What should you sell?

How to Come Up with Profitable Online Business Ideas

Interested in starting an online business? In this guide you will find everything there is to know about coming up with good business ideas. We've even provided 20 product idea analysis so you can get started today!

 

Introduction

By now, you’ve made it through our Getting Started Guide and you’re starting to feel more confident in selling items online.

A good dropship product doesn’t need to be perfect. In fact, there are no perfect products (as you may soon realize)!

In this post, we’ll cover:

  • The best places to find product ideas
  • What to look for in product ideas
  • How to choose a good product to sell
  • Product ideas we’ve analyzed that you can use

What are we waiting for? Let’s dive in!



Brainstorming Ideas of What to Sell

Finding a good product to sell online can be a royal pain. Here’s how to make it easier:

Check Existing Successful eCommerce Stores for Inspiration

Not sure where to look? We’ve got your back!

The following 10 eCommerce stores have been wildly successful lately thanks to the products they sell (as well as their kick-ass product descriptions).

Helpful hint: You can find suppliers for all the products we mention below in the SaleHoo directory.

1. Zero Gravity

Zero Gravity is a popular site that sells both iPhone cases as well as accessories.

Pro tip: Instead of limiting yourself to just iPhone cases you could include Android phones, too!

2. Trunkster

Trunkster is a company that sells high-quality luggage (that they’re always selling out of!).

That tells us that luggage is a highly popular item you could dropship for next to nothing! Both kids and adults use luggage for vacations and family road trips, which means you could be selling material all year long.

3. 6PM

6PM is an awesome eCommerce store selling designer items for children, men, and women at a discounted price.

Clothes, accessories, and shoes can be a goldmine for new eCommerce store owners because they’re constantly in demand!

4. Hello! Lucky

Hello! Lucky is a company that supplies a wide range of letterpress cards and stationary.

Cards will never go out of style - from birthday cards, anniversary cards, baby-to-be cards… they’ll always be in demand!

Tip: You can get custom made cards or, if you’re feeling crafty, make and design your own cards to sell!

5. Greetabl

Greetabl is a company that allows you to send personalized gifts to friends, family, and loved ones for less than $50.

This idea would be awesome for you to replicate, but you’d have to be on top of it at all times. You’d be filling the personalized boxes with what customers ordered. If you’re up for it, you could make a killing!

6. Tattly

Have you ever wanted to test out a tattoo before getting one for good? With Tattly, you can!  

You’re able to choose fake tattoos drawn by real artists to see if they’re, well… right for you!

This could be a goldmine for you as an up-and-coming eCommerce store owner. You’re able to go wild with the tattoos you choose, too!

7. Newegg

Ah, Newegg! The place where you can buy computer systems, electronics, tools and more.

There are so many dropshippers that sell electronics (and accessories) for next to nothing. If you’re tech-savvy, why not give this a go?

8. Toy Shades

Sunglasses are one of the most popular accessories (next to watches, of course).

ToyShades sells high-quality sunglasses for both men and women, but that doesn’t mean you can’t try your hand at selling them! There are so many designs to choose from - there’s no doubt in our mind you won’t be able to create a profitable eCommerce store selling sunglasses!

9.  Bremont

Like we said, watches are a popular accessory that both men and women enjoy.

Bremont is an awesome store you can snag some inspiration from. Both their pictures and products will inspire you to create an eCommerce store focused around watches!

10. Belford Slims

Electronic cigarettes are a pretty popular alternative to regular cigarettes (they’re said to be better for you - but proceed with caution, smoking is still dangerous!).

Bedford Slims sells eCigs and sells them well. They’re definitely a company you can take inspiration from for your own eCig eCommerce store!

There are more ways to find inspiration, though! Such as...

Follow Social Shopping Sites

There are some sites you can go to that will flat out tell you what’s selling well. This can be a good thing…

… but also a tricky thing. You don’t want to sell the same exact product everyone else is selling afterall.

