Starting an online store? You’re awesome! But you need a niche, and that’s where many people get stuck. Quite often starting e-commerce entrepreneurs don’t know which products they should sell, after all, how do you determine if people would buy it from you?
In this guide, we’ll go over the basic principles of finding products to sell and choosing a niche that will have great potential to generate lots of sales.
So we’re looking for a profitable niche. That means we’re looking for products that are already selling well online. Many newcomers think competition is a bad thing; why would you get into a space that’s already crowded with existing (bigger) sellers?
The real answer is the exact opposite: you DON’T want to sell something nobody else is selling, especially if you’re new to e-commerce. What you want is a product that’s already doing well. Because the internet is much broader than you can imagine, there’s always room to surf on these waves of popularity.
So how do you find something that works? The cool thing about starting your own online business is that you decide everything. The choices are endless, so you might as well sell something cool.
Step 1: Make a list
It all starts with the basics. Make a list of at least 20 (or 200 if you like) niche ideas that you think are cool and could work. Later you’ll dive a little deeper to test if these niches are worth getting into or not.
If you’re not feeling inspired enough to make a list of at least 20 niche ideas, you can use the internet for inspiration:
Pinterest: A popular social curation site. Type in a search phrase, e.g. “Wooden Sunglasses” at the top bar. Not only can you look for trends by browsing the accounts who posted the pics, you can also see if a product is popular or not. What’s more, you can see your competitors who are selling these products and further investigate what works for them. Awesome.
Facebook: if you’re active on Facebook already, keep an eye on your timeline. Look out for products that went viral or general trends that have a product associated with them. Facebook also serves product ads, keep an eye out for those as well.
SSense.com: Fashion inspiration
ProductHunt: Browse through trending products
Google Trends Top Charts: Here you can find trending search terms. So for example, if Lebron James is a trending athlete in 2018, maybe selling Lebron apparel is a niche worth investigating.
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. Look for products with a lot of saves under “trending”
AliExpress Collections: Niche collections for inspiration. You can even copy an entire “collection” and build a store around that. Take a look around and you’ll find plenty of niches on a platter.
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 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.
Etsy Trending Items: Check out the current trending items and listings on Etsy.
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.
Step 2: Choose a Passionate Niche
By now, you should have plenty of ideas running around in your head. Write down any product or niche you think could work, no matter how basic or silly they might seem.
One of the best ways to get started is to look for a niche that has a passionate following online. Selling a product nobody cares about is going to be much harder than selling something people love. This will help you tremendously with advertisements and influencer marketing later on.
Here’s a few examples of products people are not passionate about and you shouldn’t start your first store with:
- MP3 players
- Extention cords
Here’s examples of niches people ARE passionate about:
- Star Wars
So you can sell dog-themed watches, sunglasses and t-shirts. But selling those items plain is not a great idea. Why? People aren’t passionate about them. They’ll go to WalMart or Gap to buy a plain white t-shirt, not buy one through a Facebook ad. But a dog-themed store with cool doggy items can work great with Facebook ads and get you lots of engagement on your ads.
Another thing to look out for is seasonality and fads. Seasonality simply means a product that is bound to a certain period of time, like Christmas decoration or Halloween costumes, but there’s also less obvious ones that perform poorly certain times of the year. You can check Google Trends to see if a niche is bound to seasons.
As for fads, you don’t want to dive into a niche that’s only going to be popular for another month and a half, only to have to start over again with a different niche. Although fads are great for experienced e-commerce entrepreneurs looking to bank off a short trend, it’s a bad idea if you’re just starting out. You’d hate ending up finally making sales right when a fad is over.
To check if a niche is a fad, go to Google Trends. Make sure your prospect niche has been around for at least a couple of years. If it’s the latest children’s toy that popped into existence 2 months ago, it’s probably a fad that’ll be over soon.
Step 3: Proving the Concept
Now that you understand the basics, let’s go and see if people are actually active and passionate about these niches.
Head on over to Facebook’s Audience Insights and search for your keyword under interests.
Go to “page likes”
Facebook shows you all the top pages related to the topic of dogs.
Note: you want your audience to be at least 500K to 1M strong. This is the absolute minimum number of people interested in a topic. If your niche doesn’t have this following, you won’t make enough sales to run a decent online store. Ideally, your audience is at least a few million strong
Next, go and look at each of these pages and see if they have an active following. If they don’t have an active following, it’s pretty useless to target these audiences. Active means active engagement on the page, so frequent posts (more than 4 per week) and lots of genuine comments and likes.
If you’re looking at a niche that has 1) over 1M people interested and 2) active and passionate people on related pages, you’ve found a winner and it’s worth serving ads to this group.
Step 4: Find Products
Now that you’ve found a niche that has a passionate following on Facebook, you know you can start serving ads to these folks. Facebook allows you to target certain interest groups and everyone who follows these groups / topics, it’s so easy.
Now let’s look at products to sell. It’s super important that you find products that are ALREADY SELLING WELL.
Go look at trending items within the niche you chose on AliExpress. If you find items with lots of sales and good reviews, go to Ebay and Amazon. If that item or very similar items are selling well there, you got yourself a winner.
There’s more tools you can use to find top-selling products:
Shopify Stores: Why not check out other Shopify stores for inspiration? Use this handy link to see all Shopify websites on the web. Another trick is to go to Google and type in: “inurl:.myshopify.com [your keyword]”. So for example “inurl:.myshopify.com Fashion” will return some Shopify stores with the keyword fashion associated to them.
To find any Shopify store’s best selling products, paste this after the main URL: “/collections/all?sort_by=best-selling”
AliExpress Collections: Mentioned earlier. You can copy an entire “collection” and build a store around that. Take a look around and you’ll find plenty of niches on a platter.
AliExpress Best Sellers: browse through best sellers on AliExpress. You can also do a regular search for your niche and sort results by most sold.
Need even more inspiration? Download our list of 100+ niche ideas for free!
The biggest takeaway here is to find a niche people are passionate about and then find products that are already selling well online. Once you have these 2 factors in place, you’re ready to build your store.
After you’ve found a niche and products to sell, you can start to find a supplier. Working with AliExpress is by far the easiest way to go since apps like Oberlo (Shopify) and WooZone (WordPress) let you import Ali products easily.
21Brands.com is a platform that helps starting entrepreneurs launch and grow their own e-commerce business. We provide tons of free information, but also offer 1-on-1 coaching so you get the personal support and guidance you need. Questions? Leave a comment below. Make sure to follow us on Twitter @brands_21
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