How to find the best products to sell online

Alibaba.com APRIL 01, 202119 MIN READ
How to find the best products to sell online

It has now become unimaginable not to shop online. Global online shopping is so gargantuan that in 2020 alone, it almost hit 4 trillion dollars1. We believe every business should key into this.

The problem here is that with every success story about online sellers, there are tons of not-so-successful sad tales. You can't just pop up and say you want to start selling just anything you see. Even if you decide to do just that, the market is already largely saturated. There are so many online vendors who are already selling what you intend to sell.

So, here is the first major challenge you'll possibly face: What do you sell? How do you select profitable and trending products to market online? What makes a product a ‘good' product?

This article gives you all the guide you need – and more. You'll learn a step-by-step process on how to identify a good product, identify the opportunities to sell online, the tools that can help you along the way, and even how to locate suppliers and find the best platform to sell your products online.

What makes a good product?

There are so many products out there already. For a number of reasons, however, some products sell more than some other products. These can be called ‘good products'.

If you want to make it big selling online, you need to be among those selling the good products. If you look through the ‘good products' around you, you'll find some characteristics common to all of them.

In case you've also been wondering what makes a good product, you don't have to wait long. We have them here. A good product has:

  • Solid value proposition: This forms the foundation of any successful product. A product must solve a particular problem or fill a particular need. No one really wants to spend on a product that serves no purpose. Admittedly, these needs may be simple or complex; natural or even created artificially; independent or forming part of other needs. It doesn't matter. What matters is that the product is needed by the end user.
  • A value proposition that is easy to explain: A product need not only solve a need, it must also be easy to explain its use to the target market. While a product may be of immense use, the users or buyers may not be aware of such need yet. As such, your product shouldn't require complex explanations or reading through the manual before its use is deciphered.
  • Ease of use: It is already said that a product that serves no need will not be popular among buyers. But this is not an end on its own. A product that fills a need must also be easy to use.

    A product that doesn't fulfil this requirement will equally not be popular among buyers. This doesn't necessarily mean that it must require basic knowledge to operate. No, ease of use just means that the product shouldn't be too complex for its target market.

    If your competitor has a similar product that is easier to use, guess which product is more likely to have more online buyers?

  • Has sufficient scalability: For this purpose, scalability is the ability of a product to increase in value when more users are added to it. It is the ease with which a product can be utilized to meet changing levels of demand. A good product must be able to increase its value per user than its cost per user.
  • Generates virtuous cycles: The icing that tops the requirement of a great product is that it must have virtuous cycles. This means that a good product should be able to increase its importance such that it'll become valuable over time and its loss will be painful to the user.

find products to sell

11 Steps: A guide to finding the right products to sell online

Of the millions of products already in the market, it's hard to choose which one to market online. How do you separate the profitable ones from the not-so-good products? How exactly do you find the ideal goods that you should be selling online? At Alibaba.com, we have identified eleven (11) ways you can go about this.

  • Solve a particular need
  • Satisfy hobbies and passion
  • Go with your heart
  • Put your professional experience to good use
  • Capitalize on trends
  • Research customer reviews/feedbacks on existing products
  • Find product opportunities in keywords
  • Get inspiration from what's trending on online marketplaces
  • Search for related products of top-selling products
  • Test-run a product before you launch
  • Research products with a higher profit margin

Each process will be examined one after the other here.

1. Solve a particular need

Nothing beats a product that solves a particular and special need at a particular time. If you're looking for an effective product, start with one that provides a solution to a problem.

This doesn't necessarily mean you should start looking for a product that solves a brand new problem. Most problems already have products that solve them. What you can do here is to find a product that solves the problem users currently experience with the present products.

2. Satisfy hobbies and passion

Passion fuels the spirit, so the saying goes. Other than buying a product because it solves a particular problem, we also buy stuff just to please our passion or hobbies. This is one of the points you can consider when you want to choose the best products to sell online.

Find out what your target users are passionate about and commercialize it.

3. Go with your heart

You may have heard "don't sell a product just because you're passionate about it: sell a ‘selling' product." But this is not entirely true. It is not exclusive to the other. You can choose to market products or goods you're passionate about – and still make tons of money from it.

