21 Sep, 2020

What Should You Sell Online?

Ah, the timeless question of the new ecommerce entrepreneur. 

You want to find products that are popular and make you a beautiful profit. But how the heck do you choose what to sell online?

One of the best approaches is to dive straight into the data at your fingertips. Find high-potential products by digging deep into some good old-fashioned product research.

Look at the dropshipping FAQ that established and aspiring dropshippers are asking. Explore how to use Google Trends data to find promising products.

Unsure how to navigate all this?

You’re in the right place. The article will give you a roadmap for coming up with the best dropshipping product ideas, and give you the knowledge to strategically filter out the ones which aren’t worth testing. 

No matter if you’re an ecommerce startup or an established small or medium-sized business, you’ll find plenty of helpful information to get a tasty boost in your profit margins. 

Don’t wait for someone else to do it. Hire yourself and start calling the shots.

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Why Sell Products Online with Dropshipping?

Before we delve into figuring out what to sell online, I want to offer a quick explanation of what dropshipping is and the benefits of opting for this business model. 

This way, you’ll have a better understanding of the unique considerations that you need to successfully find which things to sell online.

So, what is dropshipping? 

Dropshipping is an increasingly popular form of ecommerce where merchants import products from third party suppliers and sell them in their online stores. This way, they can cut the costs and liabilities of stocking merchandise themselves. 

Dropshippers have the ability to decide their price markups and can run their businesses from virtually anywhere in the world.

Dropshipping also gives ecommerce entrepreneurs the freedom to stay on top of current trends because they can easily change the merchandise sold in their stores whenever they want. 

These are just a few of the benefits of choosing dropshipping over more traditional varieties of ecommerce. All it takes to generate some serious profit is finding the right products to sell to the right market at the right time. 

Now, let’s explore some of the best practices for coming up with winning dropshipping product ideas.

What to Sell Online: How to Find Products to Dropship

1. Brainstorm Dropshipping Product Ideas

You never have to start on a blank page. Your head is already full of the best items to dropship: your hobbies, products you like, newly discovered passions. 

Using tools like Google Trends can unearth new possibilities and rationalize product investments so you can plan your dropshipping business successfully. Start by tapping into the wealth of information and inspiration you already have floating around in your own brain.

Write everything down that comes to mind. It doesn’t matter if you think the product will be a bestseller or not. Don’t skip this step, as it provides an important foundation for the next ones.

Find Products to Sell Online Through Browsing Other Shops

Back in the 1980s, Walmart’s founder Sam Walton was arrested for crawling around stores on his hands and knees. He later told a friend he was measuring the spaces between product shelves to determine how his competitors displayed their products.

At the time, Walmart was making $400M+ in sales, but Walton knew that there was more he could earn – if only he could master the approaches his competitors were using to sell their products.

When you browse other stores, look at their offerings, best selling lists, and promoted products. 

Many stores have a tremendous amount of data and employ entire departments to organize their sales and select their products. Use that information to your benefit. Browse a lot, and browse frequently. It’ll help you come up with the best products to dropship.

Here’s a link list of stores and resources you should look at regularly:

When you find any dropshipping ideas that pique your interest, add them to your product list.

2. Find the Best Dropshipping Products on Social Shopping Sites

There are over 100 million products on Polyvore and 30 million on Wanelo. Add Fancy, Pinterest, and even Instagram to the mix, and you have a huge number of products from around the world. Plus, they can easily be sorted by popularity, trends, categories, and more.

People often overlook these sites in their research, but they’re valuable for drawing insights about which kinds of products are making waves on the internet from one day to the next.

I recommend setting up an account on each one of these websites. Subscribe to different categories and lists. Follow what people like the most and add those things to your list. 

When you’re constantly surrounding yourself with inspiration, you’ll quickly come up with product ideas that have profit-generating potential.

Ask Your Friends for Dropshipping Ideas

The next time you have coffee with friends, research some Google Trends data on popular products beforehand and ask their opinion about those items. 

Don’t limit yourself to your own demographics either. Talk with friends of all ages and backgrounds to get a wide variety of dropshipping ideas and a wider range of perspectives about what stuff to sell online. 

