Online stores are a great way to generate income for your business, whether you are currently operating a physical store or running a service business. When first getting started however, most people are unsure of what they should sell online. If you are currently selling products offline, my advice is to start with your best-selling products (not those products that you have excess inventory of and are trying to unload). To make your online store successful, you want to sell “hot” products. Here are some ways to identify what those products might be.
Do your research
The majority of people searching for products to buy online start their searches on Amazon, not Google. So, it makes sense to see what people are interested in buy by looking at Amazon to see what kinds of things people are buying online. There are approximately 400 million individual products listed on Amazon which is a lot of sorting to go through. Out of the top 100 product searches on Amazon, over half are for “electronics.” The second most searched for category is “home.” Of course, we may not be interested in selling electronics or home goods and trying to break into such a competitive space.
There are 2 things to consider in your research: the Amazon Best Sellers Rank (BSR) and Searches. BSR takes in to account various things factors such as historical product data, potential success in the future, cumulative sales, etc. It’s not just enough to have the most sales ever on Amazon, there needs to be consistency in sales as well. There is a misunderstanding when it comes to relating the Best Seller Rank and the ranking high in searches. There is no direct relation between the two. The latter depends on which products are being searched for more rather than which ones are being bought.
There are a lot of tools for Amazon that measure analytical data and give you an insight into what is selling best and what is being reviewed best. The MerchantTools service can be used to help you identify which products are being searched for Amazon. But you can also just use the alphbet to do manual searches on Amazon, and they will display their suggestions. Just type in the letter “A” into the Amazon search bar and see the suggestions, then do the same for b and each subsequent letter.
Now look on Amazon for general items. For example, let’s say you are interested in “bike accessories.” A search on Amazon is a lot like a search on Google – you will need to scroll past the ads before you see the organic listings, but then Amazon will show you the best selling products and the most reviewed products.
By searching for something more generic like “accessories,” rather than something specific like “pedals,” we can see what is actually selling the best.
When we combine this information with what is going on in the world, we can see that having an online cycling accessory shop might work: the items are small and easy to ship, we can provide lots of helpful knowledge in the way of blog articles and newsletters, the products are selling well, and importantly, research shows that more people have picked up biking than ever before due to the pandemic. Of course, this assumes that cycling is something you enjoy. Other activities that are popular during Covid are:
- Watching TV Shows and Movies
- Working Out
- Arts and Crafts
- Board Games
- Video Games
- Audiobooks and Podcasts
- Learning a Language
- Learning an Instrument
When it comes to selling online, you not only want to make sure it has potential sales, but that it is something you are passionate about.
Choose something you are passionate about
This seems like a no-brainer, but if you are passionate about something, it’s easier to translate that passion into sales. The best thing to sell is something you personally like, need, and use so that you can write great sales copy, create demo videos, and convince others that they need it too.
Something that’s hard to find
Whether it be something that you can get locally, but is difficult to find nationally, or something that you can get elsewhere but is difficult to find locally, these kinds of products will sell well because of their uniqueness. Scarcity is a very real selling point, so use it if you can. Of course, if you manufacturer the product yourself, that brings in uniqueness automatically.
Lots of accessories
Products that have lots of add-ons are great, especially if you sell the add-ons. Even if you don’t sell the big-ticket item (like a computer), selling all the small accessories that go with it can be a great money-maker. This is what I talked about earlier: you don’t need to sell the bicycle, instead sell all the easy to ship stuff that goes with it.
The best product to sell online is one that people are going to order over and over again. This is why digital products aren’t always the best option even though you don’t have to ship them – once people buy your course/book/training etc., they don’t need to buy it again unless you keep coming out with new version. Disposable and consumable products are great because they can generate constant demand—getting you one step closer to that passive income goal. Beauty and health supplies and food items are good examples. For our bicycle example, this would include things like chain lube, tire sealant, degreasers, rags, and perhaps headsweats, gloves, inner tubes, and energy shots.
Fads and trends
If you can find or create a product based on what is happening in the world, this can be a great way to generate sales. For example, I’ve seen this graphic being printed on lots of shirts, but you could easily do something like this on any merchandise.
High Profit Margin
This is easiest to do with accessories and other relatively cheap product types. People balk at the price of a TV or fancy computer but have no trouble whatsoever dropping hundreds of dollars on the accessories to go with it, like cables, wires, cameras and gadgets.
Easy to ship
This means products that are small and light. How much will it cost to package and ship your product? Customers are often taken aback by the cost of shipping for larger products, especially as prices rise. This is particularly important at the holiday season, as people are spending a lot of money on many people, and don’t want to lose all their money in shipping.
People love their name and they love giving gifts that are personalized. If you can find something that can be easily printed or engraved with a person’s name, pet’s name, or company logo, these items tend to sell well.
A great way to find things to sell online is to take a look at Alibaba.com. Realize that many items on this site require a significant investment in inventory as well as long lead times. Be sure to take into consideration what I mentioned above, and don’t get tempted to buy heavy, one-time purchases. The key to making money with your online store is consistent purchases over time.