One of my aims as a Voice writer is to groom AU students for entrepreneurial activity or, on a smaller scale, money-making initiatives to help offset costs of university and daily living. In light of this objective, I recently scoured the pages of a book titled Wholesale 101, by Jason A. Prescott, that provided ammunition for some student investment ideas. The most salient ideas, in my mind, included drop-shipping for ecommerce platforms such as EBay and Amazon, developing unique products, and becoming a manufacturer’s representative.
Drop-Shipping for Ecommerce Platforms
Drop-shipping is essentially having manufacturers, distributors, third party drop-shippers, or the like fulfill the orders your customers make by storing, packaging, and shipping the products on your behalf. Drop-shipping can be likened to a pay-on-demand service, where the order is fulfilled on a one-off basis, or as the individual product is ordered. Drop-shippers charge you fees that can range from monthly fees to access their service to basic wholesale charges per product, yet you still stand to make a profit depending on your mark-up price when you make the actual sale.
While drop-shipping from overseas may bear issues such as communication breakdowns and lack of physical factory contact, an alternative is to go through a third party drop-shipper. Prescott (2013) mentions a number of third-party drop-shippers, including http://www.doba.com, http://koleimports.com, http://www.worldwidebrands.com, http://handbagswholesale.com, and a variety of others.
In order to glean more insight into how third-party drop-shipping could be better integrated into either online ecommerce storefronts or even Amazon site, I decided to contact a third-party drop shipper via telephone and to examine their Website.
Initially, I looked at Doba’s website. Doba touts over 2,000,000 products for you to choose to sell. You can sell these products on eBay or Amazon or your own Website, without physically ever possessing the product. Doba will provide you with photos and detailed descriptions. Once the product is purchased by someone who buys from you, you log into your Doba account and pay the wholesale cost for the actual product. All you need is the shipping address of the customer to enter into the Doba interface. You don’t do the shipping. You don’t have any inventory. You don’t have to worry about returns. You do have to worry about membership fees, however.
I signed onto the site for a trial membership, and discovered in step three, prior to being able to access the catalogue of nearly two million products, Doba requires you to enter a credit card that will automatically be charged $59.99 per month once the trial membership is over. So, the volume of sales profit you anticipate making per month should at least, as you are well aware, exceed that $59.99 membership cost.
One of the suggestions on Doba’s Website is to build your own eCommerce store, using a platform such as Shopify, focusing on products aligned with your personal passions or interests. This could be a means for a specialized product focus, although simply selling on EBay or Amazon?only paying after you make the sale?might be less expensive alternatives.
Developing Unique Products
For those students wanting to make and sell their own product lines, the Doba representative on the phone indicated that small suppliers were welcome to fill out a form to see if they would qualify for their products to be listed on Doba. If listed, retailers will have the option to choose your product to sell on their sites, on EBay, or on Amazon. Doba indicated that original products?that don’t compete in stores such as Walmart?are preferred.
I noticed that the Doba site features a number of books that sellers can retail. So, out of curiosity, I contacted them with an email inquiring as to whether or not a small single author book manufacturer might be considered as a supplier through their service. In the process of inquiring, it occurred to me that a print run of several thousand books could be made, and the books could be stored in an indoor storage service with possibly an elevated wooden platform for added security. I am currently awaiting Doba’s response.
On one hand, acting as your own supplier for small ticket items might be ideal for making possibly a five-bagger return (or, in other words, a five-fold profit, in stock market speak). On the other hand, you will be married to the job of product fulfillment and drop shipping to buyers.
Then there is also the question of how do you gain access to packaging that brand retailers like Amazon, EBay, and similar online selling places? These online stores are places that the retailer will likely take your item to sell. You are responsible for prompt and professional fulfillment of packages to continue to qualify for the third party drop-shipper access to retailers.
Furthermore, the onus would be on you, the supplier, to perform all the drop-shipping with a wholesale pricing scheme. You won’t get a lot of traction with your product unless your pricing is competitive. Some big name book titles are featured on Doba for third-party drop-shipping, and you can be assured that these book suppliers? print-runs are on a higher magnitude than that of a small-time seller, so competitive pricing needs to be well planned in advance.
Becoming a Manufacturer’s Representative
If you want to start a physical store and load it up with products, such as a mall kiosk, then you certainly want access to a manufacturer’s representative. These reps seek out the best and finest product lines that manufacturers have to sell as they make a commission from each sale–and having satisfied return customers is their priority (Prescott, 2013).
Yet, an alternative to making money for a student, especially if you love to travel, might very well be to apply for a manufacturer representative position. You would need to have excellent sales skills and be constantly seeking out top quality product lines from a variety of manufacturers–or at the very least, be representative of the best product lines made by the manufacturers with which your company partners.
Doing a search for “manufacturer representatives in Canada” will yield a number of results, including the company I randomly singled out called Market Access Canada. Product lines they represent range from military and industrial flying robots to tablet accessories. So if selling those kinds of items to stores sounds like an interesting career, perhaps this is the type of job You’re looking for.