Sales on Tindie are slow

It is hard to make any money from electronics

I had registered a business so I could sell my cool digitalrooster pcb assembly commercially. I chose for this service as it caters to makers and tinkerers and my product is exactly for this audience. Spoiler alert: So far it was not a success.

Luckily I had no gone all in and have a batch of 50 or a 100 manufactured. As a test I listed the surplus ones of my MK3b order on Tindie for the price I would get from pcbway if I ordered 50-100.

So far I have not sold one and got very few page views (around 10 per week) - maybe I listed in the wrong category or it is too nerdy. Also 50US$ on tindie seems a lot for a pcb which you have to solder some terminals and combine with a raspberry pi to make it usable.

I guess most tinkerers are used to price ranges of 5-25$ for their toys from adafruit and think I make an absurd profit margin. Sadly I don’t. I will break down the costs here:

I got quotes from two turnkey manufacturers in china on a batch of 50 PCBs. They charge me between 23 and 30 US$ per PCB plus shipping. At least this was the price in Nov. 2020 before the semiconductor supply crises exploded. Additionally DHL charges me at least 12€ to get stuff through customs.

Tindie charges 5% sales fee + 3-4% payment processing fee of gross customer price and shipping. That means if you list your product for 50$ (including 20% VAT) and 10$ shipping you pay tindie around 4.8$. Tindie charges commission on the tax part as well.

The thing is: Is not possible to list a product without tax for international sales. So if I would ship abroad customers would pay VAT and have to declare it at customs, i.e. pay double.

This means for you as a seller of a 50$ product you would have a gross revenue of: 50$-10$(20%tax)-4.8$(8%Tindie) = 35$

So my profit margin would be more like 35US$-23US$=12US$ (not taking shipping and customs handling fees into account). As I am a nice guy and I know how bad it is if you don’t have the right terminals and headers I sell the PCBs with the through-hole terminals and pin headers (also 2-3US$)

This is not a side job that makes me rich. I would be happy if I sold at least one unit per month so I can pay for the coffee I drink while filling out the tax forms I have to turn in for my little enterprise.