Be it a kick-back, hang-out, get-together, shindig, or good old-fashioned hootenanny, no self-respecting party is complete without one key ingredient – supplies.
Balloons, streamers, games – at some point or other, we’ve all bought these fun novelty items for our events. But have you considered selling them, too?
It’s a lucrative business. According to a Research and Markets report, the global party supplies market hit a value of $12.1 billion in 2021. (Fuelled, no doubt, by the fact that everyone could go out again!) So what can you gain from selling party supplies online – and how can you start your own party supply business?
Let’s find out. Read on for our simple, step-by-step guide to sourcing, pricing, and showcasing your own selection of party supplies – then creating and marketing your very own online store.
Party supplies are, essentially, fun “novelty” items that add to your guests’ experience at a party. Some examples of party supplies you can sell online include:
- Streamers, wall cutouts, and banners
- Party hats, bags, and blowers
- Games (pin the tail on the donkey, anyone?)
- Invitations and thank you notes
- Cups, plates, napkins, and tablecloths
…you get the idea. So why sell party supplies?
As we touched on earlier, the global party supplies business is, well…big business.
But aside from the huge, multi-billion-dollar size of its market, there’s a deceptively simple reason to sell party supplies: that they’re always needed.
Partying is more than a fun pastime. For many, it’s a regular release from the pent-up worries and frustrations of the week. And party supplies are an age-old, tried-and-tested way of taking fetes and fiestas to the next level.
Plus – from a more business-minded than philosophical angle – party supplies have very high margins. Gross margins for party supplies stores sit at around 40%, and – if you take the dropshipping business route – you won’t have to store your own inventory. Meaning you can keep costs down, manage cash flow, reduce risk – and sell party supplies from home.
Now we’ve sold you on the benefits of selling party supplies online, let’s move from the why to the how. And get you on your way to selling through your own bustling, fun-filled online party supplies store – in just seven simple steps.
Your first task? Sourcing the products you’re going to sell.
For this, you can look to a range of outlets, including:
- Online marketplaces, such as Amazon, eBay, and Etsy
- Real-life marketplaces (ideal for secondhand products)
- Event fairs, such as wedding fairs
Of these, we’d recommend buying in bulk from a wholesaler – particularly if you want to keep costs down. You can also look at customer reviews on sites like Amazon to figure out which products are selling well, and are of a high quality design. Then, you can shop for these products on other platforms, where you may get a better deal.
Another thing to remember? Party supplies are extremely dependent on the season. Halloween, St Patrick’s Day, and Mardi Gras will likely be your business’ biggest times of the year, so make sure you’re stocked up in advance.
Be sure, too, not to source your own stock at these busier times of year – retailers always charge more during peak costume and holiday seasons.
Of course, if sourcing your own stock isn’t feasible (either because you don’t have the upfront cash, or the room to store it), you can dropship.
With this approach, you simply relay orders to the supplier, who – in addition to storing the inventory you’re selling – fulfills and ships the order to your customer.
You won’t have control over how the product is branded or packaged – nor over shipping times – and your profit margins will be lower. But it can be a great way of getting your party supplies business off the ground in a low-cost, low-risk way.
Wholesalers – like the aptly-named Wholesale Party Supplies – are a good place to source your store’s products.
With your party supplies sourced – or your supplier, at least, lined up – it’s time to decide where you’re going to be selling.
Here are your options.
Your Own Online Store
When it comes to selling party supplies online, we recommend setting up your own online store through an ecommerce website builder. Our favorites include:
- Wix: best for small online stores
- Squarespace: best value for money
- Square Online: best way to sell for free
An online store will take slightly more time to set up – and more effort to maintain ongoing. But, in the long run, it’s the most sustainable, scalable approach. You’ll get to set the look and feel of your site through color and design, and build a brand your customers can connect with.
Selling through social media platforms – such as Facebook, Pinterest, or TikTok – exposes your party supplies brand to a huge pool of customers.
However, your store will, naturally, be limited to the restrictions of the specific social media platform – making it hard to develop a memorable brand, or differentiate your store from the competition.
For more info about making money on social media, check out our handy guide!
Selling through Amazon, eBay, Etsy, or another online marketplace has both pros and cons. Like with social media, you’ll be gaining access to a readymade audience of buyers – millions upon millions of them, in fact!
The downside? There’s already a whole bunch of party supply sellers doing what you do. Competition on these marketplaces is huge, and – like social media – we recommend them only as part of a multi-channel approach, rather than as a sole route to revenue.
