Top Challenges for Online Sunglasses Retailers

Challenges for Online Sunglasses Retailers

So you want to get into selling sunglasses online? A report published by Research and Markets in July 2018, calculates that the global eyewear market reached 114.9 billion USD in 2017 and is expected to reach 177.8 billion USD by 2023. This is indeed a huge market; and with a respectable 7.55% compound annual growth rate forecast until 2023, it certainly looks like there is room for plenty of sellers.

However, since sunglasses are a subsegment of the larger eyewear market, we need to dig a little deeper to get a more accurate view. Mordor Intelligence’s eyewear industry report expects that the sunglasses segment of the broader eyewear market will see the fastest growth during the upcoming years. Both these reports identify Asia Pacific as the region that will experience the greatest growth, which is good for sellers to keep in mind.

Sunglasses Retailers Graph

Advantages of Selling Sunglasses

With a strong market expected into the foreseeable future, it appears that sunglasses can be viable products for your eCommerce business. In fact, there are many advantages of selling sunglasses online that can lead to profitable business for eCommerce merchants, whether they sell on Amazon, eBay, and/or Walmart. Some of the qualities that make sunglasses such a good fit for online commerce include:

  • Typically sold at high prices with high profit margins
  • Ability to sell as is, without complication of prescriptions
  • Global demand
  • Fashion item so you can offer many styles
  • Consumers typically buy more than one pair
  • Small and lightweight, so inexpensive to ship
  • Low return rates as many consumers try on in stores and then order online
  • Can sell as private label to earn even greater profit margins
  • Opportunity to get deals on liquidations and previous year’s styles
Advantages of Selling Sunglasses

Challenges of Selling Sunglasses Online

So far, we’ve looked at the business of selling sunglasses with our own rose-colored glasses on. The overall market demand level looks good and we see many advantages that make sunglasses an attractive item to sell online. Now it’s time to take off our shades to understand many of the challenges that go along with the opportunity. It’s also important to keep in mind that all marketplaces are different. So, whether you sell on Amazon, eBay, and/or Walmart, and whether in the US, UK, Germany, Australia, or somewhere else, each marketplace may well feature different items at different prices as a result of differences in consumer demand and buying patterns, and the inventory that those sellers have sourced. The marketplaces themselves also function differently with many Amazon customers expecting free shipping options, whereas eBay customers are more accustomed to additional shipping fees. It is often a good idea for merchants to sell on multiple markets to maximize their opportunities while minimizing their risk through diversification. Our blog, International eCommerce: Why you should be selling abroad helps to explain the advantages and ways to mitigate risk in more detail. We explore the specific challenges of selling on the different marketplaces below. Let’s take a look at some of the key challenges sellers will face and ways you can mitigate and leverage them to enhance your eCommerce success.

Selling Sunglasses On Amazon

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Challenges of Selling Sunglasses on Amazon

With millions of sellers, the Amazon marketplace is the largest retailer in the US, accounting for nearly one-third (31.3%) of total eCommerce sales in 2018 according to eMarketer. It’s important to note that this is apart from Amazon’s own retail operations, which make up another 16.7% of the US eCommerce market.

But Amazon isn’t just a US giant, the company is a true global leader. Today, they have 14 international marketplaces, including the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Australia, India, Japan, Turkey and more. Amazon is reported to hold a 22% share of the Western Europe eCommerce market and about one-third of the UK eCommerce market. In fact, Amazon was ranked as the fifth largest retailer in the UK in 2017, accounting for 33.5% of the country’s online spending, according to GlobalData. Along with the huge reach of Amazon marketplaces comes many challenges, including the need for sellers to get their listings to stand out, to win the Buy Box, or become a featured item among the crowds of competitors. We will address some of the specific challenges of selling sunglasses on the Amazon platform below.

