Hey there Sea Changers and welcome back to my series covering some of the ways that we can make money online. Let's start today with a question. Are you an electronics freak, expert or consider it a hobby? Then read on as we discuss how to sell electronics online. This is definitely one of the more interesting topics I have covered in this series for a number of reasons:
- Because I LOVE electronics – to the point that my wife will leave me in those shops whilst she gets the shopping sorted.
- And more seriously, they are perhaps one of the harder products to sell from an online perspective.
On the flip side, this topic does fall into the hobby niche meaning that people will spend money on it due to their interests. And added to that is the fact that if you are looking at TVs etc, then they are also products that people will generally replace immediately if theirs pack it in. Anyway, let's have a look and see what we can find out about selling electronics online.
How do we get started?
Now, I have already discussed the fact that this is potentially one of the harder niches to sell from online – we will discuss this more soon – but before we begin we also need to see if there is actually a market for it. So let's use this section to see what is being searched for out there…
What are people looking for?
To start let's just confirm our market numbers:
1. Number of monthly searches
As we are not sure exactly what we are looking at here just yet, let's see how many people undertake electronics related searches online per month. 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, let's start with the basics:
Not bad – 192000 odd searches shows an interest. But this is a huge niche so let's see how we can break it down a bit:
There are some good numbers there (the results for varying search commands scroll a fair bit further than shown) and definitely shows that people are at least looking at how to purchase a TV online. What about another product:
Again, a good number of searches – I would be happy with the amount of searches undertaken per month here as it again shows that people are willing to at least consider this sort of thing online.
2. Growth trends
Another important aspect of online sales and niche selection is to check that interest is maintained or increasing over time. To gain an insight into this let's check out how the searches for electronics are trending online.
So what does this tell us? Well let's break it down:
- Interest in purchasing these products has been well maintained over the past 5 years.
- Smaller products (cameras and game consoles) appear to be a bit more popular than Televisions (although there is decent interest there that is not truly reflected in the graph due to the popularity of the Xbox).
- Interest spikes yearly at Christmas time.
All in all, I really see a good opportunity here.
What is our niche?
Ok, now the fun part begins – we need to start looking at breaking down our market into a niche. The thing to consider here right off the bat is that electronics itself is a massive, massive niche if not broken down. In essence, you could incorporate any of the following into it:
- Home HiFi – Televisions, DVD players, Soundbars etc.
- Computer equipment – laptops, desktop computers, mobile phones, iPods, iPads etc.
- Photographic equipment – cameras, lenses etc,
- Home appliances – fans, ovens, washing machines,
- Gaming – consoles, controllers, headsets and so on
- Actual electronics – Resistors, capacitors, diodes etc.
Now, all of that in my humble opinion makes electronics too large to create a site that covers it all as a whole. You simply will not be able to cover them all to the level required or to become authority on the subject. Both of which are critical elements if you are going to convince people to purchase from you and not their local store.
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 electronics. If you don't have either of these, maybe consider another market as, to be honest, you might struggle to produce solid content if you don't know much about them – or worse, have no interest in them – and trust me, people will know immediately if your information is not up to scratch.
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.
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. These can be in a number of ways such as:
- You know what you want to purchase a gaming console for your son for his birthday but are not sure which to choose.
- You have a problem and need a solution – i.e. “I want to take live action sporting photos”.
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. For example, if you have chosen home hifi for your niche, then problems might be:
- Matching components – they have a Samsung television but want to know what soundbar to use with it
- Which to buy – they want a television – but which is best?
- Room size – they are in a large space – what is best for that?
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.
Alternatively, if your site is about home appliances, then you would be addressing problems such as the fact that I know I need to make fresh juice each morning but don’t know how to do it. You would then be outlining the best products for juicing such as:
- Food processors
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 issue of consumer buying habits. I keep mentioning that his can be a difficult area to get into for online sales so let's start out with the reasons why:
- Many of these items are in the higher ticket price range meaning that a lot of the search numbers we discussed earlier are from those doing their research before heading down to their local traditional bricks and mortar store.
- Some are hesitant to purchase without handling/testing them.
- Any online savings gained by purchasing online can be eaten up by shipping costs.
- Whilst many online sales sites offer full warranty and returns options, the return location may not necessarily be in the same country that the purchase was made. This is a risk that some buyers are not willing to take.
