OpenBazaar Ecosystem: Stone Banana

In these posts we take a look at some unique members of the OpenBazaar ecosystem. Today our featured shop is Stone Banana, a one-of-a-kind custom apparel shop featuring great custom artwork! You can find Stone Banana on OpenBazaar, on Duosearch and at StoneBanana.com

Stone Banana Apparel on OpenBazaar

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I’m a psych/neuroscience lab manager at Purdue by day (sanghalab.com) and an aspiring entrepreneur by night. It was less than a year ago that I realized I wanted to create my own business. Artistic design has always been an interest of mine, and I had sort of stumbled into t-shirt design around the same time I became interested in starting a business. So, Stone Banana became my first go at it!

What do you make?

Stone Banana makes graphic tees. I create the designs, sometimes starting from scratch, sometimes from my other artwork, and sometimes from the photography of others (with their permission :)) I have some other products that I’m currently designing, and hope to use the profits from t-shirts to bring these to market.

Why are you selling your product on OpenBazaar?

I use OpenBazaar because I love bitcoin and am super excited to participate in a truly open-source market. I’ve done a bit of cryptocurrency mining/trading in the past, but I never felt like I was bringing bitcoin any closer to being mainstream. Not being a coder, participating in OpenBazaar has been a way for me to help advance not only bitcoin, but the idea of truly peer-to-peer markets. (Beyond just talking to my friends and family about it!)

How has your experience been with OpenBazaar so far?

It’s been great! Of course I’m very excited for 2.0 and the features that come with it, but 1.0 has done the job of providing a fee-free trading platform that’s allowed my shop to be discovered as well as to complete many transactions successfully!

How familiar are you with Bitcoin?

Fairly familiar. I’ve done a good bit of reading and watching Andreas (among others :)) speak on the topic over the last 3 years. I’ve done some mining and trading, and pretty much been an advocate since I first found out about it! But, I’ve never actually bought anything besides other currencies and cloud mining until OpenBazaar!

What changes would you like to see to OpenBazaar to make it more useful for you?

I think the main thing for me right now would be an improved product upload interface, as well as selector options within each product such as size, color etc.

What products/promos are you featuring this season?

I have a great new design in my shop for Halloween! We’ll also be doing a 10% discount through October–then stay connected to see what I’ll be doing for Bitcoin Black Friday!

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Weekly Development Update: October 7, 2016

We wrapped up the design and are now finishing testing a product that will make setting up an OpenBazaar shop incredibly simple. We’ll release this service next week, so if you or someone you know wants to open an OpenBazaar shop, keep an eye out for that.

Front end

Current version

  • The auto-reconnect code was removed–We may re-implement it later in a more robust manner
  • The duplicate user bug was fixed in Discover
  • The zoom and rotate buttons on the avatar in Settings/Page are disabled until one is loaded
  • Multiple minor bugs were fixed

Client commits

Back End

2.0

  • Continued work on order processing for the 2.0 server

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Dropshipping on OpenBazaar

By: Dr. Washington Sanchez
Co-founder of OB1; core-developer for OpenBazaar

Since the early days of OpenBazaar, I’ve been interested in the potential for it to be used for dropshipping. But first, a quick intro:

Dropshipping is the process of selling goods to customers by placing orders on their behalf to suppliers, who ship the good directly to the customer.

Dropshipping has several advantages for individuals who want to start their own side-business:

  1. Straightforward. I won’t say it’s easy, but it is certainly far less complex and cheaper than importing and housing stock, let alone packaging and shipping to customers. Dropshipping enables you to focus that energy on sales and marketing.
  2. Flexible. You can sell a handful of products, or you can sell hundreds or thousands. It’s up to you. Running an online ecommerce store, dropshipping goods all around the world, can be done at home or in a cafe. As a side business, it doesn’t occupy too much of your time. If the business starts to scale up quickly, you can find yourself quitting your job and becoming your own boss sooner than you think!
  3. Low entry costs. This really can’t be emphasized enough. The costs of setting up a dropshipping operation can be done with very little capital up front. Also purchasing stock is only triggered when a customer has made a purchase: positive cash flow!

 

Example of a store I run that dropships items from Aliexpress
Example of a store I run that dropships items from Aliexpress

 

Even though the barriers to entry in running a dropshipping ecommerce store are low, make no mistake that it’s hard work to make it both great and scalable.

