What should I sell online? Which are the best products for eCommerce? These are the questions that come up naturally for aspiring or first-time entrepreneurs. While it’s true that you can sell practically anything online, it’s also true that some products sell better than others.
This guide is designed to help you choose which products to sell, as well as some of the basics (and more advanced “basics”) to help you get started. There are a few different metrics for product selection — popularity, market saturation, cost, and personal affinity — as you go through the list, narrow down your options until you find your perfect product range.
First thing’s first: you need a product that’s popular; one where demand is high. There are a few ways to know which products are selling and which aren’t, but it’s always best to use a method backed by data:
1. Check selling trends
What are the best sellers on other retail sites? What products are other retailers promoting, and which ones are they struggling to unload? A good place to start are the Amazon pages for Best Sellers and Movers & Shakers; but eventually you’ll want to focus on a target audience and look at more specific marketplaces or your direct competition.
2. Track SEO trends
What products are online shoppers searching for? SEO keywords and product searches are extremely useful in discovering new trends before your competition does. They’re also good for validating your gut instincts. If your budget is too tight for a paid SEO tool, the free Google Trends can help in your business’s early stages.
3. Test consumer preferences
If you’re trying to find out what your shoppers want, just ask. Learn your shoppers’ preferences through split-testing, on-site surveys, or traditional market research like focus groups and interviews. Looking for something less formal? Sometimes starting a conversation on social media can get customers to open up about pain points and unfulfilled product needs.
When you discover a promising trend with the methods above, remember that it’s not always about what’s most popular. After all, the most popular products have the most competition. Really, success is about what’s popular with opportunities.
Most of the top product markets are already saturated by now, so one of the challenges of online retail is finding a foothold. That’s particularly difficult for new sellers with unknown brands and little capital which is why most focus on one or two key niches to start.
A niche is basically just a highly specialized market. Everyone likes music, but only a smaller, dedicated group of people like Mongolian Throat-singing Metal, making it a niche.
Niches work well in eCommerce because:
Before unveiling your new online store, it’s crucial to know how to choose your niche. Just like deciding what to sell online, you need to factor in a potential niche’s demand, saturation, and whether or not it suits your budget.
Listen to this audiobook: Game on: How to gain a competitive business advantage
When picking what to sell online, you’re limited by what you can afford. Having an eCommerce site has its own business expenses, so make sure you can cover the special costs of whatever products you choose. Specifically, look at:
It costs money to store inventory, and even more when that inventory doesn’t sell. Consider the cost of warehouses and storage space, as well as their maintenance — some products require extra care, like security measures or precise temperatures. Services like Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) charge by cubic feet of space, so larger products cost more to store.
Shipping logistics has always eaten a chunk of online retailers’ profits, even before free shipping became the norm. Make sure you have an efficient shipping network setup, either self-fulfilled or 3PL. Alternatively, you can use a dropshipping model and not worry about storage or shipping at all — but this takes a much smaller cut per sale.
Product sourcing is how you get your products, and their acquisition cost directly affects your markup and profits. There are a variety of product sourcing options, from wholesale to private labels to reselling discounted products from Walmart. Read through the best product sourcing strategies to find the perfect fit for your budget and management style.
Lastly, don’t forget to factor in yourself. We all have our own personal strengths and weaknesses, areas of expertise, and blind spots. As the person in charge of selling, use yourself as a resource, and leverage your own talents.
Choose products you’re passionate about
You can’t fake passion. If you’re selling something just based on the numbers, you’ll miss the key selling points that make it attractive to shoppers. It’s better to sell something that you personally would want to buy — that way, you’ll know how to sell it.
Choose products you’re knowledgeable about
People passionate about Harry Potter don’t actually know magic; just as important as passion is good old-fashioned know-how. You should choose a product category that you understand well, with recognizable trends and familiar competition. You’ll do exceptionally well if you know about the behinds-the-scenes areas like manufacturing and ingredient sourcing.
Choose products that fit your management style
There’s no one right way to run an eCommerce business. Some sellers might want to micromanage every detail along the supply chain; others might want to focus solely on sales and marketing and leave the logistics up to the manufacturer. It doesn’t matter which management style you choose, as long as it works for you and your business model.
Choosing your products is just the beginning. The real art of managing an eCommerce site comes in your marketing, sales strategy, branding, customer relations, and, of course, site design.
Your online store’s site design not only has an enormous impact on how your customers perceive you, but can also influence purchasing decisions by streamlining usability and highlighting calls-to-action.
Try building your online store with Web.com now — our drag-and-drop store builder makes web design a breeze, and you can even manage your orders directly in our CMS.
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