How to start an online outdoor gear store

in life •  3 months ago

Earn a living by turning your passion for outdoor gear into an online business.

The outdoor industry is thriving, with more and more people seeking an adventurous break from their fast-paced workweek. Since most outdoor activities require specialised clothing and gear we're seeing established brands continue to fine-tune their lines and start-ups launching more outdoor-focussed products on crowdfunding sites every day.

As shoppers become more consciously aware of their choices, however, smaller outdoor retailers are also benefiting from this trend. So, if you're a gear-junkie and are thinking about turning your passion into a business, then there's never been a better time to set up you're own online outdoor gear store. Starting a business is no easy feat, though, and there's a lot of competition on the web, so we've put together this handy guide to get you started on your journey.

Choose an e-commerce platform


Auction sites


First things first, you're going to need somewhere to sell your items. If you're just dipping your toe in the water or have some unused gear that you want to turn into cash, then signing up for an eBay sellers account is a great way to start selling quickly; you don't need any technical knowledge and there are a lot of people already shopping for outdoor gear on the site daily. eBay also has an excellent integration with PayPal, so receiving payments and managing receipts and invoices is a breeze. On the downside, eBay and PayPal both charge sizable fees that, depending on your profit margins, can be significant.

If you have a lot of unused gear, another option is to rent it out using a service like Fat Lama (as we discuss in this article).

Hosted E-commerce platforms


If you're looking for more control and want to take your business to the next level, then setting up an e-commerce store on a platform like Shopify or BigCommerce is a great option. Both platforms are intuitive to use and require no web development skills. There are a number of pricing tiers available, depending on the features you require, and it's easy to upgrade your store as your business grows. The main difference between the two platforms is that Shopify relies more heavily on third-party apps. This allows new features to be added to your store on a feature-by-feature basis but can result in increased costs, due to third-party subscription fees, so it's important to consider your requirements carefully before choosing a platform.

Self-hosted E-commerce website


If you have the budget to hire a web developer or have coding skills yourself, then building a self-hosted e-commerce website gives you full control over your business. We recommend building your website on WordPress and using the WooCommerce plugin to add e-commerce specific features. Both projects are open source and free-to-use. There is also a wide range of free and paid plugins for WordPress and WooCommerce to extend the functionality of your store. You will, however, need to pay for web hosting to host your website—we recommend and host our website with SiteGround.

Using a combination of platforms


A lot of online retailers sell on Amazon and eBay as well as running their own e-commerce store (either on a fully hosted e-commerce platform or on their own website). This enables them to utilise the popularity of the e-commerce giants, to maximise the number of people who see their products. At the same time, they are able to maintain an independent presence on their self-hosted online store, where they can offer cheaper prices and have more control over the payment services they use.

Pick products to sell


Picking the products you will sell


Once you have set up your online outdoor gear store, the next thing you need to do is fill it with outdoor gear to sell. With so many sports and outdoor activities to choose from it can be tempting to try and stock as many different items as possible, but you'll soon realise that without a big team and budget behind you this is nearly impossible.

A better approach, therefore, is to specialise in a niche and expand your product range as your business grows. For example, you could set up an online store focusing on hiking gear, cycling accessories, running apparel or even wetsuits. This model allows you to buy products in bulk with a smaller budget. It also makes it easier to become familiar with each of the items you sell, so that you can better advise customers on which product best fits their requirements.

Another thing to consider is the price-point of the gear that you stock. Higher-value items of gear tend to have higher profit margins, but more people are likely to look for items in the entry to mid-value range. It's also worthwhile working with brands that have an eco-friendly focus and develop their products ethically. Not only will this help the planet but it will also help your business, as more and more people shop with an eco-friendly ethos in mind.

Acquiring stock


One of the hardest things about setting up an e-commerce store is acquiring stock at the right price. Once you have chosen a range of products to sell, you'll need to reach out to brands and distributors to form a relationship with them. Since the market is flooded with online stores, a lot of distributors favour businesses that also have a brick-and-mortar shop. So, setting up a physical presence of some description (even a small pop-up store) may help here.

The industry is evolving, though, and there is plenty of room for entrepreneurship. The team behind discount online outdoor retailer TheLastHunt.com, for example, were able to convince 50 outdoor brands to sell them close-outs and discontinued products. This enabled the retailer to offer bargain prices with different conditions for clients: sales being final, shipping fees being paid by customers and service only by email. The brands were also happy since the concept removed their products from the discount section of a full price e-store, which can become harmful to a brand image.

Dropshipping


Apart from the initial purchasing cost, you will need to consider where you are going to store your stock. Storing bulky outdoor gear and camping equipment can be quite difficult and the bigger and heavier the item is, the higher delivery costs will be.

Dropshipping your products will help to negate these issues. This model of e-commerce removes the requirement of the retailer to store and ship their products. Instead, these tasks are passed on to a third-party like AliExpress. If you run your e-commerce store on the Shopify platform, then check out Oberlo—they have an app with connects straight into Shopify stores and enables dropshipping straight out-of-the-box (no pun intended).

The basic Dropshipping model works as follows: a customer buys from your online store, their order is then sent to your supplier who ships the product directly from their warehouse to the customer's address. Products are only purchased from your supplier after they're purchased by your customers, so you don't need to have a big budget to get started. It's also a great time-saver since you can let the manufacturing and shipping be handled by someone else while you focus on marketing, branding and building a following on social media (which leads us nicely on to the next point).

