Oh hello eCommerce entrepreneur, we’re so happy to see you here! It means you’ve taken a step towards the life-altering decision to start an online business.
Maybe you’ve already had a few ideas and are wondering if they’re any good, or maybe you’re starting on a completely blank canvas and just want to know what will sell.
There are literally millions of products out there, so where do you start?
It’s no surprise if you’re feeling overwhelmed. There are so many articles and blog posts out there, but most of them are empty of any real, actionable advice. 🤯
But hey, you can take a breath. At SaleHoo we have more than 15 years’ worth of eCommerce experience under our belt and are perfectly positioned to help you find your way. We’re here to show you the steps to find your winning products.
First, let’s take a look at some of the most common mistakes to avoid.
Why Products Flop: Top Mistakes to Avoid
There should be a market for just about any product, right?
You’d think so, but some products are more profitable than others. You want to be keeping an eye on emerging trends and consumer behavior, but you also need to consider what will work for your business model.
Frankly, some items are more suited to online stores than others.
Unlike brick and mortar stores, you’re shipping orders to customers, so anything that is very fragile is just a recipe for disaster – and complaints!
Similarly, stay away from items that are too big or heavy, as these will rack up higher shipping costs that will either eat into your margins or annoy customers.
You also want to avoid consumer electronics as they often involve greater compliance and legal issues – very time-consuming to wrap your head around! And if you’re planning on doing business around the globe, doing so for lots of countries is a guaranteed headache. No thanks!
Finally, consider whether a product lends itself to being bought online. For example, shoes want to be tried before you buy, so they’re not a great choice for a new online store.
Product type issues aside, what do we need to know about the market?
Have you ever noticed a new product crop up, and a few weeks later it’s absolutely everywhere?
Two words: fidget spinners. They were HUGE. But too many people tried to jump on the bandwagon late and are now sitting on their product.
This is a good example of an oversaturated market combined with a product fad. It’s not necessarily a bad idea to capitalize on a fad, but you do need to spot that trend just before it really takes off.
Even with non-fad products, there may be lots of competitors fighting for their share of the market. While some competition is a good sign for having found a sought-after product, too much of a good thing is to be avoided.
More on how to find that sweet spot between supply and demand later on.
Next, let’s take a look at the opposite problem: a product without an audience. When you’re selling something for which there’s only a tiny audience, it’s going to be hard to get your store off the ground.
Seems obvious right? But it’s not so simple.
It’s so tempting to see a promising gap in the market where you can’t find any other sellers offering a product. But you need to be sure there’s actually a demand there, because all too often the reason for a market gap is a lack of audience to begin with.
The way to avoid this problem is being diligent in your market research.
And if your research is sound but your shop’s still not making a profit? Most likely there’s something wrong with your pricing.
When you’ve picked a product that’s selling well but the business isn’t growing, it’s a reliable sign that your price point is off. Either because you haven’t added enough margin, or because your product is too low value.
The lower the value of your product, the smaller your total margin. Yes, you’ll still be tacking on your usual 30% or so profit margin, but if your product is selling at $2, that’s only $0.50 (or less, depending on additional costs).
Considering you still have to invest ad spend, you’d need to process a huge number of orders to make it work.
Alternatively, you may not calculated all those extra costs for your business (e.g. store maintenance, hosting, tax, shipping costs etc.) and these are now coming out of what’s meant to be your profit margin.
For beginners, we recommend focusing on low to medium-ticket items, but staying away from the very low-cost ones. And make sure you do that math!
As you can see, there are a few pitfalls to avoid when looking at product choice, so keep those in mind when getting stuck into your search.
Luckily we also have a few tricks up our sleeve to help you out.
4 Steps to Finding Winning Products
The prospect of having to find a winning product can be daunting, but we’re here to tell you that it doesn’t need to be complicated. With a trusted advisor at your side (oh hi!), you’ll hit the jackpot in no time.
1. Find inspiration
Product inspiration can come in many shapes and forms. As the avid consumers we all are, we’re exposed to market data and trends all the time – we just need to do so more consciously.
Real life is a great source of inspiration, so keep your eyes and ears open for any problems popping up for friends and family, or hot topics everyone seems to be talking about.
And if you have a particular hobby, see what your peers here are saying about things they need and want. You may identify a gap that nobody else is as well-positioned to spot before it becomes a trend!
But your personal circle will only get so far. A bit of expert intel will give you that additional edge over your competition. SaleHoo Product Trends are updated weekly using live data from eBay and Amazon, so it’s great place to build on your personal research.
To keep all your ideas in one place, you can easily save potential winners to a short-list of favorites, plus add tags and notes to organize your thoughts.
2. Narrow things down
Once you’ve collected a few ideas, check them against some actual market data that will tell you more about sell rates, pricing and competition.
SaleHoo Labs is a top-of-the-line market research tool that lets you do just that.
You’re able to search products by product type, and filter results by sell rate, average price, and level of competition. For beginners, we recommend focusing on products with a high sell rate (75-100%), medium price bracket ($10-$100) and low to medium competition.
Narrow down your search to a handful of products that suit your requirements and then compare them to make a final choice. The Labs Compare tool lets you select up to four products straight from the results page and assess them side by side. It’ll give you the clarity you need to know which product will be the best fit.
3. Find your ideal supplier
Now all that’s left to do is find a supplier, and that sweet moment of going live with your store is within reach.
SaleHoo Directory is a huge database of more than 8000 dropship and wholesale suppliers that is constantly being updated and added to. You can click through to relevant suppliers from Labs, or directly access the Directory and start your supplier search from there.
Fine-tune your supplier search using the search bar, or via a whole host of product categories. Filter results based on supplier location, supplier type, and shipping location to find exactly the right fit for your business.
Say you’ve decided on selling a grill tool set based on your research using Labs. From there, you can easily pin down suppliers who are ‘dropshippers’ in the ‘United States’ that ‘ship worldwide’.
And voila! Here you have a range of supplier options that will reduce shipping times for local customers but keep your audience global.
4. Make that connection
When it comes to contacting suppliers, the more the merrier. This is to say, don’t set your heart on a single supplier and hope that this will be enough.
Suppliers are often extremely busy and get hundreds, if not thousands, of emails each week. So it’s best to contact multiple suppliers (and follow up!) to maximize your chances of getting a successful response to your enquiry.
And if you’re worried about sounding unprofessional or not finding the right words, we’ve got you! We provide a range of different email templates tailored to your needs, such as General inquiry, Best selling products or Shipping costs and times. Easy peasy!
Once you’ve made contact with a few suppliers, be sure to check prices and work out future profits for your business.
Larger order quantities will lead to smaller cost per item, but they also mean a bigger upfront investment. So if you’re on a budget, Dropshipping will be the way for you.
Let’s Do This!
So what are you waiting for? Put your thinking cap on and get stuck into some product research! 🤓 The easiest way to not sell anything is to never pick a product to begin with.
Trust us when we say we’ve all been in your shoes. Getting started on your very first store can feel daunting, but we’ll be here to support you every step of the way. 👊
With thousands of products and suppliers at your fingertips, SaleHoo can give you just the boost you need to make your dreams a reality. 🌟
And if you need any one-on-one advice, our team of experts is here for you 24/7.