One of the biggest problems new eCommerce store owners and entrepreneurs face is choosing a product or a niche to target with their store.
Choosing the wrong niche and products can have you wasting time, wasting money, and ending up frustrated with a lack of results.
Choosing the right niche, though, can have you seeing almost instant success and being filled with the drive and energy you need to keep pushing through, overcoming any of the other obstacles that may stand in your way.
We see countless people get stuck when it comes to choosing a product, which is why we’re going to help you figure out what some of the most successful people are doing, what they don’t do, and how they validate and price the products that they’ve chosen.
Even though the competitive landscape may seem overwhelming, there are still untapped industries and niches ready for you to enter into, and start building your own digital empire.
Today, we’re going to break down 4 different areas of choosing a product so you can arm yourself with the knowledge to trust that you’re entering into a niche that will not only deliver sales, but have you turning a profit shortly after starting your store.
Here’s What You’ll Learn
Do’s & Don’ts Of Product Selection
To get started, here are some of the basic rules you should follow when it comes to choosing the first product, or batch of products you’re going to sell in your eCommerce store.
Remember, as you’re reading through these “rules”, that they are not set in stone. Getting creative in your own business and trusting your instincts will help you earn farm more money than you could earn by being rigid, or thinking that everything has to be a certain way.
These are to be taken as general guidelines to help get your creative juices flowing, so you can get your first product online and ready to sell.
DO Choose A Niche Or Industry That’s Full Of Accessories That People Are Already Spending Money On
There are certain industries and niches where people will spend insane amounts of money on accessories to help them become even better, perform at a higher level, or get more out of their hobbies and passions.
It goes without saying that those accessories often lead to higher profit margins than the initial sale. Large, first-purchase products often have profit margins ranging from 10% to 20%, where the accessories can be marked up anywhere from 100% to 1,000%.
To give you some examples, professional cyclists will often spend hundreds of dollars to shave a few pounds off their bike so they can perform at a higher level. Golfers will spend thousands of dollars on the latest golf clubs. Fisherman will have thousands to 10’s of thousands of dollars in gear on their boats.
DO Choose Products That Cost Between $20 To $50 At Least, With Products Ranging Between $100 To $200 Being The Sweet Spot
Selling cheaper products dramatically limits your profit margins, typically increases the amount of competition you’re up against, and makes it harder for you to use paid marketing strategies to increase your sales.
In general, most beginners will see success selling products that range between $20 to $50. These products can usually be purchased for cheap and marked up to provide a healthy profit margin, and the price range makes them an impulse buy for most online shoppers.
As your experience progresses, you will want to move into products that cost between $100 to $200, because this is considered the “sweet spot” for eCommerce businesses. Products in this price range can be purchased without additional customer support requirements on your end.
DO Choose Products That Help Customers Solve A Problem In Their Lives
The easiest sale to make is one that helps solve a glaring problem that your customers are having in their daily lives. When they have a pressing need to solve that problem, their emotional side is going to take over, making the purchase more of an impulse buy.
It’s easier to create content for products that are solving a problem in your customer’s lives, which will help you drive free, organic traffic sources to your store. Whenever your customers see that you understand their problems, they are going to trust you more.
Then it’s your job to position the products that you’re selling as the solution to the problems that they are having, and price them competitively enough that they do not search out other sellers offering a lower price.
DO Choose Products That Customers Are Passionate About
Much like products that solve a problem in your customer’s lives, products and niches or industries that people are highly passionate about also tends to make your life easier when it comes to generating sales from your store.
Like the examples given above, for cyclists, fishermen, and golfers, when someone is passionate about their hobby or an industry, they are going to spend money making sure they get the most out of it. And they’re not going to think twice about spending that money.
If you can tap into those industries and develop yourself as a leader with competitive pricing, you’re going to position yourself for mass migrations as your brand becomes more well-known.
DO Choose Products That Are Hard To Find At Local Stores
People purchase products online that they can’t simply run down to their local store to get. Whenever they can buy the products at a local place, like Best Buy, Walmart, or another big box department store, they’re going to want it in their hands instantly, instead of waiting for it to arrive through the mail.
