I’m in the film business. I know what you’re saying: “What?”. I am saying the same thing. But uhh yeah, I am running a little online store selling film. Camera film. Photo film. You know the stuff. The site is called Buy Film Canada.
The main deal is that my biggest hobby is film photography, (which is on a general popularity upswing lately), but it’s a little frustrating if you live in Canada, because there just aren’t quite the options as in the USA for buying things. Cameras, film, etc. cost a lot more here than in the USA. I’ve always really liked the idea of having a good online store, but I never have anything to sell lately, and I decided this was a good spot to start one up.
It’s taken longer to get going than I expected for various reasons, but I guess that’s just how everything in life is I guess. I’ve done various online commerce things over the years, although not for quite a while I guess, and I was reminded of a few things.
The one thing that I already knew, but I’ve had to explain to a lot of people, is that one of the bigger hassles in running a business involves dealing with suppliers and getting merchandise. The problem manifests itself in different ways, depending on what you’re selling, but it is always more of a hassle than you expect.
In a lot of cases these days, people buy stuff from China (possibly custom made, possible something already being manufactured), and get it shipped over here. When you first look at a site like Ali Express or DHGate, you see all this stuff listed and the interface looks somewhat like Ebay or Amazon – just enter your quantity and buy it. People who have dealt with it, though, quite often have very frustrating stories about how late things came, how different the merchandise was from what they expected, how long they had to wait for samples, whatever.
In my case with the film, I had a few challenges. The first was that creating a relationship with the Canadian distributors is not a piece of cake. Before even approaching them, I suspected that they probably get inquiries from photographers who just want to buy and stockpile 200 rolls of film at a cheap price. My suspicion was definitely correct, and I had to go through a definite process to get an account setup. I was not remotely surprised at this, but it seems like a lot of people I talked to said “Oh man you’d think they’d be eager to sell you a bunch of film!”
Apart from that, there are some distributors that I can’t even get in touch with, even after emailing and phoning and leaving messages. This is something I’m sure I can get worked out now that the site is up, but it’s interesting.
Anyhow, none of this is a problem. You can always find alternate distributors if you look hard enough, and I’ve got the site up now and my only real hurdle is just selling enough of this film. I’m making a pretty small markup, and offering free shipping over a certain order size, so my only real worry is making sure I actually make a profit on the site haha, but whatever.
Okay that’s all, I’ll try to update here with stuff unrelated to that store soon. I was thinking of creating a standalone blog that basically documents the process of setting up and running an online store, instead of sticking all that info here, what does everyone think, should I do that? Or post it here? Or just shut up? How about I shut my mouth? How about that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!