The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has significantly increased retail bankruptcies while expediting the transition to e-commerce by five years.
As brick-and-mortar retailers shift towards online platforms, the digital market has become increasingly saturated, making it challenging to launch a new online enterprise.
- Consumers demand two-day shipping and instant gratification.
- Amazon's vertical integration is disrupting various industries.
- Several product markets are oversaturated with options.
Choosing the appropriate product can significantly influence every aspect of your e-commerce venture, from logo design and website development to branding and order processing and the unboxing experience.
To attain triumph in e-commerce, it all starts with an exceptional product.
What are the Ways to Discover Top-Selling Products for an Online Business?
Your product should fulfill the following criteria: solve a problem for your target audience, be specific to a particular niche, possess distinctiveness, cater to a desire, and have branding potential.
1. Performing Market Research: A Vital Step in Business Planning
To begin, start by selecting an industry and determining the type of product you wish to offer. Do you want to enter fashion, technology, telemedicine software, food, or fitness? There is a wide range of products available in any industry.
After choosing your industry, narrow your focus on the specific problem your product aims to solve.
With your product and the problem identified, it's time to conduct market research. To get started, refer to my article on the top market research tools, which offers several great options.
Numerous market research methods are available for you to explore, such as using Google, Quora, forums, and social media channels as an accessible starting point. If you find that your product aligns with your audience, proceed to dive deeper.
Send an online survey to prospective customers to identify the solutions they seek and gain a more in-depth understanding of their buyer personas. You can also interview some respondents to obtain more detailed responses or conduct a small focus group in your locality.
While conducting research, talk to individuals who offer positive and negative feedback. Those who provide negative feedback might offer insight into what they're searching for, which could inspire the development of a completely new product line.
2. Conducting Competitor Analysis: A Crucial Step in Market Research
Having some competition within your product niche is advantageous. It's better to have other active sellers within your place than try to sell something new that no one might want. Healthy competition is essential.
Apart from examining your competitors' strengths, you should also identify areas where they are lacking. Read their reviews to gain insight into what customers believe they could improve.
- Can you capitalize on their negative feedback by creating a better version of their product?
- Can you offer improved shipping options or a more affordable price point?
- Is there a segment of the market that they need to serve?
- Can you outperform them in terms of search engine optimization (SEO)?
To identify gaps in the market, utilize a combination of SEO tools, pricing research, customer research, and your own intuition.
3. The Importance of Problem-Solving Products in Ecommerce
The most effective method of identifying a profitable product is to search for solutions to problems. Consumers desire convenience, and if you can provide a product that simplifies their lives, they will gladly pay for it.
Begin by reflecting on your frustrations. Others may feel the same way and pay for a solution if you find a particular issue vexing.
This does not necessarily imply that you must reinvent the wheel. Improve existing products or introduce them to a new market of consumers.
For centuries, water bottles have been available in the market. However, Larq was able to establish a unique position for itself by introducing a self-cleaning bottle, creating a niche market. They built a thriving business by making this simple improvement to the conventional design.
4. The Significance of Niche-Specific Products in Ecommerce
To find potential product ideas, seek out products that a particular target audience would find appealing. It's best to start with your interests; working on something you're passionate about will familiarize you with the niche and its issues.
When you focus on a specific niche, promoting your product becomes more accessible. You know your target audience and can establish a consistent brand voice across all touchpoints, such as product pages, emails, and social media.
By identifying and catering to a niche market segment, you can build a customer base that is more engaged and likely to convert.
5. The Importance of Branding Potential for Your Products
Today, customers tend to choose brands that feel genuine and connect with them. Therefore, your products must reflect your overall brand mission. A great example of this is Tom's Shoes, which is more than just a footwear seller. It aims to make a positive difference; for every $3 in revenue, it donates $1 to a charitable cause. Until now, Tom's Shoes has contributed $2 million to support global Covid-19 relief efforts.
Your products must inspire a brand narrative, a bigger vision that goes beyond the products themselves.
6. Seek Out Popular Products
Although not a sustainable long-term business model, jumping on a trending product idea can be advantageous, by identifying a rising trend, you can take advantage of the opportunity to own SEO keywords, position yourself as an authority in the market, and profit before the trend peaks.
Trends were not limited to fads such as fidget spinners in 2017 or new essentials like face masks in 2020. They can also refer to political or social movements, such as the environmental movement, which has increased demand for sustainable products.
To begin, visit the online forums, industry blogs, Facebook groups, or subreddits your customers frequent. These online spaces for passionate fans often highlight the latest trends and technologies customers seek.
