I want to run a high end camping gear rental business but I'm not sure what items will prove popular and in demand and how many SKUs to purchase. Would it be possible to work a deal with camping/outdoor gear companies to rent out their items through our site to test demand?
If this is possible, how do I go about it and what's in it for the brands?
Love the idea and I have actually been a customer of this concept when traveling in New Zealand.
My thoughts: Do EXACTLY what Tony Hsieh did when he started Zappos.com. The story as I understand it is he didn't have the money to find out if people were interested in buying shoes online. So he asked a local shoe store if he could take photos of their inventory and post them on his website. If any customers did buy, he would go to the store and pay them for the shoes, then ship them to his customer. Mind you, this is and was not his long term plan - this was only a test of the idea.
So, yes - but ask a local gear retailer if you can take photos of their inventory. List their best sellers online. If someone rents, you'll need to buy the inventory, but maybe the shop can give you a dealer discount. Or perhaps you can ask for a payment schedule that allows you to pay a little each month. That will give you time to recoup your costs as the same items rent over and over. At a minimum this will give you an idea of what the consumer wants.