How can we expand from small products to large ones (currently a home-based ecommerce business)?
We currently sell hammocks. The biggest we have are the free standing hammocks at 150x11x10cm (packaged). The business is growing well, but is not quite big enough to afford a fulfilment warehouse like ShipWire with $500 USD minimum cost per month, which suits about a 20' container load of products, I think. Now it's Christmas and sales are going great, but by June, sales will be minimal because hammocks are so seasonal.
They are imported from China, half a 20' container load for the most recent import.
We have a similar product we want to try expanding to - hanging egg chairs. They're less seasonal, but they're huge.
How can we store and ship such large items as a business without a warehouse?
Idea 1: If there are some suppliers out there who offer dropshipping, we could test the market before thinking further on the logistics.
Idea 2: A fulfillment warehouse may work if their storage cost is cheap and their order processing cost is higher. I'm not sure which.
Idea 3: Rent a warehouse or shop...or buy a shipping container and keep it in the back yard...or use a personal effects storage facility.
Idea 4: Any others?
As a marketer I would definitely say start with the drop shipping first to test your market. Sure you will forgo some profits initially, however it could avoid the expensive mistake of having a container full of dead stock in your back yard.
Be aware that sometimes using a drop shipper can mess with your ability to deliver awesome customer service if the 'partnership' is not right, so choose wisely if you want referrals and returning customers.
Once you know how many you are selling per week/month you will then have a better idea of your storage requirements.
The question then becomes, how much storage? If you are selling only 1-2 week, rent (or borrow) some room out of a mates shed and work from there. In a nutshell though, it is really a case of doing the numbers. Idea 3 a storage, unit could work for awhile - again though, it depends on what your profit is on each item and your sell through rate.
Hope this helps, Cheers, Lisa