New Business Idea Seems Questionable
April 12, 2012 11:01 AM   Subscribe

I have a business idea and wonder if it can work.

Is there room for a middle-man on web sales? Let me explain...

I won't name the actual market niche I'm going for, but the concept will still hold. What I am wondering is this: Is there a place for a business person to profit by gathering up similar products into one place on the web? For instance, if you know a whole community of people that love rockabilly, for example (not my business idea but the concept is the same) and you go through the web and find tons of rockabilly related products: clothes, watches, hats, lifestyle gear, etc. - is there a way to make money if you can have a destination for these products?

I get hung up on the idea that I'm not the seller, but I'm connecting buyers with sellers. Is there a way to make money if I can source the buyers for these products in a destination website?

I've thought about talking to the sellers, but they don't know me from Adam and might just think I'm a loon. And if I don't own the stock myself, I'm not sure how I profit.

Earlier on I thought of having the website, selling the products myself, then just ordering them when they order from me. But that seems overly complicated, and they wouldn't be shipped from my business when the time comes, so it's kinda confusing.

Any advice in this realm is appreciated, even if its- nope, no way to make it work.

posted by tunewell to Work & Money (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Affiliate links?
posted by asphericalcow at 11:03 AM on April 12, 2012 [1 favorite]

This is what Amazon, eBay and any other web retailer do. Why do you think you can compete with them?
posted by dfriedman at 11:03 AM on April 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Affiliate programs are what you are looking for, I think. Many sellers have them.
posted by ssg at 11:05 AM on April 12, 2012

I've thought about talking to the sellers, but they don't know me from Adam and might just think I'm a loon. And if I don't own the stock myself, I'm not sure how I profit.

Yes, this is not an uncommon business model online. ShopStyle does this automatically, by setting up an affiliate account and profiting off the kickbacks and probably has other reciprocal relationships with retailers.
posted by deanc at 11:08 AM on April 12, 2012

Set up a blog about the subject with links to products. Use affiliate links where available. Add lots of google text ads.
posted by empath at 11:11 AM on April 12, 2012

Start with any affiliate links you can set up and Google text ads and a simple blog. If your blog gets popular enough and/or one of the retailers notices a lot of referrals coming from your site, you may be able to sell advertising space directly to them.

Your blog/site could even be product-focused. Assume there are hundreds of items you've found spread across these sites. Have a "pick of the day" and focus in on why one product is great/wacky/useful/whatever. Add is some blog posts that are links to news about whatever it is, links to good pictures of the subject, etc. and you have a basic blog going right there.
posted by mikepop at 11:18 AM on April 12, 2012

Best answer: 1. Set up a professional-looking site with good, unique content and build some traffic.
2. Approach your favorite online sellers to ask if they have an affiliate program.
3. Sign up with the ones who have affiliate programs and sell their products through your site.
4. Continue to drive traffic to your site and note the success of your affiliate sales.
5. Approach online sellers who don't have affiliate programs, show them your amazing sales figures, tell them how much money you've made for your current affiliate people, and ask them to create an affiliate program for you. Show them how if necessary.
posted by ceiba at 11:42 AM on April 12, 2012

Best answer: Approaching from another angle is the concept of a drop shipping business (wiki link). I think these require a little more work than a straight-up affiliate program (i.e. you have more than just affiliate link ads, you have actual product pages and order buttons and you have to place shipping requests and there's more organization required).

This of course depends highly on your particular niche, but if it's the sort of thing that you could get from a few main suppliers with whom you could develop a business relationship, you could have a viable business.

I watched a series of online training videos about this, where a guy explained his whole business "drop shipping" stuff that catered to a certain niche of people. Basically what he did was:

1. Find niche
2. Find suppliers of niche
3. Build website with shopping cart, blog section, etc..throw in lots of dummy content
4. Show the "ready-to-go" website to these suppliers, tell them you want to sell their stuff to people for a small cut.
5. Work hard at promoting your site (creating unique, interesting content, working with other bloggers, etc)
6. Take orders, make some money

On preview: what ceiba said is really good, too. What you really want is to find something that you can become the sole/best/most obvious seller of, so you can edge out your competition. Doing affiliate programs immediately puts you in the big pond. Finding suppliers who have unique stuff but no affiliate programs and then convincing them to work with you first/exclusively creates a new pond.
posted by Doleful Creature at 12:30 PM on April 12, 2012

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