Want to start an online store but struggling to find what to sell? You are not alone everyone find it hard to decide what to sell when starting an online store.
You may want to start an online store to earn some extra money, but the next step is where beginners often struggle the most: choosing which products to sell on your online store. One of the biggest challenges beginners face is finding profitable, trending products that will sell.
Product research & selection is super complicated and time consuming task. Most would be online store owner literally drive themselves crazy and quit the idea of opening an online store before even starting it.
Because selling online is completely different than selling in a brick and mortar store, you want to choose products to sell that are valuable for the online buyer. To help you get started, I’ve put together a shortlist of practical ways to find products to sell in your online store.
Types Of Products You can Sell
There are millions of products that you can sell online,the first thing you need to decide what type of products you want to sell. You can either sell physical products, combine physical with digital items, or start selling digital products only
Selling digital products
A digital product is an intangible asset or piece of media that can be downloaded or emailed repeatedly after purchase and it even does not need any inventory.
The biggest advantage of digital products like online course, e-book etc is that you can create it once and then make money from home for the rest of your life.
There are many types of digital products you can sell like e-books, software, video, audio and music, photographs, document templates, printable and many more.
There are many advantages of selling digital products online:
- Lower Overhead Cost – It does not require any physical storage, manufacturing, packing, or shipping and handling costs.
- High Profit Margins – Creating a digital product is one-time cost and you can sell it indefinitely, so the profit margins are quite high in digital products.
- Digital products last forever – Unlike physical products, digital products doesn’t wear, tear, or deteriorate; they may become less relevant over time as technology changes, but they can be updated easily, and they last forever.
- Potential to automate – Digital products can be downloaded or emailed instantly after the purchase, and it can even be automated so you don’t need to worry about its fulfillment.
However, there are some challenges also associated with digital products:
- Competition with free content – Digital products are easy to create, so there’s a lot of competition there. It may be possible that what you are selling may be available in free somewhere. You will have to think carefully about what product you are going to sell, you must offer premium value with your products in order to compete.
- Plagiarism and Copyright – Digital products are very easy to copy and reproduce. So you must take precautions to reduce these risks by employing the right tools to protect your products.
- Harder to sell – Digital products are harder to sell than physical products as users cannot not see it before buying, you need to build trust before that can sell.
Apps for selling digital products
For you to sell digital products, there are a several eCommerce platforms focused on selling downloads directly to consumers. With these tools, you can control download, product pricing, branding, and where your products are sold.
Here is a list of platforms to sell digital products:
- SendOwl – It was started in 2010 as an easy solution for selling digital products —like downloads, memberships, subscriptions etc directly from a website. It comes with a numerous features and useful automation, like expiring links and auto-generated license keys, to power your products.
- Sellfy – It provides simple and extremely easy solutions to sell digital products on your own website. In addition to the eCommerce platform, it offers various smart tools to enhance sales and promote your products on social media.
- Gumroad – It’s one of the most popular digital selling platforms with features like simplicity, security, and easy to use. Upload your digital products to its servers; set a price and let everything unfold naturally. Using its widget you can integrate it into your own website and sell and promote your digital products.
- Easy Digital Downloads – Sell digital products with WordPress, most popular blogging platform. It’s a full-fledged eCommerce selling platform that you can use to sell digital product from your WordPress blog. It makes digital selling simple and complete by providing just the features you need.
- Digital Downloads: This is a free app by Shopify offers an easy way to sell digital products. Customers can download their digital product immediately or receive a link in their email.
Selling physical products
Physical products are tangible and you need to send them to your customers after they complete their online purchases. These includes merchandise, apparel and various other products that you need to ship to your customers.
We know that producing physical products can be tedious. You have to get them manufactured, store in warehouse, keep inventory, packaged, and shipped. But from the products selling trends you’d be surprised to know that, you’ll have an advantage over others who are selling only digital products.
