I am going to start a website where you can buy small orders of components and I will send them to you by mail. Suppliers in china have ridiculously low prices and even shipping rates but the wait time is ridiculous. This will be similar to sparkfun but with very small and admittedly tight profit margins, really more of a hobby/service than a profit making business. I will be specializing in small/low weight items that we all get caught without and have to buy large quantities from the big names to make shipping worth it. Local pickup available outside of Richmond VA. I will be accepting credit card orders through our website. I will be offering special pricing for those who are willing to pay say $2/month to be a member of the buyers club. What I need from the readers on this forum is inventory ideas. Anyone have comments?
How are you able to do it cheaper than the "big guys"?
As far as inventory is concerned - if you aren't going to have a lot on hand, then a spreadsheet will work; anything more than about 50-100 items I think would become unwieldy (heck, even 25 items might be unwieldy). If you pick the right shopping cart or store software for your website, some of them have inventory management software either built-in or as a plug-in which might help.
really more of a hobby/service than a profit making business.
This sounds like a dream come true for someone like me who's a bit tight on budget but hates having to wait over a month for shipping.
Local pickup available outside of Richmond VA.
Haha do you want to move to california for me?
As far as inventory goes I know I would love to see LEDs. All sorts of colors (including RGB) and available in variable size packages (increments ranging from 10 to 200 would be real nice). High powered LEDs would surely be a hit too, I get all mine from dealextreme and if you could match that price for the RGB star LEDs (especially 3 watts) you would be my hero. Also transistors and mosfets, with a pretty generic assortment including common power transistors/mosfets and logic level transistors/mosfets. Some ICs would be kinda nice, I don't use them often but 555's probably are a must. Also shift registers! Probably the 495 is the best all around choice. Defiantly an assortment of arduinos would be great (but sorry if the prices are much higher than the ones you can get on ebay its not worth it to me, I once got a duemilanove for $18 and the accidentally sent me 2, it was like christmas came early) and for sure the processors that go in each model of arduino, I know we've all accidentally burned one of them out at one point or another. IC sockets and headers and things like that are always useful and often overlooked while making the large order, meaning ordering them last minute with high shipping from digikey. Also a nice array of resistors and capacitors would be great, mostly resistors. All the generic ohm ratings and also some higher power AKA 1 watt and above resistors would be good. Maybe some voltage/current regulators, you would probably only need a few different models of each because they're pretty adaptable. I know I've overlooked some stuff but its a start. I really hope you get this up and running it would be an awesome resource. Post how things are going with it on this thread so we can see how its going
What is the advantage of this over buying from a reasonably priced website like Mouser or Digikey or IteadStudios?
A suggestion I have: make the purpose of the website buying in bulk. Maybe have a small, rotating selection of products, and for each one, have everyone who is interested sign up. If there is enough interest over a certain amount of time to secure very low bulk pricing for everyone, the order is placed, sent to you, and divided up amongst the people who ordered. If there isnt enough quantity interest to get a low price, the order isnt placed. Kind of like groupon, but for electronics products.
I would be happy to help with web design / programming a backend if you need it, once you get started.
Best of luck!
Anything that keeps you busy and profitable is a success.
The reason this idea appeals to me is that I can't make very frequent orders because I generally buy large numbers of things at a time to make shipping worth it. That means that if I need one or two things my project ends up being put on hold for a long time, sometimes even months. If you could sell low quantities with cheap as possible shipping I know that I would buy from you somewhat often, and I'm sure theres others like me out there