Creating your own product versus selling someone else’s is often debated, especially when selling online. It’s quick and fairly simple to get set up with products from a wholesaler and start selling, especially with the simplicity of setting up online stores these days. It all comes back to you, the business owner, and what your long term goal is.
Selling someone else’s product will always be a retail game. You’ll promote stock, sell stock, order more stock and repeat. For some this process is exactly what they want. It’s predictable and the process is straight forward.
However, have you thought about these potential issues with retailing:
Large upfront investment
You’re probably not going to set up a retail store with just 1 product in it. So you will need to order a range of products, and unless you have a drop-shipping arrangement you will need to buy and hold this stock.
Unless you have exclusivity over selling the product, you will probably have a large number of competitors. The issue is exacerbated when that product can be found in large department stores, supermarkets or discount outlets. It becomes extremely hard for a small business to compete with pricing and promotions from the big retailers.
You will always be a Retailer
This may be exactly what you want. In that case, go for it! You will need to differentiate yourself as a retailer, as the product itself will probably face lots of competition. However, it’s very very unlikely you’ll be able to get into wholesale if you are just selling someone else’s product.
Your profit per item is limited
You will have to buy the products at a certain price. This doesn’t mean you can always retail at any price you want (legally you can but it may not be a good strategy to sell stock). Most products will already have a RRP (Recommended Retail Price) from the supplier. This is probably what you should use. You can sell it for more if you want. Legally the supplier can’t force the price on you. However, if there is already competition in the market for the exact product, do you really want to be the most expensive?
Creating your own unique product, if successful, has some serious advantages longer term. Here are a few:
You don’t necessarily need a whole range of products
You could develop just 1, and this could be all that’s required! You can offer some sort of presale to get an understanding of what your production needs are. Selling 1 product over and over, is a very efficient way to do business. No managing crazy amounts of inventory, easy to track sales, and you can focus all of your marketing attention.
Dealing with multiple re-sellers isn’t for everyone, it involves negotiation, contracts, freight, managing multiple promotions, trade deals etc. It can drive some seriously large volume though! Imagine if a large chain of stores picks up your product? You could be selling pallet loads. It could be easier to sell 1000 units to one store, instead of having to find 1000 individual buyers. Long term wholesaling will probably need less involvement from you as the business owner.
The product can be what you want it to be
Maybe I’m a control freak? However, I’d find it difficult to sell a product I didn’t quite believe in, or felt needed a few changes. If it’s yours you can do what you like. Want new packaging? Go ahead. Don’t like the colour? Change it! Want to release a limited edition range? Why not?
You can keep all the money!
The revenue is entirely yours. You’ll obviously have business expenses, so it’s not all profit, but you get to determine the pricing so that it suits the profit margins you are looking for. You need to keep in mind the market limitations and price the product fairly, but it does help that you get to control production costs, wholesale pricing and can set a RRP.
Creating a new product is tough. It takes time, money up front (for prototypes and research) and a lot of energy! However, once it’s done and if the market responds well, it will be extremely rewarding! Your future business growth will not be limited by what your wholesalers can provide you. You’ll have total control over your business.