There are many advantages of selling physical products online:
- Need no expertise – To start selling physical products you don’t need to be an expert as in case of digital products, you need expertise to create it. Just find your required product that meets your need you can optimize your product listing for online selling.
- Easy to sell – Physical products are easy to sell than digital products as users are more willingness to pay for products. Customers don’t expect to get a free T-shirt as a trail and be prompted to upgrade to a sweatshirt after 30 days.
- Higher perceived value – Physical products have higher perceived value as customers can hold it in their hands. There’s more joy in owning something physical, like a t-shirt for your mom than an e-book.
- Build Trust – When you sell a digital products you are basically selling a promise like how to earn blogging using an e-book. This may or may not happen. But when you sell a physical product, your customers know how it works and what it does. If they like your product, you can build trust with your customers.
There are also some disadvantages of selling physical products online:
- High distribution costs – Selling physical products comes with high distribution cost, you need to ship products from manufacture to your warehouse and then from your warehouse to customer’s place.
- Lower Profit Margins – Physical products have generally lower profit margins than digital products. you have to produce and sell at scale to maintain margins. However, premium or luxury product margins are usually healthy.
- Higher capital investment – When selling physical products, you require inventory unless you run a dropshipping business. Stocking inventory requires capital invested which can make it more expensive to sell physical products online.
- Product liability & returns – you will need to comply with applicable product liability laws for the countries you sell to and also offer a solution to return or even replace damaged products.
Apps for selling physical products
There are many eCommerce platform available for you to start selling your physical products online.
- Shopify – one of the best hosted eCommerce website to quickly build a store that looks and works like you want with themes, add-ons, and mobile apps. Cost – $29/month.
- Big Commerce – as good as Shopify. Big Commerce hosts over 55,000 online stores that have done over $4 billion in sales. They have good collection of paid and free store apps. Cost – $29.95/month.
- 3dcart – comes with a ton of eCommerce features. This hosted eCommerce platform allows you to simply accept Bitcoins and includes a loyalty program system that offers your users the choice to earn rewards points whenever they shop at your online store. Cost – starts at $16.99/month.
- Magento – Magento is a highly feature-rich eCommerce platform solution that offers merchants complete flexibility and control over the functionality of their online store. Magento has a lot of features and you can find each and every feature you need to build and run your online store. Cost – Free.
- PrestaShop – PrestaShop is an open source e-commerce solution that you can use to run an online store either cloud or self hosted. PrestaShop is currently utilized by more that 270,000 online stores worldwide and is accessible in 65 different languages. To learn how to install PrestaShop visit our tutorial How to Install PrestaShop. Cost – Free.
- Woo Commerce – Woo Commerce is a free WordPress plugin that adds e-commerce functionality to your WordPress website so you can have an online store. When you add Woo Commerce plugin, your WordPress website turns into a fully-functional e-commerce website. Cost – Free.
Commoditized and Niche products
There are two sorts of products you can sell – Commoditized products and Niche products.
Commoditized products are when consumers can buy the same product or service from different small or large businesses. These are essential, commonly used, high demand, or popular goods or services that can be physical or digital products.
The profit margins in these products are very thin as there is no significant difference in quality or in how consumers use these products.
A niche Product is a segment of a larger product that can be defined by its own unique needs, preferences, or identity that serve a specific customer base and product category.
For example women’s shoes is a Commoditized products and there can be several niche market under it like shoes for plus-sized women, shoes for nurses, shoes for school girls etc. Nearly all products can be further divided into several niche products.
Choosing a niche product in starting phase of creating online store is a wise business decision to serve a certain customer base better than competitors who target the larger market.
Dropshipping and Your Own Products
There are 2 ways to start an online store – dropshipping or your own products.
Dropshipping is a retail fulfillment method where the seller doesn’t keep the inventory of products it sells. Instead, when a store sells a product, it purchases the item from a supplier and supplier shipped it directly to the customer. AS in this model, the seller doesn’t have to handle the product and shipping directly and has to handle only sales and marketing of their store.
