How to Find a Product to Sell Online


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1. Introduction 1 min

Starting an online business? finding, evaluating and selecting a product to sell online is no easy take. This guide will break down the process step by step to help you find the perfect product.

CHAPTER 1

Introduction


For new entrepreneurs, deciding to start an online business is an exciting journey, but it’s also new terrain that can be intimidating and difficult to navigate. Maybe you’ve tried starting your own business before, or maybe you're planning your very first one. Regardless, every new business will present its own unique opportunities and challenges.


From choosing a product, evaluating it, validating the market, sourcing inventory, building your online storefront, marketing and fulfillment, there’s a lot to learn.


One of the biggest hurdles for ecommerce entrepreneurs starting their online business is the very first step of figuring out what products to actually sell online. This seemingly mountainous choice typically ends up being the reason most people never actually start their online business in the first place.


In an effort to help aspiring ecommerce entrepreneurs, we have analyzed and reverse engineered hundreds of online businesses, their products and niches to put together the most comprehensive guide to help you zero-in on a product and niche, so you can get started building your ecommerce business.


In this guide you'll learn the fundamental types of product opportunities that exist, we will show you the best places to search for ideas, you'll learn how to understand market demand and evaluate your idea and finally, we will help you find your suppliers.


We have a lot of ground to cover so let's begin the journey.

2. The 8 Product Opportunity Types 7 min

Understanding the 8 product opportunity types is critical to finding the perfect product to sell online. In this chapter, we break down each of the 8.

CHAPTER 2

The 8 Opportunity Types


Unless you've been hit with a brilliant idea right from the beginning and that's your motivation to start your business, finding great products to sell online profitably can be a daunting task. There are thousands of possible choices, yet, everything seems like it's been done a thousand times before.


So with all these product choices where do you even begin digging to find the the gold? The first step to finding products to sell online is to be able to recognize the various opportunities that exist for uncovering great products.


In this chapter, we'll look at the eight potential opportunity types that you must familiarize yourself with. Understanding these eight product opportunity types are key to helping you identify great product and niche opportunities to sell online.


Let's first look at the all eight opportunity types, then, we will dive into each one in more detail:


Uncover Opportunities in Keywords

Build an Interesting and Captivating Brand

Identify and Solve a Customer Pain Point

Identify and Cater to Consumer Passions

Follow Your Own Passion

Look for an Opportunity Gap

Utilize Your Own Experience and Expertise

Capitalize on Trends Early

Each opportunity above involves a different mindset and approach. Let’s explore each one in more detail:


1. Uncover Opportunities in Keywords


Organic search traffic can be the holy grail of ecommerce. If done correctly, Google and other search engines will reward you with massive amounts of consistent and targeted traffic. In a world of slim margins where paid advertising channels are consistently getting more expensive, this is precisely what makes products with keyword opportunities so lucrative.


Looking for keyword opportunities involves strategically looking for a product or niche online based the keywords people are search for in search engines like Google and Bing, then identifying high volume but low competition search terms. Keyword research can be a bit technical, so this opportunity involves a solid base understanding of keyword research and search engine optimization (SEO).


This opportunity can be particularly lucrative if you plan to dropship products, as margins on dropshipped goods are thin, many times making it difficult to use paid advertising channels effectively.


Example: Andrew Youderian took a technical approach in picking a niche that he felt had the highest chances of success based on keyword research. Utilizing this approach, Andrew found an opportunity to rank for keywords in the CB Radio niche.




You can see in the image above that Andrew's business, Right Channel Radios, has been able to rank in the 1st organic position on Google for the organic search term “Vehicle CB Radios”.


It’s been SEO opportunities like this that have helped Right Channel Radios become so successful.


RESOURCE: For more information and a step-by-step guide on keyword research, check out The Beginner’s Guide To Keyword Research For Ecommerce.


2. Build an Interesting and Captivating Brand


Differing from the previous method, building a brand means also building an audience. A brand building approach involves developing a superior understanding of your potential customers, crafting a unique brand and carving out a unique place in your customer's mind. This approach to building an online business can be particularly effective at differentiating yourself from competitors in the market if there is heavy competition.


Example: DODOcase, an iPad case manufacturer has done a noteworthy job at crafting a unique brand. Despite operating in the extremely crowded and competitive space of iPad cases, DODOcase broke through by telling a different and unique story, one where their cases are handcrafted using traditional artisan bookbinding techniques in the city of San Francisco. It's this unique story and brand that has made DODOcase one of the top iPad case manufacturers in the world in a short amount of time.




3. Identify and Solve a Customer Pain Point


One of the best ways to build a strong business is by solving a customer pain point. Products that solve pain points can be lucrative because customers are actively seeking out solutions to these problems. You'll want to keep in mind that pain points don't always mean physical pain, it can also can include frustrating, time consuming, or poor experiences.


Example: Jing, an ecommerce entrepreneur knew that people that grind their teeth can suffer from excruciating pain. More than just the physical pain, constant grinding can lead to expensive dental bills. Knowing this was a pain point that many people would seek out a solution for and happily pay money to solve, Jing launched Pro Teeth Guard, custom moulded teeth guard at a great price.




Active Hound is another example of a brand that solved a pain point for consumers. As dog owners, the founders understood the frustration of buying dog toys only to see them fall apart a few days later.


After confirming this with other dog owners, they were inspired to manufacture their own line of ultra durable chew toys.