We’ll talk more about that later, though. For now, here are three websites that will give you the top selling products to-date.

Wanelo

Wanelo shows you the top stores on their website, followed by what each store is selling. From clothes to jewelry, or accessories to makeup, you’ll be able to gain inspiration within minutes.

Fancy

Fancy is similar to Wanelo in the sense that they both share top-selling products. The difference, however, is they segment it (allowing you to choose on the niche you’re interested in).

In the picture above, you see “Stylish Tech Accessories”. It’s safe to say you can find headphones, chargers, power bricks, and more by clicking on it.

Not to mention, they have columns on the side allowing you to choose exactly what you’re looking for!

Etsy

Who doesn’t love Etsy? It’s one of the most popular eCommerce stores where most people shop for gifts to give to loved ones.

If you type in “Trending” (like we did in the image above), you’ll get tons of products that are currently the top-selling items being sold.

From t-shirts to candles and more, you’ll be able to pull inspiration for your own eCommerce business.

Choose from Niches that Have Been Doing Well

You’ve heard the saying “If something’s not broken, don’t fix it”, right?

I’d like to think the same goes with popular niche products! If there are popular items selling… why not dip your fingers into the honey pot? Why stray away from the success?

These next five niche examples are always in demand and could become a booming business!

1. Sport Accessories

Sports are something played almost universally across the world. From school teams to casual players and private tournaments, there is a huge market for sports accessories!

Plus, you can even sell sports-related accessories rather that just sports equipment. Think hats, shirts, mugs, wall decor - the list is endless!

Here are a few sports suppliers on SaleHoo to get you started:

2. Kitchen Supplies

People who love to cook also love gadgets that make cooking (or cleaning up) easier and more fun! And since the number of people who cook - almost one person in every household, if not more - is so high, kitchen supplies are always in demand.

Here are a few kitchen suppliers on SaleHoo to get you started:

3. Pet Supplies

There are a lot of pet owners in the world. And most pet lovers treat their pets like a newborn baby - they spend a ton of money on them and spoil them!

Here are a few pet suppliers on SaleHoo to get you started:

4. Parenthood Supplies

We just talked about how people treat pets like babies and spoil them. Well, they also treat babies like babies. Go figure!

Here are a few baby suppliers on SaleHoo to get you started:

5. Outdoor Accessories

Last but not least, outdoor accessories (like sports accessories) are popular and in high demand. Plus, there are tons of niches to choose from, like hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, and more!

Here are a few outdoor suppliers on SaleHoo to get you started:

Product review sites:

One of the best ways to figure out what sells is by hearing it from the mouth of consumers!

By going on product review sites, you’ll find a range of products that customers have purchased in the past, as well as what they think about them.

This will give you the upperhand from the get-go, too. The next five websites will give you the insight you need to figure out what products you could sell.

1. Uncrate

Uncrate talks about nearly everything. Just look at the image above - they talked about beer!

When scrolling down the homepage, you see cutlery, hammers, books, etc. There’s a never ending slew of articles and products you can look through to find inspiration!

2. Bless This Stuff

Bless this Stuff talks about the “stuff they drool about” (and, from the image above alone, we’re drooling too).

This particular website is known as a “Web magazine for guys”. So, if you’re a male looking for things to add into your store, this might be the best place to look!

3. Cool Material

Cool Material talks about movies, food and drink, bathroom materials, and more.

It’s an awesome place to find what you’re looking for (even if you’re not sure what your’e looking for just yet).

4. Gear Moose

Gear Moose is a unique website that doesn’t just talk about one product…

… they write up listicles about the top 50 (give or take) products surrounding that niche!

If you’d rather read articles designated for one particular product, they also write solo blog posts.

5. Werd

Werd is a great place to find miscellaneous objects to sell that you wouldn’t otherwise think of selling!

Clearly, though, there’s a demand for these products (as there are people raving about them). You can start a highly profitable business selling products that aren’t quite well-known yet (but will be soon).

eBay & Amazon best sellers list

If all else fails, you could go straight to the top eCommerce marketplaces out there: Amazon and eBay.

