How to Start a Camping & Outdoor Goods Store
Are you a budding entrepreneur with a passion for the outdoors? Are you looking for a low-risk, low-cost business idea for first-time business-owners? Spring has sprung! And what better way to start the season of renewal & rejuvenation than with a new business.
If youâd like to try your hand at selling hiking, camping & outdoor accessories, but arenât sure where to get started - check out our guide below!
Why sell camping & backpacking equipment?
Backpacking, camping and hiking have all grown substantially as leisure activities in the past couple of years. In the United States, the number of reported hikers has been steadily climbing each year since 2006, while the number of new households participating in camping has grown by one million each year. And just last spring, 47.2 million Americans reported going backpacking within the last 12 months.
It's hard to pin down an exact reason for this growth. Experts have noted a rising class of millennials taking to the outdoors in greater numbers over the last decade. Perhaps the rapid advancement of new technologies that we've seen in the last ten years has given rise to a paradoxical urge to get outside. Whatever the reason - Millennials account for 38% of the 75 million active camper households in the U.S. - with more than half saying they plan to camp again later this year.
On top of the long-term growth of the hiking & camping industries, there's also the short-term advantage of starting a camping business at this time. With spring & summer right around the corner, demand for camping & outdoor supplies is expected to boom, just in time for the warm months. If you're a first-time entrepreneur looking for a low-cost, low-risk business idea - camping supplies might be right up your alley.
Building an outdoor brand on social media
Outdoor lifestyle brands are very popular on social media and it's generally very easy to find online communities relating to hiking and camping. Take Instagram for example. Instagram has a wide network of influencers specializing in the outdoor lifestyle. Users following accounts like this are perfect to tap as customers for an outdoor lifestyle brand.
In the initial stages of audience growth, consider an awareness campaign that exposes your brand to these users. An awareness campaign is the first step in the marketing funnel that eventually leads users to buy your products. Build awareness of your brand on Instagram by creating a profile for that audience. Consider posting serene pictures of the outdoors or humourous expressions for people who love nature.
You'll want to explore the outdoors influencers on Instagram profiles and see what they're doing that attracts users. Participate in their communities. Comment on their photos. Like and comment on their followers photos. If you're willing to spend a little for exposure, you can consider paying influencers to promote your brand as well. Once you start selling, it can't hurt to send influencers free products as well.
Influencers are Instagram users with an established following. The plus side to using influencers is that they've already built audiences who trust them to recommend products. This makes them great candidates to bring awareness to your products and hopefully bring some followers over to your social media accounts.
Influencers have a certain degree of clout in online communities, which will help you to establish a place in your niche. You can find top influencers using influencer services like Influence.co - but an even better idea is to try to find smaller influencers. Smaller influencers allow you to target more niche follower groups, which has been proven to be more effective in garnering sales.
How to market a camping essentials company
Since we already know that thereâs a lot of potential customers in the audiences of outdoor influencers, this is a good place to start when it comes to marketing. People who follow these profiles are likely to be people who enjoy the outdoors and would follow your brand on social media.
In the awareness stage, you don't want to heavily advertise or market your products. You're simply giving your users a reason to follow you. Social media users don't want to follow a profile that just posts ads. Before you can do this, you need to build up a level of trust with your audience.
Focus your posts on content that you think would interest your audience. You can take a look at the social media profiles of your influencers to get an idea of what sort of content your people like to follow.
Choose content that interests yourself, as well. Social media branding is all about consistency. The more passionate you are about your content, the easier it will be to post on a regular basis. If you fancy yourself a photographer - start posting some outdoor lifestyle shots on Instagram. If you're more into the written word, a travel blog might be a good idea for engaging with your followers.
Using drop-shipping to sell hiking & camping supplies
Of course, one of the downsides of selling camping & outdoor equipment is that because your products can be quite hefty, it's not as easy to store or move stock. Drop-shipping your products will help to negate this issue. Drop-shipping is a model of ecommerce where products are stored and shipped by a third-party manufacturer like AliExpress. It works like this: when a customer buys from you, their order is sent to your supplier who ships the product directly from their warehouse to the customer's address.
Drop-shipping is a great tool for first-time entrepreneurs, since there's very little risk involved. Products are only purchased from your supplier after they're purchased by your customers, so there's a far lower chance of not making a profit. This also allows a lot of wiggle-room for sales and discounts, since product prices can be marked up, then down to create urgency around your latest deal. It's also a great time-saver, since you can let the manufacturing and shipping be handled by someone else while you focus on marketing, branding and building a following on social media.
Given the timing and increasing popularity of camping gear, this is a great business idea for first-time entrepreneurs. Camping products on AliExpress can range a lot in price due to the variety of products you could sell, but by drop-shipping products, you can keep costs low to leave yourself room for sales and discounts.
For example, tents can retail between $50 & $150 on AliExpress but can cost for hundreds of dollars from major retailers. By drop-shipping, you'd be able to offer your customers huge savings on products while keeping the price-point high enough that you're able to make substantive profits.
If you decide to dropship through AliExpress, here are a few tips to set yourself up for success.
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