Taobao agent: sell just about anything or specialize?

Sell just about anything or specialize?
Sell just about anything or specialize?


When starting off as a new Taobao agent, many are faced with a decision that has long-term consequences. Should they opt for a generalist approach, selling a very wide variety of goods? Should they specialize in specific product categories?

There is no right or wrong when it comes to this choice. Countless shops trade successfully across the world whether they specialize or not. The way they operate is, however, very different. Entrepreneurs should make this decision conscious of the different challenges and opportunities they will encounter based on the direction they take.


The generalist choice

Choosing to operate a shop that sells a very wide variety of products means dealing with a large public. As your website starts earning a good ranking on search engines and customer reviews, you will eventually have to manage frequent orders from a very large public.

As your products are likely to appeal to a wide audience, choosing to start a generalist online shop will probably start yielding revenues relatively quickly. This will give you the opportunity to learn about a very wide variety of products. You will also be able to think of creative ways of getting customers to order again, offering loyalty points or discount vouchers for special occasions.

Managing a generalist e-commerce business comes with a few important challenges.

First of all, you will have many competitors. Pricing will be key to winning more business. Margins may have to be kept relatively low. You may choose to differentiate price mark-up levels based on product categories.

You will also deal with many small orders from many customers. Most customers are good, some are not so reasonable. Some may have expectations that are difficult to meet. However, they are all customers and need attention. Keep in mind that you will need to optimize the time you spend tying loose ends and dealing with questions, praises and complaints. Most importantly, make sure your goods are quality-checked before they reach the customer.

Finally, logistics may be complex. For instance, goods will come from a wide variety of manufacturers to reach a large number of private addresses. You will have to keep shipping costs competitive. Make sure you have a reliable solution to collate your orders. Have them packed properly and shipped out of China efficiently.

At OpenTopCart we can provide modular solutions to start and operate a generalist e-commerce business from scratch, letting you focus on strategy and customer support.

Choosing from a variety of website templates that are already optimized for desktop and mobile use, you can focus on just refining the graphics and content.

You also will be able to choose what products categories you wish to link to your website, so that you could avoid any goods that may not make sense for you to sell. For example, you may want to avoid very fragile goods or products that imply high-transport costs.

Through OpenTopCart you can manage your product mark-up policy and you can choose to let it update automatically. The system track currency exchange and pricing variations too. Manual pricing is, of course, always available.

You may also choose to set up automatic Google translation of the product descriptions, to save time managing a wide portfolio of goods.

Last but not least, we can support Taobao agents with logistics. We can receive your goods at our Chinese warehouse, unpack them, upload pictures for quality control, re-pack based on your instructions and ship products out of China.


The specialist choice

Choosing to specialize means offering a high-quality service to a selected audience.

Customers who are looking for a specific type of product will land onto your website and will be able to choose from a variety of options. This way, you will be in a favorable position to offer accessories and other goods that match the product they are looking for.

If you choose to specialize in a product category that is not widely available in your region, you will not have many competitors and you will save your customers’ time. This means that you can be competitive whilst working at a higher margin.

Working at higher margins means you can dedicate more attention to each customer and supplier. Moreover, over time you can become an expert in your field and other businesses will find it hard to copy your efforts.

Specialist shops may be particularly successful when they operate as wholesalers or B2B suppliers. In this case, your customers are businesses which operate in a specific field and need trusted and competitive regular suppliers for certain types of goods. If you offer what they need and treat them well, they will come back to you.

The challenge of being a specialist is that you will need to make sure customers can find you. You will also need to excel in what you do, keeping quality and customer service in check. Using OpenTopCart’s modular solutions you can be sure your website template is well functioning and optimized for search engine ranking. This way you can start on the right foot in terms of making it easy for customers to find you and browse through your products. You can also offer a variety of advanced product search and display options. If your product is highly technical and requires a specialist feature searching tool, our experienced team of programmers will be able offer a tailor-made solution.

Quality and timely deliveries will be particularly important to you. Using OpenTopCart’s Chinese warehouse services, quality control and repacking services we can make sure your logistics run smoothly.


Could you do both?

The truth is: maybe you don’t have to choose! Well, you probably do at the start. After all, there are only 24h in a day. However, as your experience and team grows, you may choose to run multiple e-commerce shops. Each shop could have a different set of product categories. You could specialize AND run a shop offering a wide variety of unrelated products.

Through OpenTopCart you can link multiple accounts and websites to a centralized management solution. You can optimize administration activities across several teams. It may sound complex, but it can be really simple and logical. It all boils down to using the right tools.

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