How to Sell Tools Online: 6 Tips You Should Know
While the home improvement industry has traditionally favored in-store sales, online purchases of tools and other home improvement products are on the rise: e-commerce growth in this sector outpaces brick-and-mortar growth at a ratio of 6-to-1. With the average American household spending $3,000 per year on home-related projects, there's never been a better time to start selling tools online.
But selling tools and home improvement supplies online requires special considerations. Though it's a steady market year-round, sellers need to pay extra attention to home improvement trends and keep a close eye on the types of items they stock. To help you improve your sales, here are our best tips for selling home improvement supplies online.
How to Sell Tools Online
Before reading our tool-selling tips, note that some products and categories are best left to the brick-and-mortar retailers. When selling tools online, it's best to focus on items that are easy to ship and can be delivered to customers quickly, saving them the time and hassle of visiting the store. Now let's get to the advice!
Follow Home Improvement Trends
Our data indicates that tools and home improvement supplies in general sell well year-round. However, there are spikes of interest in specific items throughout the year, as well. It's important to pay attention to these trends when considering what to stock and how to promote said products.
For example, when the weather starts warming up in the spring, people begin thinking about spending time outdoors. This may mean sprucing up their patio, building a back deck, or refreshing their garden. When selling tools at this time of year, you'd be well-served by branding and promoting them with that angle in mind. For instance, you might want to stock home improvement supplies that will be most useful for outdoor projects, such as building, improving, or maintaining a patio or garden.
You might also consider putting together product bundles of gardening tools, and then updating your storefront and social media presence with images showing springtime home maintenance. Strategies like these are good for showcasing why your products are particularly useful at any given time.
You'll want to closely follow trends on a consistent basis and adjust product stock, listings, and your marketing strategy to ensure your products stand out from others. A static setup may be fine for some items, but when you're selling tools and home improvement products online, it pays to keep tabs on what's in demand during different seasons.
Entice Shoppers With Promotions
Remember to offer coupons, sales, and other promotions for products, in order to make them stand out and encourage extra sales. It's important to be mindful of your inventory as you host these seasonal events. If an item sells out, not only will that stop sales in their tracks, but it could also hurt your Amazon rankings in the long term.
If you anticipate high sales, try to have plenty of stock available in advance. Sellers using Fulfillment by Amazon should also be mindful of how long it takes to restock FBA items, which need to be shipped to Amazon and stocked on warehouse shelves before being added to their inventory. And don't forget to follow the instructions on sending in FBA products — mistakes will delay your products from being restocked, and that'll end up costing you.
Pay Close Attention to the Competition
Successfully selling on Amazon (and any other online marketplace, for that matter) means finding a niche you can make your way to the top of. So you'll want to do some market research before you begin. A number of great tools can help you monitor the competition, such as Jungle Scout and AMZScout.
You can also tackle this task without assistance. For example, you can do your own research on Amazon by browsing product categories and reviewing bestseller lists. Look for subcategories and searches where top products have few reviews, poor ratings, or low-quality product pages — all of these are areas that can allow your products to potentially pull ahead. Shoppers on Amazon aren't likely to scroll through pages and pages of product listings, so you want to ensure your listings make it to the top to catch the eyes of shoppers.
Paying attention to big brick-and-mortar businesses like Home Depot and Lowe's can also help you stay on top of home improvement trends. While you probably don't want to try to go head-to-head with these major retailers, it's worth watching what they're promoting and how they're doing it.
Witnessing what other retailers do will give you a good idea of what's popular in home improvement categories — and knowing how they're positioning their products can even help you improve your own listings. Perhaps you can offer an item at a better price, or maybe you have items in a similar category that would allow you the chance to cross-sell to your customers. Identifying these niches for your most promising products can help boost both your rankings and sales.
Consider Fees When Picking the Best Tools to Sell Online
Though online sales of tools and home improvement products are on the rise, it's still not practical to sell every related product. Heavy and oversized items will be more expensive to ship, whether you're handling fulfillment yourself or letting Amazon do the work. In addition to that, if your business uses FBA, you'll also pay storage fees based on how large your products are, which can eat into your profits.
Storage fees can range from 48 cents to $2.40 per cubic foot, and are dependent on the product size as well as the time of year. To minimize these fees, it's best to keep modestly sized products that sell well, so you don't wind up with piles of bulky stock sitting on shelves and costing you money.
Oversized FBA packages are those that measure from 60" x 30" and up and cost from about $9 to $138 to ship, plus additional fees for weight. Smaller and lighter items have fulfillment fees from $2 to $5. If your items can fit into standard-sized boxes, up to 18" x 14" x 8", shipping fees are much more reasonable.
Regardless of what you're selling, you should always keep a close eye on current FBA fees and monitor your stock carefully to ensure you aren't sinking your profits into fees. The good news about Amazon fees, though, is that the Tools & Home Improvement category referral fee is 15%, the same percentage as more than two dozen of the 40-some product categories. That makes it common fee amount, and if you end up selling base equipment power tools, the referral fee goes down to 12%.
Make Great Amazon Listings
It's important to optimize your Amazon listings, as their quality can have a big impact on your sales. Be sure you have a strong headline and a clear description that highlights your product's advantages, but don't forget to include top keywords to help your rankings. You'll also want to include high-quality images and media — preferably as much as Amazon allows, as this will make the item look much more appealing. Registered brands can also add enhanced content, such as additional images that can really make your product pages pop.
This is another place where investigating your competition can help you shine. Look for features that competing products aren't highlighting, or common complaints in reviews that you might be able to address in your own listings. Studying the keywords in the top search results can provide a good starting point to help you identify the best words to use with your own listings; however, you can also dig deeper with a tool like Semrush.
Price Your Products Properly
Online shoppers are particularly cost conscious; a price difference of just pennies could be enough to make your product come out ahead. Monitoring your competition can help you see what you're up against, and tools are available to help you find the ideal prices to ensure you make a profit while maintaining sales.
Amazon's Automate Pricing feature can help you keep your prices competitive by letting you set specific rules and limits, and then adjusting prices for you based on the Buy Box price. Just be sure to identify your minimum price threshold before you set up Automate Pricing. If you need assistance, the FBA Revenue Calculator can help sellers figure out revenue for products at different price points, and includes FBA fees in its calculation. This can be a handy place to start if you aren't sure how to best price products.
Tools like CamelCamelCamel — which is designed for shoppers, but can be just as useful for sellers — can provide historical price data, so you can identify both good average and sale prices.
To be sure you're staying competitive, you'll want to monitor not only online sellers but also major brick-and-mortar retailers. Many shoppers still visit physical retailers for home improvement products, but they may check their phone for reviews and price comparisons while they shop in person. If you can offer lower prices or keep consistent stock when other retailers don't, you might convince a shopper to click "buy" on your listing rather than purchasing elsewhere.