Ecommerce Business Models & Product Selection

Welcome to Day 5! You are trucking my friend!

Today we’re going to take a look at the business models so you can decide which one suits your goals the best and hone in on selecting the perfect product!

First check out the post What is Ecommerce and Is It For You? in which I explain in detail the five different ecommerce models;

1. Print on Demand
2. Dropshipping
3. Arbitraging
4. Private Labeling
5. Designing & Manufacturing your own product

For the sake of this 30 day training guide I am really only going to talk about print on demand, a touch of drop-shipping and some private labelling because I have done them myself.

However along the way you can listen to interviews with others who have experienced arbitraging & creating custom built products, so if they are areas that interest you, you can explore those further.

Please note other than the logistical parts of the business like sourcing, setting up your store, shipping, storage etc, all marketing & brand building information remains pretty similar for any of the above models!

Here is an example of how you may start and progress your business depending on your niche of course;

1. Start with print on demand.

It is quick and easy to setup, the line of products offered by these companies has grown significantly now, so you could test something with your own designs and see how it sells.

2. Move into drop-shipping.

It’s much higher profit margins than POD and there are a greater selection of products, but it comes with its own set of risks.

The FB’s & Paypals of the world are not keen on drop-shipping businesses and if you grow too fast you run the risk of getting your ad account shut down or your paypal account limited.

Best to grow very slowly with this one, however it does allow you to test the market before moving into private labelling and ordering big quantities at significant expense.

3. Find suppliers who can make and sell large quantities of your best sellers and move into private labeling & launching your products on Amazon.

Things to consider when deciding what to sell

1. Are you providing what your customer wants & needs. Go back through your work in Days 3 & 4. Who is your customer? What does a typical day in the life look like and how can you enhance it with your products?

2. Explore your competition. Browse though Amazon, Ebay, Etsy and other online stores to see who is selling something similar. What’s their messaging? How are they presenting the product? How can you be different / unique? See Day 4.

3. Beware of trends. By definition, that means something that’s hot right now, but may not be in a few months time. Here’s a great quote from Jeff Bezos of Amazon;

“I very frequently get the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ And that is a very interesting question; it’s a very common one. I almost never get the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ And I submit to you that that second question is actually the more important of the two — because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time. When you have something that you know is true, even over the long term, you can afford to put a lot of energy into it.”

What’s not going to change in your niche for the next 10 years?

4.Set some criteria for yourself. Questions to consider would be;

  1. Does this product meet a need my customer has?
  2. Does this product provide novelty value or inject fun into their day?
  3. Does this product have a high perceived value?
  4. Does it meet my quality requirements, will my customer be happy with the quality of the item?
  5. Does this product represent my brand?
  6. Is there a good size market for this product?
  7. Is it light and easy / cheap to ship?
  8. Can I markup the product by 5 – 10x it’s cost price?
  9. Is it unique?
  10. Would I be excited to promote it?

So armed with those considerations and questions let’s explore how you would get started in each area and hone in on exactly what you’re going to sell;

Print on Demand

1. Start by making a list of all the print on demand companies you like the look of.

I’ll help you out with that;

Teelaunch – who I used for Legends not Ladies – products good quality, prices on the cheaper side for POD, delivery a bit slow (but it was coming up to Christmas), but not the best selection of products and the customisation app is super laborious.

Printful – Apparently one of the best in the game, I haven’t tried them yet, but they are a serious contender for my new YLB store, with a much larger product selection than Teelaunch.

Printify – Again a serious contender, these guys use a selection of printers you can choose from. They’re all much of a muchness for me, so it really comes down to product selection, price and ease of customisation.

SPOD – I don’t know much about these guys but it looks like their shipping might be superfast which from a customer service stand point would give you a serious edge. May be worth a serious look at!

Some others I don’t know much about but might be worth a look!

Lulu Xpress – Print on demand for books!
JetPrint – Print on demand for watches!

My question is what won’t there be print on demand for soon???

What a business!

2. Go through and look at range of products – who sells what you want?

Don’t go product crazy like I did with Legends, but by now you should have an idea of your top 3 or 4 products you’d love to sell.

For example, lets say you really want to sell, women’s tank tops, leggings, socks and caps.

If you go to teelaunch, you’ll be out of luck as they do neither leggings, socks or caps.

So first thing is to check if one app has everything you want as connecting more than one will start to cause you issues with shipping & fulfillment. It’s doable but more complicated, which you don’t really want when getting started. (Let’s add complications a bit later down the line if we have too!)

3. Now with products in mind and print on demand apps selected, create yourself a little spreadsheet – here’s one I did earlier!

On the left write down the top 3 products you would like to sell under each print on demand company and along the top, the cost price, shipping, proposed retail price etc so you can get an idea of which company is going to be the most profitable for you.

Your sale price is dependent on you and your brand, but a good starting place to see what similar items sell for is of course Amazon. In an ideal world you don’t really want to be selling for much more than what’s on Amazon, but to make a profit in print on demand the likelihood is you’ll have to.

Of course depending on how you position your brand you may end up charging a lot more than Amazon, wouldn’t that be grand!

By the end of this exercise you should have a winner based on profitability.

But do also check the company reviews, shipping times, quality of products etc., as if the difference is $1, but the service / quality is far better from another company, it might not be worth the saving.