4. Cater to Consumer Passions


It's a fact. Consumers tend to spend significantly more money to support their passions and habits. Just consider golfers. Golfers are notorious for spending thousands of dollars on gear and gadgets with the hopes and dreams of lowering their score, even by the slightest.


Catering to passions has additional benefits as well including deeper interaction with your brand, brand loyalty and increased word of mouth marketing.


Example: Black Milk Clothing began in 2009 after the founder's blog TooManyTights exploded in popularity.


Recognizing the passion consumers had for tights with unique designs and understanding the opportunity the founder created Black Milk Clothing. Today Black Milk is a multi-million dollar company that's grown to over 150 employees and distributes its products globally. Furthermore, by piggybacking on pop culture trends with their designs they tap into passionate audiences and customers from a range of different niches beyond just tights.




5. Follow Your Own Passion


Some people consider choosing a product or niche based on your own personal passion to be a recipe for disaster. However, that's not always the case, and can actually prove to be extremely profitable.


One of the biggest benefits to building a business around your passion is having the tenacity to keep going when you run into difficult times. This one point shouldn't be underestimated as staying motivated is a major key to building a successful online business.


Example: Eric Bandholz began BeardBrand as a personal blog discussing business and sales strategy. Over time though, Eric's passion for the bearded lifestyle kept creeping into his blog. Eventually, he went all in on his passion and began BeardBrand. A brand that sells beard grooming supplies to men that equally passionate about their beards.




6. Look for an Opportunity Gap


Capitalizing on an opportunity or feature gap can be lucrative. This opportunity type involves uncovering problems or deficiencies in a product or the marketing for a product that can be capitalized on. An opportunity gap may exist in the form of an improved or additional product feature, an unrealized market by the current competitors, or it may even come in the form of your own marketing capability.


Example: Chaim Pikarski continually seeks out and capitalizes on opportunity gaps. He and his team scours product listings all over the internet and thoroughly reads the reviews section. They are continually on the lookout for deficiencies and feature gaps that buyers post. With this information in hand, he sources a manufacturer in and makes his own, better version of the original product.


Hipe shower radio is one such product (of hundreds) Chaim has manufactured by finding an opportunity gap in the original product. By looking at other shower radios and reading consumer reviews, he found a opportunity gap for a shower radio that was rechargeable:




7. Utilize Your Own Experience and Expertise


Utilizing your own experience and expertise is a strong competitive advantage. Turning your expertise into an online business is a great way to enter the market with a leg up and a barrier to entry for others.


Example: Jonathan Snook, an expert in web design and development used his years of knowledge to write and self published a book on web development and CSS called SMACSS.




Jillian Michaels, host of The Biggest Loser took the same approach and used her expertise in fitness and weight loss to develop and sell a line of products, including DVD's, books and fitness equipment.




8. Capitalize on Trends Early


Capitalizing on a trend early enough can have a massive impact on a new business. It allows you to carve out a place in consumers minds and establish yourself as a leader before others have a chance to. Capitalizing on a trend early can also have big impact on your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) since you'll be one of the first websites talking about and being indexed by search engines like Google and Bing for the new trending search terms. This can help you climb to the top of search rankings fast.


Example: Sophie Kovic, founder of Flockstocks noticed the trend for feather hair extensions very early on. Before spending any money or buying inventory, Sophie tested the market by quickly mocking up a test store. The results? 11 sales in 4 hours. Knowing there was a huge opportunity she fully built out her site, ordered inventory and even ended up winning the 2012 Shopify Build A Business competition in the Apparel & Jewelry category.




Conclusion


Understanding each of the eight opportunities above is critical to spotting opportunities as you move forward with your search for your perfect product to sell online. In the next chapter, with these 8 opportunities in mind, we're going to look at the ten best places to look for product and niche ideas.

3. Where to Look for Product Ideas 10 min

In this chapter, we'll show you the ten best places to looking for and discover the best product ideas for your new online business.

CHAPTER 3

Where to Look for Product Ideas


Now that you're armed with the knowledge of the eight types of product and niche opportunities from the last chapter, it’s time to start looking for some product ideas. Coming up with a great idea for a product to sell online will occasionally strike when you least expect it, most of the time though, it's something you need to be proactively on the lookout for. The internet contains a wealth of ideas and inspiration, but where exactly should you begin?


In this chapter we will look at the best places to go for product inspiration and ideas. As you go through all the resources listed in this post, make sure to look beyond the products themselves. It may sound cliché but because there is heavy competition in the most common and popular product categories, choosing a different or unique angle can be instrumental to your success. Try not to just look at products, rather look at new ways the product can be used, new ways it can be imagined and new markets for it.


Don't forget the eight types of opportunities from the last chapter. As a refresher, here they are again:


Uncover Opportunities in Keywords

Build an Interesting and Captivating Brand

Identify and Solve a Customer Pain Point

Identify and Cater to Consumer Passions

Follow Your Own Passion

Look for an Opportunity Gap

Utilize Your Own Experience and Expertise

Capitalize on Trends Early

Make a List


As you go through this chapter and the list of resources, it's best to capture all of your ideas on paper. Once you have all of your brainstormed ideas recorded, you will be able to return to them later and evaluate them further for viability and market potential.