Both websites have a “Top Products” page that you’re able to access at any time.

To check out eBay’s Top Product page, click here.

To check out Amazon’s Top Products page, click here.

SaleHoo Market Research Lab

SaleHoo removes the guesswork from choosing a hot product with its market research tool, SaleHoo Labs. This gives sellers the power to research the sell rate, average price and competition for thousands of products across 27 categories.

It also pulls a lot of this data from Amazon, eBay, and AliExpress’s best seller lists so you don’t have to manually dig through each one!

Here’s a breakdown of what you get:

  • Sell-through rate: The sell rate is based on the number of successful listings compared with the number of total listings for a given product on eBay in the last month.
  • Average price: This is the average price that the product sold for on eBay during the previous month.
  • Competition: Competition is based on an analysis of the total number of sellers and listings for any given product. When you’re starting out it’s best to avoid highly competitive markets.

SaleHoo Labs uses data from eBay to determine the viability and profitability of products.

You can select a product type and browse through the options, altering the sell-through rate, average price and competition to find the perfect product.

Product Selection Criteria

A good product to sell online comes in all kinds of shapes, sizes, colors, and niches. However, here are a few things most good products generally have in common:

Size/Weight

The smaller and more lightweight your product, the easier time you will have shipping it when you make a sale. Good luck selling something like washing machines. Washing machine replacement parts on the other hand… That said, there can be good money in selling large, awkward, “pain in the rump” items that no other seller wants to bother with, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that when you’re just starting out.

Price

You’re going to have more costs than just the purchase price of your products. You’re also going to have shipping costs, marketing costs, eBay or Amazon’s cut of your sale, and other costs you didn’t even realize you had. Make sure you’re getting a healthy profit margin (that's what's left over when you subtract all your expenses from the final selling price) of at least 50-100%, if not higher. (Unless you’re dropshipping, in which case a 50% profit margin is pretty good.) For example, if you have an item that you can buy for $5, you’ll want to be able to sell it for $7.50-$10. Even that doesn’t leave you with a lot of wiggle room - I’d rather be able to sell that same $5 item for $15-$20. That’s why you should look for items with a high perceived value (like jewelry) as you’re able to charge more.

Competition

Obviously if there are a lot of people selling the same product as you, it’s going to be harder to make sales. Lots of competitors will mean a price war where everyone tries to have the lowest price — a “race to the bottom” which will kill your profits. Try to find product niches with less than 5-10 competitors (the fewer the better) — just be sure those competitors aren’t large brand name competitors. (This is because large companies will have massive buying power and will be able to get items at a much cheaper rate. They will pretty much always be able to undercut you on price, so it’ll be a lot harder for you to compete.)

Keyword Trends and Seasonality

Trending products are obviously better to sell than non-trending products.

Luckily, you can check the trends of your product using Google Trends. Simply search for your product or niche on Google Trends and see if it’s trending upward or downward.

Demand (Continuous or One Time Buy)

Certain products only need to be bought once (unless they break). Keep this in mind when choosing a product you’d like to start selling for your eCommerce store.

For example, a cast iron skillet is known to last ages. Unless you plan on selling a wide range of skillets (or you heavily broadcast items to new people daily), this may not be a good niche for you. Anything rechargeable may not be a profitable business after a while, too.

How to Shortlist a Product to Sell

Here’s a six-step checklist to see if a product is a good idea to sell:

  1. Check Google trends
  2. Check competition
  3. Check marketing channels (look on Google, Facebook, YouTube, etc. to see the ads running)
  4. Check average wholesale price from Made In China
  5. Check potential profit (wholesale price - retail price - built-in costs like marketing)

To show how this is done, I’ll run through an example: Wooden Watches.

First, we’ll check it on Google Trends.

As you can see, they have been slowly increasing in popularity over the last 5 years. However, it also seems they’ve very seasonal (likely Christmas gifts) as there are spikes in November.

