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Five ways for resellers to spot category and product trends before competitors

Reselling is a business opportunity with advantages for both established companies and entrepreneurs

  • Today you can shop globally for wholesale products on online marketplaces, to resell to MENA companies (B2B) or consumers (B2C).
  • The key to a reseller’s success lies in ordering the right products at the right time.
  • Online and off, there are smart ways to identify tomorrow’s in-demand products today.
  • Master them and you can run a successful reselling business, even in unpredictable times.


Reselling: a great business model for the risk-averse


Reselling is a business opportunity with advantages for both established companies and new entrepreneurial ventures. You don’t have to invest in a large product inventory upfront, if you operate via a convenient dropshipping model, in which you process product orders from customers but liaise with a wholesaler or manufacturer that fulfills the orders and ships the actual products to customers.


In this model, because you are not responsible for physically stocking products yourself, you don’t need to worry about any storefront or warehousing overhead costs. You can launch your reselling business quite quickly, with an easy to build e-commerce website.


Being a reseller allows you to do what you do best - serve and support customers - while the wholesalers or manufacturers you partner with take care of the inventory and logistics side of business. As a reseller, generating a profit is relatively easy compared to many business models, because you can set your own price mark-up on products.


Today, resellers have more buying power than they did traditionally, because they are no longer confined to sourcing products from a small group of suppliers based in their city or region. They can search an established online marketplace and order products from multiple vetted wholesale suppliers based around the world, sourcing quality products at the best possible price - some suppliers may operate in countries with lower production costs, or countries with interest rates favourable to your currency.


Online marketplaces like Tradeling can often assist both sellers and buyers with the logistics involved with dropshipping, like warehouse storage and last-mile delivery. They can also assist you with reselling suppliers’ products under your own brand, on the marketplace itself, in white label form.


To become a reseller, you must obtain a trade license from your country’s respective authority - in Dubai for instance, that would be the Department of Dubai Economic Development (DED). You would also need to apply for an import license if you intend on sourcing products from another country - again, an established online marketplace can provide assistance.
Before you start ordering and selling products it’s a good idea to define your niche, so that you won’t confuse customers by trying to sell everything to everyone. Defining your niche - for example hardware and software; office supplies; furniture and décor or apparel - is a good way to build customer loyalty in that niche, and it will make it easier for you to stay on top of shifting market trends, because you won’t have to monitor every market sector, just one.


That’s important, because the key to reselling success lies in knowing which products to order when, so that you can stay ahead of wholesalers’ price increases, order while there are still enough items in stock, and market popular products to buyers before your competitors do. .


Being a leader in the reselling business means having a finger on the pulse of market trends, as well as an overview of the wider market dynamics - societal, economical, technological - that may influence them. Below, we cover some tools and resources to help you stay ahead of emerging market trends.

How to master the art of product demand prediction


1. Gain an understanding of STEEP and Porter’s Five Forces, two analytical exercises that will help to give you a clearer perspective of the market you serve and the products it buys.


STEEP is an analytical method of examining the external factors that may have an impact on a business, and the products or services it provides to customers. The five external elements it comprises are:


  • Social - Meaning considerations like the lifestyle, population density, average age and income range of people in the market you serve. COVID-19, and the profound effect it had on what people did or didn’t buy, would fall under this element.
  • Technological - Technology is always advancing, and changes in the way people engage with it can have a big impact on the products you sell. For example, foldable smartphones are growing fast in popularity, which may see the popularity of tablets wane.
  • Economic - Changes to economic conditions can greatly affect the products buyers want. For instance, if another recession develops, as many believe it might, the demand for high-end products, like jewellery or luxury watches, could fall.
  • Environmental - This element assesses things like seasonal change, climate change and also environment-related legislation. If one of your core product categories was bottled water, and research suggested it was about to be banned for environmental reasons, then you would want to pivot into alternative solutions early, like water filters.
  • Political - This element looks at how political developments could affect both the supply of, and demand for, products. When the conflict started between Ukraine and Russia, analysts rightly began to predict everything from maize shortages to soaring oil prices, as a direct result.

Porter’s Five Forces, which retailers and FMCG brands often use, looks at the main forces shaping changes in a particular market sector. Those five forces are Competitive Rivalry; Threat of New Entrants; Threat of Substitutes; Buyer Bargaining Power, and Supplier Bargaining Power.


In terms of the latter, bargaining power can quickly shift from buyer (reseller) to supplier, if there is a sharp uptick in market demand for the type of products they supply. In terms of “New Entrants” consider how many new smartphone brands have popped up in the last few years, as competitors to the established brands.

