Cat Forum banner

1 - 20 of 24 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,564 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
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.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
75 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
674 Posts
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!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,564 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Re: 2 Primary Considerations

NewRagdoll said:
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!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,564 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Adrienne, good comment about having variety and not just items catering to my personal preferences.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
75 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,564 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
674 Posts
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 :wink: !
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,564 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
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.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
12,197 Posts
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!! :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,103 Posts
I must admit, this is something I've often thought about too. Be prepared to lose money for a while if you plan on going through with it.

You need a plan when you start these things and this is the best way to go through with it. (in this order)
  • You need to look at three areas: The competition, the environment (legal, economical, trends, etc), and markets and customers.[/*:m:3g5tbyq9]
  • It's almost cliche in the business world but you'll need to do a SWOT analysis.[/*:m:3g5tbyq9]
  • Select a need based segment. (Figure out who exactly you're going to go after... too many people make the mistake of trying to sell to everybody.)[/*:m:3g5tbyq9]
  • After you've selected the segment, you need to do your best to understand them.[/*:m:3g5tbyq9]
  • Develop goals and objectives that can be measured easily (ie a sales goal of $1,000 in your first year of business.)[/*:m:3g5tbyq9]
  • Develop the strategy needed to meet those goals, (figure break even point, etc)[/*:m:3g5tbyq9]
  • Figure out the infamous 4 P's of marketing. Product, Price, Promotion, Distribution)[/*:m:3g5tbyq9]
  • Implement the plan[/*:m:3g5tbyq9]
It's important that if your figure somewhere along the lines that you aren't going to make money then scrap the idea and quit while you're ahead.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,564 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Thanks, Rob!
Oh this is all fresh to you right now too! You've been a big help.

You're right I do plan to lose money before even breaking even (if that happens at all). I like to do this stuff and would probably do it anyway - so it's also more hobby like for me right now. The materials if I start out doing solely collars and toys are not too expensive. Business solutions - this is where the costs really start coming in. Since I'm unsure about the fate, I could always start out on eBay. However, due to the side by side competitors, I'd have to keep your prices considerably lower and there's just something about eBay that kind of kills the feel/image of what I'm going for.

It is a start though and I could always build from that and then branch off on my own if I find it to be successful.

What do you think about that??
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
613 Posts
I've actually considered doing this exact same thing. The idea stemmed from the time I made Bailey and Sammi their own rhinestone initial collars,then I thought "I could sell these on Ebay!" then I thought I should just start my own website and make cat/other animal stuff!

Maybe you should start by selling on Ebay, like start an Ebay Store. If there are enough interested bidders on there, then you can start a real website.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,564 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Roze, I think that might be what I'll do. At least this way there is far less risk and if things don't go well, at least my animals will be well dressed! :lol:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,103 Posts
EBay is an avenue worth pursuing, but as you said it has a lot of side by side competitors, so I'm guessing profit margins would be slimmer if you went that route. A definite advantage of operating through eBay is that so many people use and trust sellers there simply because it's eBay. Something to keep in mind is that I've seen eBay sellers point to their .com web addresses.

If you go with a web site it has to look professional, like you have a company with a couple of employees. When sites look cheesy or are cleary just a one-man show, it usually makes me choose other venues.

Getting your own domain isn't as expensive as you might think. You can get a year for well under $100. The place I use for my web site is very reasonably priced and would have everything you need to start the project. Let me know if you're interested, I'll pass the name. They often give me a coupon to pass to my friends which gives them really low prices, so you say the word and I'll make something happen.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,564 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Thanks, Rob. I agree about the website looking professional. I am the same way with websites like that. I honestly don't even give them a chance if I come across one of those template websites that just doesn't pop - I move on. I may be missing some great products, but it just doesn't attract me or make me feel confident about doing business with them.

I think I will start out on eBay AND build a site. I'm going to wait on the site until I get my income tax money (which should be just a few weeks) and then if you don't mind, I'd love to take you up on your offer about the company you use.

I'll PM you when I'm ready to set sail! Is that okay?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,564 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Hmmm, eBay is leaving little to be desired after scouring through tons of seller information and considering tax implications with the IRS.

For example, selling on ebay, sale prices would be lowered due to competion, keeping that in mind, a $10.00 item may cost $3.50 in supplies, $2.00 in eBay/PayPal fees and then the cost of packaging, etc. leaves little profit margin. You also need to set aside $ for social security taxes and pay sales tax on items sales that take place in your state and probably other things I didn't even read about yet. So where's the profit? A buck or two? Blech!

At least if it you did away with eBay fees, the profit could be approximately 40% of the retail price of a $10 item. Then of course you'd have business deductions, etc. - but would need to considering business licensing fees, etc.
I hate taxes, any accountants around here?

I really want to do this, I think there is a market for it, I know I can do a good job, it's something I'm passionate about, I'm aware of START up consequences, but hmmm, beginning to wonder if long term offers many advantages.

People ARE doing it, I must be missing something.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
75 Posts
It can very well work, but do not offer anything on ebay with the pricing structure you just showed. Also, understand many people are very successful on ebay without the lowest prices. I use to sell clocks when I had time. Periodically, someone would offer the same clock for less (when I, in fact, was purchasing for less than them). I just ignored it and still did well.

I would say to make money on ebay, you sell information that costs you nothing, you sell for $10 items that cost you $3 (unless it is a huge volume item, for $20 items costing you $10, for $40 items costing you $20-25. Make each item sold worth your while.

Also, on ebay you must figure the listing costs on the items which don't sell. So, when looking at your costs, lets say you figure you will sell one out of 5 items and the listing fee is $0.50, then you must apply $2.50 to each item you are going to sell.

Last, don't sabotage your site with your ebay activities. Use ebay to help advertise and promote your site. However, don't price things on ebay regularly so much less than your site as to destroy the site credibility. Maybe just put certain products on ebay. Ebay can be good for you...just be careful. In fact, in can be worthwhile simply for advertising. For instance, you sell a collar starting the auction at $20 but you have a large variety of other collars also on your site at $30. Just do not underprice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,564 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
NewRagdoll said:
It can very well work, but do not offer anything on ebay with the pricing structure you just showed. Also, understand many people are very successful on ebay without the lowest prices. I use to sell clocks when I had time. Periodically, someone would offer the same clock for less (when I, in fact, was purchasing for less than them). I just ignored it and still did well.
Maybe you are right. It's just so discouraging to see some people selling items that I would also sell (though honestly, the quality doesn't look as good) for a fraction of the price. I look at that and think....how can you compete?

One thing I am REALLY good at, is listing my ebay items with the keywords and tricks that tend to pull up more often on searches. I'm nuts about pulling up closed auctions and checking to see which ones sold and which ones didn't and then finding differences and similarities in the auction. This has helped me a lot in selling random things on eBay. So maybe if I use the same logic it could help me pull ahead as well!
 
1 - 20 of 24 Posts
Top