It’s good to start up an online store with an original idea or with something that you are interested in. Most people get ideas from other online stores, Amazon, Ebay, blogs and youtube videos.
Getting ideas from existing online stores is not a bad idea, but getting ideas from blogs or youtube videos may not work because most people talking on ‘what to sell’ topic do not reveal the best selling products because they do not want to make new competitors. Yes, most of the online videos and books don’t actually share what they are selling if it is highly profitable.
In this article, I am going to elaborate the topic using my own experience. My niche is electronics kits, that people use to learn electronics. To be more precise, I am an Engineer, so, I design my own kits, so there is no way you can start selling what I am selling, my kits are my original products. My customers are university and college students and hobbyists.
If you have an idea about what you are going to sell, you should start your research on the following topics:
- Which store is your role model ? Where do you want to reach ? If you are starting up with a limited budget, your role model or goal should be a slightly bigger company that yours. If you copy a big company, you will end of wasting your time because big companies have big budget, big team and the website that you see is actually a compilation of years of hard work.
The problem in following a giant company at the beginning phase of your business is that you try to put features or focus on various things that big companies are using and those features may not be useful for you. If you follow a small company, you can reach there with your available resources.
- Who are are your potential customers : Do you have individual customers or you can get big companies which would order in bulk quantity ? In my case, students and hobbyists are the main customers. I can expect orders from electronics companies as well as schools and universities. If you get bulk orders, you will make more profit and you will to your FULL TIME business goal more quickly.
- Which companies or online stores are the main player in that niche, both locally and globally ? In my case, companies like www.sparkfun.com and www.adafruit.com are the main players. There are also several big companies which have a big market share. You should make a list of these companies. That will help you understand the competition as well as understand the size of the market.
- List out things that can attract customers to your store ? Can you make something original ? In my case, I have a blog www.buildcircuit.com and I already have thousands of visitors reading my articles. So, I can redirect them to my store and sell my products. Besides, before setting up the store, I had designed some products that were original and several customers were interested in that product.
- How well do you know the niche and industry ? If you have worked in that niche as an employee in a company, that will be highly beneficial and if you have been following the trends of that industry, then, you will be clear about what to sell.
- Understand the purchase funnel or how and why customers come to the store ? Customers visit the online store via different paths. In my case, customers would first go to google, try to find a solution or get help for their electronic projects and google shows links to articles and tutorials and through those tutorials customers come to my online store. Find out if you can get customers from Google Advertisement or Facebook advertisement, blog posts and random posts on social media. You have to see and mark what big companies are doing. It’s a part of your business experiment.
- Do most of your customers go directly to Amazon or Ebay ? If yes, then, you should open a store on Ebay and Amazon also. These days, big companies despite having independent stores are opening stores on Ebay and Amazon.
- What big companies are selling ? Or what other businesses close to your size are selling ? You should check what other big companies in that niche are selling and also check what a small company close to your size are selling. If you could list out the same products in your store, you can easily reach to the same level as the small store. Remember, that small company can also be in another country. For example, I follow a UK based company, www.hobbycomponents.com.
This company is not as big as other giant companies like www.sparkfun.com and adafruit.com. So, I can afford to invest on the same items listed by hobbycomponents and I am confident that the products I am selling will be sold easily. I can see myself reaching to the level of hobbycomponents.com, if I list out all the items they are selling. Can you get items in wholesale from big companies ? Check the stores of big companies and read their wholesale/distributor/reseller policy. Check what is the minimum order quantity or minimum order amount. Check out this example from adafruit.com. Check one more example from seeedstudio.com.
- Where can you manufacture your products ? If you are willing to sell original products, you have to find companies which can manufacture your products. Also check what is the minimum order quantity.
- Does your products or business need insurance ? If you are selling high cost items, you will need insurance. Talk with insurance agents for suitable insurance policy for your business.
Useful tools for product research:
Whether you start business out of your passion or just for fun, the ultimate goal of any business is to make money. If you are passionate about something, but there is no market for it, don’t invest your money in it. Use the following tools to see if there are customers for your niche.
- Trending on Ebay– This page will tell you what’s trending on Ebay.
- Watch Count: Watch count shows you what’s popular on Ebay. Using watchcount, you can see if a product or a product category is popular on Ebay.
- Google trends: Google trends also helps you understand the top search queries made on Google to search a particular product or category.
Also use Google keyword planner tool