So - You Want To Start A Shop?
SO, YOU WANT TO START A SHOP?
Congratulations! Neopian shop keeping is one of the best activities available on the site, and one that can lead to some pretty admirable profits. Not many players on the site haven't tried it out at sometime, but only the elite few have the necessary determination and skills to actually make it succeed.
Whatever you want - the likelihood is you get it through the fabulous shop wizard and the ever expanding 'marketplace' of player run shops that hold, basically, anything you can possibly think of - and a number you wouldn't have believed existed. You barely see the players behind these wonderful sources for quests and treats, but you wouldn't have a very happy neopet without them.
Shopkeeping is probably the most challenging thing you could choose to try here, the area with the most competition and the most work required to get to the top of your field. But, it may just be the best as well. And if you talk to those who have 'made it big'... you might just decide it's worth it!
SO - WHAT SHOULD YOU SELL?
In short, only you can find that out. Sometimes the most silly little shops can become multi-land corporations, sometimes those destined for success fall at the first hurdle.
My top advice would be to choose a category you love, something you spend all your Neopian time and money on happily just for the thrill of it. If you won the Neopian Book Award last week, there is no chance you will ever be truly happy or fulfilled selling iced Chia pops to babies.
Likewise, it won't really motivate you or get you excited - you must be pretty passionate about your chosen business in order to spend an hour restocking in it every day!
You're best off, however, not going for something too obvious. Plushies, petpets and the like are often very over-crowded markets, with massive malls taking the majority of your business.
Likewise, smaller, obscure categories are often populated by tiny little stalls which are easy to beat - and less others to fight for your place in the shop wizard results table!
You would be surprised how many galleries there are dedicated purely to one colour, species, or even which are just collections of totally useless items, just because they look nice. No neopet is the same - whatever you like I can guarantee there will be another who likes it too!
If you're still struggling... here are some ideas I think would be nice...
1. Painted Plushies. - Seriously! Nobody sells them!
2. One Species Shops. - Yes, some people love them!
3. And, finally... Random Rubbish at 1 NP! The only items we all can't turn down...
WILL IT WORK?
Well, first of all, there's no point in starting a serious shop until you have found something you can do better than most of your potential competitors. Yes, your USP (Unique Selling Point) - all companies need one, and if you want to earn some mega-neopoints so do you! So, does your shop:
a) Sell an item you'd struggle to find anywhere else?
b) Have the same items - but for half the price?
c) Offer a better variety and stocks more often than anybody else in your chosen field?
d) Have a more memorable name or catchy tag line?
Hopefully, you have one of these already. Maybe you have all 4 - in which case I'll see you in the Altador Hall of Fame sometime soon! However, for the rest of us... get searching!
STARTING YOUR SHOP!
OK! The moment of truth... after months of preparation and planning (not really!), it is time to start your new shop.
First, I suggest a good, rather enjoyable spending spree! That's right, go and buy a few of your chosen items at the cheapest possible prices. Go and put them on at reasonably good prices (see below for how to do this!), then see it they sell. If they do, buy some more. Simples!
GETTING THE RIGHT PRICE - BUYING AND SELLING
Maybe the most important aspect of your shop management will be making sure you choose the right price for both yourself and your (amazing) customers. You are obviously looking to make the best profit you can - who wouldn't? - but that won't happen if nobody buys anything because your prices are plain ridiculous. So, here is how you strike a balance between making Neopians happy and filling your pockets till they burst!
'You can only sell cheap if you buy cheap ' - is the fundamental rule of Neopian business. Don't rush into it; search the Neopian shops all around to find it for the best price you can! It's worth it!
Most new business owners buy from the Neopian shops. Contrary to popular belief, this isn't actually a bad tactic, because every player it goes through is going to put an item's price up slightly, and only bad sellers can allow you to buy for under this baseline price. But - remember to check back! Prices change quickly within the shops - and by waiting an hour you may get it for half what it was originally. And BARTER! You don't have anything to lose, but everything to gain...
If you do choose the shop wizard - refresh it a few times. It doesn't go to the cheapest straight away...
When it comes to selling, I find it best to go for around the base shop wizard price. Nobody can argue with that! If you can sell it for cheaper, do so, but don't lose your only chance of a profit by doing so. Go for the most you can whilst still coming near the bottom of the list - and put it at a price (you think) it is worth paying for.
ADVERTISING AND BRANDING
The best way of advertising is through the notice board. Interestingly, it's best not to go in the middle - but rather at the top (preferably) or bottom of the board, the areas which get the most casual viewing. Let's face it - flicking through page after page of adverts is dull, and not what you want to spend your evening doing. The message boards can also work, but please be polite and don't annoy others... that makes them less likely to visit!
Your shop should have a memorable and attention-grabbing name, something people can remember and be attracted to should they come across it again. It needs to be unique and distinctive, as does your username - the first thing a potential customer can see! Choose a short and snappy one your customers will be intrigued by... you won't regret it.
That brings us onto catchphrases. It should be friendly, welcoming, funny... something personal to your shop, really, but looking around others may give you some useful information. Alternatively, if your shop gets big enough you could integrate it into one of the big Neopian malls... that's a whole different ball game, but the profits made from it can be amazing.
So, that's my guide. Shop keeping is one of the most challenging of Neopian activities, but maybe the most rewarding as well.