Challenges of Selling Sunglasses on Amazon

Amazon Approval Requirements

One of the first challenges you will face selling sunglasses on Amazon is the need for Amazon’s approval. Because of the high margins on branded sunglasses, some sellers have resorted to selling counterfeit, unauthorized replicas. In order to combat this phenomenon and enable its customers to shop with confidence, Amazon requires sellers to request authorization and subscribe to their Professional seller plan (requiring a monthly fee), before being approved to sell sunglasses on its desirable marketplace. Amazon’s requirements include:

  • Submitting a website or image hosting site with product images
  • Including the manufacturer’s UPC code in your listing when selling branded products
  • Selling only new products
If you are not misrepresenting products and are abiding by your supplier’s guidelines, it might take some time and patience to overcome the red tape, but it shouldn’t be a prohibiter.

Need to Uphold Strict Seller Standards

Amazon has built its platform with the philosophy of always putting the consumer first and the numbers show that this has paid off. Multiple surveys identify Amazon as the most trusted retail brand. Amazon thinks about and invests in creating an excellent buying experience, every step of the way. Consumers enjoy buying on the platform due to the simple, repeatable buying experience, access to reviews, dependable and free (with Amazon Prime) shipping, and excellent customer service. Because Amazon wants its shoppers to have the best experiences, those expectations filter down to its sellers. It means that sellers must provide excellent logistics and exceptional customer support. It also means that you need to play by their rules. For example, while it might be tempting to buy user reviews or to implement other hacks to get the Buy Box, if you violate their policies, underperform in an area, or do something that Amazon finds questionable, the company is known for imposing severe penalties, whether justified or not. If Amazon kicks you off or suspends your account, it can be costly to get reinstated. So it’s best to do your utmost to uphold their rules and maintain high levels of customer service at all times.

Product Analysis

Amazon as a Competitor

Another challenge of selling on the Amazon marketplace is that you can also face Amazon as a competitor. Amazon has moved into selling generic products through its AmazonBasics brand and through its own private-labeled products that include such brands as Good Brief (men’s underwear), Wag (dog food), and Spotted Zebra (kids clothes). While we are not aware of an Amazon sunglasses brand at the moment, it doesn’t mean they won’t start one in the future. Clearly, Amazon has a leg up on other competitors due to its access to search data and sales patterns, and its knowledge of its own algorithms. Where once Amazon was the advocate for small sellers with its platform aimed to be a leveler for small and large sellers, it is possible that Amazon may be changing course. The good news is that Amazon is still treading slowly in this direction. In a recent press release after Christmas 2018, the company states that, “Small and medium-sized businesses had their best holiday season ever in our stores, with items sold growing at a faster rate than retail – more than 50 percent of items sold in our stores this holiday season came from small and medium-sized businesses.” So all is not bleak. It is possible to succeed as small retailer selling sunglasses on Amazon. A good part of your success will boil down to knowing which products you should sell, at what prices, and the markets that offer you the greatest sales opportunities and profits that your business needs to grow and succeed.

Amazon as a Competitor

How Algopix Can Help

The key to becoming a successful sunglasses seller on Amazon is doing product research to decide the most viable products to sell, at what price, and on which markets. Investing in the right inventory will not only lead to revenues and profits, but will also free up your capital for you to buy and sell more, repeating the happy, positive circle. Algopix’s product research platform analyzes 8 different Amazon marketplaces, helping you identify whether a product is recommended or not for you to sell on a chosen marketplace. In addition to giving quick go/no-go recommendations, it provides current market prices, demand levels, cost breakdowns and profit calculations for the products you are considering selling. Not only that, but it also lets you see the product’s recent monthly sales volumes, both in units and in dollars, along with the competition level. All of this information will enable you to make smart, information-based sourcing and selling decisions. The platform also provides you with detailed product descriptions, dimensions, images, recommended keywords, and search trends to help you optimize your listings. If you don’t do your product research there is a big chance you could be stuck with dead inventory and unable to allocate resources for profitable product opportunities. Manual product research is an alternative, but collecting and analyzing all the information you need is a terribly tedious and time-consuming process. That is why an automated product reserach platform, like Algopix, that can provide all the insights and data you need in seconds is very worthwhile and cost-effective. Think about it; the cost of one day of product research done by someone at minimum wage is the price that you will pay for nearly a year of Algopix’s service. Another desirable use of product research is to examine price lists that you receive from your suppliers to figure out which, if any, of those products, are worthwhile for you to sell. Algopix offers a bulk product analysis feature that is very helpful for use cases like this. The bulk analysis tool lets you upload a vendor price list and analyze hundreds of products at once. Results are delivered to your email in minutes. Many sellers also use this feature to analyze their existing inventory and gain insights into other marketplaces where there may be enough demand and profit potential to sell their stock. If you are just getting started selling on Amazon, we highly recommend that you check out our free eBook, How to Start Selling on Amazon. It will walk you through the steps you need to take to start growing your own successful Amazon business.

