The perfect product to sell online is one that is trending up, in high demand, and highly profitable. Depending on your market, such a product may not exist. If that product existed, the market would probably be one seller away from saturation.
So you are not alone if every product you think could be a winner is already being sold. But don’t let this kill your e-commerce dream. There are still plenty of product ideas that aren't perfect but will do great and have not been fully explored.
In this article, you will learn how to choose products to sell online in Kenya. We will explore several qualifiers and ways to find the perfect product to sell online.
Let’s get started.
There is no perfect product to sell online. If you analyse every product idea enough, you will find something that makes a product less profitable or less suited to your target market. In the end, you will get stuck in analysis mode.
The first question you need to answer is whether you will follow a drop shipping model or carry stock. When you dropship, the supplier handles order fulfilment and shipping. You don't have to acquire stock and can concentrate on customer acquisition, which greatly lowers your capital requirements.
While drop shipping has many attractions, especially for beginner e-commerce entrepreneurs with limited capital, it puts critical parts of the customer experience outside your control, making it difficult to build a brand.
This article is written from the perspective of an entrepreneur who wants to carry inventory and manage the entire customer journey. Here are other questions you can use to qualify a product idea:
The most common advice for anyone researching ways to make money online is to solve a problem. Expressed in another way, this means identifying an unmet need in the market and then devising a service or product that meets it profitably.
You may not need to create a new product to solve a common customer pain point. Many problems are commonly felt, but solutions are available and overlooked.
Some of these solutions are products that have proven successful in other markets but have not been introduced to the local market. An example would be a chemical-free mosquito killer.
A cheaper electric mosquito killer will be a more cost-effective and sustainable solution than traditional chemical-based mosquito repellants that hardly work and cause rashes, allergies, and other health and safety risks. You can make the electric mosquito killers yourself or source them from China, where they are cheaper.
So how do you find problems that people need solutions for?
Most people turn to Google when looking for solutions to pressing problems. That’s where you should take your research. Specifically, you conduct keyword research.
If you are not in web publishing, keyword research might sound complicated, but it isn’t. You are simply researching queries that people looking for solutions to specific problems search in Google. These are your ‘how to’ and other question queries.
The search queries with the highest search volume suggest there will be enough demand for a product that solves the problem searchers are looking to solve. You can use tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, and Keywords Everywhere that give you search volume data and automate the process of keyword research.
Not every unmet need qualifies for a product idea you can build a business around. A good problem to create a solution for is one that a sizable number of people are looking to solve. Those are the products to sell.
How do you find out which products are in demand?
To some extent, the keyword research you conducted above qualifies as demand analysis, but it’s important to go a step further and define the market itself.
You should define what category the product you should sell to solve your chosen problem falls in. Within that category may already be products that partially solve the problem. To carve your niche within that market, you need to know where current solutions fall short.
With your niche identified, you have to calculate the market's potential size. If the market is small, consider if the topic or problem is trending up, meaning the market is poised to grow. Google Trends, Trend Hunter and social listening tools like Hootsuite and SproutSocial can help you to uncover this data.
A product idea may look like quite the home run - fast-moving, in-demand, and trending up. But that all counts for nothing if you can’t sell the product at a profit.
Decide what price you can realistically sell at and whether that can cover your costs and leave something for your profit.
As well as your production costs, factor in your customer acquisition costs. There may be enough people to constitute a market, but they will not be lining up, jostling to buy your product. You have a lot of lead generation, marketing, and selling to do.
Now that’s out of the way, how do you find the best product to sell online?
Here are 5 ways to generate e-commerce product ideas:
Trends don’t usually make the best product ideas because it is easy to confuse them with fads. Even when you can separate them, interest in many trending products tails off over time. A product idea where consumers do not sustain interest long enough isn’t worth investing in.
The best trends solve a problem or meet a need in a new way and persist over time. Naturally, you want to get in on the trend early, before the market is saturated. That gives you a first-mover advantage and a platform to build a brand and loyal customer base.
Probably the least exciting business to run is where you are selling a commodity. It is difficult to stand out in such a business and margins are usually low. Products that appeal to hobbyists, though, are perfect for e-commerce.
Hobbyists are known to be spendthrifts when it comes to tools, gadgets, and accessories they use in their hobbies. The author of this article is a hobbyist leathercrafter and can attest to how hard it is to restrain yourself from overspending on your hobby.
I can barely defend the amount of money I have spent on tools - some of which I have never used - and leather I have bought and used to make items from which I have not recouped any money.
It does not matter what hobby it is; hobbyists make a great market. They also usually organise themselves into close-knit communities that you can easily target with your marketing, offers, and new product ideas.
Perhaps before you look at other people’s hobbies, consider your own. OK, it may not be a hobby per se, but anything in which you have a deep interest, and you will be prepared to spend money applies here.
What are you passionate about? Maybe it is a sport. For example, cricket. Besides the actual cricket equipment like bats, helmets, shoes, shin pads, and balls that may not have a large market to target, you could consider targeting fans of the game with apparel.
If you are a keen gardener, what tools do you consider essential? Make a list of those, and you could have the makings of a large catalogue for a gardening-focused ecommerce store.
Too often, we ignore that our own professional experience can be a source of great product ideas. That is perhaps the first place you should look, as it requires less research.
What jobs have you done before that you enjoyed and felt creative in? I have previously held down jobs where I felt certain products could be improved to meet customer needs better.
Think of product ideas you thought had potential but you never pitched, perhaps because you felt no one would listen. Consider what it would take to produce or source those products and if you can sell them online.
Maybe you are an upholsterer and worked at a couch factory. If you feel that your current designs are outdated, you could strike out on your own making what you consider to be fresher, modern designs that appeal to current tastes.
Out of necessity, you may decide it is best to sell what has already proven to be successful products for others. You can reverse engineer what is already working for others.
The best source of ideas for products that have proven to be good sellers is the bestseller pages on marketplaces like Jumia and Jiji. The best-selling products are marked by a high number of verified reviews.
E-commerce websites certify reviews as ‘verified’ if they are left by paying customers. So the bestseller badge is as good a sign as any that a product is selling well.
If you choose the products for your online store well, the hope is that you can barely maintain a backup stock. You products will be selling like hot cakes. That’s provided customers can check out without issues.
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