Category feature: Mobile phone accessories

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One of the most recent suppliers to join the Avasam platform sells mobile phone accessories – and so we thought we’d take a look at why sellers might want to add mobile phone accessories and tablet peripherals to their inventory, and how to get started making sales.

Why start selling mobile phone accessories?

Let’s keep this simple – we don’t see a time that mobile phone accessories won’t be in demand. With Apple releasing new phones regularly, more than seven manufacturers of Android smartphones in the UK and enough manufacturers selling mobile devices that don’t count as smartphones, there is a huge amount of opportunity to make sales on mobile phone accessories.

Think about it – with each phone upgrade that a customer receives, they are likely to require new accessories, starting with a new case. If their new phone has a different type of charger – for example, if they have gone from iPhone to Android – they will need new charger cables, since most people will want more than one!

The figures back up our thoughts here too. Currently revenue for the worldwide mobile phone accessory market is at $77.44 billion, and by 2023 that figure is set to grow to more than $93 billion. That’s a huge increase in demand, so there is a lot of opportunity to be capitalised on if you are up for the challenge! And that is before we even start to think about the enormous range of tablets on the market that you be selling accessories for.

Mobile phone and tablet accessories sell well year round, but in the lucrative quarter four, they are even more popular since they make great stocking fillers. With many people giving and receiving smartphones and tablets as Christmas gifts, adding tech accessories for mobiles and tablets to your store now means you’ll be able to make additional sales right into January.

Challenges of selling mobile phone accessories

Although selling mobile phone and tablet accessories is a great way to build a business or to make additional sales, it isn’t for the faint-of-heart, and experience is definitely desirable to get the best results. There are several major challenges that you’re going to encounter – but knowing the issues ahead of time means that you can prepare for them before you get there.

There is a huge range of products available

When it comes to mobile phone and tablet accessories, there is an incredible range you can choose from to start selling. These are just a few of the items we can think of, without really doing any digging for other ideas!

  • Cases
  • Charger cables
  • Earphones
  • Gaming accessories
  • Grips
  • Headsets
  • In-car accessories
  • Lanyards and wrist straps
  • Mounts and stands
  • Photo and video accessories
  • Pop sockets
  • Power banks
  • Repair kits
  • Screen magnifiers
  • Screen protectors
  • Smart watch accessories
  • Smart watches
  • Steriliser boxes
  • Stylus pens
  • Virtual reality headsets
  • Wireless charging pads

You might think that having a large number of products to choose from would be a good thing – and we’d be inclined to agree. However, it does mean that narrowing down exactly what you’re going to sell can present a challenge. Doing that means checking out what is already selling well, what people are looking for and what might be the next big thing is time-consuming work. While starting to sell without having carried out research might net you some sales, you’re much more likely to be successful if you investigate your niche properly first.

Large numbers of devices

While the enormous number of devices can be seen as an advantage – because it offers so many opportunities – it is also a huge challenge. New sellers are likely to find it easier to make sales for just one type of device, or from just one manufacturer. Bearing in mind the market share that Apple and Samsung have in the smartphone market, selling products for other manufacturers means there are fewer sellers to compete with, and you’ll have more chance of making sales. However, the number of devices that are available brings us to our next challenge – the high turnover rate that items are replaced at.

High turnover rate of new devices

When a new smartphone is released, demand for accessories is high as people get their upgrade. This is a great thing, since you will be able to make sales, but without proper planning it could become a bit of a headache. Depending on what you decide to sell – be it a certain type of accessory, or for a certain manufacturer – you’ll need to stay current of which phones are being released. This will help to give you an edge against your competitors, and means you can start to sell products as soon as you know the phone is being released.

Not only that, you’ll also need to be on top of when models stop being sold. If you still have inventory for a model that was first released several years ago, you’re much less likely to sell it, and the margins are likely to be thin on those items too – if indeed you can make any profit at all at that point.

