If you’re leaning toward selling physical or digital products from home, this is your chapter. Maybe you think that none of your hobbies are worth trying to monetize for a service-based business. Perhaps you want to sell your own belongings or arts and crafts projects. Maybe you decided that by finding products to sell from home, you’ll have more flexibility and freedom in the long run.
In any event, selling products online from home can be a great way to build a steady, profitable business for the future.
Depending on which option you choose, there are some things to consider for each. For example, you’ll want to get familiar with the different mediums and channels that you can use to sell successfully.
Who knows, maybe your social media skills can translate into a killer business that makes most of its sales on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Or maybe your best option is to go the traditional route, building an online storefront and managing your own inventory.
Let’s go into the possibilities, shall we?
In this chapter, we’ll discuss the basics of how to sell products from home. We’ll go over dropshipping, which is one of the best low investment ecommerce strategies. We’ll also talk about setting up and managing a traditional ecommerce store, as well as other ways to sell online through Amazon and other marketplaces. Then, we’ll give you some ideas of the top things to sell from home.
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3.1. Low Investment Strategy: Dropshipping
Many fresh-faced entrepreneurs shy away from selling products online from home due to the initial start-up costs.
But picture if you could have someone handle all your logistics, and pay your inventory invoices upfront on thousands of items.
It wouldn’t burn a hole in your pocket. And you could stop fretting over packaging, stock-outs, and shipping.
This all seems like a distant, implausible dream, doesn’t it?
It isn’t, if you know the art of dropshipping.
Dropshipping is where you find products to sell online from home and take orders. Your supplier then ships the items directly to your customer.
For the business owner, this is a hands-off process. The merchant doesn’t have to purchase inventory or manage shipments. Instead, the third party supplier handles fulfillment itself.
Since dropshipping doesn’t involve many commitments, selling items from home involves minimal hassle. (More playtime with the kids!)
This is what it looks like in practice:
- You get an order on your website.
- Dropshipping supplier gets an alert.
- The merchant pays a part of the total purchase price to the supplier.
- Your dropshipping supplier finds the item, packages it, and adds an invoice with your name. The product is then shipped to the customer.
This section will show you how to sell products from home through dropshipping. It will lay out all the steps you need to take to get started.
You’ll learn how to create an online store and import products into it. I’ll also guide you through the process of choosing a dropshipping supplier. In addition, you’ll get a clear blueprint detailing how to generate traffic for your store.
Create Your Online Store
[highlight]Though dropshipping is one of the most inexpensive ways to make money online, it requires proper incorporation. This means getting an employer identification number (EIN) and a business license. Read this detailed guide on how to make your business official. If the legalities start to overwhelm you, don’t worry. You can always consult a tax advisor or certified public accountant (CPA) if you’re ever feeling stuck. [/highlight]
In the past, you had to buy a server, install ecommerce software, hire someone to code, and pay for maintenance. It was time-consuming, costly, and the outcome was a clunky and ineffective store.
Today, this isn’t a problem.
With Shopify, you can establish an online storefront in a few clicks. Once you do, you’re only responsible for its appearance and functionality. The server configuration and maintenance is taken care of by the vendor.
Visit Shopify’s website, select ‘Start your free trial’, enter a name for your store, and choose ‘Create your store’.
[highlight]Struggling to come up with an intriguing name? Try Oberlo’s business name generator.[/highlight]
Your store will always remain a work in progress. You’ll add/change products, install new plugins, change the design, etc. That said, you can build the framework and foundation for your future customers and suppliers from the get-go.
Here’s how to prepare a Shopify store for dropshipping.
Create Standard & Basic Policy Pages
Your store’s pages are the only way to show what you have to offer. So build out standard pages and required policies that indicate you’re ready for business. The following pages should be enough to begin with: About Us, Contact Us and Shipping & Delivery.
To build a page, go to ‘Online Store’ within your Shopify dashboard, select ‘Pages’, and click ‘Add Page.
- About Us: People visit this page to learn more about a merchant. You can keep it short for the time being.
- Contact Us: Making it easy for customers to reach you is important. To do this, insert a visible ‘Contact Us’ or ‘Contact Me’ link on your storefront’s homepage.
- Shipping & Delivery: Includes details such as how many days it takes for an item to be delivered, where you ship your goods from, and with other information about shipping. Your dropshipping supplier will list timeframes and delivery costs which you can copy and paste on this page.
Install Dropshipping App & Add Products
Selling products online from home via dropshipping necessitates the support of dropshipping software. If you’re running on Shopify, choose Oberlo. It’s an app that enables merchants to add dropshipped goods to their store within minutes.