2. Follow product trends and insights online. There are valuable real-time insights you can gain through some online research:


  • Professional consulting firms like PwC regularly publish region-specific consumer research that highlights changes in shopping behaviour. Their latest statistics on Middle Eastern consumers suggest that health and wellness products, as well as environmentally-friendly products, could be good areas to trade in.
  • Even a simple Google search can help you identify trending products: open Google and search air conditioners, for example. Click on the “Shopping” search filter. Then click “Sort by” at the top right of the search results, and select “Review score” to see today’s top-rated air conditioners.


3. Leverage predictive analytics. Predictive analytics is a form of data analysis that looks at behavioural data, to suggest what customers will be doing or buying in the future, whether in a bricks and mortar store or on an ecommerce platform. If you are an established reseller and are equipped with the right software to collect, sort and articulate data coming from your consumers, you can leverage the power of artificial intelligence to distill large amounts of data into conclusions to guide your product assortment, pricing and more.

Predictive analytics is particularly useful for ecommerce platforms, because website users generate new data with every click they make. By making sense of their actions through data, predictive analytics can help you to identify:


  • Fast- and slow-moving products.
  • Products with high or low interest.
  • Consistent best-sellers.
  • The best time of the year to run sales.
  • The best time of the year to promote specific categories or products - for example, with January being the start of the financial year, it could be a good month to promote office supplies and furniture to business buyers.

Predictive analytics can be automated to make personalised suggestions to buyers, based on their on-site actions, like showing them other products they might like. This cross-selling and up-selling functionality can increase basket size and sales revenue.


4. Draw on the knowledge of fellow resellers, suppliers and trade experts at conferences and expos. Such events offer valuable opportunities to gain market and consumer insights, network with potential suppliers and discover new products before they are launched to market. Some relevant events in the MENA region:

  • TECHSPO Dubai (October) is an annual event where you can browse exhibitors’ stands “showcasing the next generation of advances in technology and innovation.” Besides discovering innovative new products, you could discover new Mar Tech solutions to leverage.
  • Watch and Jewellery Middle East Show (Sharjah, October) showcases the latest trends and designs in this retail category.
  • White Label World Expo (Frankfurt, October) could be worth travelling to, in order to network with ex-MENA suppliers. Every year it brings together “thousands of online sellers, suppliers and buyers from across the globe, all under one roof.”
  • Middle East Retail Forum (Dubai, November) which facilitates “charting out the future of retail’s blueprint in the Middle East and beyond.”
  • OEC (Oman, November) is “the Middle East’s largest ecommerce and technology conference,” bringing together stakeholders from a host of industries including some that are pertinent to resellers: retail, ecommerce, FMCG, manufacturing and digital payments.
  • Organic and Natural Products Expo (Dubai, December) is the Middle East’s “sole business event that focuses on organic and natural products”- it has been bringing together suppliers and buyers trading in this fast-growing sector for 20 years.
  • CES (Las Vegas, January) takes place in the USA (but you can attend online) and is “the most influential tech event in the world,” in which innovations in every sphere of life are unveiled, from self-driving cars to smart home solutions.

Depending on the sector you are or will be reselling in, here is a schedule for more industry-specific trade shows taking place across the Middle East and Africa. 

5. Keep an eye on your competitors. It’s a good idea to monitor which products your competitors are promoting most in their marketing. If a high number of competitors are all promoting the same kind of products, it’s likely they are selling well and should be on your reseller’s inventory list, too. Meanwhile, competitors’ products with huge discounts on them are likely to be waning in popularity.


The tactic here is not to jump onto products before competitors, but rather to assess which products they are prioritising, and why, then search your supplier network to find similar products at wholesale prices low enough for you to offer buyers a better price on them.

In Summary

It would be ideal if one could time-travel a year into the future and spend a day observing customer purchases at The Dubai Mall, or browsing the online marketplaces. That not being possible, resellers can still construct a well-informed picture of what customers might be buying in the near future, by using some of the techniques, tools and resources we have outlined here.


With ecommerce in the Middle East growing by 22% annually, competition is growing too. Prioritising your product assortment may well give you the edge on competitors.


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About Tradeling:

Tradeling is the dominant business-to-business ecosystem in MENA, with its e-marketplace and other platforms such as edukaan, Tradeling Pro and Tradeling Commodities, catering to all types of business customers. Driven by the purpose that everything they do, they do because they believe the future of trade is digital. They believe that the future is also now. The way they shape the future is by building a digital ecosystem, beautifully designed and simple to use. They give their users what they never thought they needed.


Tradeling ensures a reliable and smooth trade process in addition to providing logistics and financing solutions. Connecting global suppliers with MENA-based demand, Tradeling leverages advanced technology to optimise the supply chain and creates economic value in addition to mitigating risks. Enabling buyers to find the right products and materials as well as engage with new suppliers and Middle Eastern buyers, Tradeling helps in negotiating prices and delivering end-to-end services for business-to-business trade engagement.


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