The best part of dropshipping is that it requires zero initial investment and its very easy to get started. You can start this model even from home or any location and its also easy to scale later on.
Some example of best dropshipping companies are Doba, Oberlo, Wholesale Central etc
In the traditional model, you first have to get the products from suppliers or create them yourself, offer these products via your online store and handle the shipping once customer buys your products.
The initial investment in own product is high but it helps building your own brand. In the initial phase of your eCommerce business, if you choose your own product, i would suggest you to choose products something that’s easy to store in the space you have.
What makes a Product Good?
Now that you have learned the type of products and how to sell it online – dropshipping or your own product. Now let’s see what makes a product good to sell it online.
1. Profitability of the product
When selecting a product to sell online, first question you should ask: is it profitable?
You obviously want products that has good profit margin and provides better return on your investment. You must note that you are starting a business not a hobby so you must calculate the overheads of products in the product cost itself.
For example, if you are sourcing a product from manufacturer apart from product cost other expenses are also there like duty fees, shipping fees, and credit card processing fees etc.
As a thumb rule, you must aim to sell the product at 3x of the product cost price.
2. Price of the Product
The price of product is also important along with profitability. Say for example, you import a purchase a product from your manufacturer in $0.1 and sell it in $1 each on your store.
That’s a 90% profit but at the end of day you only making a $.90 profit per sale. And it will take you years to make fortune for you.
Also if your product price is very high say $1000, then it will be very difficult for you to make a sale as a new new eCommerce merchant. So as a rule, I recommend a product priced between $15 to $100.
3. Size and Weight of Product
As you will be selling products online, so the product must be light weight and should be smaller in size.
Heavy and bulky products can increase your shipping cost and also you will not be able to offer free shipping promo to increase you sale later. And if your product are light weight, you can easily expand your business and think about selling overseas in future.
4. Products Popularity
The products you will be selling must be in-demand. There is no point of selling a product that’s not in demand.
Yes there will be competition for the products in demand but a little bit of competition is necessary for selling a product. No competition means no buyer, and you may not want to waste your time creating and online store with no shopper.
Ways to Find a Product to Sell
There are several ways to find a product to sell online. I am putting together a few ways to find the perfect product for you to sell on your online store.
1. Amazon Best Sellers
The best place to find the product to sell online is Amazon best seller lists. Amazon has best seller lists for almost every category and the best part is its updated every hour.
You can dig into the list and find the best seller in your selected niche. If they are bestsellers on Amazon they can sell well in your store too. So you can select these products for your store too.
2. eBay Watch Count
You cal also find the product to sell using eBay Watch Count which allows you to see what’s popular on eBay. Here you can find the most popular products in each category listed in left hand side.
The items with most watch count are most popular on eBay and most best item to sell on your online store.
3. Competitor Product Research
Look at your competitors web store and check what products they are selling. You can also check their best selling product, if listed on their store.
After checking the products, you can research for the sourcing of the products from different dropshipping sites and find you could sell it at lower price. If you cannot match or beat the competitors price for a product, it will be best to leave that product idea while starting your online store.
4. Search Social Shopping Sites
Search social shopping sites like Pinterest, Wanelo and Esty to generate ideas for the products to sell in your online store. These are eCommerce enabled social sites where shopping experience is shared with a social networks of people.
Look around these websites and check what people are sharing and what eCommerce products are more popular among users. I am sure you will get the best ideas to sell a product on your online store.
5. Facebook Groups
There are tons of groups available on Facebook that can help you understands the current trends of products and also the needs of people for certain products. There are different niche of groups available, you can request to join them and interact with other users to find the products to start your online store.
Check these groups to find out what products and problems are mentioned. If you find any problem try to find the solution for that product and that will be the perfect product to sell.
So these were some of the ways you can try to find out the product to start selling on your online store. If there is something that you want to know more or included in this article, do tell me in the comments below.