Build a brand and market your store


Now that you've set up your online outdoor gear store, you'll need to promote it. A great way to do this is through social media, where outdoor-related topics are proving really popular and outdoor brands are seeing an increasing presence on users' feeds as people seek inspiration for their next weekend getaway or after-work micro-adventure.

As with selecting products for your store, you don't want to bite off more than you can chew; consider starting with two or three social media channels and concentrating on those rather than diluting your presence across the web. Facebook and Instagram are great places to build general brand awareness, while Twitter and Youtube are perfect platforms on which to share blog posts and product review videos. Another growing social media platform that you might want to check out is Minds.com (an open source platform that utilises blockchain technology to provide a greater reach to brands and pay users in cryptocurrency).

These platforms are also a great place to engage with your audience. For example, Facebook has a useful messaging app where users can ask questions about the gear that you sell.

Are you looking to turn your passion for the outdoors into a business? Or, perhaps you have just launched an outdoor-focused startup. We want to hear from you, in the comments below and via our contact page.

Related: A chat with UK surf brand, Finisterre, Product Director—Debbie Luffman

Featured image: Adobe Stock

You can also find this post on my website at: adaptnetwork.com/how-start-online-outdoor-gear-store



Website: adaptnetwork.com
Steemit: steemit.com/@benadapt
Facebook: facebook.com/benadapt
Twitter: twitter.com/benadapt
Instagram: instagram.com/benadapt
Minds: minds.com/benadapt


Earn Steem and support quality content with SmartSteem

Authors get paid when people like you upvote their post.
If you enjoyed what you read here, create your account today and start earning FREE STEEM!
Sort Order:  

Thanks again for a great post as always I find it really helpful and informative. I recently made a post about how to make a fire I don’t know if you’re interested in that kind of stuff but if you are I think it’s a pretty good read. You got my upvote.

Posted using Partiko iOS

·

Thanks @enosh - I liked your post also. 👍

Congratulations! This post has been upvoted from the communal account, @minnowsupport, by benadapt from the Minnow Support Project. It's a witness project run by aggroed, ausbitbank, teamsteem, someguy123, neoxian, followbtcnews, and netuoso. The goal is to help Steemit grow by supporting Minnows. Please find us at the Peace, Abundance, and Liberty Network (PALnet) Discord Channel. It's a completely public and open space to all members of the Steemit community who voluntarily choose to be there.

If you would like to delegate to the Minnow Support Project you can do so by clicking on the following links: 50SP, 100SP, 250SP, 500SP, 1000SP, 5000SP.
Be sure to leave at least 50SP undelegated on your account.

Great article enjoyed reading :)

resteemd

You got a 53.22% upvote from @oceanwhale With 35+ Bonus Upvotes courtesy of @benadapt! Earn 100% earning payout by delegating SP to @oceanwhale. Visit www.OceanWhaleBot.com for details!

Thank you for your informative post. The thing is I tried myself to develop a business with dropshipping in mind, but without having a real success. You are saying that such a business should be built around a passion. Maybe that's the very problem with my business, the lack of a real passion. I only picked the niche based on a bunch of indicators.

Great post though, you have my upvote. :)

·

Absolutely - having a passion for your business is key. 👍

This article great for us and specially those who want it.

Posted using Partiko Android

This seems like a great idea however it seems like there’s a lot of barriers to entry. The main one being you need capital to get your initial inventory. There is also a lot of competition.

Posted using Partiko iOS

·

You can start off small using a platform like eBay and a dropshipping company. Hope that helps. 👍

·
·

Do you know what kind of margins these types of business make?

Posted using Partiko iOS

·
·
·

I think it depends on the products you sell, but there are definitely profits to be made. I would advise that you choose products that you are interested in - if you have a passion for something then that helps a lot in business.

·
·
·
·

That’s a great suggestion. Do you have any suggestions on how to actually acquire product below what other discount sites are selling it for? I’m seeing product at discount prices, but if I’m able to just google it how would my store get a competitive advantage? For me to make money I need to acquire it at a lower cost that what others are offering or for.

Posted using Partiko iOS

·
·
·
·
·

Yeah, that is the key. I would suggest researching the best selling items in your category on eBay and Amazon and then seeing if you can source similar items cheaper with your dropshipper.

·
·
·
·
·
·

Finding a good source is in fact key. Reselling has interested me because there are a lot of people doing it and I have been asking around about product sources which is kind of a mystery since there are not many articles written about the nitty gritty details of product sourcing. I also believe that this information is somewhat guarded because finding good sources is really the secret sauce to becoming successful in the business. I really would like to see an article written that goes into full detail from someone who has successfully built a sustainable business in the field.

Posted using Partiko iOS

·
·
·
·
·
·
·

This is true. I would recommend checking out oberlo.com as a tool to help source products. Hope that helps. 👍

Good post 👍...you have covered all aspect of online business...you have forgot to mention shopify which is a great toll to open a online store and start hassle free drop shipping business.

·

Thanks for your comment @amar-patel. I mentioned Shopify in the "Hosted e-commerce platforms" section. 👍