So you're curious about becoming a seller but you're unsure about how much capital you need to start selling on Shopee. Perhaps you're scared of overstocking on products that take could take forever to sell. Or you wanna avoid spending on things that you don't really need during the early stage of the business. If the answer is yes, read on and don't look back 'cause we'll cover all of these in this post, and at the end, you'll know the best practices on spending your capital wisely.
But before we discuss the estimated figure/s, why don't we first audit the things you need before you can start selling on Shopee?
What you need before selling on Shopee
"But I already have a laptop. Is smartphone really necessary?", you might ask.
The answer is yes.
- As a seller, you need to monitor new orders and customer inquiries all the time. Unfortunately, you can't do that with a laptop because, first, it's just not practical to bring with you anywhere. Second, Shopee notifications don't appear real time in the laptop and sometimes, don't even appear at all, based on my experience.
- If you don't own a DSLR camera for taking product photos, don't fret. Your smartphone is an excellent substitute. In fact, I prefer it over a stand-alone camera because uploading is much faster and easier.
How to choose the best smartphone for your Shopee business:
- Buy a smartphone that takes high quality photos. What I mean by high quality photos, is, the camera should NOT alter the actual color of the item. If you're capturing faded blue jeans, it should look like faded blue jeans in the picture. Otherwise, your customers would think that you're ripping them off. And you don't want that.
- I recommend iPhone because a lot of reviews prove that it's better at retaining the original color of the photographed item. But truth be told, the iPhone price didn't meet my budget so I settled for Asus for 7k pesos, which has a decent enough camera. The iPhone will have to wait.
- Before buying, research and read online smartphone reviews so you won't regret your purchase.
- Just because a smartphone takes pretty selfies doesn't mean it's right for item photography. In fact, beware of brands who claim their phones take pretty selfies. Chances are, they're programmed with heavy filters that might turn faded blue jeans into shiny white.
As useful as your smartphone will be, you can't do all the work with it. There are functions that are only accessible through laptop/ desktop and not through the app.
In fact, these functions are very important that they could impact your sales big time. If you wanna take a peek at these functions, read: How to Increase Shopee Sales for Free: 11 Effective Techniques. You'll see what I mean.
Besides, you don't really need a fancy laptop. Mine is just a Google Chromebook I bought for 14k pesos in Lazada. I didn't bother buying the more expensive MS Office as I don't need one.
What you need from a laptop are pretty basic: browse, upload and download photos, and post in social media. Again, like buying your smartphone, read reviews online so you don't waste time and money.
You can view the same laptop I'm using here. What I like about it is that the battery literally last for 8 hours without charging. Perfect for sudden brownouts. It's also very light and thin so it's easy to carry around when travelling.
No dear, you can't just buy a load to last you for the next 12 hours. When you're a Shopee seller, you need an all-out internet plan that provides unlimited internet 24/7. No less.
Now I know that in the Philippines, our internet service providers all pretty much provide crappy service. But still, subscribing to them is more recommended than telling your buyers, "In case I don't reply, that means I have no load.", which is an absolute no-no.
How to find the best internet service provider
Looking for an ISP in the Philippines means changing your question from, "Which one is the best?" to, "Which one is the least crappy?"
Finding the least crappy of them all will depend on your specific area. There are areas where PLDT is less of a headache than Globe. And there are areas where Globe loads a tad bit faster than PLDT. Choose your poison. But first, ask your neighbors.
(By the way, if you haven't set up your store yet, check this out: How to Sell on Shopee: A Complete Beginner's Guide.)
How much capital you need to start selling on Shopee (for your stocks)
How much capital you need to start selling on Shopee isn't a question with a one-size-fits-all answer. It depends on several factors. Let's discuss the various scenarios that you might be in, in order to figure out how much capital you'll need.
Factors to consider before deciding your capital
1. If you're based close to your suppliers
When I started selling on Shopee, my capital for my initial stocks was 8k pesos. And yes, I know what you're thinking, "Eight thousand pesos is very little for a capital!" And to that, I have an explanation:
I originally live in Davao City. But when I opened my online store, I relocated to Manila. As much as I love Davao, it just doesn't have the abundant supplies of affordable apparels that Manila has.
The reason I was able to manage with an 8k capital was because I didn't (and still don't) hold inventories of the the items I post in my shop. Meaning, until a buyer places an order, I'm not buying any stocks. I only deduct from my 8k when I know I have a sure buyer. This way, every peso I spend has an equivalent profit and my capital isn't stuck but flowing and growing.
Because I don't hold the inventories, there are certain inconveniences that I have to deal with:
- What if the ordered style or color was no longer in stock?
- What if the quality of the item was poor and I only found out about it when I went to buy it?
- Won't it cause late shipment since I have to order from the supplier first?
These are very important factors that when dealt with poorly, would lead to a poor shop rating. And to discuss the solution to all of that, I'll write a post next week: How to Sell on Shopee with Very Little or No Capital. So stay tuned.
2. If you're based far from your suppliers
If you're in Mindanao and your suppliers are in Luzon, then you definitely need a considerable amount of capital. A capital of 80- 100 thousand pesos should set you up nice and proper. This is for your inventory alone, excluding the laptop, internet, and phone.
Why you need a bigger capital
Since you're far from your suppliers, it's necessary that you buy your items firsthand before selling.
When you stock up first, the delivery only covers one route—from you to your customers—and is therefore faster. But when you have to wait for your customers to place their orders first before you order from your supplier, the delivery time takes twice as long (around 2 weeks).
If you were the customer, would you wait that long, when you know other sellers could ship faster?
Even if you could find a way to shorten the delivery time frame to an acceptable length, are you sure that the same colors ordered by your customers would still be available? What if they're out of stock?
But I don't know which items sell faster and which items don't
Here's what I suggest to slowly get a decent understanding of your target customers' tastes:
- Ask your suppliers. As seller themselves, they should expertly know which of their items are the bestsellers.
- If they have a Facebook group and you're a member, check which items garner more comments and inquiries than the rest. That's another clue to figuring out which sells faster.
- Create a Facebook Group or Page of your own, and ask your potential customers what styles they'd be interested in.
- After getting the answer from your survey, buy the top 30 bestseller designs. Per design, choose at least 3 different colors. For each color, buy 3 pieces. Then start listing them on Shopee.
- If you have the resources, opening a physical store will definitely help. Aside from your online shop, you'll also get insights from your local customers and it could even add up to your income.
- After 3-4 months, you should already gain a decent understanding of your target customers' taste. Expect that to improve in the months to come. Along the way, you'll make mistakes but take comfort from the fact that you'll learn from them. Most importantly, your capital will grow and you'll thank the day that you decided to open your store in Shopee.
Conclusion: How much capital you need to start selling on Shopee
If you're based closed to your supplier, like me, you can start with as little as 10 thousand pesos. If you're far, you need at least 80 to 100 thousand pesos and you should never spend it without conducting the survey above, to make sure that you're only investing on the bestsellers, which are more likely to yield bigger profits at a much faster rate.
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