1. Start with What You Have or Solve Your Own Problems


Before you begin searching the depths of the internet and the ends of the earth for product and niche ideas, it's always best to start with the ideas that you already have. If you're like most entrepreneurs, you likely already have a few ideas for products you want to sell or have thought about selling in the past. Maybe it's an idea you've had for years or maybe you have a problem in your own life that there is no good solution for currently.


Here are a few questions to consider when making your list:


What products, niches or industries are you particularly passionate about or interested in?


What products, niches or industries are your friends passionate about?


What pain points or frustrating experience do you have in your own life?


Example: Max Valverde made the decision to solve one of his own problems he faced each morning; unruly, messy hair. For most guys, bed head can only be fixed by washing your hair, but this takes a lot of time each morning so Max created a product to solve this. Morning Head is a shower cap with an absorbent towel liner that you can soak with water, place on your head and rub around for a minute to get your hair ready for styling.




2. Local Community


The idea for your perfect product to sell online might be closer than you think. Traditional brick-and-mortar businesses have been around much longer than their ecommerce counterparts. Paying attention to trends locally in brick-and-mortar retail just might help spark product ideas you can take online. Try spending an afternoon taking a look around your community and note what new or interesting retail concepts and products are on display.


Another great source of product inspiration within your community can come from your local newspapers which tend to feature new, innovative and local concepts and products. As you look at these resources, ask yourself if they can be turned into an online opportunity.


Example: Yummy Tummy Soup Company saw an opportunity to take a traditional brick and mortar concept and make it an online concept. The Yummy Tummy Soup Company sends out healthy homemade soups, cakes and pastries in a thoughtful care package. They cook and bake all products daily and send them coast to coast in temperature controlled containers.




3. Online Consumer Trend Publications


What better place to find a interesting products to sell online than from publications who's job it is to curate new, interesting and trending product ideas. Following trend publications is great way to begin getting a sense of the direction consumer products are going and the ideas other entrepreneurs are introducing to the market. Following these publications can also expose you to new product categories and industries that you previously didn't know about.


As a start point, take a look at the following popular online trend publications:


Trend Watching - Trend Watching is an independent trend firm that scans the globe for the most promising consumer trends and insights. Trend Watching has a team of thirty professionals in locations like London, New York, Singapore, Sydney and Lagos all looking for and reporting on worldwide trends.


Trend Hunter - Trend Hunter is the world's largest, most popular trend community. Fuelled by a global network of 137,000 members and 3,000,000 fans, Trend Hunter is a source of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs on the hunt for new product ideas.


Jeremy, the founder of Trend Hunter says, "Like many of us, I was an entrepreneur at heart, but I didn't know what idea I wanted to pursue. I chose careers that I thought would lead me to my business idea... but after years of searching, I was still hunting for inspiration. It was then that I started Trend Hunter - a place for insatiably curious people to share ideas and get inspired."


Springwise - There are millions of business ideas spanning the globe that operate in a specific way, have their own style, and market in a unique fashion. It’s not always possible to travel the world searching for these ideas to bring home though. That’s where Springwise comes in. Springwise travels the world for you, on the search for new entrepreneurial ideas, trends, and stories. Springwise publishes a daily and a weekly newsletter, which you can subscribe to for free.


Example: Dan, the founder of Inkkas shoes is a great example of someone that took a trend from another country and brought it to North America. Inkkas are beautiful, unique shoes designed using authentic South American textiles. The idea came about when Dan noticed the trend for this style of shoes in Peru. After deciding that this was a great product that would also do well in the North American market, he brought the idea home and successful funded a Kickstarter project, raising over $77,000 in pre-orders for his shoes.




4. Industry Leaders


You may not know what product to sell, but maybe you know the industry or market you would like to be in. Using various online tools, you can discover and follow the influencers in the industry you're interested in. Following the right people on social media can help uncover and inspire new ideas from a constant stream of carefully curated content from the people that are in the know.


There are several great online tools you can use to discover the influencers online for a particular industry or market:


Topsy


FollowerWonk


LittleBird


5. Consumer Product Review Blogs


Product review and discovery sites can also be a fantastic source of ideas and inspiration. Sites like Uncrate (men’s products) and Outblush (women’s products) are great ways to see new curated product trends daily. What better way to get inspired than to get a daily glimpse into the new and interesting products other entrepreneurs are bringing to the market.


Here are just a few examples of popular consumer product blogs to get you started:


Uncrate


Outblush


Bless This Stuff


Cool Material


Gear Moose


Werd


HiConsumption


Firebox



Don't limit yourself to just looking at the big and popular product blogs but explore niche reviews sites as well. Consider what types of products and niches you're particularly interested in and follow product review blogs in those niches.


6. Social Curation Sites


Social curation sites like Pinterest can be a goldmine for product and niche ideas. Many of the images contain interesting, new and trending consumer products. Using the built in social signals you can sometimes get a sense almost immediately of their popularity. This could be your first clue if there is a market for the product.


Several of the larger social curations sites to check out include:


Pinterest - Pinterest is one of the fastest growing social network with over 50 million monthly users. Make sure to check out the popular section for what's currently trending.


Polyvore - Polyvore is another great service, similar to Pinterest. Polyvore's global community has created over 80 million collage-like “sets” that are shared across the web.


Fancy - Fancy describes themselves as part store, magazine and wish list. Regardless of what it is, it's filled with product ideas for you to explore.


