Introducing… The Product Laboratory
In this post I’ll introduce a new spin-off service from the Niche Laboratory – the Product Laboratory. This tool is completely free to use – find it at www.nichelaboratory.com/Home/ProductLaboratory/.
So what is the Product Laboratory and what can it be used for?
The Product Laboratory is basically a service where you can type in keywords and get lists of products related to those keywords.
If you’re all out of niche ideas then there’s also a button you can click to get random stuff from a random niche. Who knows – you might also get some inspiration as to what to buy for people’s birthdays.
The product suggestions come from Amazon.com’s vast inventory of stuff, plus AliExpress’s enormous inventory of stuff.
Amazon of course needs no introduction. Since being banned by PayPal after a niche site mishap I’ve shunned eBay in favour of Amazon. It’s got a huge product range and a lot of stuff can be delivered really quickly to their lockers or your home.
I’m starting to like AliExpress. It’s basically a version of Amazon but most of the sellers are Chinese. Well I guess it’s not too much different to Amazon in that respect lol.
With AliExpress you browse products, place your order then 2-3 weeks later your stuff arrives from China. Or not at all. But seriously, if the stuff never arrives, or it’s the wrong stuff, then you apparently get a full refund, or you get to keep the wrongly sent goods. I’ve not had to put them to this test, but to their credit Amazon have always refunded me if the Chinese sellers don’t send the goods (happened to me once) or they send a completely different product to what I ordered (this also happened to me once).
So apart from saving a bit of cash by buying goods for yourself on AliExpress, what else can you use it for? Here are some suggestions:
Put AliExpress Affiliate Links on Your Site
AliExpress can be used like Amazon’s Associates scheme. However, AliExpress offers better commissions. The cookie apparently lasts long as well, so you should get credit for more sales. You could be a winner here on higher value items that the buyer might want to think about for a day or two before placing the order.
It’s pretty easy to add links to your site, and if your site is particularly big or you have IT knowledge then there’s also an API. This is actually much easier to use than Amazon’s API once you get the hang of it.
Buy in Bulk – Then Sell Individually on Your Site
By the way, when selling in bulk, it’s best to only order from the more trusted sellers on the site. Also try ordering one or two pieces first so you can check the quality.
Always be aware that when you’re buying in bulk you’ll also be much more likely to come under the radar of The Authorities. In particular, don’t bulk import shady goods, especially counterfeit items. Also stay away from items that have special laws in your own country (e.g. the UK has strict laws on the sales of knives and self-defence items).
Drop shipping sites are those online stores that allow customers to place orders, but they don’t actually hold any inventory. Stock is dispatched from a 3rd party. There’s nothing shady about this – big retailers do it all the time. If you buy a high end car online for example, it’s unlikely the car has actually been made. Instead, your order will go to the manufacturer, who will create the car (and spray it the colour you ordered).
A way to start a drop shipping site is to set up an online store, find some products and wait for customers to order them. Then once an order is placed, you take the customer’s details, type them into AliExpress and do the ordering yourself.
Why does this work?
This arbitrage process works because many people are unaware of AliExpress, or would be unwilling to place an order on the site. You can gain more credibility by making a Western style website with good product photos and reviews. If you’re selling clothes, find Western looking models for example and work out realistic sizing charts.
Incidentally if you’re thinking of doing this, then choose products in the $10 to $100 price bracket that are easy to ship via airmail. Also choose items where the buyer isn’t in a particular hurry.
Finally remember that some niches look good in theory, but there may be problems with disgruntled customers. For example around 10% of clothes orders may be returned because they’re the wrong size.
Product Laboratory – Sniff Out Arbitrage Opportunities
Since the Product Laboratory searches both Amazon and AliExpress, it’s a good tool for finding retail arbitrage opportunities.
Basically you need to look for products that are much cheaper on AliExpress than they are on Amazon (remember to take postage into account).
If you find products that are much cheaper on AliExpress then you might have found some good candidates for selling on Amazon, or eBay, or even from your own ecommerce store.
Again, focus on small, easily posted items. Evergreen items are also better – you don’t want to end up with a house or garage full of items you’ll never be able to sell.
Start a Brand
You can find all kinds of products with white-label potential on AliExpress. White labelling basically means you buy some generic item then package it with your own branding. This can be exceedingly profitable!
Niches where this can work well include clothing and kitchen utensils. The classic white labelling example is meat claws – check them out on Amazon but be aware that this niche is now super saturated with people doing the same.
All This Looks Hard Work!
So the ideas above look good, but they are hard work.
Is it worth it?
Check out Niche Pursuits for plenty of success stories from people selling $60,000+ worth of goods on Amazon every month! This is rather more money than you could make from your average WordPress blog about dog training. If you want specific examples then this is the sort of niche site that does very well.
I hope this article has given you a bit of inspiration. So what have you been using the Product Laboratory for?