With the ever-growing trend towards ecommerce in today’s retail industry, there are millions of products available online. It is estimated that in 2019, ecommerce sales will account for 13.7 percent of all retail sales. It is also predicted that there will be 1.92 billion global digital buyers in 2019. These increasing ecommerce trends means vast opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs and businesses that want to begin selling online.
When it comes to opening your online store, narrowing down what exactly you want to strategically sell can be difficult because there are so many options out there. In this guide, we give you a list of steps to better help you get started finding your first product to sell online.
1. Find the Opportunity
The first step to finding your first product to sell online is to find the right opportunity to get your foot in the ecommerce door. Finding the right opportunity in the ecommerce space can look different to multiple people depending on trends at the time, experience and passions. I am going to walk you through each of these opportunity areas and the tools you can use to help optimize your product strategy.
Discover Ecommerce Trends
Discovering a trend early on can help skyrocket your online business into success by not only increasing sales, but also in improving your SEO on those trending search terms. Luckily, there are resources available to help you research and find different trends.
Google Trends is the most popular place for people to begin researching online trends. Here, you can see what is currently trending in the world today and search for exact terms. So, if you are interested in a certain product niche, you can search the term on here to see if it is trending upwards. You can also view trends by region depending on which area you want to target with your marketing as well as related queries, so you can see what other people are searching for.
Trend Hunter is another great place to find product ideas for your ecommerce store. With Trend Hunter, you can filter by trending topics, products, niches and more giving you great insight into what people are talking about, searching for and buying.
Solve Consumer Problems
Solving consumer problems is another opportunity area worth looking at. This strategy is advantageous since the consumers will be actively searching for solutions to their problems. The consumer problem does not have to be complicated or intricate; the solution can be something as simple as a dog bowl water bottle (it’s a real thing). By figuring out a consumer pain point, it’s likely a large number of people have mutual frustrations, which would make your product appealing to a widely marketable amount of people.
Not only does marketing after consumer’s passions help make sales, but it also helps motivate you with your online business when selling a product you are passionate about. Building a business is hard work, and there will be hard times in the process along the way. By focusing on a product you love, it will help you push through those difficult periods and help you create a brand that speaks to people like yourself.
To go along with that, consumers are more likely to spend large amounts of money on products that coincide with their passions, so find common ground. More than likely, there are people out there just as passionate about your product niche as you are, and it can lead to a profitable business.
Browse Online Marketplaces
Online marketplaces are a key place where you can find and research potential products to add to your online store. Check out these areas where you can focus your search to:
2. Analyze Your Product
Now that you’ve found a product you think you would like to sell online, you need to further analyze it in detail based on several factors that can affect the sellability.
Weight and Size
Product weight and size is a vital component in making a decision on what to sell online because a larger, heavier product leads to an increased shipping cost. By keeping your product(s) under a certain weight, you can avoid unexpected and consequential shipping costs that can affect your profit.
Even a product with a lower profit margin may be more profitable in the long run since you’re not competing with as many other companies.
Pricing and Costs
Another key area you should analyze is product costs and pricing. Optimally, the product you are wishing to sell has a low wholesale cost and a high MSRP (Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price) because that leads to a more profitable product. However, you need to keep in mind that items with low wholesale costs can lead to a higher popularity among competitors. So, even a product with a lower profit margin may be more profitable in the long run since you’re not competing with as many other companies.
As stated above, competition can have a significant impact on the success of your business if you are not aware. Be sure to check out the competition to your product before you make a decision, which can come from both brick-and-mortar retailers and other online stores. You can do this through simple Google searches. However, just because a product has higher competition doesn’t mean it can’t make your business profitable. You will just have to work that much harder at differentiating your brand and strongly utilize different marketing techniques to win over prospective customers.
Products that sell well online often don’t have wide availability in brick-and-mortar stores, which is why customers will search online to find those products. For example, most people wouldn’t search for and buy paper plates online - they’d usually buy them in the grocery store. However, if they needed customized paper plates or decorated paper plates for a special occasion, they would likely start their search online. So, be sure your product has unique characteristics or doesn’t have as wide availability in store.
Products with high replenishment rates means consumers will have to keep returning to your online store to repurchase the product.
