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Old 9th December 2007, 06:31 PM   #1
TGC1986
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Default Starting An Online Merchandise Business

Dear Fellow Forum Members,

Lately, I have been interested in starting an online retail business. The product I would be selling is football pads, accessories & equipment. I would most likely be starting with eBay or through craigslist since this is my first venture into online retail.

My plan would be to get a resellerís license / permit and purchase items from the manufacturers and sell them at retail price online.

I donít have a lot of money to get started, so I was thinking that my business would have to start one of two ways:

1) Start small with very few items

I guess the most basic way to get started would be to get my resellerís permit / license, and purchase whatever the minimum amount is from the manufacturer, and then turn around and sell it on eBay / craigslist. With eBay, I get much more exposure nationwide for my products, but then I have to worry about fees which would cut into my profit, especially if the items do not sell. With craigslist I receive less wide exposure and more local exposure, which would get me less offers but would allow me to simply meet up with customers and therefore be cheaper since no listing or closing fees.

2) Market product without buying it first???

Is there anyway to do this? I have checked out some online stores with football equipment, and they all have the same generic pictures and description for the products. This makes me feel that somehow they are advertising the product (some of the more expensive ones $1,500+) without having it in stock, and only order it when someone puts an order in for one. Is there anyway I could do that? That way I could list a multitude of products without having to worry about spending loads of money to stockpile merchandise and wait for it to sell to get my profit. Is there anyway I could do this?

Iím looking for some advice on how I could best get started. Easiest way with the least amount of investment.

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Old 9th December 2007, 07:19 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by TGC1986 View Post
2) Market product without buying it first???

Is there anyway to do this?
If you can find a reliable company that's willing to drop ship, that would be one way of doing it. What would happen, essentially, is you sell the product to a customer, then you turn around and buy the product out of the proceeds, and the company ships the product directly to the customer on your behalf. For instance, my day job company will do this with our products (not football-related, sorry).

There are some caveats.

You must be sure you're dealing with a reputable company that will ship correct products, well packed and on a timely basis. You don't want your customers getting a poor impression of you because your supplier is lazy or lame.

You want an honorable company that won't try to poach your customers. I mean, you go through the work of making the initial sale, but in order for them to drop ship you have to turn over at least some of the customer's contact information to them. If they do direct selling on their own, an unscrupulous company could decide to start direct marketing to your customers.

You're going to be limited in your ability to insert follow up marketing materials in the packing, so you'll have to be diligent in following up through other means (if you want repeat customers, that is).

But assuming you've found a good company to work with and you're prepared to put in a little extra work on customer retention, drop shipping can work well. In fact, we have several large, successful customers who choose to do business through a drop ship model even though they could afford to stock merchandise, simply because they don't want to maintain their own warehouse space.

--Torka

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Old 9th December 2007, 10:32 PM   #3
TGC1986
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Well, after posting this I went out and did some more searching to see what kind of information I could find. I still have a few questions about the whole drop shipping thing, but I am starting to get a little excited because the whole thing seems much more possible now that I realize I can get around having to stock my own stuff.

Question # 1) How do I find a reliable drop shipper, that also carries football equipment?

I went to one of my favorite online stores for football gear, and found that some of their products are drop-shipped! (If they can do it, why can't I?) These items were things like Jerseys, football shoulder pads, helmets amongst other items. Some other things like chin straps they had in stock. Do you think that they get the items drop shipped directly from the supplier / manufacturer? As is, does the maker of the Schutt football pads (Schutt Sports) do the drop-shipping for them?

In order to find out who is drop shipping their gear, should I send a message to the website stating I am considering purchasing some equipment from them (which I actually am) and I see that they are drop shipping the item, and I have had some bad experiences with drop shipped items in the past and I'd like to know who there drop shipper is for that item? That may work. Please give me some ideas about how to find a reliable drop shipper who carries football pads & equipment.

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Old 10th December 2007, 01:13 PM   #4
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Your best bet may be to approach the distributor, wholesaler or manufacturer directly. In our case, we don't advertise that we offer drop shipping, nor do our resellers let on through their websites (they don't sell through brick and mortar locations). So a prospective reseller would likely have no way of knowing we offer drop shipping as an option, unless they asked us directly.

But if they ask, we're happy to set them up. So why not call up Schutt Sports and ask 'em?

--Torka

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Old 10th December 2007, 06:36 PM   #5
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I have sent an email to three major manufacturers of football related sports equipment: Schutt Sports, Douglas Pads, and McDavid. Asking if they provide a drop shipping service because i am doing all of my retailing online and don't have the space to hold any merchandise in a store front or a warehouse. I will respond back with any info that I receive!

Thanks Torka!

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Old 11th December 2007, 05:04 AM   #6
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I did a search for you - another company you may want to try is footballamerica.com

Good luck!

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Old 15th December 2007, 01:07 PM   #7
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Ok, I sent an email to those websites that I listed above, and I also sent one to Football America, which is a website that does exactly what I would want to do. When I contact Football America, they said that they drop shipped several items directly from Schutt Sports, McDavid, Douglas, etc. So, if they can do it, so can I. I assume the very first thing I need to do is get a resellerís license or permit, correct? That allows me to register with those companies as a dealer, and buy for wholesale prices and then resell them. I know then that I need to contact each manufacturer by phone and get set up with them as a dealer, but that will come after getting the license, right?

Please verify this next step for me so I can go take it! Thanks!

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Old 15th December 2007, 07:42 PM   #8
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You want to make sure you're a valid, licensed business according to whatever your local business regulations stipulate. You will probably need a business bank account, as some businesses will ask you for banking and business references as part of their application process. In order to get that, you'll need a tax ID for the business.

As to what else you might need, it can't hurt to ask the suppliers up front for a dealer application so you can see specifically what kind of information they will want. Then you can go back and fill out the application after you've got your ducks in a row.

--Torka

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Old 16th December 2007, 08:02 PM   #9
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Ok, so here is my plan of action:

1) Apply for a CA seller's permit.

2) Once I have the permit, open up a bank account with a local bank (I already have a C-Corp set up, just haven't opened up an account yet.)

3) Once I've done that, make a list of all the manufacturers that make the type of equipment that I want to sell.

4) Contact all of them to become a dealer of their product.

5) Decide on whether to use ebay, my own website, or both.

6) Start Listing products

7) Market

7) Sell

This sounds simple enough right? Is there anything that I am forgetting?

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