You’ll likely end up with dropshipping ideas you hadn’t even considered, and these will make your ecommerce store that much better.

3. Look Around You for Additional Ideas About What to Sell Online

Look around your house, your workspace, and the places in your community that you frequently visit. 

Are there any products you can’t live without? Which products would make your life easier? Is there anything that’s hard to find in the supermarket or at local shops? 

The answers to these questions could hold the key when your aim is to sell products online that will actually turn a profit.

Consider this: Howard Schultz came up with his coffee shop idea on a trip to Italy and later called it Starbucks. 

Lots of dropshipping product ideas can definitely come to mind while traveling, but it’s just as possible to spot them locally in everyday life. Start using your daily life as its own databank for product ideas. Stay alert and spot opportunities. 

Once you adopt this mindset, you’ll start to see hundreds of products with major profit potential each day.

When you’re being active with your ideation, you’ll quickly come up with a list of the best dropshipping products for your store. So, be observant, carry a notebook, and remember to write everything down.

Sites to Avoid When Coming Up With Dropshipping Ideas

When coming up with your list of products to sell online, I suggest you don’t look at sites like SpringWise.com or TrendHunter.com

It’s not that they’re inherently bad. In fact, they’re great for other purposes. 

But when it comes to generating product ideas and deciding what items to sell, product trend sites publish ideas that are often out of reach for the average merchant. That’s because there are often too many others who have already jumped on the bandwagon with selling these items. 

In other cases, these products are too difficult to get for dropshipping purposes. They’ll provide you with good dropshipping product ideas, but they might not necessarily be right for your store. 

For example, how would you import and promote Wearable Sleeves that Help Stroke Victims Recover or Herb Inspired Fragrances with dropshipping?

What to Sell Online: Deciding on Top-Selling Products

Next, we’ll cover how to narrow down your dropshipping product ideas list by filtering them under the following considerations. This way, you can be sure your list only has the very best dropshipping products.

Note that your dropshipping ideas list will be ongoing as you continue to draw inspiration and discover new product trends.

Anyone can import dozens of popular products into their stores in just a few minutes. 

The tricky part is knowing how to figure out what items to sell online based on what will also fit with your marketing campaigns, display well on your homepage, and generally make sense within the context of your brand. 

These kinds of top-selling products are called ‘Alpha Products.’ They’re items that draw lots of traffic to your store. After you’ve found your Alpha Products, it’s a breeze to fill in the rest of the store with cross-selling, upselling, and related products.

1. Think Niche to Find Dropshipping Product Ideas

With the rise of dropshipping, niche shops have become the trend. Niches have since turned from an ecommerce novelty to a proven, successful strategy.

It makes sense. There’s no use in fighting with the big stores for potential customers’ attention. Avoid categories that are too broad or general. The masses are already exposed to thousands of offers daily.

Instead, look to supply niche products that are underserved by the larger players. For example, there’s no specific interest group for a normal belt, but you can easily tell that cycling gear will resonate well with cycling enthusiasts. 

Find your niche. If you can come up with niche dropshipping product ideas or even one-product store ideas, you’re already more likely to turn a profit when you sell products online.

2. The ‘Stay Away’ Categories When Finding Products to Sell Online

Even if some of the products in this category may overlap with niche products, it’s essential to narrow down your product selection by excluding items listed in the ‘stay away’ categories.

Some product categories have grown significantly over the last decade, and there are already too many strong players and smaller shops out there supplying these items.

Just look at the ecommerce growth rates: furniture and appliances certainly aren’t making the cut. Meanwhile, consumers have spent more than 569 million on fashion-related items, which means they already have their choice of trusted store.

Cross off the following general categories from your idea list: books, jewelry, everyday products, and sports. You’ll need to avoid product-related dropshipping mistakes if you want to be successful. You’ll also need to be more specific by finding a niche.

Please note: I don’t suggest crossing out these categories entirely. You could sell customized books, custom hiking/cycling electronics gear, or jewelry hidden in candles. I suggest you pay more attention to finding an interesting subcategory that will make your store unique. Don’t fall into the trap of selling items in general categories.

