"An idea is a feat of association."
— Robert Frost
One of the big struggles for start-up eBay sellers is figuring out what to sell"?¦ then you have to figure out how to source it. There are a lot of different ways to approach this predicament. Two general scenarios typically apply: 1) Sell something that already exists in manufactured form and grind on the distributors to get favorable pricing, or 2) Add value to something that exists, develop the market and set your pricing accordingly.
This post is about scenario #2. Since sourcing is becoming easier and easier, and commodity goods are becoming more and more cheap, it´s often best to combine or associate a la Robert Frost.
The best ideas are, of course, combinations of ideas. Some examples… One of the co-authors of The 7 Essential Steps to Successful eBay Marketing had a good sales run by associating two ideas — one related to product and one related to shipping. She decided that packing and shipping antiques was a big time and materials expense, so she looked for something that could fit into an envelope. Antique post cards were selling well at the time, so she combined that with the easy shipping format — perfect for eBay.
Another friend wanted to sell Christmas decorations that included educational instruction. She sells these Christmas elves that you hide in your house. The kids wake up and find the elf in a new place every day. The elf carries Christmas messages for each morning that teach valuable lessons about holiday spirit, history, sharing, gifting, etc. Two good things separately — décor and education — became one super product.
Big corporations do this, too. McDonald´s combined toys and food — Happy Meal. Border´s books put cafes into their stores. Shoe manufacturers put those fun hidden roller skate wheels into the soles of their kids´ shoes. All these are value-add approaches that differentiate the product and, in fact, re-create the product.