From mom-and-pop to big box stores, the Internet has been so inundated with eCommerce merchants that it can be hard to differentiate your store from another. If you carry a product how can you ensure shoppers will purchase from you as opposed to your competitors?
Starla Allen makes sure that her store, the Good-Earth Store, stands out by concentrating on products that are harder to find. “When I first started my health products business, there were so many products out there,” she says, “so I went to trade shows specifically looking for special products that no one knew about—unique items you couldn’t find all the time.”
Starla doesn’t even consider big brand products. “There’s no money in it because everyone is cut throating everyone else,” explains Starla.
At trade shows, she first approaches small booths that sell two or three handmade products. “We know those products aren’t going to be at Whole Foods or Target,” she says. Starla gathers samples of those new products and for the next month, she and her family and friends try them all out. If they like something, they contact the manufacturers and find out where and how the product is made and where they purchase their ingredients.
Starla prefers to buy directly from the manufacturer, as opposed to a distributor. “It’s faster and the manufacturers take better care of you,” she says. “I’ll research a vendor and look at its website and reviews. I look at where it's located, so that I know how expensive shipping will be. It’s always best to buy locally.” For Starla, it’s also important that everything she sells is made in the U.S.