Unique Value

Now, what’s to stop the customer approaching the supplier directly and purchasing these goods? Well, nothing. This is why some dropshippers go to great lengths to hide their suppliers from potential customers.

A far better approach is to offer unique value in one way or another:

  • Niche. Focus on a niche class of goods or services so that your store becomes a lens for customers to find what they want. Individuals are more than willing to pay a small premium to avoid the inconvenience of purchasing multiple goods off different platforms.

 

Got a chance to chat with Lizzi about her amazing store; her hair game is strong!
Got a chance to chat with Lizzi about her amazing store; her hair game is strong!

 

  • Don’t suck. Form a positive relationship with your customers, and you will be rewarded. Be polite and go above and beyond for your customers.

 

Customer first
Customer first

 

  • Brand. This kinda reverses everything I’ve said about dropshipping so far, but if you can get your hands on the product before it reaches the customer (i.e. it’s a local sale, time isn’t a big factor, or it’s a popular product you can stock a little of), then add a unique brand or feature to an otherwise generic product. This immediately differentiates your products from everything else; you may even be shocked how a $2 modification can add to the retail value.
JDS Personalized Gifts are an example of a wholesaler that sells customizable stock… perfect for branding.
JDS Personalized Gifts are an example of a wholesaler that sells customizable stock… perfect for branding.

Dropshipping is both an art and a science, and there are plenty of resources you can draw from to become really great at it. Shopify has a great guide available for free that you can use for existing stores as well as OpenBazaar!

Dropshipping with Bitcoin and OpenBazaar

As you can imagine, dropshipping is a low margin business, but profitable under the right circumstances. It is particularly attractive to the Bitcoin ecosystem for 2 reasons:

  • Arbitrage. Dropshippers can take advantage of the rising value of Bitcoin, which is expected to be an upward secular trend for the true believers! As a result, they can order the good from the supplier with fiat and sell the good to the customer for Bitcoin. The price can be at a significant discount if the Vendor expects that the price of Bitcoin will rise to exceed the initial losses they experience on the transaction (i.e. it’s a time-preference thing). The price volatility of Bitcoin is a two-edged sword, so tread carefully if you apply these discounts.
  • Supply. Bitcoin is money, but it doesn’t have the chance to become the dominant international currency unless it can be used to buy anything (at least off the Internet). Bitcoin-powered dropshippers can make a meaningful impact to the ecosystem by offering a greater supply of goods and services that can be purchased with Bitcoin.

 

neo bitcoin for millions someday
My definition of success for Bitcoin

 

My definition of success for Bitcoin

Dropshipping on OpenBazaar is straightforward. Personally, I run several stores selling a variety of goods that I dropship predominantly from Aliexpress. Since April of this year, I’ve made ~40 sales, which isn’t too bad when you consider that I run these stores after-hours.

Here’s how I do it:

  • Create your OpenBazaar node. For now, you’ll probably need to run your node on a VPS so that it is accessible 24/7, unless you have a desktop computer that’s always on. (Note: Later this month we will be sharing a very easy method for setting this up and will post again when it is live!) If you’re running a blog or web-facing ecommerce store on an existing VPS, you can easily install and run OpenBazaar side-by-side. There’s a great YouTube playlist with step-by-step instructions. Alternatively you can opt for hosted solutions that will set it up on your behalf.
  • Setup your store. Create an eye-catching avatar/logo and header. Fill out your About page to pitch your store; a gif or two always helps. Add your email address or social media accounts, which can help foster trust. Register a Blockchain ID, and add your OpenBazaar GUID to your new decentralized identity as well as your other accounts.

 

Vintage Fashion Shop on OpenBazaar
I bought the logo and header off a digital artist on OpenBazaar incidentally!

 

  • Choose your niche. I recommend tailoring your store according to a specific niche or product category. This helps you narrow down on a group of suppliers, helps you build a brand, and increases your chances of repeat business.
  • Choose your suppliers. Suppliers can be another ecommerce store or an entire platform. Personally, I love to use AliExpress because it has a huge range of products of different categories, free shipping, and cheap prices. Moreover, AliExpress let’s you sort listings in a category/subcategory according to the number of orders (i.e. sort by popularity). This allows you to select items that have a proven track-record of market demand. You can also target popular and reputable suppliers on AliExpress to dropship.

 

You can pick the top 20 most popular items to sell within a product category or niche on AliExpress.
You can pick the top 20 most popular items to sell within a product category or niche on AliExpress.

