Choosing the best products to sell online is one of the most important steps in building a successful eCommerce business. But with a plethora of options across an endless amount of industries, how do you decide which ones to sell? This guide will discuss why launching an eCommerce business can be a lucrative move, what the best products to sell online are, and how you can gain a competitive edge over other web stores.
Why should you launch an eCommerce business?
The National Retail Federation anticipates retail sales will grow to around four percent in 2017, which is quite an impressive number. More impressive, though, is that they expect online retail to grow up to 12 percent over that same time, with sales rising above $427 billion.
Industry analysts aren’t the only ones who expect eCommerce to grow. Huge brands are moving away from traditional retail and investing heavily in online stores. Newell Brand’s CEO stated on his 2016’s earnings call that their eCommerce business “has grown 30 percent compounded over the last three years,” and that they will be launching an enterprise-wide eCommerce division to focus on online sales.
But industry trends aren’t the only reason to start an eCommerce business. Online stores also offer entrepreneurs a chance to build a brand with relatively low barriers to entry. Unlike a brick-and-mortar store that requires rent, permits and licenses (and can take months to launch), you can begin selling online in less than 30 days from your home office. All you need to do to launch an eCommerce storefront is:
- Choose the product(s) you want to sell.
- Buy a domain and set up hosting for your eCommerce store.
- Create and customize your website.
- Set up payment and fulfillment.
- Add content and market your brand.
Of course, the amount of work needed to launch an eCommerce store will depend on many things, but it is generally much easier to launch an online store than a physical business.
The flexibility of web stores is also enticing to many entrepreneurs. You can reach a much larger audience online than with a brick-and-mortar location. This means you can grow your sales exponentially faster than you could with a physical location. You can also sell products 24/7/365, which is not a viable option offline. This versatility and opportunity make eCommerce a great industry in which to build your business.
How do you decide on the best products to sell online?
Now that you’re on board with building an eCommerce business, the next step is to decide what product(s) you want to offer to your customers. This is one of the most important decisions, so don’t rush through this stage. When deciding on the best products to sell online, here are a few questions to consider.
How will the product be manufactured?
You need to decide how your products will be produced. If you intend to make them yourself, you will need to think about the steps required to acquire raw materials. Maybe you plan to use a manufacturer — if that’s the case, you should look to negotiate production based on scale.
A way to avoid manufacturing altogether is by reselling goods, which requires partnering with other brands and manufacturers. This option makes it easier to get up and running, but does remove your quality control, limits your branding capabilities, and eats into your profit margin.
Who is going to purchase your product?
Before launching an eCommerce business, you should learn as much as you can about your target audience. This is the group of consumers that has the means and desire to purchase your product. Some products target a large audience, but you can segment that audience with specific marketing messages. Other products operate within a niche industry that has a limited customer base.
Successful eCommerce businesses can be found in both large industries and niche ones. The important thing to note is that they have found a way to effectively communicate their value proposition to their targeted consumers.
Also, think about where your customers spend a lot of time online. For example, if you sell an interior design product, you may discover that your target audience hangs out on visual social sites like Pinterest or Instagram. If you want to reach that audience, you should consider promoting and growing a presence on these platforms.
Is the product marketable?
When trying to build a successful eCommerce business, marketing will be a large part of your plan. Marketing is a way to differentiate your brand and can be the driving force behind a customer picking yours over a competitor’s product.
Most eCommerce businesses do not take the time to write unique and compelling product descriptions for their online products. Moreover, they are not promoting their products on social media or building a diversified link portfolio for their pages. However, executing these two steps can drastically improve the organic rankings of product pages for relevant search terms.
What is your shipping plan?
After manufacturing and marketing, the next consideration is shipping. Unless you find an outsource partner to handle your fulfillment, which is certainly acceptable, you’ll need to manage deliveries of your product on your own.
Order fulfillment for an eCommerce store can be a headache. If you’re not prepared for overseas shipping, you should limit your product domestically. Maybe you want to offer free shipping as a purchasing incentive. If so, you should prepare for a cut in your profit margin or you’ll need to adjust pricing to help cover some of the additional expense.
You also need to think about how fast you want to ship your product, which provider you want to use, the size of your product and how you’ll physically pack your shipping boxes.
All of these considerations can impact the consumer experience and the expense that goes into delivering your product.
What is the life of your product?