Challenges of Selling Sunglasses on eBay

eBay is the second largest US eCommerce marketplace, claiming about 6.6% of the US eCommerce market. Though significantly smaller than Amazon, with 1.1 billion active listings and $2.1 billion in Q3 2018 revenues alone, the eBay Marketplace is a force to be reckoned with. eBay is a global marketplace, featuring 25 local domains in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and New Zealand. In 2017, roughly 57% of the company’s sales were from countries outside the US.

While eBay’s growth has slowed recently, eBay President and CEO, Devin Wenig, has stated that the company is continuing to invest to improve the long-term competitiveness of its marketplace, including improving and expanding its customer payment and seller-financing initiatives. Some of the key differences between Amazon and eBay include

  • eBay is a pure platform and not a retailer themselves. Therefore sellers do not have to worry about competing with the eBay brand
  • eBay doesn’t supply warehousing, shipping, packaging and distribution services. Sellers must arrange and manage these areas on their own
  • eBay offers a popular auction model for their sales
Some of the specific challenges sellers face when selling on eBay include:

Challenges of Selling Sunglasses on eBay

Price-sensitive customers

One of the biggest challenges facing eBay sellers is the perception that most products are used, when in fact 80% of items sold there are new according to the company. Due to its auction-model roots, and despite the fact that the vast majority of items sold on the platform are new, consumers still expect bargain prices. This means it is critically important for sellers to do their eBay product research and be aware of market selling prices for similar products and all costs involved, before investing in inventory. It also means that buying overstock or liquidation merchandise could be a good strategy to gain the types of profit margins that your business needs to succeed.

Need to manage fulfillment

As mentioned earlier, eBay does not offer its own fulfillment services. Therefore sellers need to provide and manage their own shipping and fulfillment services. Today, customers expect fast, cheap, and often free, delivery. Sellers have to make sure that they stay on top of their shipping and logistics needs. You need to have reliable services in place and be able to quickly scale up as your sales grow.

You need a good Detailed Seller Rating

When customers buy an item on eBay, they are encouraged to rate their experience with the seller in the categories of: accuracy of item description, communications, shipping time, shipping and handling charges. These ratings are added to the seller’s overall feedback score. eBay seller ratings are a critical part of the buying experience as most buyers look for merchants with high Detailed Seller Ratings (DSRs) before committing to a purchase. Obtaining a good DSR is an imperative that is even important to your business than the need for a good credit score. This is because you can find multiple creative ways to finance your business, but if you have a bad seller rating you won’t be able to sell enough products to stay in business.

Selling Limits

eBay imposes selling limits on new sellers to help them grow their business in a manageable way and help ensure that buyers have a positive experience. Since eBay doesn’t provide their own fulfillment services, as discussed above, this is their way to institute a check to be sure that the seller is able to manage these processes. Luckily, as you increase the number of positive experiences you have with buyers, eBay will increase your eBay selling limits. Read our blog: How to Increase eBay Selling Limits for additional tips, tools, and techniques to help increase your limits so you can sell more, more quickly.

