There are countless online opportunities for Canadian entrepreneurs. Our country is large and its population is scattered, which creates a unique demand. While many products are available in the US there is a strong preference to buy Canadian whenever it is feasible to do so if for no other reason than the low Canadian dollar, and lower shipping costs are always appealing.
Many small and home-based businesses thrive online due to the low overhead. There is no need to lease an expensive storefront in a prime location. Your business and/or warehouse can be in the middle of nowhere (although a central location decreases shipping costs). If you need more guidance, follow our checklist How to Start an Online Business in Canada.
One wide-open Canadian niche is bulk sales. I occasionally encounter attempts at cornering this market, but virtually all of the websites in Canada are more retail than truly bulk. To thrive in this market, your prices must be as low as any offline bulk store (such as The Bulk Barn).
5 Under-served Canadian Niches in the Bulk Food Sector are:
- Bulk Fish Food (US counterpart: KensFish.com)
- Bulk Candy & Baking Supplies (US counterpart: SweetFactory.com)
- Bulk Herbs and Nutraceuticals (US counterpart: Starwest Botanicals)
- Bulk specialty coffee, tea, gourmet hot chocolate, premium cocoa, or health drink mixes
- Bulk organic freeze-dried – Exotic meat, fish, fruit, etc. This niche often focuses on survival food, but there is a demand for many freeze-dried foods in bulk due to the higher nutrient retention, better taste, and faster re-hydration. You’ll find a demand from pet owners as well.
What You’ll Need
- A full understanding of the volume “bulk” profit model
- Business license
- Health-inspected storage
- Domain Name
- Canadian-friendly website hosting with e-commerce / catalogue support (Read Checklist: Choosing a Website Host for your Canadian Business for more info)
- Food Scales
- Heat Sealer
- Large food-grade bags
- Printer labels
- Shipping supplies
- Market research and emulating similar successful businesses in other countries will get you off to the right start in Canada.
- It’s tricky to start a bulk food business because you must have enough stock, yet it could expire while sales are slow. You may have to order smaller quantities at first, which will cut into your profit margin until you’re established enough to benefit from volume discounts. The same applies to introducing new products, as you’ll have to wait to see if they’re popular enough before placing larger orders. Focus on products with a long shelf life, such as freeze-dried food.
- You can offer popular products if you can give shoppers a seriously good bulk discount. A larger minimum size (such as one pound) can offset costs.
- To really bring them in and encourage orders with a higher profit margin, also stock unique products that may not be easy to find in Canadian retail. These can be offered in smaller quantities. Unique items can overcome online sales objections, such as shipping costs.
- Keep an eye on your local bulk food stores to maintain your originality and competitive pricing.
- Keep size and weight in mind when choosing your bulk stock. Bulk hardware may seem like good idea, for example, but the shipping weight would make it cost prohibitive.
- Offer complimentary products for a full shopping experience.
- Always provide excellent customer service.
- Provide as much information as possible on your website. For example, a bulk herb business can provide information about natural healing with herbs. Information brings search engine traffic and allows your potential customers to research your products without leaving your website.
- Start a newsletter with helpful information, coupons, etc. A mailing list can bring customers to your website and is invaluable to increase sales and engagement.
??? Have you noticed an open Canadian niche? Please share it with us in the comments below.
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