Hey there Sea Changers and welcome back to my series of posts outlining ways and means to create yourself an online business as we discuss how to sell chocolate online. I mean who doesn’t love chocolate? And for those looking to set themselves up an online business around their love of these little squares of velvety goodness, I am sure that that love converts well to online sales as well.
Added to that is the cooking and non-dairy side of the chocolate market so I certainly think there is something here to explore. Let’s check it all out…
How do we get started?
As usual before we get into things, it is always worthwhile making sure that there is actually a market for chocolate and its related products in regards to selling them online. I did do some research to find that over 7.7 million metric tons of chocolate is consumed globally worldwide annually so we know people like it.
That said, I would hate however to convince anybody to start their own online business in this space and have it fall away due to the fact that none of this massive amount is sold over the internet. So, as usual, let’s see what people are searching for:
What are people looking for?
To start let’s just confirm our market numbers:
1. Number of monthly searches
As we are looking to see if there is an interest in chocolate sales online, let’s start by checking for purchase centred searches. You will need to find yourself a good keyword tool (I use Jaaxy) and enter in the keywords that best describe your market. In this case, we will start with the basics:
Ok, so over 268,000 average online searches for the term chocolate is very good. And we can also see narrower areas of interest here too such as chocolate recipes and another side of the chocolate market I hadn’t thought of – how to stop eating chocolate – this can lead into the chocolate alternatives market as well… Let’s break this down a little:
Again, good numbers and certainly enough to show an interest here. We can also start to see interest in specific seasonal and special occasion needs as well.
And finally, we will just check this from a slightly different angle:
Wow, I actually didn’t expect those numbers to be so large – but here we have another massive market in vegan chocolate – which could also be incorporated into diary free and ‘healthy’ chocolate too.
2. Search Trends
Another important aspect of online sales and niche selection is to check that interest is maintained over time. To gain an insight into this let’s check out how chocolate related searches are trending online.
That’s good too and if I am being honest, not unexpected. Interest has maybe been maintained well over the past few years however with spikes at Christmas and Easter – two well-known chocolate consumption times in terms of gifts and family gatherings. There is however interest all year round meaning it is a good niche to work with at all other times as well.
All in all, I really see a good opportunity here.
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What is our niche?
Ok, now the fun part begins – In the statistics and screen dumps above we can already see some of the interest in different areas within the chocolate niche. And as we have seen, there are not only opportunities within the sale of chocolates in general, but also for those looking for help with recipes, dietary requirements and the actual non eating of them as well.
The decision you have now is to determine whether you wish to create your online business covering chocolate in general or concentrate on a specific area or sub niche. There are a good number of different areas you could explore here including:
- General chocolate
- Specific types (milk, dark etc.)
- Gourmet/specialty chocolates
- Special occasions (Christmas, Easter, personalised boxes etc.)
- Dietary (dairy free, sugar free, vegan etc.)
- Chocolate making
- Health and chocolate
I could probably keep going on for hours but you get the picture – all of which can be marketed from the point of view of the writer, or simply as a means of supplying information to those looking to purchase. However, as you start to think about this, the question to ask yourself is whether the content you are covering is too large to cover effectively.
The risk here is that if you start with a niche that is too broad, you may not be able to cover everything to the level required or to become authority on the subject – which you will need to be if you are going to convince people to purchase from you and not their local store. Don’t forget, you can always add a new section to your site as you grow as well.
As you work through narrowing your targeted niche, consider the following:
- Are you able to solve a problem – Most people undertake searches on the internet to solve a problem – see next section.
- Is it a subject that you have an interest, or knowledge in – I am guessing that you are in this post as you know about, or have an interest in chocolate (even as part of a cooking or diet type niche). If not, maybe consider another market as to be honest, you might struggle to produce solid content if you either don’t know much about it or have no interest in learning. Trust me, people will know immediately if your information is not up to scratch or even worse, can put their joy of a great piece of chocolate at risk.