Of course, you're taking a risk if you choose a product solely for your own interests. But, online selling is about taking (safe) risks. The business is going to try you in so many ways. So, why then should you not go with products you're passionate about? That way, you won't have problems getting motivated.

4. Put your professional experience to good use

Maybe you really don't have to look farther than what you're already doing. If you've been in a particular industry and are already familiar with some products, you can choose to go with this.

Rather than going into something entirely new, you can capitalize on the professional experience you've garnered over the years. Your expertise in the industry or business will count for something and give you an edge over your competitors.

5. Capitalize on trends

Imagine you were one of the early vendors to start selling face masks when the pandemic hit the world. Some manufacturers and vendors were able to jump on the trend early and commercialize on the new market.

You should be doing the same too. Social media and other tools can be very helpful in determining or forecasting new trends.

Having an eye to predict a need or follow a trend will help you decide which product is best for selling online. Jumping on a trend before it becomes flooded will put you ahead of your competitors.

6. Read customer reviews and feedback on existing products

Without any doubt, customer reviews offer the best opportunity of "seeing into the soul" of users. It is through the reviews that you get to know what and what-not the makers of a product have to correct.

Whether you're already selling online or you're only just planning to, customer reviews on existing products will point you in the right market direction. The feedback, complaints, or shortcomings of a product will help you decide the best product to sell online.

7. Find product opportunities in keywords

Could there be a better way to find the best products to sell online than actually picking it from what people are searching for online? Every single search indicates the things we may be willing to spend money on.

Researching the keywords of your target market will help you find out the particular product they need. They will also offer you brilliant ideas on the things that are profitable.

Using this tool requires a little technical knowledge of how the search engines work. You have to do search queries for keywords on specific products and the number of queries they generate during a specific period. If you can do it right however, the benefits are massive and quite rewarding.

8. Get inspiration from what's trending on online marketplaces

Most online marketplaces have a feature where you can see trending or "hot" products.

Whether you want to open your own store or you choose to sell on an international online marketplace like Alibaba.com, checking the trends of online marketplace will highlight the hot goods for you. You can then choose to sell the products currently on hot demand.

9. Search for related products of top-selling products

This is an offshoot of the process above. You can major popular online marketplaces and check "the related products" feature of popular products. This is most helpful if you already have a couple of products or product categories in mind.

Alibaba.com usually has a "bought together" feature that gives you an idea about goods related to a top-selling product. For other marketplaces, you may get this by viewing:

  • Similar recommended items
  • Products customers frequently buy together
  • Related sponsored products.

10. Test-run a product before you launch

The best products are the ones bringing in money. "Testing the waters" can lead you to finding the ideal product you should be selling online. It is often said that you really can't know how great a product is until you put it in the market. This is largely true. For a lot of reasons, a new product that appears great may not perform well during sales.

As a consequence, you can put a variety of selected products out there in the market. The feedback you get on each product will help you determine which is more profitable.

11. Research products with a higher profit margin

You can just skip all the processes above and make use of this shortcut. Go for the product with the least overhead cost and high profit. Products that don't bite much into your capital is a low-risk venture you can jump on.

This is not to say that products with low cost of goods sold will generally yield large profits. On the contrary, a product that is costly to produce/procure may also yield large profit, but this may not be the right product to sell online if you're only just starting up. The inherent risk may be too much to take.

A product may be ‘hot' and trendy, yet the cost of goods sold (COGS) may actually overburden the profit to be derived. This highlights why you should go for items that generate large profits yet have low cost of goods sold (COGS).

Things to watch out for when choosing products to sell online

So, now that you've gone through the tips given above on how to find the best products to sell online, what else? When it comes to selling online, it's not enough to have a ‘good' product. You still have to conduct market research to find out the suitability of the products to ecommerce.

Here' are a couple of questions that can aid you:

Is there sufficient demand for the product?

This has already been included among the tips for finding the best product to market online. Just as an added tip, we will briefly examine this again. A product may be ‘profitable', yet not be in high demand at a particular moment.

If you don't strategize your online business well, a ‘seasonal' product can lead to negative cash flow that may eventually force you to close shop. Before you proceed with selling a product online, you have to make sure that it can achieve your weekly/monthly minimum sales.