3. Identify Online Products That Customers Will Buy Repeatedly

Sometimes one-off online orders are the best, but if you’re choosing products with small profit margin, relying on many people buying your product once is not the best strategy for longevity. 

Think of online products that people will repeatedly buy from you over time and build brand loyalty with them. Cosmetics, clothing, and party supplies are examples of products that people will need many times during the year. 

Targeting them with remarketing campaigns after their first purchase, and following up with personalized emails will create a great relationship that will lead them back to you in the future. 

The lifetime value of these customers can be higher than all your one-off customers if you plan your retouch campaign to suit them.

4. Make Use of the Price Sweet Spot

There are a few general rules to remember: the lower the price, the better the conversion rate. The higher the price, the more support you’ll need to provide.

Andrew from ecommerceFuel says the perfect ecommerce product price range is from $100 to $200. Richard from ABLS argues that it’s $75 to $150. In my experience, however, my sweet spot price is $40 to $60 (at a 200% markup).

Within the $40 to $60 price range, the profits are high enough that you can still cover your marketing and shipping costs of up to $20 per sale. The conversion rate is usually higher within this price range than a pricier bracket because the purchase requires less consideration on the part of the buyer. You typically won’t have to offer as much customer support with less expensive items.

For these reasons alone, you increase the odds of the success of your store in developing markets. With Chinese dropshipping, you can sell stuff everywhere in the world. Although you still have to keep in mind that while $30 may not be much to people living in the US, it could be a lot for someone in South America or Eastern/Central Europe.

Bonus Secret: You should definitely try selling stuff in developing or neglected markets. Lower advertising costs and competition equals a higher ROI. Don’t worry about the language barrier.

Therefore, it’s always worthwhile to research different markets when deciding where to sell your products. At this time, I suggest looking over your list and crossing out any dropshipping ideas that are more than $60.

5. Leverage ePacket Through Your Dropshipping Products

ePacket is a great service that allows for fast shipping from China to over 30 countries across the world. Just be sure to follow all the rules around weight and size. A product’s weight can’t be more than 3 kgs. Package size must be at least 14 cm x 11 cm, and no more than 90 cm between the length, width, and height. And the value of the product being shipped can’t be more than $400.

6. Choose a Dropshipping Product That Lasts

Keep in mind that the dropshipping products you sell online can be shipped to any part of the world unless you set some parameters. This means that delivery could be a long process, including a lot of unloading and reloading. 

If you choose products that are fragile, like china ornaments, they may get broken in transit. This is something you don’t have control over. And, it can lead to unhappy customers and many returns, which can hurt your store’s credibility. 

Choose a product that’s robust and can survive long transit times to save yourself time on returns and disgruntled customers.

7. Know Your Marketing Channels to Sell More Dropshipping Products

After you learn how to sell products online that have the potential to make a good profit, you have to think about your marketing strategy. Simply having good dropshipping product ideas isn’t enough. 

You must have a plan for how you’ll sell these products. This is a crucial part of being successful in ecommerce. 

If you have the right marketing plan, you can sell stuff online more easily. Marketing is the primary way you’ll stand out from your competitors, and being familiar with the different marketing channels at your disposal is going to be invaluable to your business. 

To put it simply, different marketing channels are going to be more popular for different products. Once you pick the product, you have to figure out which marketing channel will be best for it. 

Advertising an $800 hoverboard on Facebook might not be the best idea, but you might succeed in advertising it on Google Ads. A hoverboard is not a spontaneous purchase, and in most cases, people will Google it to learn more information about it, including which stores are selling it.

I’ve spent many hours looking at how other people pick their marketing strategies and didn’t find anything that would meet my needs. I liked Rand from Moz’s tables representing the ROI, effort, and cost of each marketing channel, but it seems to be outdated (published in 2009). 

There are also a lot of explicit guides and lists of all marketing channels, but none of them position marketing from an inventory standpoint. So, I decided to do a product evaluation and marketing table myself. Its design is similar to the one from Moz’s blog, but based on personal experience along with some thoughts and insights I’ve combined from the internet.

