After spending the last couple of posts talking about dropshipping from China, and why that is such an undeniably bad eCommerce business model – especially for a beginner – many of you have reached out via email, Twitter (@JoeRozsa), our Facebook group, and this site, to ask what I suppose I assumed would be a very predictable question…
If dropshipping is the wrong business model, then what exactly is the RIGHT business model?
And the answer to that question is quite simple, really.
If you want to get your pen and paper ready, here it goes…
The answer is…
Talk about helpful advice… I know.
Now, I know that’s not the answer you were looking for, and of course if I left it at that then that would not be providing any useful information for you at all.
But as some of you that have been here reading our blog or listening to our podcast a little while know, if you’re here looking for a shortcut to success, that is not what we’re about.
You see, when I say “It Depends”, what I mean is “the right business model – for you – depends on… you”.
Make sense? The right business model for you may not be the right business model for me, and might not be the right business model for others that you know.
I want the big takeaway here to be that nobody can give you an answer to that question, except you. Not me, not your friends, not some random person on Twitter or in a Facebook group.
I can tell you to learn as much as you can about the 9 best eCommerce business models that I wrote about here.
And in full disclosure, there is actually a 10th ecommerce business model that I didn’t mention – licensed products – which can be great and very lucrative as well.
I will get to that in the future, but really that model applies to only a very, very small percentage of you that own some form of IP, or intellectual property, that others might want to use on their own products.
But when it comes to deciding which eCommerce business model you should choose, the first thing that you need to do is a self-evaluation.
Assess your current situation before making a decision on which model is right for you to pursue.
When performing your self-assessment, there are three key factors that will help determine which eCommerce model is right for you.
Your previous eCommerce experience and overall skill level plays one factor in selecting the model that makes the most sense for you.
If you are a beginner, then you definitely need to learn the ropes before you go all in on the wrong model.
And when I refer to skill level, I’m referring to eCommerce experience – not digital marketing experience.
Many times people think digital marketing is eCommerce, but it is important to differentiate that digital marketing is only one piece of eCommerce.
If you only have digital marketing experience, that will impact which eCommerce business model is right for you.
The second key factor to making a decision is the analysis of your personal financial situation, and how much money you are willing and able to invest in the success of your business.
It costs money to launch a major electronics company or invent your own consumer packaged product, and really many of the most profitable eCommerce models.
It can be very rewarding to do so, but financially not everyone is able to make that kind of investment in a business – yet.
If that is the case, then you would start out with one model and evolve or grow into another model.
Finally, the third key factor is assessing the time available that you can commit to the business.
This is a critical – and often overlooked – factor in deciding which model you should choose.
There are a lot of distractions in life that may keep you from being able to commit the time that it takes to be successful with certain business models.
If you’re married, have 4 young children at home, and you’re working full time at a job that you hate – but need – then you’re going to have different obstacles than someone who maybe is single with no kids, and has money set aside to allow themselves to jump full time into launching their start-up.
There are no right or wrong answers to any of these three questions that you must ask yourself, so it is important to be completely open and honest with yourself so that you can best position yourself for short and long-term success.
Starting your own underwear brand from scratch would be awesome, absolutely. But if you’re just starting out, trying to learn the ins and outs of ecommerce, then the complexities of creating and sourcing a new product from a factory and launching a brand will complicate – and possibly overwhelm you – on your journey.
When it comes to analyzing your experience, it is important to remember to walk before you run.
Really, you may find that you need to crawl before you walk, walk before you jog, jog before you run, and run before you sprint.
It depends on where you are at – personally – when it comes to your experience and your financial situation and your time commitments.
If you have the experience, and available time and money to invest in building a business, then without a doubt the best eCommerce business model would be to create a product, either software or CPG product (which stands for Consumer Packaged Goods), but something that you can sell either Direct to Consumer or Business to Business.
But while that is the end goal no matter where you start, I would strongly advise you to start at the level that is most likely to lead you to success.
If you’ve never built your own website before, or have never done anything eCommerce or digital marketing related in your past (and/or perhaps don’t have a lot of money or time to invest as well) then you should probably start with the Affiliate Marketing model for your business until you can learn some of the basics to get things rolling for you.
There are some very valuable foundational building blocks that you will learn by running an affiliate marketing business that you can use to start your next business – once you’re ready.
We won’t really be covering Affiliate Marketing much from a marketer perspective here on Launch Commerce. But that is part of how many of us got our start in eCommerce, and it is a fine first step into the eCommerce field.
The other option – if you’re in that same situation but perhaps do already have a bit of online marketing experience – would be to start a “Print on Demand” eCommerce business.
With Print on Demand, you can still create your own brand, with your own voice and your own message.
You can still focus on delivering a great customer experience and building a community of customers that love you – all without having to buy inventory or worry about sourcing a product yourself.
And if done well, customers may never even know that your product is made “on-demand” before you are able to transition into a more profitable inventory driven direct to consumer business.
You still have all of the same objectives that you would need for building a successful consumer product brand – such as product design, digital marketing, merchandising and customer care – but without having to worry about some of the more complex and expensive aspects of eCommerce such as product sourcing, warehousing or fulfillment.