Wanelo - Wanelo (Want - Need - Love) describes itself as a community for all of the worlds shopping, bringing together products and stores in a Pinterest like product posting format. You can start by checkout out trending people.




7. Business-To-Business (B2B) Wholesale Marketplaces


What better way to get product ideas than right from the source. This has been a popular option amongst ecommerce entrepreneurs for a while and this list wouldn't be complete without it. Wholesale and manufacturer sourcing sites like Alibaba exposes you to thousands of potential product ideas. It can be easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer amount of product available so take your time.


Some of the more popular B2B wholesale product sites are:


Alibaba - You’ve likely heard of Alibaba. They are the biggest ecommerce company in the world, even larger than Amazon and eBay combined. Alibaba connects consumers all over the world with wholesalers and manufacturers (typically) from Asia. With hundreds of thousands of products, there's not much you can't find on Alibaba.


Although it's generally accepted that Alibaba is the largest online wholesale and manufacturer database, there are many other sites similar to Alibaba you can use for inspiration and to find product ideas.


Some of the largest competitors of Alibaba include you should also spend some time exploring include:


TradeKey


Global Sources


Made-in-China


8. Online Consumer Marketplaces


Another rich source for product ideas are online consumer marketplaces. Millions of products is probably an understatement so you may want to begin your search with some of the popular and trending items and branch out into other interesting categories that catch your eye from there:


eBay - eBay is the largest online consumer auction site.


eBay Popular - A list of some of the most popular product categories on eBay.


eBay Watch Count - An online tool that will list the most popular items on eBay based on how many people are "watching" them.


Amazon - Amazon is the largest internet retailer.


Amazon Bestsellers - Amazon's most popular products based on sales. Updated hourly.


Amazon Movers and Shakers - Amazon's biggest gainers in sales rank over the past 24 hours. Updated hourly.


Kickstarter - Kickstarter is the largest crowd-funding website.


Kickstarter Discover - Browse all projects by popularity, funding, staff picks, as well as many other options.


Etsy - Etsy is a marketplace for handmade items.


Etsy Trending Items - Check out the current trending items and listings on Etsy.


AliExpress - AliExpress is a new consumer wholesale marketplace from Alibaba that allows you to order in small quantities.


AliExpress Popular - The most popular products being bought on AliExpress.




9. Social Forum Communities


Reddit is the largest social media news aggregator. It describes itself as the front page of the internet and is enormously influential. Reddit has thousands of “subreddits” which are sub-sections or niches that cater to different topics and and areas of interest. It’s within these subreddits that you can find lots of inspiration for product ideas.


If you have an idea for a particular industry, niche or product category, it’s worth doing a search and finding a suitable subreddit community to join and actively become a part of.


There are also many product focused subreddits that are packed with ideas.


Here are a few examples:


Buy It For Life - For practical, durable and quality made products that are built to last.


Shut Up And Take My Money - Interesting, clever, useful products that that people want… badly.


There are also several subreddits for curated Amazon products, make sure to check out the following:


The Best of Amazon


The Best of Amazon Canada


The Best of Amazon UK


Cheap Stuff on Amazon


Find It On Amazon


If you're active on Reddit and pay close attention, occasionally you have come across interesting posts like these:


Reddit, What is One Product Under $20 That You Recommend Everyone To Buy?


What $100 Item Has The Single Greatest Ability to Increase Quality of Life?




No matter which approach you take, Reddit is has been and continues to be a rich and valuable source of entrepreneurial ideas and inspiration, coupled with a supportive community.


10. Instagram


Instagram isn't just pictures of food and puppies, it's also a great option for discovering new product ideas. Because it's photo based, it makes it easy to scan through many ideas and photos quickly.


There are a few ways you can use Instagram to search for product and niche ideas:


Hashtags - Once again, if you have a particular interest in a product category or industry, you can try searching for applicable hashtags and following relevant people in the market/niche or industry. Another great option is to do a search on Instagram for applicable hashtags that insinuate buyer interest and intent like #want and #buy.


Product Curation Accounts - There are many accounts on Instagram that post curated product content. Like many other examples above, you'll likely want to search for and find accounts within the niches you are particularly interested in. As an example, Shopify curates interesting and unique products from Shopify’s 90,000+ online stores. It might just provide the idea or spark for your next product.




Conclusion


With all these resources you should be able to start generating a pretty healthy list of initial products ideas to begin exploring further. In the next chapter, we're going to look through all of the resources ourselves and share some interesting product ideas with you.

4. Trending Product Ideas 8 min

We used our list of the best places to look for product ideas to uncover 10 products that are currently trending on Google Trends.

CHAPTER 4

10 Trending Product Ideas


So far you've learned about the eight product opportunity types and in the last chapter you were introduced you the top ten places entrepreneurs go to find new product ideas. The wheels in your head should be starting to turn at this point however many new ecommerce entrepreneurs tend to overthink things and automatically discredit their ideas. In this chapter, we wanted to show you how easy it can be to come up with initial product ideas as well as how to do a very quick cursory search to determine if the products are worth looking into further.


We searched all of the resources mentioned in the previous chapter and have selected ten products that looked interesting. As a very quick product demand test we cross checked all of the ideas in Google Trends. All of the ten product ideas selected have a strong upwards market trend, making these products worthy of evaluating further


Let's get started.