Another area to consider when selecting a product to sell online is replenishment. Products with high replenishment rates means consumers will have to keep returning to your online store to repurchase the product. For example, if you sell a certain type of makeup, once it runs out, your customer will have to come back and purchase the product again. This helps boost your return customers and helps gain brand loyalty.
3. Source Your Product
Once you’ve found an opportunity and analyzed your product idea further, it is now time to find how you will source that product. You can do this by creating it yourself, manufacturing it, buying it wholesale or by dropshipping.
Creating a Product Yourself
A large majority of the time, this option is not going to be the most feasible unless your product is in a niche such as jewelry, bath products, make-up or clothes. A benefit to this is that you have complete control over your product and you can market your products as “handmade”, which a lot of consumers are attracted to. A downfall of this approach is that this limits your product selection to your ability and can be incredibly time consuming; you still need to find time to market your products and build your brand.
Manufacturing is great for someone with a unique product idea that currently doesn’t exist.
Manufacturing a Product
If you are not able to make a product yourself, you may seek out manufacturing as another option. When manufacturing, you’ll find you have two options: domestic and overseas manufacturers. As you can probably guess, manufacturing your products domestically will cost more. However, products tend to be more quality. Manufacturing overseas can be significantly cheaper, but sometimes comprising quality with that. Manufacturing is great for someone with a unique product idea that currently doesn’t exist. A downfall with manufacturing, however, is that it takes longer to get your business going since you have to go through the manufacturing process of developing, prototyping and creating your product. You often have to make a minimum quantity purchase from the manufacturer as well, which can be costly.
As one of the most popular options, buying your product wholesale is a simple process. By sourcing your product through this method, you are purchasing direct from a manufacturer, distributor or brand that you will in turn resell for a higher price to make your profit. The perks of buying wholesale is that you are buying products that consumers are already familiar with, which can make it easier for you to form business trust and loyalty. You also can often get discounts on your wholesale cost by buying in bulk if you are able to do so. The downside is that there is often a minimum quantity required for orders, so an initial investment is necessary through this method.
Dropshipping a Product
One of the fastest-growing methods of selling online is dropshipping. Dropshipping allows you to only buy your product wholesale from a supplier when your customer places an order for that product. The supplier will then ship the product straight to your customer. This method is popular because it requires no upfront investment on your part for purchasing products. It also allows you to have a large product selection starting out since there is no start-up costs for your inventory. The downfall, however, is higher competition and lower margins as you are not getting bulk wholesale discounts from the supplier and there are low barriers to entry into the market.
4. Finding a Supplier
If you decide you want to manufacturer, wholesale purchase or dropship your product, you will have to now find a supplier. There are different websites and resources available depending on where and how you want to source your products.
Many are willing to sacrifice less margin and products in exchange for the ability to quickly serve their customers and build a reputable, trustworthy business.
Sourcing your product from domestic suppliers can have multiple advantages, such as quicker shipping times, easier communication and increased payment security. However, the downfalls include higher product costs and less product selection. But many are willing to sacrifice less margin and products in exchange for the ability to quickly serve their customers and build a reputable, trustworthy business.
Here are some websites you can use to help your search:
- ThomasNet - Domestic Manufacturers
- Maker’s Row - Domestic Manufacturers
- Wholesale Central - Domestic Wholesalers/Dropshippers
- TopTenWholesale - Domestic Wholesalers/Dropshippers
You can also source your products from overseas suppliers. The perks to doing so include cheaper costs and wide array of products to choose from. The downside of using overseas suppliers, as you might imagine, is the lengthy shipping times, communications barriers, return difficulty and lower quality products. Many have built successful online businesses from overseas suppliers, but these are just some of the areas you need to keep in mind when making a decision. Often times, you can overcome the lengthy shipping time complaints with managing expectations for your customers by not promising fast shipping and having a shipping policy clearly accessible on your store.
Here are some websites you can use to help your search:
- Alibaba - Overseas Manufacturing
- Global Sources - Overseas Manufacturers/Wholesalers
- AliExpress - Overseas Wholesalers/Dropshippers
Ready to Sell
I hope this guide helped you navigate getting started finding your first product selling online through finding opportunities, analyzation and sourcing. Once you’ve checked these steps off your list, you’re now ready to start adding products to your store and start marketing your business! Remember, there’s no one “golden” product to sell - a number of factors contribute to finding the right product to sell online, and they are constantly evolving.