Selling Wigs: Insights from the Journey of an Online Wig Shop Owner
Initially, during my university internship, I found myself with idle time and was called by my uncle to assist at his wig factory in Xuchang. This was the beginning of my journey into the world of wigs, gradually learning about and understanding the intricacies of this industry. I realized that the wig industry was a growing sector, offering opportunities for business.
To begin, the export volume of wigs from Xuchang to international markets is substantial, although the competition is fierce. Let's set that aside for now and focus on the Chinese market. Urban lifestyles with their fast pace and high work pressures have led to a trend of hair loss among younger individuals. In essence, hair loss has become increasingly common. Coupled with the progress of the times, people's acceptance of wigs has also risen, no longer invoking the shock it used to.
With my uncle's wig factory as a reliable source of supply and favorable pricing, stepping into the wig industry seemed like a natural fit. Thus, I partnered with a friend to establish our own company and decided to start with the cost-effective option of an online store.
The factory didn't stock ready-made products; instead, they occasionally displayed a few samples at exhibitions. Orders from major distributors prompted production, and the frequent queue of orders meant we had to stock a lot of inventory at the outset. The main reason for this was the diversity in wig sizes. Each wig model ranged from 9 inches to 23 inches, a total of 8 sizes, and the factory generally required a minimum order of 5 units per size. This meant that for a single wig model encompassing all sizes, we had to acquire at least 40 units. Moreover, wigs came in various types and craftsmanship, such as hairpieces, hair patches, half-head caps, and full-head caps. Each type had different sizes and craftsmanship, potentially necessitating an investment of over a million RMB to stock all the variants.
With limited funds – our initial investment was less than a hundred thousand RMB – we could only select a few wig models that were frequently in demand from the factories, and we chose fewer sizes to start our testing phase.
Another constraint we faced was that wigs are all handmade, and the process is intricate. From placing an order with the factory to receiving the products, it took anywhere from 35 to 45 days (mechanized wigs required less time). Given our financial constraints, our replenishment cycle was considerably long.
During the initial 45-day waiting period, we registered our company and trademark, opened a store on a popular e-commerce platform, borrowed wigs from the factory to shoot model photos for our product listings, collaborated with professional designers for store design, and thus, took the first step into entrepreneurship.
At the launch of our online store, we were somewhat lost as to what to do next. Since we sourced directly from our own factory, we had a cost advantage, and we decided to begin by capturing a market share through competitive pricing. Wig profits are actually quite good, but initially, our margins were slim. Moreover, with low customer traffic, our sales volume was also limited.
As our entrepreneurial journey progressed, we discovered that some sellers were deceiving customers with poor-quality human hair wigs. Many customers, not discerning the difference, fell for the attractive prices of these human hair wigs. However, these wigs would quickly become worn out. The production costs of quality wigs are quite substantial, and wigs with good hair quality and craftsmanship are not cheap.
Hence, we decided to step forward and educate people who genuinely required wigs. Our aim was twofold: to ensure customers were aware of the nuances within the wig market and to promote our store. This led to our engagement in creating articles on various media platforms. During this time, I also took on roles such as customer service, graphic design, photography, video post-production, and copywriting, gradually resulting in profitability.
Yet, the wig market is vast, and we are but a small entity within it. Our journey is far from complete. The road ahead involves continued exploration, aiming to provide individuals who require daily wig wear with quality, affordable wigs.