Disclaimer: These are not suggested products to sell online. They are simply items that caught our attention and are trending upwards according to Google Trends. Before choosing a product to sell online you must first do your own due diligence to determine market demand and potential.


Chapter 4 Refresher


Before we jump into some interesting trending products that caught our eye, let's take a look again at the ten best places to look for ideas as a refresher:


Solve Your Own Problems

Local Community

Online Consumer Trend Publications

Industry Leaders

Consumer Product Review Blogs

Social Curation Sites

Business-To-Business (B2B) Wholesale Marketplaces

Online Consumer Marketplaces

Social Forum Communities

Instagram

Using these sources, here's the ten product ideas we came up with:


1. Paleo Bars


Where did we find this idea? Friends


Diets and nutrition are an ever-evolving industry based on fads and trends. Because it's always changing, there's always room for new opportunities and products to be introduced. Within the last few years, a trend for the Paleo diet has been gaining ground. The Paleo diet is a modern nutritional plan based on the presumed diet of Paleolithic humans that lived 15,000 years ago.


We didn't have to venture too far into our community to uncover this trend. We have lots of friends that follow the Paleo diet. Talking to these people, we uncovered the idea for Paleo nutrition bars.




Looking at Paleo energy bars in Google Trends, we can see a massive spike beginning at the tail end of 2010.


Check out the graph below:




RESOURCE: Manufacturing a food product can be tricky with food laws and regulations but with a bit of searching we came across YouBars. As a protein bar manufacturer, YouBar has a wide range of options for people interested in wholesale and private label protein/nutrition bars and will handle all the manufacturing and labelling required by law.


2. Bow Ties


Where did we find this idea? Our Community


If there's one industry that changes more often than nutrition, it's fashion. This industry thrives on ever-evolving trends and again, that means ever-evolving opportunities for entrepreneurs. Men's bow ties is one item we've seen become increasingly trendy in our community, especially in men's fashion window displays in our local malls.




Taking to Google Trends, searches for "men's bow ties" have almost tripled over the last three years. This three-fold jump illustrates a growing trend of men who are thinking about not just bow ties, but also how they dress and look in general.




One advantage of men's fashion and accessory products is that there's and an increasing trend in general of this product category. Forrester Research noted that total U.S. online retail sales of men's accessories are expected to hit $370 billion by 2017. This is great news for anyone choosing to sell products in in this market.


3. Pocket Squares


Where did we find this idea? Social Media Influencers


Because of the trend in bow ties and men's accessories in general, we assumed there was likely other products that might make for great online business opportunities. Turning to some men's fashion bloggers and their Twitter accounts, we scanned their Tweets to see what other products they've been talking about recently.


As it turns out, bow ties aren't the only men's fashion accessory that's gaining traction these days. Pocket squares are also commanding some strong attention.




It appears from the Google Trend for "Pocket Squares" that they might be even a bigger opportunity than bow ties.




Pocket squares also make for an interested product because they are relatively simple to produce. Additionally, pocket squares, if positioned correctly can fetch some strong margins. With just a quick search, we can also see that many brands charge upwards of $60 per unit.


4. Wood Sunglasses


Where did we find this idea? Business-To-Business Wholesale Marketplace - Alibaba


To find our next product idea, we took to Alibaba, a business-to-business wholesale marketplace with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of products. Browsing the popular section, we quickly spotted sunglasses with wood frames. Searching for "wooden sunglasses" in the Alibaba returns 22,603 Products from 555 Suppliers. With that much supply, there is likely strong demand.




To verify our suspicions, we took to Google Trends. It appears that wood framed sunglasses are a fairly new product but has seen consistent interest growth almost every year since inception.




By looking at the trend graph though, we can Immediately can see a warning sign that we should be aware of. Every year there's has been a pretty big dip, which most likely represents the seasonality of the sunglasses business.


5. Wood Watches


Where did we find this idea? Online Consumer Marketplace - Kickstarter


After finding the wooden sunglasses on Alibaba, we thought about the trend in general for wooden accessories. We've seen many wood accessories before on Kickstarter so we started our search there and pretty quickly came across wood watches.




From Google Trends, it appears that wood watches have been around since the end of 2004 and have seen a slow but steady climb in interest up to 2012. However in the last two years we can see the growth has flattened a bit with the exception of a single large spike.




6. Leggings


Where did we find this idea? Product & Trend Discovery Review Sites - Outblush


We've looked at a lot of men's products and accessories but we've also come across a women's product that has seen some tremendous growth in interest over the last few years.


We subscribe to and regularly read product review blogs like Uncrate and Outblush. Browsing Outblush is where we came across a few listings for women's leggings, especially ones with bold patterns.


Check out the screenshot below:




Except for the strong seasonality of demand for the product, the trend for leggings seems very strong, growing considerably every year.




7. E-Cigarettes


Where did we find this idea? Community and News Publications


E-Cigarettes are big business. E-Cigarettes are a self-contained electronic “vaping” device. Sometimes referred to as a personal vaporizer or digital vapor device is a battery-powered device which simulates tobacco smoking.


E-Cigarettes are everywhere these days. We have seen it in the news and our community but it really jumped out to us as a potential product idea when we read the article Why Electronic Cigarettes Are About to Explode on Forbes.




The Google Trends graph matched our thoughts for this trend exactly.




While E-Cigarettes are an interesting product, it's a pretty new market and it's just starting to get the attention of regulators. While it looks like it may be a lucrative market right now, this market may become more difficult to enter and restrictive in the coming years.