 

  • Optimize your listing. Product information is your friend; the more data you add to your listing description about the product, the better! I generally only set 1 image per listing to minimize the contract download time for the Buyer. In the Description section, I include as many html tags as I need for additional product images.
  • Follow everyone and be friendly. A good way to get attention is to follow other nodes on OpenBazaar and send them a short ‘hello’. Buy some items off their stores and make friends.
  • Social media. Use social media to advertise what you’re selling on OpenBazaar. Product listings from https://duosear.ch include the listing image when shared on social media sites!

 

OpenBazaar 2.0

 

OpenBazaar 2.0 Screengrab
As we previously announced, OpenBazaar 2.0 will be a paradigm shift for the protocol and the project. It more closely aligns with the functionality we envisioned in the early days of the project, as well as fixing a number of limitations we’ve been longing to address:

  1. Distributed content. Store and listing data will be hosted in a distributed manner between peers on the network. What this means is that a Vendor won’t need to run their node off a desktop computer or VPS 24/7. Individuals can contribute to the health of the network by running a Gateway node, hosting store content on behalf of other users (which may serve as the foundation of affiliate marketing rewards with Bitcoin).
  2. Web accessibility. Stores and their listings will be accessible to the web via Gateways, making it that much easier to discover and purchase anything from the OpenBazaar network.
  3. Easier installation. We expect significantly less technical issues with the installation of OpenBazaar 2.0 across all the major operating systems.
  4. Flexibility. Vendors will have greater control to create product options and shipping rules for physical listings. Digital content can also be automatically download after purchasing.

This is only a snapshot of the many changes we’re bringing to OpenBazaar, which will make it that much easier to start-up a dropshipping enterprise on the network for free, with zero restrictions!

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OpenBazaar Ecosystem: Coffee Milk Syrup

In these posts we take a look at some unique members of the OpenBazaar ecosystem. Today our featured shop is Coffee Milk Syrup and it’s pretty much what it sounds like, shop owner Adana makes her own “coffee syrup” that’s like chocolate syrup—just made with coffee! You can find Coffee Milk Syrup on OpenBazaar, on Duosearch and at CoffeeMilkSyrup.cf

 

Coffee Milk Syrup shop on OpenBazaar, decentralized peer to peer Bitcoin marketplace

 

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I make coffee syrup during the day, and I’m a writer, and a web developer at night. I’m originally from Houston, TX, though I’m currently living in Dallas.

What do you make?

I make Some Awesome Coffee Syrup. It’s similar to chocolate syrup, but it’s made with coffee, so it makes everything taste like coffee.

Why are you selling your product on OpenBazaar?

I work from home, and getting your product or service out there is hard to do sometimes. I saw OpenBazaar as a way to put myself into a market that would likely appreciate that, and that I was in full control of. I was originally with OpenBazaar when you guys first launched, and I joined in and made a quick store, and within just a few days I had my first sell. With the products that I make and sell, It’s hard to get customers without doing a lot of actual footwork: going to stores, food trucks, and vendors alike, locally. That also limited me on how I was able to sell my product and I think OpenBazaar is exactly where I need to be to get my big start with Coffee Syrup.

How has your experience been with OpenBazaar so far?

My experience has been great. I am in the Slack community for OpenBazaar and the admin, vendors, and people in general are very helpful and polite. I’ve had questions ranging from “How would I setup my name properly” all the way to “how do I migrate my OB server from Windows to Linux” and I’ve had all of my questions answered thoroughly. The community for OpenBazaar is full of great people.

How familiar are you with Bitcoin?

Quite familiar with it. I have traded across the exchanges and used bitcoin locally to buy food, or books even. I like the usability of it and of course bitcoin contracts are amazing for vendors like myself.

What changes would you like to see to OpenBazaar to make it more useful for you?

I think that implementing a similar system to “Reviews” would be nice, but have it be something along the lines of “Store Updates,” similar to “News” I suppose. This way, when a store are preparing to put items on sale, say for the Black Friday event, the customers or people that come to the store would be able to know about the sale, through looking at the updates/news tab.
This would help keep the customers in the know about products. If I only had a limited amount of items, I could make a post about how it has a limited inventory and how long the sale would last. It would help with customer questions. Any scheduled downtime could be listed there as well, as about once a week, I take my store offline for about 3-4 hours for system updates.

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