Online tools can also help you understand where the market is headed. By typing a topic into Google Trends, you can see the interest over time and which regions show the best.
Amazon produces a trend report that displays what is selling well, including their best sellers, hot new releases, and movers and shakers.
Jumping on a trend early allows you to own SEO keywords and establish yourself as a market leader.
7. Discover Products that Meet Desires
Although not a sustainable long-term business model, seeking out opportunities to fulfill customers' desires for guilty pleasures can be advantageous, customers often want to purchase products that make them feel good. This is why Spanx is more popular than workout gear; feeling good is easier and faster to achieve than long-term goals. This holds for e-commerce as well.
Whether it's a small luxury like chocolate or a high-end luxury car, people buy things that fulfill their desires. Bon Bon Bon, for instance, has established a business that provides small, relatively low-cost indulgences for individuals who enjoy decadent chocolates. This niche product meets a desire and offers excellent branding potential, and it has capitalized on the trend of subscription boxes.
When selecting your niche product, you don't have to cover all four categories, but keeping them in mind is essential.
8. Discover Products with Enthusiastic Fans
Passionate fans can bring two significant benefits to your business. First, they make purchases precisely what you want customers to do. Second, they spread the word about your products to others. These enthusiastic fans become brand ambassadors, promoting your products to their friends and family for free.
What kinds of products attract passionate fans? Look for items that become a part of a person's identity. In general, people don't get emotional about grocery shopping. However, if a specific diet, such as the paleo diet, becomes a part of someone's identity, then food becomes something they're passionate about. Business owners can make money selling products that cater to those dietary restrictions, such as grass-fed bone broth.
People become passionate about comic books, video games, sports teams, and marathon running. People are willing to spend money on products that help them affirm their identity.
The Big Green Egg is an excellent example of a product that people are passionate about. Although it looks like just another barbecue from the outside, the ceramic interior sets it apart from other outdoor cookers. Satisfied customers rave about it; many create videos showcasing the product's capabilities. The company encourages its fans by organizing events like EGGfest and highlighting competitions and teams that cook with their products.
9. Consider Your Profit Margins When Choosing Products to Sell
Every industry has its unique profit margins, which can be affected by customers' willingness to accept a higher markup for specific products. For instance, luxury goods often command a higher markup due to the added value customers place on the brand name and customer experience. Conversely, food and commodities tend to have lower profit margins and rely heavily on high sales volume to generate revenue.
When determining potential profits, it is essential to consider all costs associated with running an e-commerce business, including expenses such as the cost of goods sold (COGS), employee salaries, e-commerce marketing costs, site hosting fees, payment processing, storage, and order fulfillment. Your e-commerce business model can significantly impact your final profit margin, so it's essential to use tools like spreadsheets to calculate the MSRP of your products and maintain a healthy margin.
What Are the Different Kinds of Products I Can Begin Selling Online?
When deciding what to sell online, there are two significant considerations: whether to opt for a commodity or a niche product and whether to sell physical or digital goods. Choosing between a thing or a niche is typically based on your target market. At the same time, the decision between physical or digital products relates to the type of item you plan to offer.
The products that fall under the categories of high demand, essential, or popular goods are items considered necessary for everyone, such as underwear, toilet paper, or light bulbs, or are well-known labels within a specific niche, like brand-name socks.
These products generally have a large potential market, with steady and consistent demand. However, the competition is typically fierce, as major retailers like Amazon and Walmart also offer these products, resulting in lower profit margins. Establishing yourself and standing out in this market can be challenging, mainly when selling products that may be less memorable. Additionally, more prominent brands can take advantage of economies of scale, making it difficult to compete with their pricing.
2. Niche Products
In contrast to commodity products, niche items cater to a specific target audience and are often exclusive, such as custom pet products, handmade crafts sold on Etsy, or sports gadgets. The smaller market for these products makes it easier to define your target audience and connect with your customers. Niche products also allow for higher pricing and increased profits. However, growth may be slower due to a limited customer base, and customers may only need to purchase niche items occasionally.
If deciding between commodity and niche products proves challenging, offering both can be a viable option. Many companies build a brand around niche products while selling commodity items to expand their inventory and attract new customers. This approach can increase the likelihood of repeat customers and help establish a steady sales flow.
One successful example of this approach is Glory Cycles, which sells high-end bicycles and components while offering popular brand accessories such as helmets, cycling clothes, lights, and water bottles that cyclists regularly need. While customers may only purchase expensive bikes occasionally, they often need new helmets and clothing, which encourages repeat visits to the site.
After determining whether to sell niche or commodity products, the next consideration is whether to offer physical or digital items.