Let’s investigate this a little further by discussing the problem solving elements of niche selection.
What problem are we solving?
If this is a niche that you are interested in, you may already know what it is that you are trying to sell. If not, then maybe start to look at it from the perspective of solving problems. This, added to your area of interest is a great way to work out exactly what you think you might like to base your online business upon.
Think about your own search behaviours when you are online – I would hazard a guess that most searches you do are in order to solve a problem. Now think of this in a manner in which someone might have problems within the chocolate niche such as:
- You know that you want to buy a box of gourmet chocolates for a gift but don’t know which are the ‘best’.
- You have a problem and need a solution – I.e. “I want to help my kids make their own chocolate but don’t know where to begin?”.
Your goal here is to determine just what problem/s you are trying to solve for your readers. This may be one problem that spans your site or differ for each post that you write. In these cases, people would be searching for those topics based on having a problem and needing a solution. Your site would outline and review the best options for them.
So as an example, if your site is about chocolate in general then you could look into the following:
- What types of products are best to purchase for special occasions?
- How to find a good recipe for chocolate cake.
- How to know a product will fit in with my dietary lifestyle.
- Making techniques.
- What accessories are needed.
- How to heat chocolate effectively.
- What brands are best?
- and so on…
Note: You do not need to identify every possible problem that your readers may have straight away. In many cases, the more you write, the more ‘problems’ will present themselves so initially you really just want to make sure that there are some that may need solving as we have found here.
How are you going to convince them to buy?
Now that we know our niche (or are at least working on it) and have an idea of the types of problems that we want to solve, there is one last thing to consider which is the online purchase behaviour of your targeted audience.
The first thing you would need to consider is exactly who will be looking at your site. It probably goes without saying, but your sales/post pitches not only need to match the needs and problems that your site visitors are looking to solve, but also target them specifically as well.
Some examples include:
- Those that are new to the world of home made chocolate making will want to know exactly what it is needed and why. Some will want the best whereas others might want the same information, but may be looking at some options a little gentler on the back pocket.
- Hardcore chocolate aficionados will need ingredient breakdowns and details and they will dissect your reviews with a fine toothed comb.
- Those looking for a specific purpose will just want to know what they need and why – make it easy for them to research and buy…
So at the end of the day, even though we do have purchaser behaviour on our side, to be successful in selling chocolates online, consider the following:
- Solve problems without purchase – That’s right – write your posts in a way that actually makes it easier for people to do their research and buy elsewhere – by doing this, you are solving problems and helping readers out. If they trust you, they will be more likely to return next time and buy from you then – especially if you follow up with posts on similar or compatible products or accessories that might interest them!
- Provide the intangibles – One major disadvantage when it comes to selling anything online is that we can’t really know what the products look, feel or taste like. And this is especially important when it comes to chocolate – after all, we can’t always look at a product first and words such as ‘sweet’ or ‘rich’ can mean different things to different people. Your posts will need to cover this information in a manner that puts minds at ease and explains some of the intangibles.
- Know your audience – A big mistake many make here is to target the product and not necessarily the buyer. This is especially important when dealing with a budget minded audience. Expensive doesn’t always mean better. Make sure you do your research on the buying behaviours of those you are targeting before writing your posts.
Tip: Still not sure? Have a look and see what others are doing. It might just help you with some ideas.
How do we sell chocolate online?
And now we come to probably the most important aspect of this whole online selling caper in that we need to consider how we are going to sell the products that we have decided to promote. Depending on the product, there are a number of methods you can use to do this. Let’s explore them below:
Affiliate marketing programs are setup directly by companies or marketplace platforms (Amazon, Ebay etc.) that allow you to join and then refer traffic to them via customised affiliate links. In short, this means that you will write about chocolate and then refer your readers to a link where they will purchase directly from the vendors. The vendors then pay you a commission for the sale.
