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Business Models in the Shed Industry: Finding Your Fit

This guide summarizes shed industry business models to help you choose the right fit for your goals and resources.

The key to a successful venture in the shed industry starts with the right business model. It's the backbone of your operation, defining your business's core structure and strategies.

In this guide, "Business Models in the Shed Industry: Finding Your Fit," you'll:

  • Examine the benefits and challenges of Manufacturing vs. Reselling, with real-world examples of shed businesses using each model.
  • Understand the nuances of Direct-to-Consumer vs. Wholesale selling, again with successful industry examples.
  • Evaluate the trade-offs between Physical vs. Online Sales, with case studies of businesses successfully leveraging each model.
  • Delve into Standard vs. Custom Sheds and understand the varying demands, costs, and customer needs associated with each.
  • Learn about the concept of Franchising and how it can provide a route to expansion for successful shed businesses.
  • Explore Partnership Models and their potential benefits, backed by examples of successful strategic partnerships in the industry.

By understanding the distinctive characteristics and implications of each business model, you can make an informed choice that aligns with your goals, skills, and resources. This guide aims to provide the necessary insights and guidance to support that crucial decision.

Manufacturing vs. Reselling

When you're setting up your shed business, one of the first decisions you'll need to make is whether you'll manufacture your own sheds or resell sheds from other manufacturers. Both have their advantages and challenges, and the best fit for you will depend on your available resources, your desired level of control over the product, and your business goals.

  • Manufacturing: This model involves producing your own sheds. With this approach, you have complete control over the design, quality, and production timeline of your sheds. However, manufacturing can be resource-intensive, requiring space for production, raw materials, and labor. If you choose to be a manufacturer, you can then decide whether to sell directly to consumers or adopt a wholesale approach to supply other businesses.
  • Reselling: In this model, you purchase sheds from other manufacturers to sell to your customers. This requires less upfront investment in space and labor since you won't be producing the sheds yourself. However, you have less control over the product, and your profits are dependent on the manufacturer's pricing. Typically, resellers operate on a direct-to-consumer model, as it would be uncommon for a reseller to also act as a wholesaler.

Direct-to-Consumer vs. Wholesale

Once you've determined your product's source (manufacturing or reselling), you'll need to decide on your target market. Your choices largely boil down to two main models: direct-to-consumer and wholesale.

  • Direct-to-Consumer: In this model, you sell your sheds directly to the end user. This could be homeowners, businesses, or other organizations. Selling directly to consumers can often yield higher per-item profits and allows for direct feedback from your customers, which can be invaluable for improving your products and services. Both manufacturers and resellers can adopt a direct-to-consumer model.
  • Wholesale: If you're a manufacturer, you might consider selling your sheds wholesale to other businesses. These could be home improvement stores, other shed resellers, or even construction companies. Wholesaling typically involves selling in larger quantities but at lower per-item profit margins. This model can provide a steady stream of orders, but it also requires the ability to produce or acquire sheds in significant volumes.

It's important to note that these models aren't mutually exclusive. Many businesses find success with a mixed model, selling both directly to consumers and wholesale to other businesses. However, each model has unique requirements and challenges, so a thorough evaluation of your resources and goals is crucial. Remember, every business is unique, and the best choice is the one that aligns with your business' specific circumstances and objectives.

Physical vs. Online Sales

Choosing between operating a physical store and selling sheds online is a major decision that can greatly impact your business's trajectory. Each approach has its advantages and potential challenges.

Physical Sales

Engaging customers in a physical sales environment presents unique opportunities. Here, customers can personally interact with products, giving them a tangible feel for what they're investing in.

Benefits:

  • Allows customers to physically interact with products, enhancing their buying experience.
  • Enables face-to-face customer service and relationship building.
  • Creates opportunities for immediate feedback and closing sales.

Challenges:

  • Incurs overhead costs such as rent, utilities, and staffing.
  • Limited reach to geographical location.

Online Sales

On the other hand, the digital marketplace has revolutionized how products are sold, including sheds. An online platform can vastly broaden your business's reach and provide convenience to customers.

Benefits:

  • Offers a wider customer reach beyond geographical limits.
  • Allows for the integration of digital tools for customization and visualization.

Challenges:

  • Requires detailed product presentation, including high-quality images and descriptions.
  • Logistics for delivery and potential assembly must be considered.