8. E-Liquid (Refill for E-Cigarettes)


Where did we find this idea? Social Forum Communities - Reddit


While looking at more information on e-cigarettes we decided to head to Reddit to see what people were saying about them. To our surprise, we found a subreddit dedicated specifically to the creation of your own unique blends of the liquid refills in e-cigarettes.




As we imagined, the growth in the trend for e-liquid matches the growth for e-cigarettes closely. Overall strong growth and what appears to be a great potential business opportunity.




9. Coconut Oil


Where did we find this idea? Social Curation Site - Pinterest


While browsing Pinterest, coconut oil images kept popping up. Apparently coconut oil is a great all-in-one healthy oil that can be used for cooking, as a lip balm, moisturizer, shaving cream, deep treatment conditioner, makeup remover, body scrub, bug bites... the list goes on.




Looking at the trend graph, the upwards trend is undeniable since 2011.




Coconut oil is an interesting product because because it appears to have a multitude of uses. Each one of these uses could be a niche opportunity to explore further.


10. Matcha Powder


Where did we find this idea? Instagram


While browsing through our Instagram feed we came across an image someone posted of matcha powder. Matcha is finely milled powder green tea and has become increasing popular along with the tea category in general. Supermarket tea sections have exploded from carrying Red Rose and Tetley to a variety of hundreds of brands in recent years.




The trend for matcha powder has been increasing every year since 2009 and just recently, seen a massive spike in search interest.




What's Next?


With the previous two chapters in mind, we searched in a strategic way to come up with ten initial ideas that may make for great products to sell online. Over the next several chapters, we'll show you how to evaluate your product ideas along with the market for them so you can zero in on your perfect product.

5. Selecting a Product & Niche 6 min

Armed with product ideas, it's time to decide which one you want to further evaluate. In this chapter, you'll learn how to choose a product and zero in on a great niche.

CHAPTER 5

Selecting a Product & Niche


Now that you have a brainstormed list of product ideas, it's time to take it to the next level. To do this, you'll need to decide which of your previously brainstormed product ideas to further evaluate. In this chapter we will look at how to narrow your product's focus by choosing a niche. In the following chapters, will will then show you how to evaluate your product idea and niche further.


Selecting a Product to Further Evaluate


At this point you're only selecting a product to further research and evaluate. This likely wont be your final choice. In fact, you may end up further investigating and evaluating dozens of ideas before finally landing on one.


There's no science to selecting a product to evaluate from your previously brainstormed list. It really comes down to what you think is the best start point. Is there a product you feel more strongly about? Does one product idea in particular give you a gut feeling that it can do better? Maybe you're really passionate about one of the ideas over all others. Again, it's important to note that there's no right or wrong way to select a product to further evaluate and you can always go back to your list and evaluate your other ideas.


Our Product Selection


As an example for this chapter, we decided to choose and evaluate a product as well to give you context on the upcoming evaluation methodologies. To choose a product, we went back and looked at all the product ideas we came up with in the last chapter.


Here's that list again:


Paleo Bars

Bow Ties

Pocket Squares

Wood Sunglasses

Wood Watches

Leggings

E-Cigarettes

E-Liquid (Refill for E-Cigarettes)

Coconut Oil

Matcha Powder

For our product selection process, we decided to put all of our ideas into Google Trends to determine which ones have the biggest search interest/trend. As it turns out, coconut oil and leggings won by a long shot.




Note: Google Trends only allows you to compare up to five products at one time, but all ten were compared.


We liked the idea of coconut oil in particular. One of the reasons for this was because coconut oil is a raw ingredient and a predominant ingredient in a variety of other products. Remember, coconut oil as a product idea originally came from a Pinterest Pin that linked to an article on 30 different uses for coconut oil. Based on this, we're confident that there's likely some interesting niches around coconut oil.


Let's take a look again at Google Trends to see if in fact coconut oil is trending upwards, how big the trend is and when exactly it began:




Looking at "Coconut Oil" in Google Trends, we can see that the trend and popularity for coconut oil exists, increasing dramatically since approximately 2011.


Based on this information, we've decide to further evaluate coconut oil and see what niches we can derive from it that we can build a successful online business around.


Choosing a Niche


Now that you have also decided on a product idea, you'll need to consider a niche in which you want to consider operating in. A niche is just a subset of the market in which a specific product is focused. Your chosen niche will help define possible product features aimed at satisfying specific market needs, the price range for your product, production quality, branding and your marketing.


Choosing a niche is a vital part of creating a successful online business. If you try to open and operate your new store in a crowded and popular product category or market, you're going to have a really tough uphill battle fighting against the already established competition. This is precisely why choosing a subset of a market (niche) is so important.


Although there's no scientific way to choosing a niche, there are lot's of different methods you can use. From simple Google searches, to building a mind-map to utilizing keyword research to help uncover great niches, there are many ways to build your niche list. In the next section, we will explore a few of them. .


Note: Over the next few chapters, you're going to learn how to evaluate and validate your product and niche. If you find in the end that your product isn't viable, you can always go back and choose a different niche. Choosing a different niche can be all the difference between a poor product choice and a great product choice, even more so than the product itself.


