerce [Infographic]
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