Some of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face is finding exactly the right products to sell, especially at prices that enable them to make a profit. This can be further complicated by the fact that small business owners have to compete with larger businesses with scores of resources, a staff of buyers and a lot of room for error.
You don't have those luxuries. But whether you own a store or a website, are a retailer or a B2B distributor, there is one resource that can help you solve some of those challenges - Alibaba.com. One of the best things about Alibaba is there's nowhere else on the planet that you can find such a wide array of products. No matter if you distribute to other businesses or own a general hardware store, a more niche paint or lighting shop or sell building or lawn and garden supplies, you can find merchandise sure to attract a diverse customer base.
Aging in Place
The key is to know what your customers want - and need. And for that think about some of the broader trends that impact consumers today. For instance, America is getting older - and many of those more than 40 million "seniors" (age 65 and up) are "aging in place". That means instead of moving to Florida or Arizona to retire, they're staying in their towns and homes and need a variety of products to make their homes safe and secure. Head to Alibaba.com where you'll find the products they need, such as walk-in tubs and bathroom grab bars.
One way to measure what's popular is to see what people are watching on television. Right now home remodeling shows are hot, as many people (of all ages) are staying in their homes and updating them instead of moving or buying fixer-uppers because they're more affordable. These millions of consumers are looking for plumbing and electrical products, new appliances, from stovetops to refrigerators, (farmhouse sinks and fancy range hoods are very in-demand right now), tile (glass tile is hot right now) and the tools to put it all together.
Don't overlook the more decorative items either. Cabinet handles may sound mundane but homeowners are looking for a broad selection (it took me longer to pick out my cabinet pulls than to decide on the kind of cabinets I wanted when I remodeled my kitchen last year) for both their kitchens and bathrooms.
Another issue that resonates with a lot of Americans is being green. More and more consumers are looking for energy-saving devices, including energy-efficient lighting and smart home devices, such as thermostats and alarms. Don't forget that homeowners like to inject some fun into their home decor as well. So you can tempt them with items like this dish dryer that saves electricity and water (air drying dishes instead of using the dishwasher) and boasts an eye-catching design. In fact you can check out a wide variety of household productssure to appeal to consumers across all demographic groups. If you're selling to Millennials, they tend to like bright colors, so keep that in mind.
The long winter nightmare for many Americans is over and as summer approaches there'll be a lot of focus on yards. Starting with the lawn. Almost everyone who owns a house needs a lawn mower, but did you know there are "robot" mowers? How cool is that - I'm not a Millennial and I want one.
But outdoor living is not just about the lawn. People want to actually expand their living spaces and have the outdoors be an extension of the interiors of their houses. Consumers will be looking to you to offer fire pits, furniture, lighting (also for businesses) and more. Dual-purpose indoor/outdoor products like rugs and pillows are on many consumers' shopping lists.
Again, if your customers are Millennials, they'll be thinking outside the box (including those big box stores) so make sure you're offering some unusual versions of traditional products. Like flowerpots that light up - or furniture that changes colors (it's like living in a Disney cartoon). For many customers (no matter their age) it's about showing them the unexpected. Everyone knows about wicker furniture - but what about wicker in bright, fun colors? (The fact that it's also UV resistant makes it even more enticing for a lot of consumers, like myself. I'm seriously considering ordering some of that.)
Consumers Want Value
One of the advantages of sourcing from Alibaba is you get great prices, which you can pass along to consumers. But it's also about the items you sell and how you can help people save money by offering products like ceiling fans (they can cut back on running their air conditioners), artificial grass (perfect for drought-stricken California homeowners) and solar products.
Here's the bottom line:
Small business owners are busy. In your business consumer demand is fairly constant all year round, so you're busier than most. One of the ways to improve productivity and efficiency is to simplify sourcing. That's what Alibaba does for you. Whether you're in the "nuts and bolts" business or more into selling green stuff (environmentally friendly items or lawn care products), you're sure to find whatever you need on Alibaba.com. Speaking of finding 'whatever' just search for Hammers and you'll find over 800,000-product listings. There are also 900,000 fasteners, 1.7 million nails, 2.8 million LED bulbs and 259,000 gardening tools listed on Alibaba.com, just to name a few.
So go ahead and source what you're looking for today on Alibaba.com.