Computer parts include memory chips, hard disks, flash cards, external storage devices, monitors, cables, input devices and various accessories. The computer industry is very competitive, with small players and established big names going after huge worldwide demand. You can sell computer parts from a physical store, an e-commerce store or an auction site. Parts resellers, small computer manufacturers and owners looking for quick upgrades are some of your potential customers. Starting any small business requires a business plan and adequate financing.
- Estimate the market size, using statistical data form industry sources. The total addressable market, which is the universe of potential customers, for a small industrial town is going to be different from a college town. You might need to stock parts for desktops in one market and laptops in the other.
- Identify the potential customers. If you are planning to buy and sell new and used motherboards, memory modules and other parts, your customers are likely to be mostly computer users looking for simple upgrades or small computer vendors who assemble and sell custom computers. If you are planning to sell and service computers as well as parts, your customer mix will include households and businesses.
- Analyze the competition. There is significant demand for computers, but there is also no shortage of suppliers. There might be several small and large stores supplying parts in your market, in addition to the online vendors. If several vendors are competing for household customers, turn your attention to the small and medium enterprise market — the real estate broker, the physician, local schools and medical centers. Upgrading existing systems is usually a more cost-effective option than buying new hardware and software systems.
- Select a location for your store. If you are starting out as a home-based reseller, design a simple search-enabled e-commerce site that lists the parts you have in stock and provides an easy-to-use order entry form. If you are planning to sell parts, new and used computers and provide in-store support services, find a store close to your target market. For example, if you are aiming at the small-business market, find a location in an office building or a business park.
- Plan a pre-opening marketing blitz. Depending on your budget, invest in newspaper ads, online ads and radio spots to generate customer awareness. Follow up with personal contact, which includes knocking on office doors, dropping off fliers in the neighborhood, sending out press releases to local media outlets, aggressively promoting the store on blogs and social media, and networking at community events organized by the local chamber of commerce and other business groups.
- Manage costs by starting small. It is better to establish a reputation for superior customer service and quality with a few customers before making expensive long-term commitments. For example, if you start by upgrading one real estate broker’s office in a business park, he is going to be a reference for other brokers, lawyers and insurance professionals in the area. Word-of-mouth promotion does not cost anything but it brings in new and repeat business.