3. Digital Products
Digital products, such as eBooks, computer games, apps, and courses, are exclusively available in digital format. At first glance, selling digital products may appear more straightforward, as there is no need for physical storage or shipping, and customers can access them instantly after purchase. However, creating digital products requires a significant amount of upfront work, and specific marketplaces, such as Facebook, do not allow the sale of digital products.
For instance, I offer two digital products on my blog that assist online entrepreneurs with SEO and affiliate marketing. These products consist of documents, PDFs, and spreadsheets that I uploaded as a zip file to my e-commerce platform, which I then sold on my WordPress site using the BigCommerce for WordPress plugin.
However, this guide will primarily focus on identifying niche physical products that can be sold online.
4. Physical Products
When considering selling physical products, it's essential to consider the time it takes to produce them, the necessary warehouse space, and the labor costs associated with storing, packing, and shipping items.
Additionally, you'll need to choose a business model, whether dropshipping, outsourced manufacturing, or in-house manufacturing.
If you're creating a brand-new product, you'll also need to invest in prototyping, which includes five distinct stages.
All of these choices can feel overwhelming, but don't worry! In the following sections, we'll discuss other important factors to consider so you can focus your options and choose a successful product to sell.
Key Considerations for Selling Products Online
Logistical decisions play a crucial role in determining the success of your online business. These include determining the platforms where you will sell your products, the most suitable e-commerce business model for your needs, and the best delivery methods for your customers.
By carefully considering these factors, you can ensure that your business operations run smoothly and effectively, boosting your confidence in your small business plans.
1. Top Places to Sell Your Products Online
The initial step is determining the platform you will sell your products. Three primary options are available: online marketplaces, social media platforms, and your ecommerce website.
Marketplaces such as Amazon, Etsy, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Bonanza, and Craigslist are ready-made platforms that offer a simple way to list and sell your products online. With a pre-existing audience and established site structure, selling on these platforms is straightforward.
However, you may need more control over your brand, and there are often listing fees to consider. Additionally, as these platforms are popular, you may face fierce competition from other sellers. Creating local listings on these platforms can help increase visibility in small, local markets if you plan to offer local pickup and delivery.
Social media channels
Selling on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Google Shopping, and Pinterest has both limitations and benefits. These platforms provide tools that enable your audience to purchase directly from your social media pages, making it convenient for them to buy your products.
Plus, showing your products to your followers on these platforms can help increase sales. However, you won't have control over your online store, including branding and the checkout experience.
Creating your e-commerce website using a platform like BigCommerce is an excellent option if you're looking for the best way to sell your products online. This approach gives you complete control over your site's design and functionality. You can use a website builder to create your storefront, set up shipping and taxes, create product pages, and enjoy fast load times and SSL certificates. Plus, you'll be able to collect valuable customer data to improve your marketing efforts.
However, using a combination of different sales platforms to mitigate risk is still a good idea. Maintaining a presence on social media and marketplaces can attract consumers to your site and collect email addresses for direct outreach. Building your website will require digital marketing costs, monthly platform fees, and credit card transaction fees to drive traffic.
Marketplaces like Amazon, Etsy, and eBay offer existing users and an established online selling structure, but you'll have less control over your branding and be competing with other sellers. Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest offer the convenience of direct purchase options, but you will need complete control over your online store's appearance and checkout process.
2. Different Types of Ecommerce Business Models
There are four primary e-commerce business models, but only two are relevant for individuals planning to sell their products. Consumer-to-business (C2B) and consumer-to-consumer (C2C) are the first two models that do not apply to them. Therefore, the remaining models are business-to-consumer (B2C) and business-to-business (B2B).
The B2C e-commerce business model is a conventional retail approach that sells goods to the general public. It is the most widespread e-commerce business model and enjoys advantages such as a shorter sales cycle, a high order count, and exceptional brand recognition.
As the name suggests, the B2B model involves one business selling to another. The products can be physical items such as wholesale or digital products like software that a company requires.
The B2B model can be advantageous due to the potential for significant and repeat orders, which can result in greater profits. However, the audience base is generally smaller than B2C, and the process of purchase orders is more complex, requiring more attention to detail. Additionally, customer service is more hands-on and personalized.
3. Tips for Shipping Your Ecommerce Products
The process of sourcing and delivering products is an essential component of your e-commerce business model. With various options available, choosing the best one depends on the type of product you sell and the level of control you wish to have.
Direct-to-consumer (D2C) business owners eliminate intermediaries and sell products directly to consumers. They can produce their products in-house or outsource production. Selling directly to consumers enables companies to maintain control over their branding, pricing, and customer experience, which empowers them to develop a loyal customer base.