Every time you sell an item, Oberlo buys and ships it directly to your customer. Voilà.
However, you have to set up Oberlo before you start importing items to your store. Go to the app’s settings, configure your Price Multiplier (based on the margin you’d like to keep), and tweak other settings if necessary.
Here’s a walkthrough:
- In the Shopify App Store, search Oberlo. Click the ‘Get’ button.
- Verify the info on the next screen, and click the ‘Install app’ button.
- You’re all set. To add items to your store, go to the left navigation pane and click ‘Search Products’.
Congratulations, your store is ready!
Use Oberlo to Find Products To Sell From Home
Some ecommerce entrepreneurs will spend hours scouring the web for the best things to sell from home.
But Oberlo makes it simple to search for popular items to add to your store.
The Oberlo marketplace connects you with suppliers across the world. You can find a huge variety of products and add them to your dropshipping store in just a few clicks.
Find Dropshipping Suppliers
You are entirely dependent on suppliers for order fulfillment. But the problem is, until recently, it was a difficult task to make sure you were finding the right products from suppliers who are guaranteed to be reliable.
But don’t worry. There are several ways to find quality manufacturers and wholesalers who dropship. And with the help of certain tools and resources, you can separate the good from the bad to optimize your dropshipping business.
The best way to go about it is to use various channels to find the right types of products to sell online, then use Oberlo to add them to your store.
Let’s dive in.
1. Use Oberlo Verified Suppliers
If you want an easy way to discover top-performing suppliers, look for suppliers that have been verified by Oberlo.
Oberlo Verified connects merchants with suppliers who have been providing the best quality service over an extended period of time.
Below are some of the key attributes that describe an Oberlo Verified supplier:
- 95% on-time ship rate
- Successfully processed 1,000+ orders through Oberlo
- Offer automated one-click order shipping
- Faster support due to the direct relationship with the Oberlo team
- Warehouses, working conditions, and business contacts and addresses checked by Oberlo
- Product and shipping capacity verified by Oberlo
- Dedicated staff to ensure on-time delivery
- Dispute rates lower than 2%
- 100% dedicated to dropshipping – no promotional content in their packaging
You’ll never have to stress about finding quality suppliers – they’ve already been handpicked for you. The feature is exclusive to Oberlo app users.
This can be your final step in the process: look around online to find the right types of products for your store, then pop into Oberlo and choose verified suppliers who sell those items.
Let’s look at some other searching tools and techniques to bring you to this final step.
2. Search Supplier Directories
Certain directories list suppliers in all types of niches. Directories are a trusted resource because they screen vendors before featuring them. They’re convenient because store owners can look up suppliers by product type or niche.
Most supplier directories will connect you with wholesalers with the capacity to fulfill a large number of orders.
If you want to save time, here are some of the most noteworthy and reputable directories:
- Wholesale Central – Offers free contact and search filters to merchants. No registration needed.
- Toptenwholesale – A trade board that lists wholesale importers, distributors, suppliers, and resellers of both new and second-hand items.
- Worldwide Brands – Provides a massive database of top-level wholesalers. Lifetime membership fee is $299.
[highlight]If you’re serious about making money online with dropshipping, Worldwide Brands is one of the best directories for locating quality suppliers. Top suppliers make it easy to streamline the fulfillment process.[/highlight]
3. Initiate Direct Contact
You might as well contact the source (aka the manufacturer). This strategy is easy to execute and only requires a few calls. By going directly to the source of the product, you might be able to secure the lowest price.
If a manufacturer only sells through well-known distribution platforms, ask them for a list of distributors. This informs you who the most reputable distributors are, so you’re required to make little or no effort to validate them.
Traits of a Reliable Supplier
The supplier discovery process seems fascinating and ripe with opportunity, but how do you know if a supplier is legitimate? Short of buying a ticket and visiting their factory, here are four qualities of a great supplier.
1. Lists Pre-Order Fee
While no legitimate supplier will request a monthly fee for doing business with them, many of them charge pre-order fees. On average, it ranges from $1 to $5 USD, depending on the complexity and size of the products.
2. Accepts Orders Via Email
Top suppliers are open to taking orders via email, which will be a blessing when you’re selling products online from home in large numbers.
3. Is Transparent with Inventory
The ability to adopt transparency of the existing inventory is an indication of a supplier’s commitment to you as a store owner.
4. Shows Competency with Order Fulfillment
Place a couple of test orders to see how a supplier operates under deadlines. The best suppliers send out tracking information within a day or two and maintain consistent delivery times.
Real Life Dropshipping Success Story for Inspiration
Latvia-based teenage entrepreneur Matīss always wondered how to make money from home without a lot of investment, until he discovered dropshipping.