Can the product be easily sourced?

Consistency is one of the hallmarks of a good business. It can get frustrating starting the sales of a product then running dry of supplies. Easy and continuous access to the products is one of the factors you have to put considerable thoughts to.

A good product with high demand and ‘controlled scarcity' is always a profitable enterprise. However, in ecommerce, when you've created a niche for yourself and your source suddenly runs dry, your customers will move on to the next vendor. Even if you eventually come back with supplies, you've already lost a sizable number of your clients.

Is your product easily shippable?

Unlike physical stores, you have to consider whether or not your product lends itself to easy shipping. If you choose to sell on an international online marketplace like Alibaba Seller Central, your buyers can come from all over the world. And the goods will have to be shipped to their international address overseas – at the cheap rates customers expect. If you choose to limit the sales of your products due to shipping reasons, you'll be forgoing access to the bigger international target market.

In essence, you have to consider the size and weight of the ‘good' product you've chosen. It is wise to calculate and factor in the shipping fees with the products. This will make sure you keep your books out of the red.

Tools and platforms to find profitable products

The search for profitable products is a continuous one. The first side of the coin is knowing what to do to find a good product. The second part – which is equally important – is knowing how to go about it.

With the proper use of the tools provided here, you will be able to adapt the processes and scale your business. Some of the tools at your disposal include:

  • Online stores sales data
  • Trend-spotting tools
  • Business and product review sites
  • Social media

1. Online stores sales data:

Researching the sales data of ecommerce sites is certainly the perfect fit to finding the best profitable products. What you have to do is to visit the websites of popular online marketplaces and check out their data.

Their bestselling items, trending items, or hot products will give you an insight into what you should probably be selling. There are also a few lessons to derive from even the least selling products: you may decide to stay away from them or find out why they're not selling and make them sell marketable.

Alibaba.com for instance, is a hugely successful ecommerce marketplace that serves as an efficient connection between buyers and sellers all over the world. Its sales data exemplifies a perfect view of the demands of ecommerce and can help you in your research.

2. Trend-spotting tools

Following trends can be a harrowing experience. Luckily for you, there are online tools readily available for use. These sites offer you the tools to track and analyze the interests of online users. With the trend-spotting tools, you can observe live data of consumers of different products.

Here are some of the tools you can make use of:

  • TrendHunter2: The Trend Hunter prides itself as the no 1 trends, innovation, and trend spotting community in the world. It makes use of data, artificial intelligence, and real humans to identify consumer ‘cravings'. Its market research tool provides trend reports and product innovation ideas that can give you an edge in finding the trendy product to market online.
  • Buzzsumo3: This tool can be used to run content research, influencer searches, and question analyzers. The results will be pulled from popular forums and e-commerce sites. It has a free section where you can conduct search-based research and get referrals to popular and trending topics or products.
  • TrendWatching4: As one of the leading consumer trends companies with presence in more than 180 countries, TrendWatching uses its technology to scan promising trends, insights, and useful opportunities for your online business. The online tool will also help you understand new customers and find the right profitable products to sell.
  • Springwise5: Powered by a network of more than 20,000 trend spotters in about 190 countries, Springwise is a valuable source for business intelligence. Its website curates up-to-date trends and gives you insights on how to identify the most feasible products to sell online.
  • Google Trends6: this is a simple yet awesome tool for exploring trends on what people are actually searching for. You can use Google Trends to research specific products, find out the level of their popularity, and even where they are popular.

    You can even take it further with Google + Trends7 where you'll have access to more market research data.

3. Business and product review sites

Majority of online buyers read product reviews before going ahead to pour their money into it. There's no mincing words about it, business and product reviews play a vital role for consumers. The reviews can steer you towards or away from a product. These reviews may be of two (2) types: general reviews, and niche reviews.

