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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 02-10-2005, 05:31 PM Thread Starter
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Testing the waters, and who better to ask, but...

my forum friends.

Okay guys, I've been considering taking a stab at putting together my own small online business that ONLY caters to pet lovers. I think I'm going to start off by catering to cat lovers and maybe expand on to other pet products as well. I'd like to mainly serve the market for "designer cat products" such as custom made collars with charms, rhinestones, cute fabrics, ribbon detail,etc. - toys made with organic catnip, etc.

More along the avenue of designer (without the big name, of course) or somewhat boutique like products.

Eventually, if things took-off - which is a BIG "IF", I'd aim to distribute HEALTHY cat foods and dog foods maybe.

How realistic do you think this dream is of mine?
And, what, if any, suggestions or expectations would you have as a consumer?

A girl can dream right? No seriously, I'm really considering doing this, and doing it soon.
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 02-10-2005, 05:44 PM
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2 Primary Considerations

There are two primary considerations which you must address.

#1-Product......where are you going to get what you sell and what kind of prices can you get. Then you must honestly compare to your competition online and local type stores. Will you truly be able to offer something people want at a price they are willing to pay. For instance, let's say you are going to do custom collars....who will make them, what will they cost? Then check online at other sites. You are right in the designer approach as obviously there are many products you could never compete with the large Pet Stores on.

#2-Promotion....how will you attract visitiors and how much are you willing to invest to do so.

After you address these two issues in detail, you will be able to decide whether to proceed.
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 02-10-2005, 05:44 PM
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I think it is a good idea. I am ALWAYS looking for cute collars, beds , jewlery and charms for my cats and dogs.

Hmm... things I would expect as a consumer? I can't really think of anything that is out of the ordinary. One suggestions that I can give is- don't just sell things you like. There is a lady who owns a dog boutique in my area- boutique is probably being generous. I have been in there a few times and she never has anything I like. It all kind of looks dated and cheesy. She was talking to me one day and made a commet in passing that "She only sells/makes things she likes, because if she likes them then someone else must." Which is probably true, but that someone is not me or my family. My family and I both spoil are pets to death and if she was selling items that we would buy thigns form her. I know that probably sounds like a simple and obvious thing to some people, but ti wasn't to her.

Good luck!


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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 02-10-2005, 05:54 PM Thread Starter
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Re: 2 Primary Considerations

Quote:
Originally Posted by NewRagdoll
There are two primary considerations which you must address.

#1-Product......where are you going to get what you sell and what kind of prices can you get. Then you must honestly compare to your competition online and local type stores. Will you truly be able to offer something people want at a price they are willing to pay. For instance, let's say you are going to do custom collars....who will make them, what will they cost? Then check online at other sites. You are right in the designer approach as obviously there are many products you could never compete with the large Pet Stores on.

#2-Promotion....how will you attract visitiors and how much are you willing to invest to do so.

After you address these two issues in detail, you will be able to decide whether to proceed.
Thanks, Ragdoll. I have addressed both of these issues and you are correct these are the two most important things to consider. Taking off I will be doing it myself and making the collars myself. IF it turned into something more, I'd obviously pursue other avenues, but that would be a huge plus if that happened anyway. I have done a lot of research in terms of getting the site recognized, the googlebot to boost the rankings, etc. I also work in advertising so I have a lot of folks to help me with the promotions thing.

I'm more concerned about what you guys would want to see or not see and that I am not competing with big pet stores, because that's just setting myself up for failure. I'm not looking to stock up on cat fountains and stuff like that, but more along the lines of collars, maybe harnesses if the collars took off, possibly cat beds, etc. I have looked at the prices of other websites selling comparitive products, as well as distributors for the materials, etc. and have a very good idea of what the profit margin might be.

I just don't know HOW well the market is and what people really look for in this type of product? Would you guys be interested in custom made collars with your cats initials on them. Would you be interested in fabric patterned collars, what about nylon collars with ribbon detail around it. Would people, besides myself really buy these, or am I marketing to myself?

I know the businesses are out there, I know the other sites are getting hits and I know that the polls and tools all show that 1300 people search online for "cat collar" every day, but how many real cat owners and animal lovers would have an interest.

That's why I'm asking here, because you guys all know my now and we all share all this stuff openly all the time!
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 02-10-2005, 05:56 PM Thread Starter
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Adrienne, good comment about having variety and not just items catering to my personal preferences.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 02-10-2005, 06:20 PM
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There is definitely a market out there. We pet owners can't resist. I, for example, can't go to a pet store and just buy food or litter....impossible. I see something on line everyday I want to buy.....I have no self control when it comes to spoiling Marli.

One other word of advice. Do not underprice. Do not undervalue your time. If you are going to make them, cost them out as if you were paying an employee to do it. Maintain good margins. The worst thing you could possibly do is develop a lot of business, but it not be providing you good income. Make it worth your while.

What I've seen too often for instance is someone decides to sell a fancy jeweled collar. The materials for it cost $2.50. So, they figure they sell it for $5.00 and will sell a bunch. With the cost of promotion, running a site, processing credit cards and making the product that isn't even worth doing. The picture should be more like this-materials $2.50, takes thirty minutes to make each one...not a highly skilled job, so I will figure it could be done by someone earning $10.00 per hour plus fringes would raise it to $12.00 per hour. So, labor cost is $6.00. Total cost of product, still not including any overhead is $8.50. Must sell for at least $17.00. If someone will pay $17.00, why not price at $19.95.....then maybe occasionally put on sale.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 02-10-2005, 07:01 PM Thread Starter
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Ragdoll, thanks for the justification on pricing. I have been reading and hearing others say the same thing about not selling the products at too low a price...however, I still think for fear of not selling, I would have fallen into that group.
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 02-10-2005, 07:42 PM
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I do agree w/ Ragdoll about pricing. I know when I am looking at items and I see a low price I think "it must me made cheaply and is not good quality because it is so low". I know that is probably not the best way to think, but unfortunately that is how I am. Of course, I am not going to pay way too much either. I don't think on the other extreme- just because it is expensive doesn’t mean it is high quality. I don’t have a problem paying $30 or $40 for a nice well made collar. My baby is worth it !


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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 02-10-2005, 07:54 PM Thread Starter
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Quality is very important to me. It's a good thing I've got 3 nutjob animals to try out all my products on first!

Is there anything else you like about smaller retailers? I personally appreciate the small things. Even something so small as taking a pen and writing, "thank you" on the receipt is a nice touch to me. I also have a big pet peeve about folks shipping me something in packaging that is going to arrive crushed and without any wrapping on it inside. A piece of tissue paper goes a long way! Geez.

What's the selling point for you guys when it comes to going to a bigger store or an independent retailer?

I also thought about incorporating some articles onto the website. Maybe somethings that we've all found helpful, basic things like litterbox hints, nutrition tips (BASIC STUFF, NOT A BIG FOOD DEBATE!), etc. - is that a waste of time or do you guys read that stuff on websites you are buying off of? I know that it does help the site get more traffic when it comes to surfacing on search engines and the googlebot sifting through the site, it looks for good content on sites.

Ideally, if things were successful, I'd aim to contribute a portion of the the profits to local animal charity groups, but we're a long way off from that. Just rambling some ideas, not sure what you guys think.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 02-10-2005, 08:56 PM
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do your research! who and what is your competition? what can you offer that's better than they've got? or what have you got that nobody's got? how much is it going to cost you to start up? can you sustain the expenses out of your own pocket until you break even? do you have the time to put into it? how are you going to get your product noticed by the potential customers?

good luck!!
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