While we don’t recommend social media as a sole sales strategy, it’s quick, easy, and relatively low-cost to set up. (Photo: @partysuppliesng)
Before you can start showcasing your hilarious, helium-filled party supplies, you’ll need to price your products. But how?
Pricing is all about finding the balance between remaining competitive and making enough money to remain profitable. (And, ideally, grow.)
To this end, it’s worth doing some research. That includes doing a deep dive into:
- Your competitors: how much are they charging for similar items?
- Your audience: how much are they willing to pay, and what levels of product quality and customer service do they demand?
- Your industry: are there particular party products that are in hot demand – be it consistently, or because of a topical popular cultural phenomenon?
So ahead of pricing your party supplies, conduct this research: either through incentivized surveys, focus groups, or via social media monitoring.
Armed with this data and a better knowledge of the party supplies state of play, you’ll be able to price your products at just the right amount.
You’re nearly ready to open your online party supplies store! But first, you’ll need to set your products up for success. That means writing great product descriptions, and ensuring that the photos you take do your products the justice they deserve.
For your product photos, use plenty of white space – and make sure the product is well lit. Ensure, too, that the whole product is visible, and that there are no distractions detracting from the product you’re showing off.
For your product descriptions, try to introduce a little flair. Sure – you’ll still need to cover off all the basics, such as the product’s dimensions and name. But this is your chance to get aspirational: to compel your potential customer, and make them realize just how much your product can bring to their next party.
Keen to start making some money? Good – it’s time to create your online store.
Here are the three options we recommend.
Starting at just $27 per month, Wix is the best overall ecommerce website builder. Powered by drag-and-drop functionality – and with the built-in functionality to sell on Instagram – it’s ideal for beginners.
However, its basic analytics and inventory management setups mean it doesn’t offer the most scalable approach.
Read our Wix Ecommerce Review for a more detailed look at whether Wix is right for you.
With superb sales features, glowing customer reviews, and a brilliant inventory system, Shopify is ideal for party supplies store owners with growth on the brain.
Prices start at a reasonable $29 per month, although you will pay high transaction fees if you don’t use Shopify Payments. Also, you’ll need third-party apps if you hope to take payments from overseas – so it isn’t great for selling internationally.
Read our full Shopify Review for more information on Shopify’s pros and cons.
Sporting excellent features, splendid social media integration, and the best design templates we’ve seen, Squarespace offers plenty for prospective party supplies store owners to get excited about.
Like Wix, though, it’s not super scalable, and its app market is very small compared to Shopify’s.
Read our detailed Squarespace Ecommerce Review for our full breakdown of its features, pricing, and more.
You have a place to sell your party supplies, but you’ll still need to get them to your customers.
That means planning your shipping. Which, in turn, means:
- Organizing your shipping address: where will you ship from? This is vital for calculating order tax, shipping rates, and return costs.
- Figuring out your shipping destinations: which countries and continents will you sell to?
- Choosing your shipping rates: how will you charge for shipping? Some examples include flat rate, exact, calculated, price-based – even free. Our step-by-step guide to shipping products goes into more detail!
Of course, once your party-starting product has been shipped to the customer, you’ll still need someone to deliver it on the other end. That means choosing a courier, and there are many reliable, renowned options you can choose from here:
- UK Royal Mail
- Canada Post
Before you pick a provider, it’s worth shopping around, and grabbing real-time quotes.
Finally, it’s time to spread the word and drum up some hype around your brand-new party supplies store – so let’s get marketing.
There are, of course, myriad ways you can market your party supplies online. But how you do so will depend on which method you’ve chosen to get your store up and running.
If you created your store with an ecommerce platform:
- Play the long game with content marketing – such as blogs – and invest in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for long-term success.
- Use social media ads to start a conversation with your audience, and drive traffic back to your site.
If you’re selling on online marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay:
- Funnel some money into “Sponsored Listings” to help your products stand out.
- Run promotions and discounts to get people buying – then leaving five-star reviews about – your products.
If you’re selling through social media:
- Harness the power of video content to relate to your audience, showcase the personal side of your business, and go “behind the scenes” of your party supplies operation.
- Run exclusive flash sales to reward your most loyal customers.
- Build a community: regularly engage with your followers via comments and posts, and give them a reason to keep coming back.
To recap, here are the seven steps to selling party supplies online:
- Source your products
- Decide where you’ll sell them
- Price them
- Showcase them
- Create your store
- Plan your shipping
- Market, market, market!
And remember, selling party supplies doesn’t have to be daunting. In fact, it can be a lot like parties themselves – fun!