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6 minute read 

E-Commerce Is Like Riding a Moped

It ain’t cool, but it gets you where you need to go!

What comes to mind when you think of a moped? Thoughts of resort rentals from an enthusiastic local or a college student cruising to study hall for finals usually take hold. They’re not quite scooters but also don’t belong in the motorcycle category. Mopeds are efficient. Mopeds are cheap. Mopeds get you where you need to go. Nevertheless, you never want your friends to see you on a moped at your local coffee shop! Although mopeds are not the coolest, they get the job done without breaking your wallet.

Now, let me address the big question on your mind now: what does this have to do with e-commerce? Similar to the affordability and efficiency of a moped, there are products that may not be the coolest, sexiest, or most interesting, but they can turn a greater profit. These products fly under the competition’s radar, are not as susceptible to customer returns, and can avoid the sharp rise and fall of trendy products.

Where did this idea come from?

Before I was a full-time e-commerce seller, I worked as a full-time paramedic and Firefighter—the job was great! As a boy, I dreamt of the day I’d get to ride around in a firetruck, fight fires, and save lives. As an adult, after several years of “riding the back seat” as they call a regular firefighter, I got promoted to engineer. This meant that I got to drive and operate the trucks! On my very first call as an engineer, I was severely disappointed when I got stuck driving “SR-1,” which stands for “special response #1.”

SR-1 was not a firetruck. It was an old pickup truck with a couple of red lights and a crappy old siren that rang barely louder than I could yell. It was 20 years old and sat in the back of our fire station. We probably used around twice per year. It had pretty much only one use, car fires in parking garages, and that happened to be the call we received for my big debut. For context, we had a lot of downtown parking garages. When a car fire started in one, you could not get a regular firetruck into the garage to fight the fire. That’s why we had an old truck with a small water tank and pump in the back along with a ton of miscellaneous tools used for this exact type of fire. 

Here’s my point: the SR-1 was ugly. Nobody liked it. We didn’t get a sense of pride driving it through town, and it certainly wasn’t glamorous—but it did its job. We could whip it into a parking garage, drive it safely) to the car fire, and take care of business. We joked about it being our version of a moped because it wasn’t sexy or top of the line, but it sat unnoticed in the back of the fire station and did its job effectively.

The eCommerce world has its own version of SR-1’s and mopeds, and they’re likely going unnoticed. Products that quietly churn consistent sales are less likely to be noticed by competitors. The things that catch the eyes of consumers ALSO catch the eyes of other sellers, and having a “moped” in your arsenal helps to reduce the

likelihood of detection. In addition, trendy items usually start selling quickly and have huge increases in sales numbers. That sharp uptick in sales OR search volume is more easily noticed by other sellers. Having a product with consistent but even demand will help you avoid the notice of others.

It’s more likely to be a product that has longevity and a more stable market. These are thethings that aren’t flashy. Like Fidget spinners, magnet tile blocks, and hooded baby towels, they are items that are consistent and that you can continuously build upon further down the road. As you are building your catalog, these everyday products are under the “see a need fill a need” umbrella. They are products that can hold your catalog together without dependence on trendier items to carry the load of your profits.  Additionally, clients are less likely to stress over every detail and demand returns for any number of flaws. By no means should this give a reason for selling low-quality products, but it does give you room to consider products in nondescript packaging with not trendy colors or distinct brands and designs—it’s a plain, normal product. It doesn’t always have to be an “unboxing experience” with these types of products.

They’re less likely to disappoint the consumer because they don’t carry an emotional connection to the buyer. This is huge in helping to eliminate bad reviews and returns. 

Riding Pretty

Building your catalog is no easy feat. You should aim to have products that wow, but you can’t build a business on that alone. Having everyday essentials throughout your catalog will help mitigate risks associated with flashier, more unstable products. 

Not everything on your catalog needs to be a grand slam because even batting a few doubles has been known to win the game. Don’t be afraid to find your own “moped” to sell online! Moped products are items that you may not be extremely thrilled about, but they can continuously make you money. These moped products may not get elected “Best Dressed” from your catalog, but they’ll definitely be in the running for “Most Likely to Succeed.”

Psst… There’s more savvy know-how to grow your
Amazon business where that came from.

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