Dropshipping seemed like a simple business model he could manage out of his bedroom. He also liked that he didn’t need to decide what he wanted to sell right away. Plus, he had the option to test out several items to see what was trending.
Using Oberlo to add products to his store streamlined the process. The app let him import products into his Shopify store. Then, he could write product descriptions, set his own retail price, and promote them to his target market.
Within six months, his ecommerce store Artsy Wall generated $70,000 USD in revenue. From this, he saw an average profit of $3,000 USD per month.
You can read the entire story here.
3.2. Traditional Ecommerce Store
The alternative to owning a dropshipping business is a conventional ecommerce store. This business model is merely a store owner buying, packing, and delivering ordered inventory that they physically hold either in a warehouse or at home.
There are some distinct benefits of having stock on hand.
For example, holding inventory allows you to fulfill orders as soon as they’re received. Plus, the stock can be monitored in real time.
However, on-hand inventory requires a storage area. This won’t be a problem if you’re planning to sell pencils, makeup, toothbrushes, and other small-sized items.
For larger products like a billiard table or sofa set, the cost of keeping inventory typically includes the cost of a physical location (a warehouse on rent or mortgage).
Here’s how to sell products from home with a traditional ecommerce store.
Set Up Your Online Store
You can use the same ecommerce software – Shopify – to set up a web shop. Because it’s a turn-key platform, it’s great for work-at-home entrepreneurs who don’t have someone with coding knowledge by their side.
That said, there are a few additional things you need to do to get your store up and running.
Adding products in your Shopify store is a vital step to getting your business off the ground. After all, the goal of an online store is to sell. Open your Shopify dashboard, select ‘Products’ from the left-hand pane, and click ‘Add product’ to get started.
Enter the product’s name and come up with a unique description of the product. Choose your words wisely to entice people to buy your items.
Next, upload a stunning image of your product. Great visuals are key to convincing customers to spend, so select them carefully.
You’ll also get the option to enter the price, stock-keeping unit/quantity of the product you have available (SKU), weight, and available variants in terms of size and color.
Generate Necessary Policies
Shopify has a built-in tool for creating terms and conditions, standard return, and privacy policies. You can access it by going to Settings > Checkout and scrolling down to Refund > Privacy > Terms of Service to generate a sample for each policy.
Add your credit card or PayPal details under Settings > Payment providers. Later, you can add, remove, or change the way you want to take payments. For example, if you want to accept payments from other payment gateways.
Shopify also lets you receive payments outside of your online store. Select from bank transfer, money order, or COD (cash on delivery).
Other Things to Remember
- Decide the scale of your operations beforehand. You could opt to sell internationally, nationally, or locally, depending on your access to different resources.
- Test things out. Go to your store and buy a product as any customer would. That’ll allow you to see if everything is in order.
- Use the marketing strategies from Chapter 2 to drive traffic to your store.
- Consider buying a .com domain when you’re generating enough sales (by default, you get www.yourstore.myshopify.com). It helps with branding.
3.3. Other Tactics to Sell Online
Other than having your own online store, there are several online marketplaces and portals where you can sell your products. They’re designed to make the process easy for home-based business owners, as they require minimum technical skills and offer built-in marketing to a large pool of consumers.
But not every marketplace is a good fit for every product.
For instance, if you’ve chosen an original painting as one of the things to sell from home, listing it on Amazon might not be the best course of action. Instead, you might end up having a better chance of making a sale if you list it on Etsy.
Simply put, some marketplaces are better suited for general interest products that fulfill a wide variety of needs, while others are category-specific. To help you identify which online sales platforms are the best choice for you, let’s look at the most used marketplaces and how to sell products from home through each of them.
Amazon & eBay: General Marketplaces
General marketplaces like Amazon or eBay are great places to sell items with mass appeal. Both of these marketplaces have a global presence, a large customer base, and a range of tools to help people sell from home.
Typically Amazon and eBay are good for selling electronics, books, supplements, and other general interest items. Fees will vary depending on the number and volume of products you sell.
Etsy: Arts & Crafts Marketplace
Etsy is one of the leading marketplaces for vintage, crafty, and art-related products. It’s an excellent platform for sellers who make their own paintings, jewelry, etc.
For crafters who don’t have a lot of products to sell from home or want to be able to take time off, Etsy provides an option to set up collective shops. A few sellers come together and combine their goods to make a bigger store than they could set up separately.
In addition, Etsy offers a wholesale feature if you want to expand your business. Like Amazon and eBay, Etsy charges a fee per listing as well as a commission on every sale.
Read more about how to sell on Etsy.