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How Algopix Can Help

The key to becoming a successful sunglasses seller on eBay is doing product research to decide the most viable products to sell, at what price and on which local markets. Investing in the right inventory will not only lead to revenues and profits, but will also free up your capital for you to buy and sell more, repeating the happy, positive circle. Algopix’s product research platform analyzes 7 different eBay marketplaces, including eBay US, eBay Germany, eBay UK, eBay Spain, eBay France, and eBay Australia to help you identify whether a product is recommended or not for you to sell your marketplace of interest. In addition to giving a top-level answer as to whether a product is recommended or not recommended for you to sell on a particular marketplace, it provides current market prices, demand levels, cost breakdowns and profit calculations for the products you are considering selling. Not only that, but it also lets you see the product’s recent monthly sales, both in units and dollar volume, along with the competition level. All of this information enables you to make smart, information-based sourcing and selling decisions. Aglopix also provides detailed product descriptions, dimensions, images, recommended keywords, and search trends to help you optimize your listings. If you don’t do your product research there is a big chance you could be stuck with dead inventory and be unable to allocate resources for profitable product opportunities. Algopix’s product market research platform enables you to quickly research products, individually or in bulk. Both options are a vast improvement over manual product research which is a tedious and time-consuming task. Instead of taking hours or days, with the Algopix platform, you can get all your product research done in seconds or minutes. Algopix’s bulk product analysis feature lets you upload a vendor price list and analyze hundreds of products at once. Results are delivered to your email in minutes. Many sellers also use this feature to analyze their existing inventory to gain insights into other local eBay markets where there is sufficient demand and sales opportunities to meet their profit threshold. Think of the savings just in terms of your time alone. Now calculate that at your hourly rate and you can see that using Algopix’s automated platform for an entire year can pay off with return on investment in just one day.

General Competition

While in the past sunglasses purchases, like most retail purchases, were made in storefront locations, today manufacturers, resellers and private label sellers are increasingly turning to online channels to improve their distribution networks and grow their presence across the globe. With the internet enabling cross-border sales, online sellers will be facing competition from major brands, established resellers and sometimes even Amazon itself. This shouldn’t scare you off, however, as you’ll face competition regardless of what items you choose to sell. Nevertheless, it points to the importance of carefully researching the products you wish to sell to determine the ones worth buying, the price you need to buy them at, and the best channels to sell them on – all before you invest in inventory.

General Competition

Limited Suppliers

Currently, the sunglasses market is dominated by a few key companies. EssilorLuxottica, the result of a merger (finalized in October 2018) between Essilor, a global leader in ophthalmic lenses, and luxury sunglass giant, Luxottica. The other major manufacturer is the Safilo Group. According to IBIS World, Luxottica claimed a 76% share of the US sunglasses market in 2017 while second-place Safilo Group earned a 5.1% revenue share. According to Luxottica’s 2017 Annual Report, 62% of the company’s sales came from retail while 38% came from wholesale business endeavors. The company owns such familiar eyewear brands such as RayBan, Oakley, Vogue Eyewear, Chanel, Coach, Dolce&Gabbana, Michael Kors, Miu Miu, Prada, Starck Eyes, Tiffany & Co., Versace, and more.

A limited number of manufacturers means that sellers have fewer options to locate inventory and generally less flexibility negotiating pricing than in markets where there are more suppliers. In addition, there are also ways to buy discounted and clearance lots of sunglasses through trade shows, liquidators and auctions. As we can’t stress enough, it is always advised to do your research regarding the potential profitability of these products along with expected demand levels in various markets before purchasing your inventory.

