One of the biggest challenges of starting an online business is finding the right products. For an online store to be profitable, it must have products that are in demand, but are not in an over-saturated market.
In other words, it’s all about finding the right niche. Then, when you have found a great niche product, you need to be able to acquire your inventory at a low enough price so you can make a profit.
In short, the success of every online store depends on sourcing the right products at the right price.
How to find the right product
If you just sit down and start randomly thinking up ideas you may find yourself in an endless brainstorm session that will lead you nowhere.
You may get lucky and have a eureka moment this way, but you are more likely to get frustrated or even give up on your dream. Rather than hoping for a solution to materialise out of thin air, it’s better to use a more systematic, methodical approach.
A thorough approach to finding a good niche product should remove personal bias from the process and should only include products that are ideal for selling online.
Most online products should fit these guidelines:
- Durable and light enough to ship
- Not too large to store in quantity in your inventory storage space
- Value does not depreciate rapidly
- Will sell year-round (not seasonal)
- Sells for $15 to $200 retail, as do most online products that sell well online
Some other ideas to consider when choosing an online product to sell:
- The product has related products or accessories that will allow you to easily expand your product base
- Consumable products and items that customers tend to buy more than one per order
- Personalised products which tend to have high profit margins
- Items that are topics for tutorials or blogs will lead to updated web content and better search engine placement
Where to look for sales statistics on a product:
With dominant market share in online shopping, Amazon is a great source of research sales statistics about any type of online product. When perusing the product details on Amazon, you may come across a useful bit of information called the best sellers rank, abbreviated BSR.
With this number you can see where the product ranks in total sales versus other products in the same category. This provides a good indication of the demand for a given product.
For more thorough research of Amazon data, there are software applications available that allow you to collate data and create tables that provide a variety of sales data. Some popular product tracker apps for Amazon include Jungle Scout and RankTracer.
Further Reading: What Amazon's Arrival Means for Australian Small Online Businesses
Also a leading online retailer, eBay is an excellent source of information on just about any product. One advantage of eBay over Amazon is the ability to access real-time sales data. In addition, like Amazon, there are apps available that allow you to collate data and derive a more thorough picture of sales statistics for a product.
Given the notoriously high listing fees and final value fees on eBay, it can be hard to run a profitable business there, but eBay is useful for testing the demand for your product.
Based on how quickly an item sells and its final selling price on eBay, you will get a good idea of its potential profitability on various online platforms.
How to source your products
Just as important as finding a good niche product is finding one that can be acquired at a low enough price from a reliable source. There are many scam artists online that prey on naive would-be entrepreneurs.
So how do you find genuine, reliable distributors? The first step is to officially register your business and get an employer identification number, abbreviated EIN. If a distributor does not ask you for your business name and EIN it is probably not legitimate.
Also, scammers will try to sell you products near retail price or even higher. Some other ways to find genuine distributors are to check the packaging of the product and contact the distributor, call the manufacturer for referrals or attend trade shows.
If you can’t find a wholesale supplier or can’t afford to buy in large quantities you can look for bulk sales or wholesale lots, then sell them for retail price individually. Another option, if you are starting on a shoestring budget, is to look for drop shipping companies.
With a drop shipper you set up the online shop and make the sales, then the drop shipper takes care of the inventory and shipping. However, drop shippers, like wholesalers, are often scammers; therefore, you have to take precautions before doing business with them.
By following the tips here for sourcing the right products at the right price, rather than succumbing to the common pitfalls in e-commerce, you may find that your business becomes one of the rare success stories. Even if you don’t strike it rich, you may be able to at least quit your boring day job and enjoy financial independence.
Further Reading: How to Source the Right Products at the Right Price
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