E-Commerce 101: What products to sell online?

Ask yourself some fairly simple questions first:

  • Have you bought online before?
  • What kind of items have you bought, and why?
  • What are the reasons you purchase online instead of local stores?

This might give you a better clue on products that are sellable online. Don’t worry if you are still clueless, hopefully a tip or two here can give you a better idea to kick start your online venture.

Product Demand

Online demand that is, without heavy competition. Is the product easily available at Amazon or Wal-Mart stores? Find something that is not easily available for average person in your target market.

This is the key of choosing product to sell online, but sometimes you never know without trying. Creating a demand for your product could be even better, where you will be able to grab the first-mover advantage.

All the criteria followed will be related to product demand in one way or another.

Niche Product

Why sell those everyone else is selling? If the market is already saturated with products like electronics, can you beat your competitors’ price?

Selling unique, collectible or crafty item online is usually a good idea. How do you know the product is niche for your target market? Read this on how to know if your product has online demand.

For the best results, focus on one niche product category, and offer a reasonably wide selection. For example, instead of selling iPod, sell iPod accessories and become the best online source for this category.

iPod Accessories

iPod Accessories

Product Nature

Is the product light and easy to ship? Is the product perishable or fragile? Take this into consideration in order to reduce your shipping cost and prevent returns on broken items.

Does it have to be seen, held, tasted, smelt? This is especially true if people don’t know much about your product hence unable to make buying decision.

Do you have the resources to monitor orders on “high risk” product? As a rule of thumb, the bigger demand and higher resell value the products are, the higher chance that fraud cases will occur. The most obvious example would be electronics.

Are you planning to sell seasonal products, for festive season, winter etc.? Can you afford to put in extra resources during the peak period and slow sales during off-peak season?

Another useful tip, do bear in mind that shorter lifespan (consumable) products are good for repeating business.

Product Pricing

Is the product too expensive to be transacted online? Are your customer confident enough to enter their credit card numbers online to purchase something more than a thousand dollars?

Don’t sell items that are too cheap though, unless they have to be bought in bulk. The smaller in proportion the shipping fee is to the total price the better. No one is going to pay $5 to ship something that’s only worth $5.

However, shipping cost is not the only consideration for your pricing strategy. It is not as simple as (selling price – shipping cost = your profit), you need to include other costs like Internet payment gateway charges, online store fee, inventory cost and other operation expenditures.

In short, you need to make sure that the product pricing will be both attractive to your customer and profitable to your business.

Know the Product

Some might think that you don’t need to be an expert in the product you are selling online.

We think that it will be a huge competitive edge if you are passionate about your own product, be it the product feature, the usage of it, your competitors’ product, or the target market itself. Climb yourself up to become a significant voice in your industry, where people will listen and ultimately trust your advice.

How to do it? Create lots of remarkable content (not too hard-sell though), via blog, Twitter, Facebook and so on. We will cover this more in our marketing segment. Stay tuned!

Conclusion

Of course, not every tips that we mentioned are applicable to all cases, there might be exceptions.

Be patient if you still haven’t got any product in mind, open your eyes and look for inspiration from both the online and offline world. Read newspapers and magazines, attend trade shows, observe local businesses or crafters, talk to friends or relatives who are in retail, wholesale, import / export industry.

Once you have decided, it’s time to cash in on your passion – crush it!

Image credit: Robert S. Donovan

Related posts:

  1. E-Commerce 101: 4 ways to sell online
  2. E-Commerce 101: Should you sell online?
  3. E-Commerce 101: What skills do you need?
  4. E-Commerce 101: Understanding online payment

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