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Reselling is advantageous as it allows you to serve customers while your wholesaler or manufacturing partners take care of inventory and logistics. Today, resellers have more buying power because they are no longer confined to sourcing products from a small group of suppliers based in their city or region.

They can search an established e-marketplace and order products from multiple vetted wholesale suppliers to source quality products at the best possible price.

As a reseller, defining your niche to build customer loyalty is as necessary as obtaining a trade license from an authority like the Department of Dubai Economic Development (DED). However, the key to reselling success is knowing which products to order and when.

This allows you to stay ahead of wholesalers’ price increases, order while there are still enough items in stock, and market popular products before competitors do. Monitoring market trends, as well as keeping an overview of wider societal, economical, and tech dynamics that may impact them is also vital.

The following tools can help you stay ahead of emerging market trends:

Mastering the art of product demand prediction

Gain an understanding of STEEP and Porter’s Five Forces. STEEP is an analytical method of examining external factors that may impact a business and the products or services it provides to customers. It comprises five external elements:

- Social - This includes considerations like lifestyle, population density, average age, and income range of people in the market you serve.

- Technological - Innovation significantly impacts the products you sell, which is why foldable smartphones are in demand and the popularity of tablets may wane.

- Economic - this greatly affect the products that buyers want and that is why if another recession develops, demand for high-end products could fall.

- Environmental - legislative changes, for example, may require you to pivot (i.e., if your core product was bottled water and it was set to be banned for environmental reasons, then you could consider alternative solutions like water filters).

- Political - the global climate can affect the supply and demand of products; the Russia-Ukraine conflict was a prime example as analysts correctly predicted maize shortages and soaring oil prices.

Porter’s Five Forces comprises five elements: competitive rivalry, threat of new entrants, threat of substitutes, buyer bargaining power, and supplier bargaining power.

The methodology helps identify where power lies in a business situation; it is useful in understanding the strength of an organisation’s competitive position, and the strength of a position that an organisation may look to move into.

There are valuable real-time insights you can gain through some online research:

- Consulting firms regularly publish region-specific consumer research that highlights changes in shopping behaviour.

- The world’s biggest retailers pay a lot of money to trend forecasters like WGSN to determine what people will buy in the future and their insights are available online.

- Even a simple Google search can help you identify trending products as the ‘Shopping’, ‘Sort by’, and ‘Review score’ filters are great tools for this.

Leverage predictive analytics

As a form of analysis that looks at behavioural data, predictive analytics suggest what customers will be doing or buying in the future, whether in a brick-and-mortar store or on an e-commerce platform. Predictive analytics is particularly useful for the latter because website users generate new data with every click they make. By making sense of their actions through data, predictive analytics can help you to identify factors that include:

- Fast- and slow-moving products;

- Products with high or low interest;

- Consistent best-sellers;

- The best time of the year to run sales; and

- The best time of the year to promote specific categories or products.

Predictive analytics can be automated to make personalised suggestions that are based on buyers’ on-site actions, like showing them other products they might like. In turn, this cross-selling and up-selling functionality can increase sales revenue.

Draw on knowledge

Conferences and expos offer valuable opportunities to gain market and consumer insights, network with potential suppliers, and discover new products before they are launched to market - some relevant events in the MENA region include:

- Techspo Dubai is an annual UAE-based event where you can browse exhibitors’ stands to discover innovative products and new ‘martech’ solutions to leverage.

- OEC is an Oman-based event that unites stakeholders from a host of industries including some that are pertinent to resellers like retail, e-commerce, and FMCG.

- White Label World Expo is an event in Germany that brings together thousands of online sellers, suppliers and buyers, all under one roof.

- CES is a US-based event, which can also be attended virtually, that unveils innovation in every sphere of life from self-driving cars to smart home solutions.

Keep an eye on your competitors

It’s a good idea to monitor the products your competitors market and promote. If several of your competitors are all promoting the same kind of products, they are selling well and should be on your reseller’s inventory list. Similarly, competitors’ products with huge discounts on them are likely to be waning in popularity.

Instead of jumping onto products before competitors, assess the products they are prioritising, and find out why - then search your supplier network to find similar products at wholesale prices low enough for you to offer buyers a better price.

It would be ideal if one could time-travel a year into the future and spend a day observing customer purchases at Dubai Mall or browsing online marketplaces. But with that not being possible, resellers can still construct a well-informed picture of what customers might be buying in the near future by using some of the techniques, tools, and resources we have outlined here.

Generating a profit by reselling is relatively easy when compared to other business models because you can set your own price markup on products and quickly launch your venture with an easy-to-build e-commerce website. With the Middle East’s e-commerce industry growing by 22 per cent annually, competition is growing too and prioritising your product assortment may give you an edge.