Affiliate marketing is especially good for those selling products within this niche online as you can move seamlessly through changes to current recipes and trends etc. without needing to sell out of previous stock first. This way you can discuss everything to do with chocolate and review new products and recipes within your posts and then refer your readers to the vendor to manage the sale without you having to hold inventory or organise shipping.
Finding affiliate programs is generally not a difficult task either. To locate them, you would normally just type “Affiliate: chocolate” into your preferred search engine:
So, as you can see, there are plenty of options in regards to affiliate programs for chocolate related products. As you search through them all, you can check it all out and find programs that:
- Relate to your niche/problems that you are solving.
- Have quality products – your brand can be severely damaged if you promote poor quality or unsafe products.
- Have solid payment and customer service arrangements.
- Pay decent commissions.
- Have good testimonials covering commission payouts and quality of product.
- Whether they have high ticket items you can promote on the side.
In most cases, you will need to apply for the program before you are allowed to promote their products – don’t take this step lightly or you will be rejected. Affiliate programs will generally want to know:
- Your website name.
- Traffic levels.
- Why you want to join – (“so I can make money by selling your boxes of chocolates online” is unfortunately not generally a good enough answer).
- How you plan to promote their products.
One thing to be aware of here I guess is to keep in mind the issues we discussed earlier in regards to selling chocolate online. You need to make sure that the programs you choose can be trusted and that the consumer is comfortable that they have recourse if something goes wrong. For this reason you will need to make sure that your chosen programs are going to resonate with your readers and your niche. That said, some marketplace programs such as Amazon and EBay can give you access to these types of products and as they are more trusted, then they maybe worth a look for sure. Some Amazon examples are as below:
Dropshipping is something that may be of advantage to you in this niche if you are looking to play with pricing. This process is similar to affiliate marketing in that you are generally promoting the products of others without the need to actually hold any inventory. With affiliate marketing, you are paid a commission on whatever price the vendor sets but do not manage any customer service, sales processes or post sales requirements. The main difference with dropshipping is that you perform the following (there are a number of variations to this but this is the guist of it):
- Strike a relationship with a wholesaler.
- Promote the product for whatever price you see fit – often via a marketplace site such as Shopify, Amazon or Ebay.
- Manage the sales processes and customer service.
- Send the final order and payment to the wholesaler for packaging and shipping.
The money that you make is effectively the difference between whatever you managed to sell the product for and the wholesale price that you owe the vendor. The other advantages of dropshipping over affiliate marketing is that:
- You own the customer list – which is another means of building an effective email list.
- You control the cost of the product and hence the profit margins.
- You can control when you put things on ‘sale’, group them in packages or increase the price for high demand items.
The disadvantages however are the extra workload in handling payment and any ongoing customer service requirements.
To find dropshipping suppliers online, you can enter searches such as “dropshipping: chocolate” into your favourite search engine:
Note: These results will usually be based on your geographical location. Searches can also be broken down to look for dropshippers for specific needs or any of the other options listed above as well. Simply substitute “chocolate” for anything else that may better suit your niche.
From here you can search through and find programs that:
- Offer dropshipping services – Not all product suppliers offer dropshipping as a service – this may just mean that you need to organise the shipping yourself after it is delivered to you.
- Have experience and are helpful – If they are not helpful and/or appear inexperienced then you can expect the same when you are trying to process sales.
- Have acceptable fees – most dropshipping wholesalers will charge a small fee for the dropshipping service – just make sure it is not so high that it eats into your profit margins.
- Provide fast shipping – One disadvantage with dropshipping when dealing with vendors is that the customer is yours, not theirs hence sometimes shipping priorities are not where they should be – make sure shipping times are acceptable.
- Have quality products – as with affiliate marketing, don’t sell rubbish.
- Have a good name – do your research and see what others are saying about them.
If any of the first two options above are not your cup of tea, maybe you could try sourcing and selling products as your own. This process is especially popular with those selling chocolate or even chocolate making kits etc. that you can put together yourself as here you actually purchase your product from a vendor or wholesaler, add your own label and then on-sell them via your website or platforms such as Amazon or Shopify.