Competition

There are countless sellers that are making money from mobile phone accessories. When competition is stiff, it means you’ll need to provide the most desirable listings, and use sales techniques such as product bundles or other attractive deals to encourage customers to choose your listing over another seller. On marketplaces like Amazon and eBay, the amount of competition is huge, and so when you’re choosing your sales channels, you’ll want to consider if they are the best platforms to sell on.

Small margins

Because there is so much competition in the field, there is a tendency for sellers to race be the cheapest on a marketplace, in order to win the buy box as well as sales. As we’ve just mentioned, it may be easier to make sales on different marketplaces to Amazon and eBay, and to maintain your margins.

Although mobile phone accessories present smaller margins, you’ll need to make a lot of sales to make it worth your while, so you’ll need to consider how you can maintain your income. We’d recommend having a number of high margin, low volume items in your inventory alongside your mobile phone accessories – but alternative approaches might work better for you, depending on what you sell.

How to start selling mobile phone accessories

Whether you already have a retail business or not, starting to sell mobile phone accessories should be done carefully. We’ve just covered some of the biggest challenges, but jumping into selling mobile phone accessories isn’t the right way to ensure your success. We’ll talk you through how to get started in this next section – so you don’t forget anything.

Before you get started

The first thing you’ll need to do before you get started in almost any business is to do your research, and the tech goods industry is no different. Putting a number of random mobile phone or tablet accessories into your inventory doesn’t constitute a strategy, so be sure to know what you want to achieve before you get to that point.

Identify your target customers

The mobile phone accessory market is incredibly competitive, so knowing your niche and your target customer is going to be the key to your success. Although there might be a lot of people who want the products you sell, narrowing down your target customers is essential for your marketing, which will help you to maximise your sales.

Think about the different needs of your customers:

  • Children often want products with cartoon characters or super heroes on them
  • Teenagers and young adults may want branded items from designers
  • Older people, or people with disabilities may need accessories to help them grip or use their devices
  • People in construction or other industries that may be hard on phones
  • Executives and directors who want a luxurious feel to their tech accessories, even if they aren’t designer or made by the brand

Knowing your customers will also help you with our next point: choosing your products.

Choosing your products

We’ve already mentioned how many different types of mobile phone and tablet accessories that there are on the market. Now consider that not only are there a huge number of different types of products available, most of these products are available in different shapes and sizes for almost every single type of device on the market. Considering that just one of the major network providers has more than 100 phones, and 40 different tablets (as it stood when we checked as we were writing this post!) there is a lot of scope to sell products for a lot of different devices! With that in mind, it is a good idea to focus your efforts on accessories that fit phones for just one, or two manufacturers as you get started.

Pricing

While you’ll have to be pretty competitive, which may mean your margins are squeezed. Having the lowest price for each item you sell on every sales channel means you might struggle to make a decent profit overall. With that in mind, having some higher end products with better margins can be one strategy to use, especially if you’re solely selling through marketplaces.

Sourcing your products

It is absolutely an option to buy in bulk from wholesalers if your business can accommodate this, but if you don’t have funds available or space in your warehouse, or you want to be sure there is demand from your customers, you can create the sales you want from mobile phone and tablet accessories by utilising the DropShipping model.

We know there has been a lot of publicity about DropShipping – and most of it isn’t good. There are plenty of seller forums filled with discussions about how products from the far east can take so long to be delivered that customers want refunds, or the quality of the products is poor – so customers want refunds! When you don’t want to deal with this kind of hassle, or you want to avoid the potential damage to your reputation, then you might avoid using the DropShipping model. But working with UK suppliers, who already have the products in their warehouse ready to sell means that you can benefit from the advantages that the DropShipping model has to offer, without the risk that working with overseas sellers presents.

To make it simple and to get started quickly, source your mobile phone and tablet accessories from Avasam. Doing so eliminates the search for UK suppliers who will work this way, and you won’t need to deal with excess stock when a device stops being in demand. The majority of our suppliers work to ensure that products are dispatched within 24 hours too, so you’ll avoid many of the customer service issues typically associated with DropShipping. In fact – working with Avasam suppliers is just like having your products available to you in another warehouse, except with none of the additional costs and inconvenience associated.