Private label or white label
White-label products involve putting your brand, name, or images on a pre-existing generic product. On the other hand, private-label products are manufactured by a third-party manufacturer exclusively for you to sell. By using these models, you can save time in design and production, allowing you to focus more on marketing the product.
Wholesalers offer products in large quantities at a lower price than retail. The potential for profit lies in placing large orders. Typically, wholesalers sell their products to retailers, who sell to consumers, but some wholesalers also offer bulk purchases directly to cost-conscious consumers.
The dropshipping model is a commonly used approach for online sellers. In this model, the seller sources, markets, and sells products that are subsequently supplied, packed, and shipped by a dropshipping supplier, such as AliDropship or Printful. This makes drop shippers the intermediaries between the customers and the suppliers.
While this may result in lower profits per item, it eliminates the need to manage inventory or shipping, making it a popular choice for business owners who prefer a hands-off approach. Many e-commerce platforms offer integrated solutions that facilitate the setup of a dropshipping business.
Subscription services offer consumers the convenience of paying a regular fee to receive new products on a scheduled basis. A popular form of this model is the box subscription, where various related products, such as craft projects, clothing, or wine, are shipped to customers monthly.
Digital services can also adopt this model. You can charge customers a regular fee for access to software or provide them with everyday digital products, such as music, ebooks, or meditation. This approach guarantees a steady income and allows you to capitalize on seasonal sales by selecting products to add to the subscription box.
However, continuously sourcing and packing items can be challenging, and you must consistently innovate to maintain customers' interest.
Starting an Online Selling Business: A Guide
After discussing some suggestions to keep in mind when selecting the product you want to sell, it is now the appropriate moment to begin the selling process.
1. Choosing Your Products to Sell: Conducting Market Research
To begin selling, follow the above steps and research the products you want to offer. Remember to seek products that solve problems, cater to a specific niche, meet desires, and are brandable.
Analyze the numbers to ensure that your product idea has healthy profit margins and a good chance of success. This is also the time to identify your target keywords, develop your brand story, and engage with potential customers.
Establishing your brand before deciding which products to sell is possible. This can give you an advantage when launching your business. For instance, Spearmint Love started as a baby blog. Owner Shari Lott already had a devoted audience eager to try her products when she launched her store.
2. Choosing the Right Ecommerce Platform for Your Business
BigCommerce. The choice of platform would depend on your specific requirements, but BigCommerce is an excellent option as it can grow with your business.
All the essential features are included in the monthly subscription fee, and BigCommerce provides a wide range of web design templates to select from. Setting up a store with BigCommerce is simple and quick, especially with the drag-and-drop Page Builder tool. You can easily add your product categories and items and choose a theme to customize the appearance of your store according to your brand.
BigCommerce guides you through the back-end settings, such as currency, shipping, taxes, and order fulfillment, so your store is ready to launch. If you face any difficulties, their help center offers documentation, guides, and a community of users who can assist you.
If you want to know more, read my comprehensive comparison review of BigCommerce vs. Shopify to make an informed decision.
3. Developing Your Product Content
The most critical pages on your website are your product pages since they are where customers make their purchase decisions. The product page consists of two crucial components: descriptions and imagery.
Both elements are equally significant. High-quality images can convert sales, but the description attracts customers to the page. This is particularly true since search engines index the report.
How to Tell a Compelling Story in Your Product Descriptions
Instead of just focusing on the features and benefits, use your product description to convey the emotional appeal of the product, how it solves a relatable problem, and how it benefits others.
Your description should clearly articulate what your product can do for the customer and be written in engaging and persuasive language that entices them to make a purchase. Take inspiration from Burrow, a furniture retailer that writes compelling copy for their Bento Side Table, telling a story rather than simply listing its features.
Regarding imagery, ensure that you include multiple photos of each product, starting with a hero image on a white background. It's essential to show the product from various angles and take additional high-quality pictures while disassembling it.
While it's also essential to include some photos of the product in use, these should be independent of your images. Keep your pictures high-resolution and clear, and optimize them for the web with smaller file sizes using photo editing software such as PhotoShop. Also, add alt text to each image to assist Google's web crawlers index your images.
To maximize your success, it's crucial to research best practices for product pages to understand the various strategies for creating high-converting product pages.
4. Starting Your Website Promotion and Marketing
After launching your website, the next step is generating traffic to it. You may have a head start if you establish your brand, collect email addresses, and gain social media followers.
