One of the hardest parts of starting an ecommerce business is finding a product to actually sell!
This is much easier if you have noticed a gap in the market for a niche but for anyone just trying to find a product to sell, it can be a difficult process and that is why we created this short guide to help you.
1. Play to Your Strengths
One of the best ways to find products to sell online is to look very close to home, do you have any hobbies? passions? or areas of expertise?
If you do, then you will find it a lot easier to find gaps in the market because you already have an understanding of the industry and the types of (or lack of) products that are available.
You will also probably be actively involved in Facebook groups, forums or on Linkedin, which are great places to see what people are looking for and also if there are a lack of options available to them.
One great example of this could be something that is not available in your country, for example Product Awesome is only available in the USA but you know that lots of people in your country want that product and importing it can be expensive and problematic.
If so, you could reach out to the company to see if there is any way you could become the exclusive distributor for that product in your country, if they agree, then you have a product and direct access to the market to sell it!
2. Solve Peoples Problems
This is something that you will hear a lot when it comes to finding a product to sell but it is very true that products that solve peoples problems will usually sell!
When it comes to these types of products, think of them as things people NEED to buy in order to solve the issue they are currently having, let’s look at an example for this:
Example 1: Putting Up a Shelf
Someone wants to put up a shelf in their room so that they have more space, well if they want to do it themselves, they are going to need some equipment in order to be able to do this:
- A tape measure to measure where the shelf and holes are going to go
- A scanner to check for any cables and/or pipework in the wall
- A drill and drill bits to put holes in the wall
- Screws and either a screwdriver or driver attachment for the drill
- A spirit level to make sure that the shelf is straight
They will also need the shelf and brackets obviously but I hope you get the point, they need these tools and accessories in order to be able to put up the shelf and it be straight and usable.
When trying to find products that solve problems, once again it can be useful to look close to home.
You can use this as constant product research as there are always going to be problems that people face and if you can provide a product to solve it, then you have got yourself a business!
3. Satisfy Peoples Desires
The problem is though, that not all products really solve problems, some products are instead aimed at satisfying people’s desires. These are the types of products that people WANT instead of needing!
Luxury and non-essential products fall into this category and there are some great examples of these:
- Jewelry – no-one needs jewelry but people want it as it makes people feel good about things or it can signify special moments in life
- Luxury Watches – no-one needs a Rolex or Patek Phillipe as a cheap Casio will actually do a better job but people want these due to the aura around these brands
- Supercars – people want to own Ferrari’s and Lamborghini’s, they don’t need them as Ford Focus or equivalent mass produced car will more than do the job
- Luxury Foods – these can even be relatively low cost things such as Ice cream and Chocolates, we don’t need these (and they can be bad for us) but we want them as they taste nice and give us enjoyment
There are many examples of this that I could list but I hope you get the picture and if you pay attention to the advertising of any of these types of brands, you will notice that they are trying to make people want the product as they know that people don’t need them!
4. Pay Attention to Current Trends
What is currently hot in your niche? If you don’t know the answer to that, then you need to know the answer to this as it can be a great source of information about potential product lines.
Fortunately, there are quite a few free resources you can use for this:
- Google Trends – check to see how much search volume there has been for products over a selected period of time
- Amazon Best Sellers – you can see what the best sellers across all categories have been for the world’s largest online retailer
- Ebay Best Sellers – while not as detailed as Amazon’s offering, it can still give some insights into what is selling well on one of the world’s biggest online marketplaces
There are also tools from third-party companies that also offer information on popular products but you need to understand that these are current trends and in some niches, trends can change very quickly and you don’t want to be stuck with last years hot thing!
5. Stay Ahead of the Trend
And it is for the reason above, why you want to try and stay ahead of the trends so that you know what products might be hot this year or next and are ready to capitalise on these trends.
This is more challenging to do but there are some steps you can take:
- Industry Publications – many trade magazines or websites will probably have the inside scoop on what is going to be popular next and can be a great source of information
- Social Media – by following leaders or influential people within your niche, you will probably be able to learn about what the next hot products are going to be
- Reddit – similar to social media, you can learn a lot about upcoming trends from posts in subreddits related to your niche
You can also sign up to the likes of Trend Hunter, who produce reports and general information about upcoming trends for lots of niches.
While this is important for all niches, there are some such as fashion and tech where these change very quickly and it is your job to try and stay ahead of the curve so that you can capitalise on any opportunities.
6. Think of the Logistics
If you are just starting an ecommerce business, then you want to seriously think about the logistics of the products you are selling, such as:
Ideally, when just starting out you want something that is very easy to store and ship as this makes life a lot easier, although this is sometimes challenging but whatever product you choose, you do want to assess the logistics of them.
7. Is it Profitable to Sell?
There is no point choosing a product to sell if it is not going to be profitable!
When it comes to figuring out profitability, you need to look at two things:
- Are you going to make a profit on each product you sell?
- This is pretty simple to figure out as it is your Sale Price – Cost Prices – Costs (payment fees, postage & packing etc) = Net Profit Per Product
- Is the profit per product enough to cover your businesses overheads (website fees, rent, utilities, insurance etc) with your projected sales volume? so that you end up with a profitable business overall.
Some of this may includes some guestimates and for sales volume, it is always best to air on the side of caution and go with your lowest potential sales number but you still need to have a basic idea as to whether this has the potential to be a profitable venture or not.
We have created a profit calculator, which will help you get an idea of what the profit per product is going to be.
Finding the right product to sell isn’t an easy process and is something that even big companies can struggle with (that is why they have teams to find this out!) but by doing targeted research, you should be able to come up with a list of potential products to sell.
But the proof is in the sales at the end of the day and you won’t know if you have a good product or not until you list them on your storefront and start marketing them.
It can also be useful to have the mindset that not every product is going to be a winner, you can have all the info pointing to a product selling well only for it to flop but that is the joy of retail! If this happens, just accept that this one wasn’t a winner and move onto the next one.