There are dozens of other marketing channels out there, but I doubt that PR stunts, co-branding opportunities, or video marketing will be the right options for anyone just starting their business. 

But you might want to consider affiliate marketing in the future, so it’s something to keep in mind. Remember to examine your resources (time, money, knowledge), and then choose one or two marketing channels that are feasible for your circumstances. Then, cross out all dropshipping ideas that don’t suit those channels.

8. Keyword Tools & Google Trends

Keyword tools and Google Trends are a must if you’re going to use Google Ads as a marketing channel or if you’re just generally trying to boost organic traffic to your site. 

These help you to see which products are currently trending. You can also check the demand for your dropshipping product ideas with these tools.

Keyword Tool

Take a look at your product ideas. Enter each product name and variations into the Google Keywords Analysis tool. The system will then generate data about how competitive the keywords are, which will give you some indication of how much competition you might be up against in attempting to sell those products in your store. 

The more competitive the keyword, the pricier it will be to use it on Google Ads.

Select ‘Keywords Ideas,’ and look at how many searches each Low Competition Keyword receives. When starting out, it’s good to pay special attention to these keywords because they’ll be more budget-friendly, and you’ll be up against less competition when a person searches for that product on Google.

Let’s say you could get all of that traffic and 2% of them would buy at your store. Would this demand be enough? The key is to find a sweet spot between enough demand and enough competition that your products will stand out from the crowd.

Google Trends

Go to trends.google.com and do the same exercise here. Enter each of your product ideas into the search and determine the trends of interest, based on search volume. Not only can you have a look at what’s currently trending, but you can also view data about the frequency of a given keyword search over time. 

Is the trend increasing or decreasing? Are there any patterns? Do you see any spikes? This information can be very useful in deciding whether it’s the right time to sell a given product. Google Trends can also help you to have a clearer understanding of customer behavior, as you can view search data based on things like country or region.

9. How to Know Which Products to Sell Online

In general, products to avoid dropshipping include categories that have little or no search traffic (less than 500 monthly searches). If you’re planning to grow organically, you should also scratch out all product ideas that have high competition according to the Google Keyword Analysis Tool. 

Essentially, you want to find the right balance between a search volume that’s not too competitive, but is still enough to show that there’s a demand for that product. It’s all about balance.

10.Using Seasonality to Determine What to Sell Online

While it may be exciting to see that there’s a spike in interest for a product in Google, be careful. It could be that the product is in high demand just because of the time of year. 

For example, avoid seasonal products like Christmas decorations (unless you plan to close up shop after the holidays). By focusing on seasonal items, you’re reducing your sales cycle. 

Most Christmas decoration sales take place in autumn and winter. These are likely some of the best dropshipping ideas for this time of year, but to last, you’ll need core products in your store that will sell all year long. 

Selling stuff online isn’t easy when the items are affected by seasonality. Have a more long-term strategy by choosing to sell a mix match of items online that are popular at different times of the year.

Exercise Caution With Copyrighted Images

Be careful when you’re sourcing branded items for your store. It isn’t always easy to find suppliers that sell copyrighted products

If you’re sourcing copyrighted products from little-known suppliers, there’s a chance that you’ll be selling fake items. Items with logos and designs that are the same or even too similar to other brands can definitely lead to legal issues or at the very least tarnish the reputation of your business. 

That’s why you can never be too cautious when choosing items on these grounds. We suggest steering clear of anything resembling an existing brand and focus on building your own brand instead. This is more sustainable in the long run. Plus, you’ll grow a business you can be proud of.

11. Competition Considerations for What Stuff to Sell Online

At this point, you’ve been able to refine your list based on proven strategies for doing so, and you’re left with the last dropshipping ideas. 

The last major consideration is competition. By crossing out the broad categories we talked about above, you’ve already avoided competition against giant retailers like Amazon. 

Still, don’t think you’re the only one out there who came up with the idea of selling niche products. Evaluating your competition is an endless task, and there are so many ways to do it. One thing is certain though. You need to check whether the product you’re about to start advertising is already widespread on other websites.