Hybrid Model: Combining Physical and Online Sales

Embracing a hybrid model that incorporates both physical and online sales can potentially harness the benefits of each, allowing your shed business to reach a wider audience while still offering the tangible customer experience associated with physical stores.

Benefits:

  • Combines the advantages of physical interaction with the reach and convenience of online sales.
  • Offers flexibility to customers who prefer to shop both in-person and online.
  • Allows businesses to pivot and adjust based on market trends and consumer behaviors.

Challenges:

  • May require more resources to manage and maintain both physical and online operations.
  • Balancing in-person and online customer service can be challenging.

In the end, a hybrid model can offer an excellent balance for a shed business, allowing you to reach a wider audience while maintaining the ability to provide personal customer experiences. However, it's vital to remember that a hybrid model requires a strategic approach to manage both physical and online operations without overstretching yourself, your team, or your resources.

Ultimately, the choice between physical and online sales, or a hybrid model, is not a one-size-fits-all decision. Consider your business's unique circumstances, including your target customer, the types of sheds you sell, your resources, and the customer experience you want to provide. 

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Standard vs. Custom Sheds

Choosing whether to offer standard shed models or to provide custom-designed sheds is another significant decision when carving out your niche in the shed business. This choice often relies heavily on the resources, skills, and demand within your target market.

Standard Sheds

Standard sheds refer to pre-designed, ready-to-install models. They are popular among customers seeking quick solutions and are generally less expensive to produce due to the predictability and economies of scale.

Benefits:

  • Economies of scale make standard sheds less expensive to produce.
  • Predictability of the manufacturing process can increase efficiency.
  • Straightforward product offering can simplify the sales process.

Challenges:

  • Limited scope for differentiation may lead to increased competition.
  • Some customers may desire more unique or customized solutions.

For example if you want to track material costs and develop BOMs (Bill of Materials) for each model you must limit the number of options the customer has when placing an order. If you are not tracking materials and costs that closely, you can offer the customer unlimited options when it comes to how the shed is constructed.

Custom Sheds

On the other end of the spectrum, custom sheds are designed and built to meet unique customer specifications. While this model can require more skilled labor and has higher costs, it allows for a more personalized customer experience and a product that stands out from the competition.

Benefits:

  • Greater customer satisfaction due to tailored solutions.
  • Can command higher prices due to the unique, customized product.
  • Opportunity to differentiate your business from competitors offering standard models.

Challenges:

  • Requires skilled labor capable of producing a wide range of designs.
  • The production process can be more time-consuming and costly.
  • It becomes impossible to automatically track material costs as the BOM for each order has to be built by hand.

Whether you choose to offer standard or custom sheds, or a mix of both, largely depends on your target market's demand, your team's skills, and your capacity to handle the associated costs and customer service requirements.

Other Shed Business Models

Contract Shops

A Contract Shop in the shed industry acts as a dedicated construction partner, usually exclusively building sheds for a specific shed brand. It focuses on manufacturing, closely following the brand's designs and quality standards. This type of shop operates purely in a production capacity, without engaging in retail sales, ensuring that all sheds produced are consistent with the brand's identity and specifications. As a behind-the-scenes producer, the Contract Shop plays a key role in materializing the brand's designs into tangible products for the market.

Benefits:

  • Standardized models streamline production.
  • Consistent contracts ensure steady work.
  • Economies of scale due to repetitive builds.

Challenges:

  • Heavy reliance on the brand's business stability.
  • Limited opportunity for diverse skill development.
  • Need to adapt to changes in brand specifications or policies.

Consignment Dealers

A Consignment Dealer in the shed industry operates by showcasing and selling sheds on behalf of manufacturers or brands, without owning the inventory themselves. This business model involves the dealer displaying various sheds at their location, where potential customers can view and choose them. The manufacturer retains ownership of the sheds until they are sold. The dealer earns a commission or a portion of the sales revenue for each shed sold. 

This arrangement allows dealers to offer a wide range of sheds without the upfront costs of purchasing inventory, while manufacturers benefit from expanded market reach and visibility without the need for their own retail space. Consignment Dealers play a crucial role in bridging the gap between shed manufacturers and customers, providing a physical space for customers to explore options and make informed purchasing decisions.

Benefits:

  • Wide Product Range: Ability to offer diverse sheds without the cost of owning them.
  • Flexibility in Stocking: Adapts easily to market trends and customer preferences.
  • Reduced Financial Risk: Lower overheads by not purchasing inventory.
  • Increased Exposure for Manufacturers: Helps manufacturers expand their retail presence.
  • No Inventory Depreciation: Avoids loss in value of unsold stock over time.