And of course, there are other models in between these two ends of the spectrum, which sort of fit in accordingly based on your personal assessment.
Once you have determined which business model is right for you, then the challenge shifts to deciding what exactly it is that you actually want to sell.
Selecting the Right Product for Your eCommerce Business
So, how do you come up with a product – or even an idea – that your audience would want to buy?
More often than not, the answer is right in front of you, just waiting for you to reach out and grab it.
That’s right. It’s right there. I’m willing to bet that you already know the answer.
In fact, it’s probably been smacking you in the face for a long time now, and probably even drove you to listen to this podcast.
There is no book, website or other people who can give you an idea of what you should make and sell.
There are even a lot of really smart people out there – many I am friends with and respect – telling you to just test and even pre-sell your idea before you make something, and test all of your ideas.
Fail fast! Cut the losers! And always look for a “winner”… endlessly chasing that elusive shiny object.
I could not possibly disagree with that approach more.
In fact, I will tell you that testing and “searching for a winner” is probably the most flawed approach that you can take.
And testing an idea or product with a pre-sale can very possibly kill your great idea before it ever gets a chance to gain momentum.
When I was running the ecommerce business for companies like the Chive, I was able to see firsthand how terrible that advice could have played out, if one were to rely on other people being on-board with your product before you’ve spent time creating the thing.
In fact, if the founders of those companies followed this advice and “tested” their product idea, letting their futures be determined by immediate approval and enthusiasm from peers, then an 8-figure business would have been abandoned before ever really getting started.
Think about the biggest companies in the world. None of them were started by people chasing a quick winner or the hot new shiny object.
Innovation means coming up with something new, being ahead of trends, thinking of things that people want before they know they want them.
There is an old saying (falsely) attributed to Henry Ford where he once said that if he “asked people what they wanted when he was inventing the car, they would have said “a faster horse”.”
So I’m telling you – don’t ask people what kind of horse they want. Build them the horse they haven’t even thought of.
Make a product that would make your life better, right now, if only you actually had it.
The product that is right for you is the thing that you would buy right now – if you could.
Something that would make your life easier, better, more comfortable, more productive, more efficient, or more profitable.
The key to this is being truly honest with yourself. If this product existed, would you really break out your credit card for it?
Definitely? And if so, how much would you pay for it? Not how much you think people would pay for it, but how much would you spend, right now, to buy this product if you could do so, right now.
I’ve made millions of dollars in eCommerce over the years, and the most success that I’ve ever had was when making a product that I would want to buy for myself.
There are products and ideas – likely many things – that you wish you had right now, but do not actually exist.
And if you would buy it if only it did exist – then be the one that makes it.
Be your primary target demographic.
Be your own primary customer persona.
Be your own avatar (which, by the way, I hate that term and if you use it, I know exactly where you got it from and please stop using it – haha).
But the reason why this works is that, despite our desire as humans to be unique and original beings – deep down, many of us are very much the same and have lots of things in common.
If there is something that would really make your life better – in any way – to the point where you would actually pay for that product, then I promise you that there is a market out there of people just like you that would also buy that product – if it were available.
If you make something – for yourself – then others will be interested in that thing too.
This is one of my own guiding principles for starting any business or creating any product.
I make and sell things for me, that I want to buy.
In fact, we’re in the midst of launching an apparel brand from scratch – right now – as a part of our Launch Commerce OG program, to teach people exactly how to build a print on demand company completely from scratch.
That brand, which is called the Virtue Apparel Company and is live in its infancy and can be found at VirtueTees.com – is based on what I feel is a need for a premium apparel brand that is focused on positivity, equality, inspiration and philanthropy – motivating people to be better people, while supporting great causes with great products containing great messages.
To many of us, the world seems to be in some kind of crazy place these days.
Every time you turn on the news, there are stories of hate and discrimination, and I wanted to do something to combat the amount of negativity and anger that seems to be far too acceptable in the world these days, and to motivate and inspire people to be better people.
What it comes down to is that I’ve started making the softest and most comfortable clothing available, based on designs that I want to wear, sharing a message that I want to be a part of spreading.
In fact, if you watched the video version of this article on the Launch Commerce YouTube channel, you can see me wearing one of my favorite Virtue shirts right now, while recording this episode.
You see, when you love your product, it is easier to be passionate about that product.
And PASSION is the number one ingredient to success – IN ANYTHING.
When you love what you do, you never work a day in your life.
That saying is 100% true.
But when you hate what you do, every single minute feels like work.
If you’re reading our blog and thinking about joining the Ultimate eCommerce OG Program, then I’m guessing you either feel that way now or you have in the past.
But if you’re involved in a product or brand that you truly believe in, that you really care about, then the odds are great that your product or brand will do really well.
So I encourage you to take a look around. What interests you? What are you great at? What do you love?
How can you take something that you love and make it even better?
The answer is right there in front of you.
Now you just have to get started.
And we’ll be digging into exactly how to do that in articles to come here on the Launch Commerce blog.
Don’t forget that we’ve just opened up the Ultimate eCommerce O.G. program, with tiered pricing that goes up every time someone joins until we reach capacity of 100 people – before closing forever.Tags: Beginner eCommerce Training