Here’s a simple trick:
Google a product, then try doing a product image search. Look at how many shops have similar items for sale. If you’re dropshipping, most store owners will likely have the same images. Find your competitors. Then, check their pricing strategy, popularity and traffic (on sites like Alexa.org or SpyFu.com), and which marketing channels they’re using. Cross out all product ideas that already have huge competition.

12. Order Samples From Suppliers
Once you’ve chosen some dropshipping products to sell on your online store, don’t be afraid to order them from some suppliers and go through the motions that your customers will go through. Learn about delivery times, product quality and tracking abilities so you can stand by your offering.

What to Sell Online: Where to Sell Things Online

Once you’ve decided on your list of dropshipping products, it’s time to choose where to sell these things online. 

Will you have a website? Will you sell items over social media? Can you work with influencers to build a brand that everyone wants? 

These are important questions to ask before you move to the next phase of your ecommerce journey. Do an in-depth competitor analysis of buying trends so you can see what your competition is doing and where they’re selling their products online. This will give you a good idea of where to start. 

Setting Up Your Website

Selling products online is traditionally done through a website. To have one, you need to choose an ecommerce website platform to host it on, like Shopify or Wix

If you want to dropship with Oberlo, you can use Shopify. They have a sweet 14-day free trial. 

Once you’ve signed up, you can choose your website template and start to plan the pages and content that need to be on your website. Then, you need to import your products from Oberlo to your Shopify store. Make sure to add enticing product descriptions that your customers will love. 

Before you push your website live, you’ll need to test your checkout process to make sure that everything runs smoothly and the steps are in the right order. And in the home stretch, you’ll choose a new domain for your online store.

Selling on Facebook

If your audience is active on Facebook, why not make it easy for your products to be found? You can do this by adding a Facebook Shop Tab to your Facebook Business page. 

Here are seven quick steps to make this happen. 

Step 1: Connect your Shopify store to your Facebook page

Step 2: Choose which products and collections to show on Facebook

Step 3: Add the “Shop” tab to your Facebook business page

Step 4: Configure your Facebook Shop tab within Shopify

Step 5: Add products to your Facebook Shop

Step 6: Tag products in Facebook posts

Step 7: Manage your products and orders

Voilà. You can start to sell on Facebook and spend a bit of money on advertising. 

Selling on Instagram

Before you decide if you want to sell your products on Instagram, check if your country is eligible for this feature. If it is, you can start setting up your Instagram Shopping feature. 

Here are the steps to take with a Shopify store. 

Step 1: Connect your Instagram account with your Facebook business page

Step 2: Set up an Instagram business account

Step 3: Install Instagram sales channel in Shopify

Step 4: Upload an image with your products in it

Step 5: Tag your products

Step 6: Select a product from your product list

Step 7: Sell your products in Instagram Stories

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is another technique you can use to sell your products online. This is when an influencer works with your brand to promote a product or service you provide in exchange for payment or free stuff. 

This influencer, as a person with credibility in a certain niche, will use their influence over their followers to promote your cause in a positive way, leading to sales. 

Influencer marketing can be a great way for you to get ahead of your competitors and build your brand without having to create lots of new content or advertising. 

This marketing method is used extensively over Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, and other social media platforms, but can be done effectively on any online channel if it’s popular with your audience.

Go Forth and Sell Awesome Stuff 

As an ecommerce entrepreneur, you need a clear product selection process in place to  figure out which items actually have profit potential for your business. 

People often pick dropshipping product ideas on a whim, rather than through careful consideration. Sadly, this wastes a lot of time and effort. 

Use the considerations laid out here to narrow down your list and figure out what products to sell. Take the time to dig into research so you can find best dropshipping product ideas for your ecommerce store.

And remember: you’re always learning as you go. You’ll need to test your ideas – and don’t be disappointed if you need to try other ideas before you find success. That’s the name of the game when it comes to starting a business.

Want to Learn More?

When learning how to find products to sell online which research tools did you use? Let us know in the comments below!

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Andrew Roach: Andrew Roach is a Content Marketer at Oberlo. He is passionate about ecommerce and creating insightful content to help entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses.