Everyone loves a novelty product. And, if you’re thinking about selling them online then you’ve chosen the right time to get started.
That’s because the novelty gifts and souvenirs market is expected to grow by $11.88 billion between 2021-2025 – so the market is certainly a lucrative one!
Whether it’s joke products or souvenirs, stocking fillers or greetings cards, a novelty store can sell all sorts of items to all sorts of people.
Starting an online store is daunting though, and there’s a lot of things to consider to make sure you get the right return on your investment. Luckily, that’s where this article comes in. We’ve put together eight steps to help you get your online novelty store up and running – so read on to get inspired!
The first step to starting your online novelty store is to decide exactly what it is you want to sell. That, of course, means finding your niche.
You might think that “novelty items” is a niche in itself, but for the best chance of success, you’ll need to be even more specific.
It’s important when you first get started to not spread yourself too thin by trying to provide everything. Instead, it’s better to focus on a specific niche that you’re confident you can turn into a success.
Here are some examples of a potential niche for your online novelty store:
- Joke products
- Stocking fillers
- Themed memorabilia
- Seasonal products, such as Christmas trinkets or Halloween costumes
- Greeting cards
A strong niche will help you to grow an engaged audience of customers. When starting any kind of online shop, it’s important to be clear on exactly what it is you’re selling to attract users who will convert into customers.
Once you’ve decided what it is that you want to sell on your online novelty store, you’ll need to find a supplier to source the products.
Try to be as specific as possible when choosing a supplier to ensure that you end up with the items you want. Just like when choosing a niche, if you keep your search too broad you’ll find it harder to source the exact products that you’re looking for.
When deciding on a supplier there are some key questions to ask which will ensure you make the right decision:
- Are the supplier’s prices competitive?
- Can the supplier deliver the products to you on time?
- Are there additional charges e.g. delivery?
- Are the products high quality?
- How reliable is the supplier? Try to read reviews!
- Where is the supplier based?
- Do they offer discounts for bulk orders?
Some of the key US suppliers for novelty items include Deluxe Import Trading and Mutual Sales INC as well as drop shipping companies such as AliExpress.
Your brand is your online store’s personality. It’ll run through everything to do with your store, such as your website, any social media platforms you cultivate a presence on, and even your customer service and packaging.
A brand refers to everything from the logo and colors you select to the font that you use across your platforms, as well as the tone of voice in which you speak to your audience.
Creating a strong brand is important if you want your products and messaging to stand out in an already overcrowded market. Investing in your brand at the beginning is crucial. Of course, you can always rebrand further down the line – but nailing your brand identity from the very start will help you to build up a loyal and engaged customer base.
When it comes to building your online novelty store, we recommend using a website builder.
Website builders are easy to use and you can customize the look and function of your website without needing to be clued up on website code. Most website builders offer various pricing plans and have great help and support features if you ever need assistance.
The main three website builders that we recommend for creating an online store are:
Shopify is one of the best ecommerce website builders available. The platform has extensive scaling capabilities, which makes it perfect for stores that are predicting substantial growth.
Shopify also supports over 100 different payment options; giving you the option to choose a template, or build your own from scratch. It also allows you to sell your products across different marketplaces, including social media.
Wix is the perfect choice for smaller online stores. It’s easy to use, and its drag-and-drop builder is user-friendly, even for beginners. It also has various customization options, allowing you to display your branding exactly as you wish.
The platform also has various selling features to help you level up your online novelty store: including abandoned cart recovery to recapture lost customers, and over 15 payment options.
If you’re intending for your novelty store to be purely online, then BigCommerce is a great platform option. It’s super scalable – meaning it can easily support you as your business grows – and has more built-in features than any other ecommerce builder.
BigCommerce also has great SEO features, which will help you ensure that your online novelty store ranks well in search results.
If you want people to buy your items then you need to make sure that you’re showcasing them in the best possible way.
Two key ways that you can showcase your items are with high-quality photos and detailed product descriptions.
When it comes to taking photographs of your products, think about how you can present them in a way that will give customers a clear idea of what they’re buying. Make sure the images are clear, and attempt to photograph your products from different angles.
Try to also make sure that the lighting is clear and bright and where possible shoot your products using a white or plain background in order to ensure nothing distracts from your novelties.
Detailed Product Descriptions
Your product descriptions should, most importantly, be accurate. The last thing you want is to lie about your products on your website, as this will only lead to dissatisfied and unhappy customers.
Take the time to describe your products in detail and make sure you include all of the information that you think a potential customer would find relevant such as item size, color options, and any care instructions.
If you perfect your product imagery and descriptions, then visitors to your online novelty store will be much more likely to convert into customers.
Pricing your products fairly can be hard. You’ll need to balance your desire to make a profit against realistic market prices and demand.
If you’re unsure how to price your products, then think about how much you’ve had to spend so far. This isn’t just about how much you paid the supplier for the items, but also your overheads, any storage fees, and even, if relevant, staff costs.
Take a look at how much competitors are selling similar items for and it may even be worthwhile to undertake some audience research to fully understand how much your target audience would be willing to spend.
When pricing your products remember – to make sure you’re making a profit in the long run, you don’t want your dreams of starting an online novelty store leaving you in the red!
By the time you’ve completed all the exciting parts of setting up your online novelty store – such as choosing your products and designing your website – packaging and shipping can easily end up left by the wayside.
It is, however, an essential part of your business. You need to ensure that your products make it to your customers in one piece, and that they arrive on time. After all, you can provide the very best novelty products – but if your packaging or shipping lets you down, then customers are unlikely to return.
To avoid damage, make sure you select durable packaging that will protect your items in the mail. Try to choose a lightweight option if possible, too – this will help to keep your overall shipping costs down.
Some companies even opt for branded packaging to elevate the shopping experience, and act as a form of off-platform marketing.
When it comes to choosing a courier to ship your products, make sure to shop around and find the one that offers the most competitive rates. You also need to make sure that they’re trustworthy, so it’s always worth taking the time to read reviews before committing.
Check also that the courier you choose can deliver to your target locations, and be careful to opt for a courier who can deliver your items promptly – the last thing you want to do is make your customers face long wait times once they’ve made a purchase.
Some courier companies also offer the option to come to you to pick up the products – meaning you can avoid spending hours in the post office queue!
Once you’ve got your online novelty store up and running, all that’s left to do is wait for the customers to come to you, right? Wrong.
You can’t expect streams of customers to land on your website on day one – particularly if you’re not doing anything to promote it.
Marketing your online store will help to build up brand awareness, and – when implemented correctly, at least – will lead to an increase in customers. So what key marketing areas should you invest in for your online novelty store?
Social media is one of the best tools you have at your disposal when it comes to promoting your online store…and it’s completely free! Creating social media accounts for your online store is a great way to showcase products, and even offer exclusive discounts.
Building a community of engaged users who are interested in your products will help you to retain customers and build interest in new products and ranges.
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of optimizing your website so that it appears in search results, and is a key component of digital marketing strategies.
There are various things you can do to help improve your SEO, such as including target keywords within your website content, building up a backlink profile of links that point to your website, and ensuring that your site is offering a consistently excellent user experience.
Email marketing is a particularly astute way of recapturing customers who haven’t completed their purchase, as well as nurturing your novelty store’s relationship with its existing customer base.
Creating and distributing a newsletter keeps your audience engaged with your online novelty store and array of unique products. If customers leave your online store without completing a purchase, you can also collect data that allows you to recapture them via email marketing.
Starting an online novelty store can allow you to make money, and provide customers with a marketplace full of the products they’re looking for.
It’s not necessarily an easy task, though, and will require time and attention if you want to make it a success. By following these eight tips, you can ensure that your novelty shop dreams don’t turn into a bad joke…