Challenges:

  • Dependence on Suppliers: Reliant on manufacturers for product quality and availability.
  • Lower Margins: Earnings based on commission, which might be lower than direct sales.
  • Inventory Control: Limited control over the types and quantities of sheds received.

Wholesale Dealer

A Wholesale Dealer in the shed industry operates by purchasing sheds in bulk from builders, then branding these sheds under their own label before selling them to customers. This business model allows the dealer to leverage economies of scale, acquiring sheds at a lower cost due to bulk purchasing. Once acquired, the sheds are rebranded, giving the dealer the opportunity to establish their own brand identity in the marketplace. 

This approach not only enables the dealer to control pricing and marketing strategies but also allows for customization or additional features to be added under their brand, enhancing the product's appeal. The wholesale dealer serves as a critical intermediary, adding value to the basic shed structures and catering to the specific needs and preferences of their customer base, often providing additional services like delivery, installation, or after-sales support.

Benefits:

  • Cost Savings: Reduced cost per unit through bulk purchasing.
  • Brand Control: Establishes and promotes own brand identity.
  • Pricing Autonomy: Sets own prices for higher profit potential.

Challenges:

  • Brand Development: Requires investment in marketing to build brand recognition.
  • Supplier Reliance: Dependence on builders for quality and supply consistency.
  • Market Saturation: Difficulty standing out if the builder sells similar sheds to other dealers.


Strategic partnerships can be a powerful way for shed businesses to extend their reach, improve their offerings, and increase profitability. By partnering with complementary businesses, a shed company can leverage shared resources and capabilities.

Understanding Partnership Models

A strategic partnership involves two or more businesses collaborating for mutual benefit. This could mean sharing resources, technology, or customer bases. In the shed industry, partnerships could be formed with hardware stores, home improvement businesses, landscaping companies, and even real estate developers.

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Benefits:

  • Access to new customers or markets.
  • Shared costs and resources.
  • Ability to offer complementary services and products.

Challenges:

  • Potential for conflicts of interest.
  • Need for clear communication and aligned objectives.
  • Successful partnerships require trust and commitment.

Partnerships in Shed Businesses

Strategic partnerships can take many forms in the shed business industry, and here are a couple of examples:

  • Shed Company and Hardware Store: A shed company could partner with a local hardware store, offering customers a discount on shed building materials in exchange for the hardware store promoting the shed company's products and services.
  • Shed Company and Landscaping Business: A shed company could form a partnership with a landscaping business, offering combined shed and landscape design packages. This provides a comprehensive solution for customers looking to renovate their outdoor space.

By forming strategic partnerships, shed businesses can leverage shared resources and expertise, potentially leading to increased growth and profitability. However, the success of a partnership depends heavily on finding the right partners and managing the relationship effectively.

Concluding Thoughts: Picking Your Path in the Shed Business

In conclusion, your choice of business model will significantly influence the trajectory of your shed business. This choice should align with your personal goals, skills, and resources to set the stage for success. As we've explored, each model—whether it's manufacturing vs. reselling, direct-to-consumer vs. wholesale, physical vs. online sales, standard vs. custom sheds, franchising, or creating strategic partnerships—presents unique opportunities and challenges.

Let's review some key points:

  • Manufacturing offers control over the product but requires a higher investment, while reselling provides flexibility and lower startup costs.
  • Direct-to-consumer models foster personal relationships and allow for higher profit margins, whereas wholesale models offer volume sales but at lower margins.
  • Physical sales can provide a hands-on experience and build trust, while online sales extend your market reach and offer convenient shopping for customers.
  • Standard sheds are simpler to produce and sell, while custom sheds can meet unique customer needs but require more time, skills, and customer service.
  • Franchising can fast-track growth but requires a successful business model and brand to start with.
  • Strategic partnerships can open new opportunities and shared resources but require careful management to ensure alignment of interests.

Keep in mind that no single model guarantees success, and many businesses blend elements from different models. The right choice will depend on various factors, including your market, competition, and, importantly, your personal vision for your business.

Starting a shed business is an exciting venture. It's essential to thoroughly research and understand each business model, considering their implications for your specific situation and goals. This understanding will help you lay the foundation for a shed business that not only survives but thrives in the competitive market.

Good luck as you find your fit in the shed business industry!

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