Additionally, they’re at their lowest popularity in 3 years right now. This is a red flag, but doesn’t discount the idea entirely.

Next, let’s check the competition. If we Google “wooden watches”, we see over 3 million results. Also, the first 4 results are ads, and there are more ads in the sidebar.

You may also have noticed the search volume, cost per click (CPC), and competition score under the search box. I find this using a free browser extension called Keywords Everywhere. The competition score is on a scale of 0-1 (like 0.1, 0.4, etc.) with 1 being the most difficult.

So this is strike two against watches.

You can also check the competition on eBay and Amazon to see how many sellers there are.

That’s strike 3 for wooden watches. But for the sake of completing the exercise, let’s go through the other three steps.

Next up, marketing channels.

We’ve already seen the ads on Google and Amazon. But what about Facebook?

Facebook won’t reveal the exact number of pages. But if we scroll through, we see pages and pages of FB pages dedicated to wooden watches.

Besides that, we can also check out AdEspresso’s ad examples tool.

While they won’t give you a lot of example, check out the engagement on these ads. Over 3,000 likes, hundreds of comments and hundreds of shares. On an ad! That’s hard to compete with.

Let’s check the wholesale price on Made in China.

Looks like it varies a bit, but around $10-$12 a piece on average. Let’s call it $11.

If we compare this to the retail pricing on Amazon of around $20-$25, there’s roughly $10 to be made on every purchase. That’s less than a 100% markup, which isn’t great.

Now you have to factor in the costs of shipping, storing, marketing, website hosting, etc. There isn’t much room for error.

Note: I look to shoot for at least a 100% markup on products, preferably 150-200% (unless I’m dropshipping). That leaves plenty of room for marketing and other business expenses.

And that’s all there is to it! You now know whether a product is worth pursuing or not.

Alternatively, just use SaleHoo’s Market Research lab to calculate all of these for you at a glance!

Products/Niches to Avoid for Beginners

We’ve talked about products you should go for…

… but, there are a few products and niches you should avoid at all costs. Such as:

Oversaturated Niches

The reason is pretty obvious. If you see multiple people selling the same product, they’ll quickly become your competition. That competition is likely going to push you out really quickly. If you do jump in and start selling a competitive product, what you’ll probably find is that, the fierce competition will drive the price so low that only those with a large amount of capital (business speak for money) are going to be able to stay in the game, because:

  • They can afford to buy large quantities of stock at once which gets them cheaper prices
  • They can afford to make a tiny profit margin
  • They can sell at a loss to use the product as a “loss leader” in order to attract longer-term customers

Instead I recommend you do a little research and find yourself a niche product where the competition is less fierce.

Liquidated Goods

First up, a clarification: Selling liquidated goods can be great. What's less great is trying to build a business around selling them.

Liquidation sales are pretty random, and it's difficult to know what exactly you're going to get.

You shouldn’t expect that if you find a great product at a liquidation sale, you’ll always be able to find a regular supplier for that product, at the same price.

And you shouldn't expect that you'll always be able to find great deals at liquidation sales. Basically, it's too hard to be consistent. And consistency is key in business — particularly if you're trying to earn repeat customers.

Also, if the stuff was in a liquidation sale, it might be there for a reason. Maybe no one wants it. That’s a risk you take when buying it.

Knock-off Products

Bad idea. Selling fake brand-name goods is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Selling copyright-infringing goods is forbidden on eBay and other platforms, and you run the risk of having your account suspended (at the very least). Not to mention what might happen at the border if you're trying to import fake goods — You could lose your entire shipment. Ouch! There are plenty of suppliers out there who sell “designer goods” at dirt cheap prices, so always remember — if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. If you’re unsure, you can contact the manufacturer of the product and ask if the supplier you’re talking to is legitimate. The manufacturer should be able to tell you. If it’s not legit, don’t risk it. Trust me, it’s not worth it.

 

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