In the last week I've received three mails asking me about starting up a market. I get excited when I get these mails and I do my best to share my thoughts and ideas with people. Getting three in a week is a bit more than usual. I decided to handle this by just writing a general update about my market ideas. I have a tendency to think, "I've written about that before," and I worry about rehashing. So, this may be a rehash.
The main question is "What will I stock?" That seems to be a simple question but it is actually pretty complicated. What people will buy outside of high sec is going to differ. I'm not, for instance, going to do a lot of work in selling ore and moon minerals. They will sell. People hunt down bargains and you need the damnedest things. But for a solo person it just won't work.
What I've been doing is giving people my original market list for Bosena. It hasn't been updated since I started running my market but it gives them an idea of what I started out with. It's nothing magical and the prices are over two years old now.
The next question is where should I put it? After running mobile markets for 7-2 and putting TCS in Bosena and then Sujarento, my answer is wherever. Try to avoid a kick-out station. Give people some confidence to dock and undock. Even a hungry pirate corp will not keep them out of the market.
It is better to fit fewer things but complete fits then have a bunch of mismatch items that will not fit a ship. People who live in dangerous space want to undock in a fit ship. People want to die in a properly fit ship. Instead of wondering if that module is 100k more or less then yours offer people the ability to properly fit themselves out. That may be in an exploration frigate. But give them that chance. Head to toe make sure that you can fit out a reasonable ship in all four races. Frigates are fine to start out with.
There is a lot to be sold in utilities. Scanning frigates, scanning modules, covert ops equipment, cyno fuel, isotopes, and T1 haulers. I cannot count the times we've needed to loot the field and needed haulers. Haulers sell and PI haulers sell the most. Like cargo expanders, they are one of those things that people just need and that are never available.
Ammo is actually quite scary to get into. There is a lot of it. Start with PvP ammo and drones. Faction ammo and the common T2 ammo. Missiles will still kick your butt but the other races will be easier to manage on your budget and orders.
Pay attention to killmails and loss mails posted in local and your corp/alliance/militia/social chats. This will keep you in touch with the meta. What is being used? People will share their theory crafting. What is dying? Just absorb the information. Its right there just take note of it. Zkillboard also lets you see the top used things like hulls and ammo and modules.
Meta vs T2 is hard and even harder with the rebalance. Still, there are common uses. T2 is good and then the 'best' or most used meta will be fine to start. Later you will refine that. It used to mean T2 and Meta 4. Now that's a bit difference but there will still be a balance. The area that breaks away from this is Damage Control Units and Prop mods. Stock all of them. People do weird things with their fits and need all of the types of these modules.
Know your space. If you don't know it, learn it. In Molden I barely moved frigates and destroyers. In FW space those sell better than cruisers. T2 hulls not so much. In Molden T2 hulls moved faster. Battleships sit and sit and sit and sit and sit.
Buy small, restock often, figure out your markets pulse. I call them 'stacks' but instead of buying 500 buy 20. See how they sell. Try 30. Eventually, you might stock 50. 50 may last for 2-3 weeks. That's not bad. The area I deviate is guns. Gank guns I have big stacks of. Common cruiser guns I have stakc of 30 or so. The 'flavor' of the month changes a lot. With big guns for attack battlecruisers and battleships I carry enough of the most common guns for the most commonly used ones to fit 2 or 3 ships. So that means 16 or maybe 24 of the big, expensive guns.
With that said, pay attention to buying habits. People are going to buy the ammo they need. 50k of ammo lasts a while because people are buying it at 1k at a time. You can stalk your buyers if you want to. Look at their kill boards and loss boards. Keep what they need around.
You are not selling volume you are selling complete fits. You will sell a large number of things but small numbers of each thing. Have perishables. Ammo, drones, nanite paste, cap charges, scripts.
Avoid exotic things at first. T2 rigs, expensive hulls, faction modules. Eventually, you can see if your market moves them. But most of the time people will go to Jita or a trade hub for these things. Use your buy orders wisely but experiment a little bit.
Transportation is the hardest one to advise about. A jump freighter is some six billion ISK. Black Frog is up to 75m a jump I believe. Do math. See what works for you. Can you build it in station? Can you jump it in? Is it worth having more than cruisers and frigates? Can you use a Deep Space Transport and Blockade Runner? The logistics of it will be the hardest part of the problem. You're going into dangerous space.
Stocking TCS runs me 2-3 jump freighters most days because of hulls. If jump freighters change much more, or cynoing becomes harder, I may stop running a market. That is how serious the logistics are. As is I have to manage both sides of my cyno chain to get in and out. Because the risk of JF in high sec is to high for my blood I freighter my stuff myself or contract red frog. All of that has to be taken into consideration. its a large volume to move and you will be moving it constantly.
Way at the bottom is making ISK. There is 'what does my corp need' and there is 'what do the locals need' and there is 'what sells regularly and makes ISK'.
- The first you will know.
- The second I will help you with my starter market spreadsheet.
- The third is a matter of observation and watching.
Its absorbing and its an interesting snapshot into some of the behind the scenes aspect of the game. You're peeking into the closet by selling them their clothing so to speak.
And that's some of the advice I've been giving.