Facebook, Instagram & Pinterest: Social Media Marketplaces
Facebook has a feature called Facebook Marketplace that offers an easy, convenient way to sell products in your area.
It’s similar to a classified listings site where you can reach thousands of people from your local community. You can sell items from washing machines to clothes and even real estate and vehicles.
People can also sell used items, and it’s easy for buyers to find relevant listings within their local area. Besides Facebook Marketplace, you can also use Instagram to sell on Instagram and Pinterest to sell products, both of which offer shopping functionality.
Read more about how to sell on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Pinterest.
Houzz: Home Improvement, Design & Décor Marketplace
Houzz connects buyers with both high-quality product vendors and professional service providers. Pending approval, you can get your merchandise in front of millions of people who often use Houzz to get ideas for a home design update.
And with the Houzz Shopify app, you can process orders from the marketplace and customize product specs in your Shopify store. In addition, it allows you to sync product information between the two automatically to update your listings from Shopify. Sellers pay a 15 percent commission on sales before returns.
Not On the High Street (NOTHS): Unique Products’ Marketplace
It’s a little tricky to define a ‘unique products’ marketplace’ as though it’s one type of thing, since every marketplace is unique. But in general, it’s a marketplace for custom-made, unusual, unique products that are curated for this portal.
NOTHS is popular for handpicked gift items that you won’t find in your typical ‘high street gifts store. This sort of platform is suited to merchants who have a knack for creative, quirky items.
You’ll have to apply as a merchant through their site. NOTHS has a one-time joining fee but no listing costs.
Whichever platform you like best, the same key factors will impact your final choice: product type, brand, and goals. When you decide how to sell products from home, consider those factors when making your decision. That way, you’ll have a better chance of finding the right sales channel for your business.
3.4. Top Products to Sell from Home
Now that I’ve explained how dropshipping and ecommerce stores work as a business model, it’s time to dive into the product selection process. With so many choices out there, this part of selling products online from home can feel overwhelming, to say the least.
The top dropshipping and ecommerce products share similar attributes.
When researching potential things to sell from home, look at products that cover these bases:
- It’s difficult to guess the product’s price
- The product is hard to find elsewhere
- The product is unique and entices the visitor to click
- People are happy to buy the product without too much research
- The product’s cost allows for a decent profit
Speaking of what makes a good product, I’ve also compiled a list of top products to sell online from home, just to provide you with that extra boost if you’re still relatively new to online selling.
Compact folding mirrors are perfect for light touchups while out and about. There’s a huge variety of folding mirrors – many of which feature LED lights that are essential for looking at a cosmetic’s coloration and application from different angles.
Also, folding mirrors can be a great addition to online stores selling travel and beauty products. They’re easy to source and often purchased without much research done beforehand.
With amenities like built-in battery packs, smart backpacks bring the modern-day conveniences of home to the open road. That’s why these backpacks can be useful for professionals – for instance, CEOs – who travel a lot.
Some models even allow users to find WiFi hotspots, enabling them to share Insta-worthy images of their trip more quickly. All of these features make smart backpacks a great product to sell from home.
LED Pet Collars
These unique accessories light up in the dark, keeping dogs/cats/other pets illuminated during nighttime.
That allows pet owners to keep track of their furry friends on long evening walks, as well as enhances their visibility to passing vehicles. If you’re looking to enter the pet accessories niche, give LED pet collars a try.
Shapewear helps people feel their best in all types of attire and all types of situations. It’s available in a variety of different shapes, sizes, and colors, so you can be sure to find some shapewear essentials that are a great fit for your brand.
Get in early and add these dropshipping products to your women’s lingerie or fashion store as your target audience begins to search for slim-fitting springtime fashion.
Flower Hair Accessories
With hotter days on the horizon, these floral accessories are perfect for young, style-loving females. They make a great accessory for bridal showers and during wedding festivities.
Besides that, they’re great for everyday outfits.
Flower hair accessories come in a wide range of sizes, colors, and styles, so you get the opportunity to experiment with your stock. Eventually, you should be able to find something that fits your brand.
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Chapter 3 Takeaways
- Dropshipping a great low investment strategy that allows you to run an ecommerce store without ever touching your inventory. This business model is very flexible, and Shopify and Oberlo make this process simple and streamlined.
- Selling items from home with a traditional ecommerce store is easy with Shopify. Just follow the steps we discussed above and your store will be ready in minutes.
- Instead of managing a full storefront, you might wish to sell on marketplaces like Amazon or Etsy. You can also find success by selling on social media channels like Facebook and Pinterest. These channels can be an incredibly easy way to connect with customers.
- Consider selling trending items like folding mirrors, smart backpacks, LED pet collars, women’s shapewear, and flower hair accessories.