Spotlight on Budget Electronics
When she was young, Nadia Shuaib wanted to become a lawyer, but serendipity and hard work brought her something else—a thriving eBay business based in Toronto that has grown into a top Canadian provider of accessories for mobile electronics devices.
In the 2000s, in pursuit of her childhood dream, Nadia spent years studying law at the University of Glasgow. After graduating in 2008, she quickly landed a job as a solicitor. As a career path, law was thrilling for her, and at times she worked from sunup to sundown balancing dozens of daily hearings with a busy social life. Nadia’s schedule was packed and her career in law was promising—but life took an unexpected turn when she met her now-husband online and they decided she’d to move to his country, Canada, to start their lives together.
Moving to Canada was exciting and intimidating all at the same time. She was beginning a new chapter in life and at the same time having to adjust her career goals to make sense in relation to her move. Foreign solicitors can’t practice in Canada without requalification—so despite years of experience and an impressive resume, Nadia had to go back to school and take time off from work to get back into the courtroom.
From Solicitor to Seller
Nadia had been used to long days, hard work, and a chain of command. Now she was given the flexibility and free time that come with independent study. Because standing still isn’t in Nadia’s nature, she began working on a side project with her husband: selling iPhone cases and accessories online.
When not studying, Nadia and her husband listed cell phone cases on eBay, shipping them across the country to consumers and businesses that appreciated the styles she sourced. Their products sold well and customers were pleased with the level of service and professionalism that Nadia brings to everything she does.
With her reputation growing, Nadia found that their products began to sell faster than they could list them. Soon, the hours she devoted to selling online were not enough to keep up with shopper desires. She had a decision to make. Either Nadia would continue to study and allow booming demand to go unmet due to time constraints, or she’d take time off from her studies and see if she could grow the business further.
Like many budding entrepreneurs, Nadia says she couldn’t resist the excitement of growing a successful business—so she made the decision to temporarily put her legal career on hold.
I'll finish up my recertification to have it—but I can't see myself going back to law just yet when online sales are going so well!”
As Nadia began to devote even more time to her online sales, she quickly saw that the effort she put into her business produced immediate financial results that supported her career strategy.
Growing Budget Electronics
Nadia continued to work on her business, opening two separate warehouses in the Toronto region. She hired employees to help expand her store and manage fulfillment. Nadia’s success grew swiftly. Nadia still intends to recertify as a solicitor, but she doesn’t think she’ll walk away from her business to actually practice law again.
As they grew, Nadia and her husband ensured that they marketed their diverse product line to businesses and consumers alike—giving them access both to volume sales and direct buyer feedback.
As she grew, Nadia relied on three basic strategies to turn Budget Electronics into the phenomenon that it's become, and she offers these strategies as advice to other sellers when they ask:
1. Diversify your audience.
At the beginning, Nadia and her husband knew that with the low margins on cell phone cases and accessories, both selling in volume and nurturing a clientele of repeat customers would be important. For this reason, Nadia knew that eBay could only be one piece of their strategy if they wanted to grow sustainably—so they investigated multiple channels to reach different audiences.
Nadia and her husband soon launched a website for budget electronics, advertising to wholesalers who were looking to purchase from a Canadian distributor. They also worked to establish relationships with Canadian retailers, asking for space to sell merchandise in retail stores.
Each of these channels thrived, though the differences between business-to-business and business-to-consumer sales presented difficulties as they had to manage unique logistics, relationship, marketing, and incentive programs for each of them.
On the other hand, exposure to consumers kept Nadia abreast of market trends and product satisfaction levels. Nadia says that customers often contacted her directly to request specific styles, modifications, and new products that she wouldn’t have otherwise considered.
We tapped into local traffic while simultaneously accelerating our online business. Our walk-in customers kept us abreast of market trends, while our eBay store gave us a platform for selling a wider selection of products.”
Ultimately, having three channels for selling—eBay, wholesale, and consignment—allowed Nadia and her husband to stay ahead of the market and to purchase in greater quantity from overseas suppliers, unlocking opportunities for discounts which could in turn be passed along to customers.
Nadia's relationship-building work enables better wholesale volume and satisfaction, both for sourcing and and for sales.
2. Cultivate relationships.
While relationships with customers have always been an important part of Budget Electronics’ success, Nadia stresses that good relationships with suppliers are equally important.
As Budget Electronics began to place orders sized in the thousands every month, Nadia and her husband realized that they knew very little about the businesses fulfilling these large orders. Maintaining relationships by phone or email wasn’t enough any more—so Nadia says that she and her husband booked a flight to China where they met with manufacturers and became involved in the process from start to finish.
My husband and I decided to visit China and build face-to-face relationships. We met suppliers who showed us what they could do for our business in a way that you couldn’t achieve over email. I realized that these factories are capable of far more than what you see when browsing Alibaba—and knowing that helped me to make better business decisions and take informed risks when sourcing.”
The relationships they cultivated allowed for better communication between her team and suppliers, at the same time creating the trust needed to negotiate better pricing or source an increasing variety of custom products.
Today Nadia and her husband travel to China once a year to visit factories in Shenzen, each hoping to find the next big thing. They keep track of new technologies that might trend in North America, thoroughly researching the items when they return home and aiming to stock them before trends take hold.
3. Do your research.
The Budget Electronics team relies heavily on research before launching a product. Products that are new tend to offer higher margins, so catching trends as they develop is an important key to success. Nadia says that the Budget Electronics team uses Terapeak to stay informed.
We use Terapeak to see what's going on in the marketplace and to see what the competition is doing that we aren’t. Sometimes you’re surprised to see what your competitors are successfully selling that you aren’t, but that’s why it’s important to keep an eye on our category, so that you don’t miss out on any profits. We also use Terapeak to check keywords, photos, and overall for our current inventory to make sure we're listing competitively.“
Using Terapeak, however, is just one part of a multi-pronged strategy. To make it all fit together, they also rely on other tactics:
They use Terapeak to analyze sales patterns and track how the competition changes over time.
They continuously engage with their wholesalers and consignment customers to see what items are in demand and are likely to sell in the future.
They monitor social media, especially sites like Pinterest and Instagram, keeping their eyes open for popular styles that drive interest. They validate these trends using services like Trendosaur.
At the Top of Their Game
Nadia and her husband have become the quintessential online sales success story.
Today Budget Electronics is one of the top mobile accessories suppliers in Canada, moving tens of thousands in volume each month. They sell accessories to retailers, wholesalers, and consumers across the country, bringing the newest fashions to the Canadian market and driving new trends as much as they leverage them.
They now operate out of two warehouses, with offices and staff in cities from coast to coast—and for Nadia, her husband, and Budget Electronics, the future is bright.
Visit the Budget Electronics eBay store at: http://stores.ebay.com/Budget-Electronics-Wholesale
Visit the Budget Electronics website at: http://budgetelectronics.ca
Visit Budget Electronics on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/budgetelectronics.ca/
Reach the Budget Electronics on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/b_electronics