For ecommerce sellers, there are some of these review sites that collate data or reviews from an assortment of global online consumers. Some of these tools include:

  • Think with Google8: This tool from Google gives you updates on research trends and reviews on industry benchmarks and consumer insights. The "Think with Google" is a valuable tool to search for emerging hot products and to determine products that are popular in your niche.
  • Commerce Inspector9: If you're a subscribed online store owner, you can use the Commerce Inspector tool to search the products of more than 300,000 online stores, locate the hot products, and even analyze the product sales of your competitors.
  • ConsumerReports10: This independent testing company gives you unbiased ratings and reviews of more than 9,000 products and services. Its ratings and reviews can be used to gauge public opinion about certain products in your niche.
  • Best Products11: The Best Products team dedicates their time towards researching and conducting proactive tests on products. The site conducts and reviews consumer feedback on products.

    Different product categories such as fashion, beauty, tech, food, cars, gadgets and accessories, and so on, are covered by the web tool. The website particularly has a list of recommendations for each product category.

The tools here are without doubt not exclusive. You can also find some other niche-based product review web tools that are more suitable to your business.

4. Social Media

Social media platforms offer various direct and indirect ways to conduct research and analyze market trends. You can learn a lot by simply searching for a niche or product and reading what users are saying about it.

Some popular social media sites that will assist you in choosing the best product to sell online include:

  • Twitter12: As one of the world's leading social media platforms, Twitter is an ideal medium to measure public opinion about a niche or product. You can make use of the tailor-made trends or "lists" to find the information you need about a top-selling or emerging product.
  • Instagram13: With more than a billion users worldwide, Instagram has evolved from more than just a picture and video sharing tool. Due to its popular usage, it has become a research tool for big and small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) alike. Asides researching the trending topics, you can also make use of Instagram polls to measure public opinion about particular products.
  • Reddit14: Reddit is a network of communities based on the interest of the people. Importantly, it is also one of the popular aggregators of public opinion. As a social platform, it makes use of ‘upvote' and ‘downvote'. You can discern public perception by following the votes of people on various topics or selected products. The trending subreddits15 section can also be very helpful for you.

How to source for your ecommerce products

It's almost set. Now you have found a niche for yourself and jotted down a handful of good products already. But you still have to decide how to source for the goods. The different options at your disposal have different implications on your business. It's hard to say one option is better than the other. It all depends on which is more suitable to you at a period in time.

Depending on your own convenience or the circumstances, you can decide to make use of one or even combine any of these sourcing options: Manufacture your own products, Drop-shipping, or Purchase from manufacturers or wholesalers.

Manufacturing your own products

This is an awesome idea. You'll have full control over your business and be able to explore your own creativity. You will however have to worry about the costs of goods sold (COGS). This includes sourcing for raw materials, investing time and energy in the manufacturing process, and working out other logistics involved.

Purchase from a manufacturer or wholesaler

Rather than making the products yourself, you can also choose to partner with the manufacturers or buy directly from them. If you partner with the manufacturers, you can input your own suggestions and tailor the products to your needs. On the other end, you can just buy already-made products in bulk and sell them on your online platform.

Whichever purchase option you choose to go with, the cost of the product as well as the cost of storing it as inventory have to be considered when setting the price to sell it online.

Drop-shipping

This sourcing method allows you to directly purchase products from a vendor and then list them on ecommerce sites. When you drop-ship, you can sell products online without having to deal with storing inventory. The vendor will charge you for the products, and then ship it on your behalf.

Asides from being a perfect option for online sellers who are just starting up, you can also use this method as an ‘outsource' for your products.

Start selling on Alibaba.com today

All the guides and tricks above all come down to one thing: you need to have a viable place to sell your products online.

How else can you do this than on Alibaba.com – an international platform that offers you access to millions of international buyers? Alibaba.com provides you with the largest b2b platform where you can sell to millions consumers and retailers all over the world.

References:
1. http://www.businessinsider.com/global-ecommerce-2020-report
2. http://www.trendhunter.com
3. http://www.buzzsumo.com
4. http://www.trendwatching.com
5. http://www.springwise.com
6. http://www.google.com/trends/
7. http://www.plus.google.com/explore
8. http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com
9. http://www.commerceinspector.com
10. http://www.consumerreports.org
11. http://www.bestproducts.com
12. http://www.twitter.com
13. http://www.instagram.com
14. http://www.reddit.com
15. http://www.reddit.com/r/trendingreddits/

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