How Algopix Can Help

Algopix’s comprehensive product research platform covers 16 different international Amazon, eBay, and Walmart marketplaces and is designed to help eCommerce sellers succeed by making smart decisions about what products to buy from their suppliers and the best marketplaces on which to sell them. The quick and easy product analysis provides a top-level summary of whether or not a particular product is recommended or not to sell on the seller’s choice of marketplaces, along with an explanation and detailed data including market price, demand level, competition level, past sales volume, expense breakdown, profitability calculation, and much more. Sellers can analyze products individually or use our bulk product analysis feature to analyze hundreds of products at a time. The bulk analysis feature lets you easily upload a supplier price list and see which, if any, products provide a profitable selling opportunity for you on your marketplace of interest. Algopix’s analysis lets you understand the price for which you can buy a product in order to achieve the profitability level that you need. Knowing this information can give you the leverage you need to negotiate better deals with your suppliers or simply avoid buying products that won’t meet your return on investment requirements and leave you stuck with dead inventory. Because Algopix is committed to the success of our customers, in addition to our platform, Algopix also provides a variety of services to facilitate your success. One of these services is our Inventory Exchange program. Algopix community members gain exclusive access to overstock and other inventory deals being offered by a variety of suppliers, including overstock and discontinued sunglasses. With first rights to this inventory, Algopix community members can find excellent selling opportunities to earn desired profit levels. But it also works both ways, as sometimes what isn’t good for someone is great for someone else. So if you are part of Algopix’s community, you also gain the ability to offer your excess inventory items to other members.

Seasonality

Sunglasses sales are certainly influenced by the season, yet the fashion aspect helps to balance out sales a little during the course of the year. According to Google Trends, the peak search period for sunglasses in the United States is between May and July, with the pinnacle seen at the end of July. But even during the winter months, searches don’t grind to a halt, rather, they are reduced by about half. A straightforward way to overcome the off-season dip in sales is to sell to countries in opposite hemispheres. That way, while it is winter in some markets, it is summer in others. Having two high season opportunities to sell your inventory can not only increase sales, but also speed up your turnover and cash flow, reduce the need to lower prices for clearance sales, and minimize your risk of remaining with dead inventory.

Pricing Restrictions

In order to maintain margins and protect brands, some suppliers require pricing agreements for different products. You will find that top-fashion sunglasses brands are often protected by a MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) agreement, meaning that the retailer is not allowed to sell the product below a predetermined price. Therefore, competing with such a product on the giant marketplaces of eBay, Amazon, or Walmart may not be realistic nor worthy of your investment. While you may want to instinctively trust your gut, the way to actually verify and not leave an opportunity on the table is to do your product research. For other products, suppliers may have a manufacturer’s suggested retail price (MSRP), a recommended retail price (RRP), or suggested retail price (SRP) – the price at which the manufacturer recommends that the retailer sell the product. These suggested prices are intended to help to standardize prices among locations, but are not contractual obligations. Suggested pricing guidelines allow sellers much greater flexibility when it comes to pricing their sunglasses. Because it can drastically affect your sales opportunities, it is critical to know the supplier’s pricing policy before purchase.

Private Label Products

The majority of sunglasses sold on Amazon and eBay are private label products. This is likely due to the higher profit margins and reduced competition levels associated with private label products as compared to resale products. High-quality private label products that are well-marketed and well-branded can demand top profit margins. But keep in mind that good marketing and branding can be very expensive exercises that don’t always succeed as intended in the competitive global marketplace. Private labeling also sets sellers apart from the competition. You won’t have direct competitors for your specific products on Amazon, eBay, Walmart, or the platform of your choice, unless you also wholesale your products. And in that case, you may be able to control competition via your own distribution and pricing agreements. Wholesaling your products brings an extra level of sales revenues and increases brand awareness, which can be the start of a positive circle of increasing revenues when managed properly.

Wrapping Up

Sunglasses are appealing items for eCommerce merchants to sell online due to their high prices, profit margins, and compact size for inexpensive shipping. Selling them on the major eCommerce platforms of Amazon and eBay are the logical choice. However, not all items will be a sure hit. Sellers need to do their product research to identify what products are financially feasible to buy from their suppliers and what platforms to sell them on. Algopix’s comprehensive product research platform can help sellers make smart confident decisions about what to buy and where to sell.

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