I’m what I like to call a niche whore.
I’ve never been loyal to one single niche or product. Instead, I sell whatever item I can get my hands on and that will make me lots and lots of money.
I don’t have the attention span to stick with one item for much longer than a year, even if it’s making me good profits. This is something I love about selling online – I can change it up as much as I like to suit my restless personality.
However, one major drawback is that because I go through so many items, a couple of times in my younger years, I made some bad decisions and ended up selling items that just weren’t any good.
In order to help prevent you from making the same mistakes, I’m opening up some old wounds and sharing with you the stories of the 2 products I regret ever selling.
1. Fakes and replicas… of anything!
I can’t count the times that I’ve written the words “avoid selling fake items” since I started educating other sellers on the basics of e-Commerce. Yet here I am, declaring that I have in the past sold fake items. I’ve sold everything from fake high-end makeup, designer sunglasses, jeans and jewelry.
The reason I regret selling these items isn’t because they didn’t make me any money – in fact I would be lying if I said they didn’t – but the real regret comes from the fact that the while selling these items, I was often left feeling paranoid that I would get caught out by a buyer or even worse, Customs officials who could have prosecuted me.
In the end, although I was young and stupid, I decided the money I was making wasn’t worth the risk and the anxiety attached to selling what are essentially illegal items (gosh, I sound like a criminal when I put it like that!).
Lesson you should take away: Selling fake items is really not worth the risk. I sold these items around 3-5 years ago when they weren’t as common as they are now (at least on the platform that I was selling on). Nowadays, if you list one fake item on eBay or most other marketplaces, your account can get closed before you can say “but my supplier said they were authentic”.
2. Performance car parts from a slack drop ship supplier
The car parts that I were selling were a fantastic niche; At the time, ‘boy racer’ culture was huge and the local economy was booming (2006/2007). People had money to burn on hobby items and I was cashing in big time, making around 150% profit on each sale, and still undercutting all my competitors.
I had the market share and life was sweet. And because I was drop shipping, I even managed to take a 4 month vacation around Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam while still running my business from South-East Asian internet cafes with lousy internet connections (in between snorkeling and cocktail sessions).
However, my successful business was short-lived; after around 8 months, it all came crashing down when my supplier started to get slack and was taking up to two weeks to even send out an order to my buyers.
I had some very unhappy boy racers on my hands!
I did what I could to control the situation: I started managing my supplier and consistently contacting him about my orders and whether they had been dispatched. I ordered some of the items in and held them myself in case a buyer got really stroppy, so I could send the item directly to the buyer, rather than from the drop ship supplier to the buyer.
In the end, too many of my buyers complained about how long it was taking for my items to arrive and TradeMe – New Zealand’s local marketplace – started watching my account.
In the end, my account was closed down permanently because I was 1) not delivering items in the time-frame that I stated in my auctions and 2) drop shipping items in a marketplace that does not allow it.
And just like that, my precious, trust-worthy account with hundreds of feedback scores which I had worked so hard for was gone.
In a way, I was pleased that my account had been closed down: I could finally relax and forget about having to deal with irate buyers or sending irate emails to my supplier.
Lesson you should take away: Never rely on an unreliable supplier and if you can, have a back-up supplier that can supply the same items to you if your primary supplier cannot.
This episode also taught me the importance of establishing a good relationship with my suppliers, especially if you are drop shipping items. Remember that when drop shipping, even though you’re not shipping the items out to buyers, it is still your responsibility to ensure the buyer receives them.
Make sure you always maintain open and frequent communication with your supplier and to really save headaches, use a courier service with tracking numbers so you can keep an eye on how long the drop ship supplier is taking to send items!
Which "dud" products do you regret selling (or buying to resell)?