Start with Google Searches


The easiest way to start building out some niche ideas is understanding how your product is currently being sold from other online retailers. Starting your niche selection with some Google searches is a great way to get a good overview and lay of the land. As an example, using our product idea of coconut oil, we were able to find a goldmine of niches:




Build a Mind Map


A mind map can be a great way to map out and discover niches for your chosen product. Since mind maps mimic the way our brains think they are a very intuitive way to organize your thoughts and build on ideas. Building a mind map for your product idea can help generate ideas very quickly encouraged exploration of different niche paths. You can use a free online tool like Text 2 Mind Map to create a really simple but effective mind map.


Here's what we came up with for our coconut oil product idea:




Use Google's Suggestions


You know when you start typing something into Google and it begins to show you search alternatives before you finish typing you query? Well Google is completing your thoughts using the queries most often searched for by other users and you can use this to your advantage to find a niche for your product choice.




Google will only show you a few suggestions so you may want to use another tool like Suggester to scrape all the suggestions. To use Suggester, simply enter your product choice and it will give you a list of other queries that people are searching for, along with their popularity. We plugged in our product by searching for "Coconut Oil for" which returned over 300 suggestions we could pull a potential niche from.


Here's a small sample of the results:




Niching It down with Keyword Research


This next method for uncovering a niche uses Google's Keyword Planner tool. The keyword planner tool is a resource located in Google's advertising platform, Google Adwords. The Google Keyword Planner is similar to the Google suggestion tool we discussed above but is a more advanced and customizable.


To use this tool you need to have a Google Adwords account which you can sign up to for free. Login to your account and select Tools from the top menu, then select Keyword Planner. On the next screen, click Search for new keyword and ad group ideas.




On the next screen enter your product idea. Double check your settings under Targeting to make sure they're to your liking, in particular the locations you want to target.




On the next screen, it will be on the default tab Ad Group Ideas, change that to the tab labelled Keyword Ideas.




Searching through these results can give you a good idea of potential niches related to your original search term. Don't be afraid to dive deeper and try a variety of related search terms.


Time To Evaluate


Now that you have chosen a product idea to further evaluate and have derived a niche from your idea, it's time to evaluate it. Over the next several chapters you'll learn how to evaluate and test your product to better understand and gauge it's potential.

6. Evaluating Your Product & Niche 17 min

In this chapter, you'll learn the 17 point product evaluation criteria you need to go through to make sure your product is a great choice.

CHAPTER 6

Evaluating Your Product & Niche


Now that you've selected a product and niche to further explore and evaluate, it's time to put it under the microscope. Without properly evaluating your product and niche idea, your choice is random and so will be your chances of success. Using the evaluation criteria below, you'll get a much better sense of your product and niche, along with better understanding it's strengths and identifying it's weaknesses.


Resource: At the end of the chapter, we have provided an interactive Product Evaluator which will score your product idea against all the criteria included in this chapter.


Note: You will likely never find a product or niche that fits all the criteria below. Evaluating your idea against this list though will give you a better understanding of your chosen product/niche, helping avoid pitfalls and increase your overall chances of success.


Criteria Overview


Before we get into each evaluation point, let's take a look at a quick overview of all the criteria we will be covering:


Market Based Criteria


What is the potential market size?

What does the competitive landscape look like?

Is it a trend, fad, flat or growing market?

Is your product available locally?

Who's your target customers?

Product Based Criteria


What is your markup?

What's your potential selling price?

Can you offer a subscription?

What is your product's size and weight?

How durable is your product?

Is your product seasonal?

Does your product serve a passion, relieve a pain or solve a problem?

How often will you need to turnover inventory?

Is your product consumable or disposable?

Is your product perishable?

Are there any restrictions or regulations on your product?

Is your product scalable?

Let's look at each of the criteria in more detail:


1. What's the potential market size?


Market size can be difficult to determine but with some educated guessing you can probably get a good idea of the potential market size. For example, a product that caters to pregnant females between 25-40 years old is probably has a sufficient market. But a product that caters to pregnant females between 25-40 years old who like punk rock music will likely be too narrow.


Example: Daneson sells high end, luxury toothpicks. You can imagine that it takes a pretty discerning and dapper man to purchase exquisite toothpicks. A product like this likely has a very narrow market size. This narrow market size limits the revenue potential for a business like that, however, depending on the exact market, the narrow market size can potentially make it easier to market to, allowing a company like Daneson the penetrate the market and capture the market more cost effectively.




Resource: Determining exact market sizes is usually impossible for most businesses, however, there are some ways to understand market size in a more general way. Google Trends is a good start point, not to determine market size, rather to determine market demand trajectory. From there you can also look for your particular product idea being sold elsewhere and look at the number and quality of reviews. Are there no reviews, just a few or hundreds? Finally, tools like Topsy can help you determine volume of social chatter which can also give you indications as to the potential market size.


In the next chapter, you'll learn exactly how to use the Google’s Keyword Tool to better determine search demand which can help you determine search volume of keywords around your product idea. This can give you an idea of how many people are searching for your keyword terms and in return, can also give you a better sense of the market size. Combine all these methods with some realistic judgment and you should start to get a good sense of the potential market size of your product idea.


2. What does the competitive landscape look like?


What does the competitive landscape look like for your selected product and niche? Are you be first to market? Are there already a few competitors or is the market saturated with people selling the same product or targeting the same niche?