When the products your customers are looking for are hard to find at local stores, selling those products from your store will become substantially easier.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t compete on price, especially for more expensive items, and still make sales from your online store. In these situations, customers are going to venture online to look for the lowest price.
DO Choose Products That Are Consumable Or Disposable
Bringing customers back to your store time, after time is one of the best ways to increase your lifetime value and long-term revenue. While selling high-quality products that last forever is the ultimate goal of every eCommerce store owner, selling consumables is a great way to make huge profits.
Consumables and disposable products tend to allow you to run higher markups which increases your profit margins, but also gives you the opportunity to earn repeat business from your existing customers.
While you generally want to make sure that the products you’re selling are high-quality and going to last a long time, if you’re able to tap into a market with consumable products, your business is going to have an easier time making money.
DON’T Choose Products That Are Heavy Or Large
Saving money and cutting costs in your business is one of the best ways to increase your profit margins, outside of actually raising your prices. One of the biggest expenses that eCommerce business owners face is in shipping costs.
When you’re selling large products, bulky products, or oddly shaped and hard-to-box products, your shipping costs are going to skyrocket. Many times, you’re not going to be able to pass all those shipping costs off to your customers.
To avoid having hefty shipping costs hitting your business every time a customer makes a purchase (especially if you offer free shipping), you’re going to want to avoid selling large, expensive-to-ship products.
DON’T Choose Products That Are Easily Broken
Customer service is another area that can eat into your profit margins on a regular basis. If you have to put people in place to help handle customer support requests because of products you’ve sold, your overhead is going to dramatically increase.
Selling products that can be easily broken or even arrive to your customer’s home broken, like electronics for instance, are going to cause customer service nightmares for you.
Even if the profit margins are higher (usually because the products are cheaper and lower quality), you’re going to want to avoid selling anything that can be damaged or broken during shipping, or shortly after your customers receive the product.
DON’T Choose Products That Have A Steep Learning Curve
If your customers aren’t contacting your customer support team (or you, for instance) to get help with a broken or damaged product they received in the mail, they could be contacting you because they simply don’t understand how to use what you’ve sold them.
Products that have a high learning curve, or are easy to get confused while using are going to create customer service nightmares for you, and end up eating into your profit margins.
On top of driving your customer service team insane (or you, again, if you’re handling support requests), you are also going to have a high amount of returns. This is a great way to spend money on shipping twice since most sellers do not charge their customers for return shipping.
DON’T Choose Products That Are Regulated By Federal Agencies
There are certain industries, like supplements and other health products, that are heavily regulated by federal agencies, like the FTC, for instance. These regulations change on a yearly (and even monthly) basis in some cases.
It would be a major catastrophe for you as a beginner seller to have a huge amount of inventory only to find out that a federal agency has changed the regulations on those products and has now made it impossible for you to sell them.
If you fail to learn about the regulations changing and you continue selling these products, you could be faced with business crippling fines, on top of having your inventory seized. Many businesses have been completely shut down due to federal regulations changing.
DON’T Choose Products That Could Spoil During Shipping
Another huge issue, especially when you’re dropshipping from China, is selling products that could potentially spoil while they’re in transit. Health and beauty products are notorious for this. Groceries are another category that could cause problems in this area.
Even if you are shipping directly to customers in the United States from a storage facility in the United States, you run the risk of differing temperatures causing issues with the products you’re selling.
While many sellers that are moving health and beauty products may never have to deal with a bad batch, having one fall in your lap can be a hugely expensive problem, and one that can easily be avoided by choosing products in a different category or industry.
DON’T Sell Electronics As Your First Products
One area that many beginners seem to be attracted to is selling electronics. There’s a few reasons why this isn’t a good idea when you’re just getting started building an eCommerce store.
First, electronics tend to be low profit margin products. With so many sellers offering similar (or even the same) electronics, competing in the market can be difficult unless you have deep pockets and a ton of patience and creativity.