Now would be a great time to order a product from each of your potential POD platforms to check shipping times, quality etc. Nothing like experiencing it first hand.

Once you have your winner, you’re up and away!

When we set up the store you’ll add their app to your store and create your products from there. Happy Days!

Now we just need to get your designs done, but let’s leave that for another day. You’ve done quite enough for now. Go get a cuppa! 🙂

2. Drop-shipping

There are many ways to start a drop-shipping business.

As I spoke about in the ‘What is Ecommerce?’ post there are really 2 categories of drop-shipper. The ‘content-driven niche market drop-shipper‘ or the ‘data driven, whatever happens to be trending drop-shipper‘.

In this 30 day course we’re focused on building a long term brand in a niche you’re passionate about or solves a real problem and that you’re invested in. Meaning the niche comes first, the product comes second.

If you’re entire focus is simply to make money and you’re prepared to live and breathe FB Ads, Google ads and are willing to problem solve your way through facebook ad account bans, paypal account limits etc, then I highly recommend two amazing guys I have had the pleasure of getting to know over the last couple of months.

These guys are above board, very ethical ecom experts, but specialise in that more data driven, trending product model that may be more attractive to you.

Please note, I am not saying that model is wrong and the content driven niche model is right, they’re just different and suit different personalities.

Unfortunately for the super hard workers amongst us, the data driven, trending products model does tend to attract opportunists who will and do resort to some shady marketing techniques, meaning the rest of the honest folk suffer with platforms like FB & Paypal tarnishing everyone with the same brush.

So, it is not an easy path by any means. However, if you’re tenacious enough it is highly lucrative and there are ways to do it ethically and honestly if you learn from the right people.

So go and see Nick Peroni at Ecom Empires – a completely free absolutely excellent drop-shipping training resource by the way.

I also got Nick on a podcast which you can listen to here – Nick Peroni.

Top guy!

And someone who Nick works with from time to time is the extremely talented and generous Justin Woll.

Extremely switched on, super fast thinker and just such a nice guy. Justin runs the FB group – Beyond Six Figures.

Beyond Six Figures

I would say he’s got more drop-shipping success stories than anyone in the business and I dare you not to be inspired by the guys & gals crushing it in his group.

Even if you’re going the longer, slower, build a brand, build an audience, sell niche products route, it’s worth checking out these guys anyway, they have some excellent free trainings you may benefit from in the future.

In the meantime, by now you probably have an idea of the kind of products you want to sell, so you need to start looking for who sells them at what price.

The easiest place to start is of course

However you don’t just have to look to china any longer. There are companies popping up all over the world geared to service this new demand in people building their own micro stores.

Here’s a great list of apps that connect with Shopify making your life whole lot easier when you create your store;

Just spend a couple of hours having a look through, seeing what’s on offer in your niche and which products you’d love to sell.

Here would be a great time to utilise Richard Lazazzera’s 17 point product selection criteria.

Also you could use this fabulous little Product Validation Spreadsheet created by Tim Kock for the folks over at Oberlo, to grade your product based on demand.

I know it looks a little complicated but he explains how to do it in his blog post where you can also download the spreadsheet.

This could be a bit of a job so be prepared to spend some time finding the right products and don’t be afraid to let some products go if they don’t meet the criteria, no matter how excited you get about them.

Once you have selected your potential winners, see if you can order one for yourself.

Check out the quality, how they’re shipped, packaged, the shipping time etc. Also why not send a couple to friends or family to get their opinion also? It’s always good to get some objective feedback before we get too emotionally invested!

Well done my friend, this is hard work but I’m hoping by now you’re starting to get excited and can see the products coming to life on your site! 🙂

3. Own products

Clearly if you’re making or sourcing your own products locally then you are super clear on what products you want to sell.

However it would still be worth checking demand for similar types of products, looking at where they’re selling, how much they’re selling for etc.

You want to see where your products fit into the marketplace ideally and how you’re going to compete.

Profit & Loss

Once you have checked out your products demand and decided if it’s a good fit for your target market, meets a need, there’s a solid market size etc., it would be a good idea to do a very simple profit & loss exercise just to be sure there is room for profit.

Quite simply, take your proposed selling price, minus any costs associated with getting that product into the hands of your customer and what’s left is your potential profit before tax.

So for example, let’s say you’re going to sell a great quality t-shirt at $29.99. Your P & L calc might look something like;

Selling price – $29.99

Product Cost – $10.49
Shipping – $5.00
Payment Fees – Shopify / Paypal – 2.9% + $0.30 – $1.17
Advertising per unit (approx) – $5.00
Overheads – staff / time etc – $5.00

Costs = $26.66

Profit = $3.33

This is fairly typical for a print on demand product, (but don’t despair my print on demand friend, this is why in the marketing section we encourage multiple sales and upsells! This is what increases your profit significantly), but for drop-shipping and your own products the potential for higher profits is far greater, but this is offset by the amount of work involved.

It’s always tit for tat right!

The greater the elbow grease, the higher the reward!


By end of this exercise you should have a clear idea of how you want to start and progress your store and a list of 1 – 5 products you’re feeling pretty confident about.

Great job my hustling hero! Today is a tough day, we’re really starting to get into the nitty gritty now!

Tomorrow we’re going to look at what to call your store / business and I have some great little naming resources for you!

Have a great day! 🙂