Search engine optimization (SEO)
To effectively market your products, you need a combination of both paid and unpaid strategies. The most crucial step in marketing is Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which involves conducting keyword research to make your website more visible on search engines.
Start by conducting keyword research and targeting long-tail keywords. It's difficult to compete with big retailers on essential keywords like “jeans.” Still, you can target more specific keywords like “vintage denim jeans” or “skinny jeans for muscular men” to have a chance to rank on the first page of the search engine results pages (SERPs).
A Guide to the Three Components of On-Page Ecommerce SEO Strategy
The three main components of your on-page e-commerce SEO strategy are your product pages, category pages, and blog posts.
Blog posts are a great way to attract traffic and should be relevant to your products. For instance, if you're a camping retailer, you could write a post on the “Top 10 Backpacking Routes in the US” to capture an audience that may be interested in your products. These blog posts then direct readers to your category and product pages.
Your category pages should aim to rank for the category itself, such as small backpacking tents, hiking poles, or men's hiking boots. On the other hand, your product pages should rank for the specific product, such as The Northface Stormbreak 2 Camping Tent.
After developing your content strategy, obtaining backlinks from reputable sites in your niche is crucial to building Domain Authority (DA). DA is a number between 0 and 100 that indicates your likelihood of ranking for keywords in your niche. Links act as the currency of the internet; with them, your content will be able to type. Once you build DA through backlinks and guest posts from other sites in your niche, Google will view your site as more credible and reward you with better search rankings.
If you require more SEO assistance, read a comprehensive step-by-step guide on how to start a blog for additional tips on how to grow your audience and revenue.
Attract a social media following
Building a social media following is an effective way to attract traffic to your e-commerce website. Establishing a presence on several social media platforms that are appropriate for your target market is essential.
For instance, clothing brands tend to perform well on Instagram, while crafting brands excel on Pinterest, and B2B brands may benefit most from LinkedIn. To gain followers and establish yourself as an industry authority, participate in conversations related to your niche by posting regularly and following similar accounts.
Build your email list
Email marketing is a crucial aspect of any successful e-commerce marketing strategy. One effective method is installing an exit-intent pop-up on your website, which presents a compelling offer to every user before they leave.
After users sign up for your email list, you can use an email marketing tool to create a welcome email series that includes an introductory discount, tells your brand's story, and excites your audience about your products.
Abandoned cart emails are another critical component of e-commerce marketing. These emails are sent to visitors who have added items to their cart but still need to complete their purchase, reminding them of what they left behind and encouraging them to finalize their purchase.
To further entice these visitors, abandoned cart emails can be sent in a series, such as the first email providing a simple reminder of their shopping cart, followed by tiered discounts in the second and third emails sent two and three days later, respectively.
Start with paid advertising
If you have sufficient funds, you can explore paid advertising options to boost traffic to your website. These include pay-per-click advertising, influencer marketing, and affiliate marketing.
However, monitoring your return on investment (ROI) closely is crucial, as some methods may prove more effective than others.
Consider the following factors when it comes to paid advertising:
- Start with remarketing ads, targeting people who’ve already visited your website. Product DPA ads on Facebook can be highly effective.
- When using Facebook Ads to find a new audience (prospecting), aim for a return on ad spend (ROAS) of 2.5:1.
- Google PPC can be highly competitive and costly. Be careful with your target keywords, and aim for a ROAS of 3:1.
- Google Shopping can be an excellent way to generate sales by syncing your product catalog with the Google Shopping engine. This works well for niche products – commodities are tough to sell on Google Shopping as you’re competing with major retailers.
Paid advertising on Google and social media channels provides access to a wealth of data, allowing you to target specific audience segments effectively. Ensure you leverage this data to your advantage by targeting the right audience and optimizing your ad campaigns.
The foundation of eCommerce success lies in offering an exceptional product. Your product is the centerpiece of your brand story, determines your target audience, and fuels your marketing efforts.
When choosing a niche product to sell online, it should address a specific pain point, cater to a particular audience, fulfill a need or desire, and possess branding potential. Other factors to consider include your profit margins, competitors, and e-commerce business model.
Ultimately, your product should ignite your passion. The thought of others enjoying your product should drive you towards achieving e-commerce success.
Launching your product and building an online business requires hard work and dedication. However, the reward of making a difference in the lives of thousands or millions of people with a product you created can be an incredibly fulfilling experience.
Readers Disclosure: Our content is supported by our reader, that means some of the link from this article and within this website are affiliate links. If you click any of these links, then we may earn a commission with no extra cost to you.
Article You Might Be Interested In:
How To Promote Your Business: 25 Comprehensive Guide