This process requires higher setup costs as you will need to purchase your products, create and affix your labels and manage orders and shipment. Some wholesalers/vendors however will affix the labels that you send them and then manage the packaging and shipment for you (see dropshipping above). This will cost you less to set up but obviously you will make less on the sale once they take their processing fee.
Again, to find out where to acquire your product, you can do a search such as “white label: chocolate”.
Alternatively, keep your eye out in your local area for markets or industry trade shows. These are a great way to find and purchase your products at good prices – you never know, you might even find a solid supplier for future sales as well.
Tip: This method can be very effective in driving online traffic and sales via the implementation of more traditional sales methods such as kiosks and market stalls etc. As people get to know you, they can purchase from you there and then be directed to your website for future sales.
Sell you Own
The next option you have here then is it make and sell your own products. If you are handy, then there really is no limit to what you can make such as:
- Gift boxes/sets
- chocolate moulds
- Chocolate making equipment (utensils etc.)
- Recipe books
- and so much more
The sky really is the limit here and the process is extremely simple – make it and then sell it. In most cases, you will be able to sell the products directly via your website or marketplace sites such as Amazon, Etsy or Shopify.
If none of the above really gets you excited then maybe it is time to think outside the square a little. Here are some other ideas that I have seen around the traps:
- Demonstrations on YouTube – As we have mentioned a couple of times above – become an expert in cooking with chocolate for example and link your videos to YouTube advertising etc.
- Teach people about chocolate making – sell access to your courses then also sell the accessories, products and so on to accompany any of the methods we have discussed here too.
Think about how you might be able to corner a much-needed niche in the chocolate arena and you could definitely set up a great business.
What do we need to do?
Once we have all of the above sorted, or at the very least a plan in place, we need to choose and setup the media that we intend to use to sell our product. This can include:
Build a Website
If you are looking to build your online business as an affiliate marketer, drop shipper or supplier, then chances are you will most probably need a website. Websites allow you to solve problems via blog posts and videos that people can view in order to identify the solutions that they need. Usually, this process is fairly straight forward in that you build your website, write posts (on the differences between certain types of dairy free chocolates for example), then provide links so that your readers can view/purchase the relevant materials from your links.
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Promote on Social Media
When it comes to chocolate, social media can be a powerful tool to assist in driving sales via your site. It has the power to reach thousands and allows you to target specific segments if you choose the correct platform. In terms of chocolate, a good platform to start with is FaceBook where you can discuss things with your audience such as types, tips, making techniques, home made accessories or show videos etc.
However, if you are looking to set yourself up as an expert within the niche, then Instagram and YouTube will be your go to here – some even use these platforms without a website. These are great for visuals such as pictures and/or videos showing you discussing, making, eating or working with chocolate recipes etc. And if you are able to build a following you may even get noticed and be paid gazillions to use specific products etc. within your videos – this takes time, but it does happen…
Join like-minded groups
Anther great tool when it comes to selling products online are social groups. By getting involved with these groups you can really get a great understanding as to what its members are struggling with, what information they seek and what products they are looking to buy. Below is an example of chocolate related FaceBook groups:
Note: Many of these groups will not allow you to spruike or promote your sites directly, however if you can interact and demonstrate your knowledge then people will ask you directly for the information. At the very least, as above, it is a great way to get ideas and insight into what people in this area really want to know about and what they are buying online.
And there it is – How to sell chocolate online. I hope it has been helpful and as usual, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, need some advice or have any experiences to share.
Do you want further assistance with any of the above or need help to build your own chocolate related website?
Are you looking for a comprehensive training platform that can give you step by step training, 24/7 support, tools to develop and host your very own website, ongoing assistance with SEO and social media and access to some of the best affiliate marketing minds on the planet, then click on the following link to read more about Wealthy Affiliate.
Until next time
Note: If you make a purchase from this page, there is a very good chance that I make a commission from it – these commissions do not increase your sale price. This may include sales made via Wealthy Affiliate.