Second, electronics are hugely competitive, with knockoffs flooding nearly every marketplace where products can be listed. Knockoffs tend to decrease those profit margins even further, and most beginners can’t sustain the volume needed to turn a decent profit selling them.
DO Get Creative With The Products You Choose To Sell
When it comes to building and growing an eCommerce business, you always want to stay creative, test new products, and venture deeper into the markets that you’re serving.
This is going to keep you at the forefront and give you opportunities to uncover products that your competitors may not be selling yet, giving you the first-to-market advantage that so many eCommerce store owners are looking for.
How To Come Up With Product Ideas
If you’re stuck trying to come up with ideas for which products you can start selling, there are a few tricks and websites you can use to see what’s already selling.
Here are some websites you can take a look at to start building your list of product ideas:
You can also do a reverse WHOIS lookup on the Shopify IP address that a majority of their stores are hosted on, and then add a short string to the end of the store to find out which products are currently selling the best.
First, you’re going to want to click on this link. It’s going to give you a list of all the Shopify stores that are currently being housed on one of Shopify’s IP addresses.
Then, when you find a store that you believe is selling well, you can add the following string to the end of their store’s URL to see their best selling products:
For instance, if the store’s URL is http://fashionnova.com, the final URL you would use to find their best selling products would be: http://fashionnova.com/collections/all?sort_by=best-selling
How To Validate Your Product Ideas
By now, you should have a fairly good idea for which products are going to sell and which ones aren’t, but there are still more strategies you can put each of the products you’ve chosen through to ensure they are going to get traction and start making sales for you.
By far, the best way to test the market is to open up a new store. Shopify makes it easy for you to start a new store within a few minutes, so you can quickly add products and begin marketing them.
When you’re wanting to validate a product, you can spend $20 to $50 on advertising through networks like Facebook and Instagram and then judge the results of those advertising campaigns to determine how well the product will sell.
The best case scenario would be for you to make sales during your initial ad campaigns, but that may not always be possible.
To give yourself the best chances of making sales, set up different ad campaigns with different targeting and interests and cap each campaign at a maximum of $5.
If you really want to test a product, figure out your profit margins using the formulas listed below and then create ad campaigns that are capped at a budget of twice your profit margin. This will help you collect plenty of data and possibly even make sales, without wasting a ton of money.
When you’re spending money on ad campaigns, though, you want to see other signs of the products selling, like being in a best sellers list in one of the sites we’ve listed above, or having unique insights into the market and following your instincts.
How To Establish Pricing For Your Products
Even if you have one of the latest, greatest, hottest selling products on the internet, if your pricing is off you’re going to have a hard time staying competitive in your industry.
Unfortunately, pricing products is another area where many beginner eCommerce store owners get hung up. Thankfully, though, following a simple formula will help you figure out how much money you’re going to be able to make based on the pricing you’ve chosen.
Here’s How It Works
Let’s assume you’re spending $10 per customer and are offering free shipping. That means you’re going to be generating $10 profit per sale. To make $2,500 in profits each month you need to sell 250 products per month.
Adjust the numbers based on your profit goals and the margins you’re wanting to run (or the industry allows you to run) to figure out how much advertising you need to do.
If you follow the basic guidelines we’ve laid out for you here, and then validate your ideas to make sure they’re actually going to sell, then run the numbers to ensure you can actually turn a profit, you can build a successful eCommerce store.
Don’t let yourself get bogged down in the details, and remember to always test and get creative with your marketing, and you’ll turn a profit and build a sustainable, long-term eCommerce business.
There are countless products that can be sold online, and your imagination really is the limit. If you start small and work on generating your first few sales, then scale the winners, your business will take off.
Just avoid throwing everything you’ve got at one product because you “believe” it will sell, only to find out that you’ve wasted your entire marketing budget and don’t have enough money to test other products.
Sometimes, the best selling products are going to come out of left field and be one that you never expected would sell so well. That’s why it’s critical to always keep testing and experimenting.