You may be familiar with the fact that product sourcing is essentially split into four main categories:
- Sourcing products that you already know sell well. This type of products are very easy to identify, by simply observing what the majority of your prospective competitors are selling*. You will be competing on price, and service. Offering add-ons like exceptional customer service, after sale support and product guides (publish the latter free online and use them to drive traffic to your site or auctions shop) are just some of the extra services you can offer to attract repeat sales in a price sensitive market. *Another indicator of high demand is supply shortage: when the supply of a product cannot meet its demand it is often indicative of a high demand product, however bear in mind that supply shortages can also indicate a new demand trend, as we will observe in point 4) below.
- Identify a niche market. For example, a large fellow who just couldn't find shoes to fit decided to open a business selling large size shoes – bingo! Just as he suspected, he wasn't the only person who had that problem. Often niche markets are developed out of a personal passion or need, only to find that many other people share the same necessity.
- Branding. Probably the highest risk option, often requires high marketing budgets and differing levels of R&D depending on how much innovation is a key factor in your market. Branding is growing in popularity, thanks to today's easy access to manufacturers. Branding can help, in highly competitive markets like auction sites, make your product offering unique, non-comparable, and therefore more likely to fare higher margins and higher conversions.
- Predicting and anticipating market trends. This is the topic we will be covering in this article.
Everyone needs to economize on fuel costs
Okay then, what's happening around you right now? What is everyone talking about? The high cost of energy and the threat that energy costs will continue to spiral more out of control. People will be looking for ways to save on energy costs. They will be altering their own practices, e.g., setting the thermostat to a cooler setting in the winter and the air conditioner to a warmer setting in the summer, as well as purchasing energy saving devices such as energy saving bulbs, programmed thermostats that automatically set temperatures at the best temperature depending upon the circumstances, etc. This is an enormous market need that will spawn thousands of new products to help people and businesses lower their energy costs.
Energy saving products
There are already many energy saving products in the marketplace that can be promoted. For example:
- Spiral fluorescent light bulbs that use less energy and last many times longer
- Light switch and wall outlet sealers to plug possible leak spots that let cold air into a house
- Caulk and foam sealant
- Water heater blankets
- Weather stripping
- Foam pipe insulation
- Flow reduction faucet attachments
- Flush attachments that reduce water use for toilets
- LED Christmas lights
- Exterior shade screens
- Solar-driven products
- Air deflectors to direct heat and cooling
This is a short list in a burgeoning industry.
Products to support an energy savings lifestyle
Now let's look at the next level of energy savings. More people will be weather stripping their houses and changing their light bulbs. Those same people and maybe others will also be looking for other ways to change their lifestyles as well. For example, leisure industry analysts are reporting decreases of 4-25% in people traveling for vacation, using rental properties and eating out. Many, many people are substituting expensive trips with stay-at-home vacations, camping trips and other less expensive, closer-to-home options. Are you getting the message, here? Yes, this means there should be a spike in all things related to economising on vacations. For example:
- Camping equipment
- Outdoor furniture
- Outdoor games – croquet, badminton and so on
- Insect removal supplies
- Bicycles and other sports equipment
- Board games, puzzles
You can easily make a huge list.
You can become involved in selling products in this marketplace in many ways.
- Open a new area of sales and focus on this market
- Add some lines of energy saving equipment that complement your current business, e.g., regulated flow watering systems for your gardening business
- Become an affiliate marketer for other people's products
- Improve on products already in the marketplace and manufacture your own, original products. (Note: you don't have to be an engineer to make an improvement. For example, weather stripping is typically grey or brown. Why not make weather-stripping that complements current home design colors so that energy efficiency is not only practical but stylish?)
- Discover and introduce innovations that are already available in other countries but not well known in your country.
- Dust off old favorites and introduce them in a fresh way, such as the game of horseshoes as a better way to improve eye-hand coordination than video games
As you can see, many very common products can be repositioned to sell as energy saving (or money saving) devices.
Your search might begin by identifying possible energy saving products for your current business arena. You can Google 'gardening and energy saving products' to get an idea of the kinds of options available for that niche. Once you have a good sense for the products you are looking for, return to eSources to find your trustworthy, well-priced wholesale sources. You can either search the supplier offerings directly by using a keyword search or you can post a trade lead, describing what you are looking for and asking suppliers to respond with product options.
For leisure products, go back to the list and think of what people need to enjoy their backyards, to go camping, to become involved in an inexpensive sport. Follow the same product location procedure, using eSources enormous directory of suppliers.
Go for it!
The high cost of energy is a problem for all of us. But, within every problem there are opportunities for those who are creative and entrepreneurial. And, even better, the energy-saving and 'simpler life' products you sell will improve everyone’s life and that's a benefit that it's hard to put a price on.