So at the end of the day, we need to find ways to convince people to not only do their research online, but purchase from you as well. Here are some ways that you can do that:
- Steer into the skid – 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 must have components for them!
- Provide the intangibles – In many cases, potential buyers will go to the store so that they can touch, feel and see the item they are interested in. Now obviously there is not way for them touch it when it is online, but you can describe it, show it and let them see it work – via video. Shoot demonstration videos and add them to your posts. That way, you might be able to give them the info they need without them leaving your page.
- Highlight advantages – Are you cheaper, does your vendor provide a good warranty, free shipping or a bonus discount? You will be surprised how many will suddenly not need to go elsewhere if they are saving money. Also, be clear to outline returns policies etc.
- Name brands – Some people will purchase anything if they like the brand. If you are selling a big brand item, make sure everyone knows it.
- Know your audience – A big mistake many make here is to target the product at the user and not necessarily the buyer. This is especially important around Christmas etc. where parents (and Santa of course) are buying for their kids. They don't care if it can play a certain game, they want to know specs and features – same goes for appliances. Hobbyists however may want benefits – just something to consider.
Tip: Still not sure? Have a look and see what others are doing. It might just help you with some ideas.
What do we need to do?
Ok, so now that we have an idea in regards to our niche and know some of the problems that we can investigate, we need to choose and setup the media that we intend to use to sell our product. This can include:
Build a Website
Websites allow you to solve problems via blog posts, videos and/or ‘how to' demonstrations 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 an iMac and a PC for example), then provide links so that they can view/purchase the relevant equipment.
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Promote on Social Media
Social media is a powerful platform that can allow you to get your message out there into the big wide online world. It has the power to reach thousands and allows you to target specific segments if you choose the correct platform. In terms of selling electronics online, the obvious social media platform to start with is YouTube as we have discussed earlier. There are other video platforms out there but as YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, then my suggestion would be to start there.
Demo videos can also be posted to FaceBook and Instagram and are great for brand building and exposure.
Join like-minded groups
If your electronics niche is aimed at the hobbyists, you can really get amongst them quickly as there is usually some sort of social media group, online forum or membership page that you can join to gain you exposure to potential visitors and sales. FaceBook is a great place to gain access to hobby groups and can not only allow you to interact with customers but also gain more information and education in terms of content ideas for your posts or products.
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.
How do we sell them?
Ok, so we have an idea that we want to sell electronics, that there is a market and that we need some media within which to promote them. So now we need to consider what products we are going to promote. It should be noted here that the main process that I will be discussing is to sell them via an affiliate marketing arrangement. In short, this means that you will write about electronics and all of their problem solving goodness and then refer your readers to a link where they will purchase directly from the vendors. You then make your money via commissions from those vendors. Let’s have a look at some of the best avenues for electronics vendors:
Affiliate 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.
To find affiliate programs in the electronics space, simply type “affiliate: electronics” into your search engine:
From here you can search through 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 products or fake brands.
- Have solid payment and customer service arrangement.
- Pay decent commissions.
- Have good testimonials covering commission payouts and quality of product.
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 televisions 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 electronics 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 may be worth a look for sure. Some Amazon examples are as below:
Dropshipping 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 different 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 “electronics: supplier” into your favourite search engine:
Note: These results will usually be based on your geographical location.
From here you can search through and find programs that:
- Offer dropshipping services – Not all product suppliers offer dropshipping as a service.
- 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.
Sell your own
If affiliate marketing or dropshipping are not your cup of tea, maybe you could try sourcing and selling your own equipment. This process is especially popular with those selling electronics components (resistors, wires, connectors, circuit bards etc.) and commonly referred to as White Labeling. 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 etc.
This process requires a much 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, do a search for “white label: electronics”:
Note: These results will usually be based on your geographical location so you may at times need to sort through a few pages.
From here you will need to follow the same processes as with affiliate and dropshipping programs in determining whether they are a good fit for your business plans including:
- Relate to your niche/problems that you are solving.
- Have solid delivery and customer service arrangements.
- Have good testimonials covering service and quality of product.
Alternatively, keep your eye out in your local area for electronics exhibitions and swap meets. 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.
And there it is – How to sell electronics 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 electronics based website?
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Until next time
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