When many of us picture an import business we think of someone standing on a dock receiving large containers as they are lowered from a behemoth transport ship. While this is certainly the case for large corporations, the age of the micro-importer is dawning and business models are changing. With the rise in online market places such as eBay and Amazon, the initial investment to open a small retail business on the internet has been shrinking with each passing year. What once required a physical store with hundreds of products and substantial initial investment now requires an inventory of perhaps only a single product. Complimentary businesses, like fulfillment services, buffet style web design, and customs brokerage firms catering to small business, have made significant strides in the last few years.
All of these changes have culminated to create an environment which is incredibly friendly to the small internet boutique. Companies like American-Bakeware, for example, have been able to find a home in very specialized niche markets. Rather than compete with large big-box stores offering a vast number of varied products. American-Bakeware and thousands of shops just like it have specialized to such a degree that they are no longer competing directly with the largest retailers. They have made themselves an authority in silicone bakeware products; a niche too small for many brick and motor stores to sustain their business. However, with the scale of demand offered by an internet connected world, businesses like this are able to thrive right alongside Walmart.
Gone are the days where volume was a defining factor for an import business. Single product retail businesses have begun springing up all over the internet, and each of them can now tap into the import infrastructure developing to support them. Market places like eBay and Amazon have also paved the way in terms of consumer trust on the web. Small boutiques are well positioned to capitalize on this new and growing consumer trust. The micro-importer is a very exciting and interesting market trend that I believe we will only see more of in the near future.