Another factor that will dictate how you run your eCommerce business is how long the product lasts. Products with short lifespans often drive repeat customers. If you want to sell a product that has a short life, then you will need to develop a customer-retention strategy that keeps customers satisfied and coming back.
If you’d rather focus on new sales instead of repeat customers, consider finding a product with a longer lifespan, like furniture, clothing or technology. Customer service is typically easier to manage with these products, and you are more likely to find higher profit margins.
The questions above are just a few that you should answer before deciding which are the best products to sell online through your eCommerce business. The most important things you should understand are exactly how your product will be created, who is going to purchase it, how you plan to communicate with those customers, how you intend to deliver the product, and when your customers will need to purchase again. With these things in mind, you’ll be able to narrow down your options and figure out which product offerings are the best for you.
There is no definitive list of best products to sell online. As long as you have a stable demand and means to manufacture and distribute, any product can drive success. With that in mind, here are some popular products to sell on the internet (based off data from Google Trends) and why you should consider them for your eCommerce site.
7 of the best products to sell online
1. Video doorbells
The smart home is a popular industry for thriving companies, and one popular online product is the video doorbell. The video doorbell lets consumers answer their door using an app on their smartphone. The installed doorbell has an HD camera that shows consumers who’s ringing — even when they aren’t home.
Tip for selling video doorbells online: If you decide the video doorbell is the best product for you to sell online, you’ll need a strong manufacturing partner. Producing a high-quality product and keeping production costs down will help you succeed.
Fashion is a very common eCommerce market, and one of the fastest-growing segments is men’s clothing. Selling ties online is a great option for entrepreneurs who want to start an online business. Ties are easy to produce and offer large margins to companies that market their brand effectively.
Tip for selling ties online: If ties are your best products to sell online, you should try to corner a niche in the market. Men’s fashion is already targeted, but smart brands will segment further and focus on targeting specific subsets of the men’s fashion market, such as bow ties, humorous, high-fashion, etc.
Beauty is, and has been, a booming eCommerce industry. Highlighters, for example, are makeup products that can be applied to contour faces and modify the tone and appearance of skin. With social media sites like SnapChat, YouTube, Pinterest and Instagram so heavily focused on imagery, highlighters are finding plenty of customers across the web.
Tips for selling highlighters online: If highlighters seem like a good fit for you, find influencers to market your product. Beauty brands live or die by the hand of social influencers, so if you want to increase your highlighter sales, find well-known personalities to have try and recommend your product.
4. Avocado oil
The health industry is a treasure trove for potential eCommerce success. Avocado oil is a great product to consider selling because it’s relatively easy to produce and can deliver repeat customers.
Tip for selling avocado oil online: When choosing to sell avocado oil, create a customer-retention strategy. Avocado oil has a finite shelf life, which means you can resell to customers over and over. Make sure to keep buyers happy and consider offering promotions for repeat business.
5. Wood-framed sunglasses
Similar to ties, sunglasses are a fashion product that is good to sell online. Rather than compete with the sunglass powerhouses like Oakley or Ray Bans, create a brand that operates within a small, but trendy subset — wood-framed sunglasses.
Tip for selling wood sunglasses online: Be aware of seasonality if offering sunglasses. Sales for sunglasses are somewhat seasonal, usually coinciding with the warmer months of the year. Make sure to adjust marketing and production to match the need for each season.
6. Paleo bars
Paleo bars are products in the health and nutrition industry, which is one of the most successful eCommerce verticals. Health bars target the fast and active market. While food laws and regulations can make producing Paleo bars difficult, there is plenty of demand for these online.
Tip for selling Paleo bars online: Before deciding on Paleo bars, look into finding a wholesale partner. Going the wholesale or private label route will remove the legal and regulatory issues from the equation and allow you to focus on sales and marketing.
7. Subscription boxes
Starting a subscription box company is slightly different than just selling a product online, but it’s still a great way to enter the eCommerce world. Subscription boxes offer consumers a collection of similar products within one delivery package. The benefit to starting a subscription box company is the recurring revenue, as most subscription box companies require consumers to sign up for multiple months. This continuous income adds financial stability to your online business.
Tip for starting a subscription box service: Continue to surprise your customers. Most subscription box companies deliver new products with every box. To keep your customers from leaving, you need to continue to provide them with great samples that they couldn’t find on their own.
Creating a successful eCommerce store is largely connected to what you choose to offer. Use this information as a starting guide for determining the best products to sell online, but ultimately you should pick something you believe in and are passionate about.