Congratulations on deciding to become a seller on bol.com. There are many successful sellers out there selling a lot of products and making a lot of income. As a starter, it all seems intimidating and overwhelming. How do you start? What products should I sell? How does all this logistically work?
This article will describe how we choose products to sell on bol. It’s in English because some non Dutch speaking entrepreneurs are jumping in and we don’t want to exclude anyone!
Now, there are many ways and strategies and we don’t claim that mine is the best. It is however simple and straightforward so we think it’s a great way to start.
There are two primary factors to consider in your product search:
Product likely to sell well.
Product with good margins
When you meet both of the above criteria then you have found a good product.
Let’s dive into more detail about these two factors
PRODUCT LIKELY TO SELL WELL
Find actual sales
It is painfully obvious that a product must sell in order for you to make any revenue. What is not obvious is how one can know beforehand.
The obvious answer is- you can’t. But you can greatly increase your chances by taking the following actions for a particular product.
This is the most important thing you need to know about a product before you decide to sell. It seems obvious but many people don’t do it because they don’t know how or they trust their gut, or it’s too much work. YOU NEED TO DO THIS! you will be spending hundreds if not thousands of Euros and countless hours of your time bringing a product to sell on bol so taking the time to do this is worth it. Do not skip this step.
So how does one find actual sales of a product? There are two ways that we know about- the manual way, and the automated way:
- On bol.com, put 500 items of the product that you are interested in, in the basket. If the inventory of the seller is less than 500, you should get an error message stating that they only have x number of items.
- Record this number somewhere.
- Repeat the above steps once a day, for each seller of each product.
Sales will be the difference of inventory between days. The longer you do this the better average estimate you will get because of its effect of smoothing out of daily sales fluctuations.
We recommend a duration of two weeks. Keep in mind that seasonal effects, such as the holiday season, may skew your data so avoid these times when taking the measurements. Then again, if want to measure seasonal sales potential then it would be the right thing to do.
Also remember that if there is more than one seller of the product, you will need to do take measurements for each seller, in order to calculate total sales of the product over all sellers.
The manual process above will get tedious very quickly, especially if you want to check more than one product. Your time is valuable and we suggest you not waste it doing such boring, repetitive work. Invest in an online tool to do this for you.
There are now several online tools available to do this for you. We would of course would recommend BluScout. It’s great value for money and they have features other tools don’t have, like estimates and free out of the box tracking. Anyway, I’ll leave that for another blog.
What these tools do is to automate the manual process described above. You basically tell it which products to track, and it does all the boring stuff for you. You get sales data for products with zero effort. Trust me, it is more than worth the expense considering how much time and energy you would have spent if you had to do this all manually!
How familiar are you with the product? Do you own or use the product yourself? Do you know its good and bad points?
As a general rule, the more you know your product the more effortless it will be for you to sell it. This is because you have knowledge and interest in it, and it will be easier for you to relate and support your customers. It will also require less determination and energy to create and maintain the materials and relationships surrounding the product (think marketing and supply management). This advantage often leads to higher sales.
This is not to say that selecting a product that you are unfamiliar with is no-starter. Many people do well selling stuff they would never use. Trust me on this one though, that it does take more effort and perseverance especially if you are just starting out.
Few or no competitors
Fewer competitors usually leads to better results. Obviously, given less choices, the customer is more likely to buy from you than from your competition.
The best way to check demand is to measure a product’s actual sales (see above). There are other indicators that you should also check.
- Amazon- find your product or at least a very similar one, on Amazon and check how well it is selling. A tool such as junglescout will reveal estimated revenue per month which is extremely helpful to gauge success. If it is doing well here, it is likely that it will also do well on bol.com.
- Trends- you can indirectly check product demand by using Google trends. Search for your products keywords and see how much interest there is.
- Another useful strategy is to find best selling products on Amazon that are not selling well on bol. Since fads and tends to come from the U.S., this may be a sign that it may become popular here in the near future. We saw this happen with spinners for example. It was still unknown here in the Netherlands but was a huge seller on Amazon U.S. with many sellers making hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue per month. We should have jumped at the chance!
Attractiveness of listings
It will be easier to sell a product where your competitors have weak listings. By ‘weak’ listing we mean:
- Poor and/or few foto’s
- Product description is not convincing or not will written.
- Few or no reviews
If the product suffers from a bad listings, you should be smiling.
This point is related to demand. Make sure that your product will be placed on the market at the right moment if it is seasonal. But how do you know if the product is seasonal? We find the best way to check is again through google trends. If it is a zig-zag line, it is probably seasonal. If it is relatively flat, non-seasonal.
The above graph shows google trends results for padded bikinis. It clearly shows higher sales during the warmer months. What is also revealing is the higher sales mid-winter. This is useful information as a seller.
Try to choose products that have listings with few reviews. It is much harder to compete against listings with many positive reviews.
Another thing to remember is to read reviews of existing listings. It will reveal feedback from customers and you can use it to improve your own product. It may also reveal information which will help you to create better listing and photos.
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PRODUCT WITH GOOD MARGINS
The next important criteria for a successful product is to make sure that it has good profit margins.
Remember to include upfront costs like photography, fixed costs like shipping, and variable costs like storage and bol fees.
Your goal is to have profit margins of 20% minimum.
When you are researching your product, you can estimate your profit margin by following these steps:
- See much your competitors are selling similar products for, and assume that that will also be your price.
- Look up in Alibaba and AliExpress how much it would cost. A common mistake is to want large margins on an initial small purchase order. Calculate based on a successful product, so purchase orders of 500+ items. The initial small batch should be seen as market research and don’t expect much profit.
- Add bol fees. We find that this cost is around 40% of sales price.
- Add fixed costs such as shipping and other costs. For air freight it is about 1.40 euro per kilogram.
If after adding up the costs you don’t have a 20% margin, move on.
That’s it for now. We will write about next steps- how to order samples, in the next article if there is another interest. We also have a bol profit calculator. If you are interested, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org