It is simple to get started – here’s a quick run-down of how the process works:

  • Sign up for your free Avasam account
  • Browse the product catalogue and click Source to add the items you want to sell to your inventory
  • Set up your sales channels
  • Configure the connection to your sales channels in Avasam
  • Start selling – inventory levels will be updated automatically
  • Orders get pushed to Avasam for suppliers to dispatch
  • You pay for the order and keep selling

If you already have an order management system, we have API information available, or we can help you to connect to Avasam so that orders are seen alongside orders from your existing sales channels. If you’re a new business that doesn’t have stock and doesn’t intend to, you can use the Avasam interface to manage all of your orders.

Set up your sales channels

When you’ve done your research, you know what your products are going to be, and who you will be selling them to, you’ll need to establish which sales channels you’re going to sell on. This will be informed by your target customer research, but if you need to look at other options then you might want to take a look at our post about choosing sales channels. Once you’ve picked your sales channels, it is simply a case of getting your product descriptions uploaded, and you can start to sell!

After you’ve launched

As you probably already know, when a business gets up and running, there isn’t any time to stop. That’s even more true for sellers of tech accessories – we’ve mentioned the first things you’ll need to do to make sales, but these won’t be the only things you’ll need to do, so you’ll need to plan accordingly.

Promote your items

Getting your products in front of your target customers is going to be the next task. The most logical, time efficient and effective method of reaching your customers is to use your social media channels – especially if your business already has a great following. We’ve already produced some useful guides for building your followers on social media, Pinterest marketing and the importance of using hashtags and tools like Google Shopping, so if you’re new to selling online, have a read of those posts before you get to this point.

Update your products

You’re going to need to be checking industry news and updates from manufacturers, so that you can make sure you’ve sourced products for new devices as quickly as possible. With mobile phone and tablet accessories, you’re going to need to factor in time for products to become available and to make sure you have them in your sales channels as soon as possible.

Expand your business further

A mobile phone accessory business is pretty demanding – sellers need to be updating products in their inventory on a regular basis. However, once you’ve figured out the best way to manage the cycle, it is time to consider diversifying your business, which makes sense to do.

Mobile phone and tablet accessories don’t always have a huge profit margin to them, which means you need to make a lot of sales to make your business worth the time. Finding products that have a bigger profit margin will allow you to sell fewer items, but make more of a profit on each.

It is pretty obvious that if you have started selling just one type of tech accessory, then adding other types to your inventory will help you to increase the number of sales you can make. Likewise, if you’re focused on selling accessories for phones from one manufacturer, you may be able to make more sales by adding products for other types of phones. But it doesn’t have to end there. If you’re a graphic designer (or have the potential to be!) then you might create designs for custom phone and tablet cases that you can DropShip directly from create on-demand suppliers.

If you’re not a creative type then, expand your inventory with accessories for other tech items such as laptops and PCs, TVs and games consoles, and if you’ve entered a niche with products for a certain demographic (such as older people, or people with a disability) then adding assistive products is a way forward.

The takeaway

Selling mobile phone and tablet accessories isn’t without some serious challenges, but there are a lot of reasons to get involved, whether you have an existing online selling business or not. Some of those challenges can easily be eliminated by working with approved Avasam suppliers rather than procuring your own stock. They’ll deliver customer orders directly to them, generally dispatching the next working day or sooner.

If you already have a business that sells online, either with or without a warehouse location, Avasam can easily work with your existing setup. If you’re ready to get started, sign up for your free account, and book a call with our team – we’ll demonstrate the platform, and help you to optimise your setup and sales channels so you’re successful from the moment you list your first product.

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Dawn Matthews
Dawn has worked in technical and customer supporting roles for over 20 years. Most of her career was spent in technical services at top rated UK universities, which has given her a keen eye for detail. A lucky escape led her to the field of eCommerce in 2017, and she’s never looked back.Dawn studied in the field of social sciences with the Open University, achieving an MSc in Forensic Psychology at the same time as working two jobs. She regularly applies principles of psychology from her studies to her work, and outside of her role at Avasam she is busy writing her second book.Follow Dawn on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/dawn-matthews

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