If you're first to market, you'll want to do a lot of market research to determine that there is in fact a market interested in your product. If there are a few competitors already in the space and they seem to be doing relatively well, this could be a good sign that the market has been validated. If there are many competitors in the market, it's also a sign that the market has been validated, however, you'll likely have to determine how you can differentiate your brand and products from the sea of competitors in order to carve out your own spot.


Example: Luxy Hair wasn’t the first company to sell hair extensions online. In fact, the market was filled, maybe even saturated with competitors when they began four years ago. Understanding the market was saturated with competitors, they knew they had to do something different to stand out and command the attention of buyers. Luxy did exactly that by entering the game with a completely different marketing strategy. While everyone else was paying for ads online, Luxy decided to provide value by focusing on YouTube as their exclusive marketing channel.




The strategy worked. In a crowded marketplace, Luxy has managed to carve out their spot by very quickly building a seven-figure ecommerce business that also boasts over one million subscribers on YouTube.


Resource: Google searches and SimilarWeb will help you uncover current market players. Google’s Keyword Tool can tell you approximate search volumes for your chosen keywords, and also tell you how competitive they are (meaning how many other people/businesses are bidding on those words). Don’t forget, the more people bidding on your keywords, the more expensive they will be.


3. Is it a fad, trend, stable or growing market?


Riding a fad can be dangerous. A trend can be lucrative. Stable markets are safe and growing markets are ideal. Understanding where your product and niche lay can play a huge role in your success or failure.


To better understand the differences between each of these, let's look at the growth curves, then we will look at real world examples for each type:




Examples:


Fad: A fad is something that grows in popularity for a very short period of time and dies out just as quickly. A trend can lucrative if your entry into the market and exit are timed perfectly but this can be difficult to predict and usually a recipe for disaster.


Example: A Geiger Counter is a personal electronic device about the size of a cell phone that measures the level of radiation around you. Shortly after the earthquake in Japan in 2011, geiger counters were flying off the shelves, however, as you can see from the Google Trends graph below, interest died as fast as it started.




Trend: A trend is a longer term direction that the market for a product appears to be taking. It doesn't grow as quickly as a fad, it last longer and generally it doesn't decline nearly as quickly. A trend can sometimes also lead into a long-term growing market although this can be difficult to predict.


Example: As an example, in the last few years gluten-free foods have been growing in popularity. We can see from the graph below a consistent climb, however, this would likely be predicted and labelled a trend as opposed to a growing market due to the ever-evolving and changing nutrition market.




Stable Market: A stable market is one that generally is immune to shocks and bumps. It is neither declining nor growing but maintains itself over long periods of time.


Example: A kitchen sink is a perfect example of a product with a market that has generally remained constant and flat for the last ten years. There's likely not going to be any huge spikes or dips in the interest and purchase behavior of kitchen sinks.




Growing Market: A growing market is one that has seen consistent growth and shows signs of a long-term or permanent market shift.


Example: Yoga has been around for a long time but over the last 5 years or so has become a mainstream health and fitness activity. The benefits of yoga are well established, making this niche a solid growing market.




Resource: Google Trends will help give you the big picture whether something is a fad, trend, growing or stable market. If you see unexplainable spikes, try doing some further searching to see what the possible cause was of it.


4. Is your product available locally?


A product that's readily available locally means that there's one less reason for consumers to seek your product out online. However, a unique or hard to find product that isn't available locally means there's an increased chance of someone looking for it online and increases their chances of actually purchasing it online.


Example: Ellusionist sells artist collaborated, high-end decks of cards for magicians and card players alike. Sure you can go buy a deck of cards anywhere, but these are not just cards, they are also works of art and trick decks, and if you want one, it's only available online.




Resource: One of the simplest ways to find out if your selected product is available locally is by doing a search on Google for your product + the name of your city, or if you don't live in a major city, try substituting for the name of your closest major city. For example, you could search for "magician deck of cards + new york".


5. Who's your target customer?


You don't need to go into great detail defining your exact customer persona at this point, however you should be aware of the type of customer you would likely be selling to and their online purchasing capabilities.


If you have a product geared for teens, it's important to keep in mind that most teens don't have a credit card to make purchases online with. Similarly, if your product is geared towards older baby boomers, you may find that your target demographic has a lower level of technology adoption and doesn't like to purchase online.


Example: Clothes for Seniors offers adaptive clothing for seniors. One of their main target markets has a low level of online commerce adoption which may make it difficult to build a business around. You'll need to tailer your online store to accommodate them or consider targeting your marketing efforts to the children of the seniors.




Resource: If you find another online business selling similar products, you can use SimilarWeb to get information on their visitor demographics, which may help you define your target market better.


6. What's your markup?


It is vitally important to take markup for a specific product into consideration before diving too far into a product idea. When you begin selling online, you'll quickly find out that there are lots of small fees that will eat into your margins, so having a strong initial markup will provide you with the necessary cushion to absorb these little costs.


Example: To understand margin a little better, let's take a look at a real product. For this example we will use a pet pedometer - a small electronic device you connect to your dogs collar to count how many steps they take.




Looking around at other pet pedometers, we determined that an average retail price on a product like this would be $24.99. Using Alibaba, we found out that we are able to get these pet pedometers at a cost of $2 per unit.


1,200% markup! Looks good so far right? Let's take a closer look at the other fees that we will need to account for:



You can see from the example above how the small fees will whittle away at your margins. In this case, a product that had an initial markup of over 1,200% ends up less than