3 Essential product research steps for your ecomm store platform

Are you struggling to decide on the product or range of products you would like to sell online? Well, there’s no more need to worry. 

We will give you three simple steps you can take to make researching and selecting the products you want to sell on your e-commerce website easier so that you’ll be able to research like a pro. We’ll give you tips on how to keep things simple and how to find out what’s selling already. We’ll advise you on following your passion and expertise while working to meet your customers’ needs. Finally, we will cover some of the other less obvious aspects of research and product selection that you may not have considered. 

Let’s go ahead and find out more.

Keep it simple when starting out

When you start building your e-store, try to source products with as few potential points of failure as possible. According to statistics, between 25 and 45% of products fail and don’t make it to launch. Almost all have spent resources on development which do not bear fruit. One of the main reasons launches fail is because of product defects or failures. If you plump for a product which is very unlikely to fail, you can give yourself an immediate advantage over your competitors. One example of goods that can be complicated and have many points of failure are products with electrical components. An item which has many separate components that can fail may result in customers experiencing problems and requesting refunds, eating into any profits made. Researching to gain a deeper understanding of why products haven’t worked in the past can give you some valuable insight and boost the chances you will succeed. You will then be better able to avoid the traps other people who have tried to create an e-commerce store have fallen prey to. It is best not to think on too high a level. As the heading of this section advises, keep it simple.

Once you have opted for a product or range of products which are not likely to stop working, it’s time to take the next step. Try to choose products which are lightweight and not oversized, as the size and weight of a product will have an impact on shipping costs. Also, some large objects that are oddly shaped can be very spatially inefficient. This means you will end up using more packaging when shipping your products. This costs more and also has a bigger negative impact on the environment. In fact, shipping costs are often the second busiest expense of an e-commerce business. Customers in today’s market like to feel that they are doing their bit for the environment, so if you don’t show yourself to be environmentally conscious, you may lose out on a share of the market you’re targeting. So to make sure you are using the minimum amount of packaging, do your best to select products that can be efficiently and tightly packed. If you can minimise costs, your profit margins will increase. A good way to check how the size of a product fits into a category is to refer to Amazon’s FBA classifications.

When deciding which products to go for, you will need to take account of any safety warnings your products may need to have, if any. It is crucial to double-check this. When examined a product that at first glance seems harmless could pose a threat to small children. In order to work out if your products are safe, refer to the General Product Safety Regulations (GPSR) passed in 2005. If you are planning to sell products into EU markets, there are specific provisions set out by the EU which deal with all aspects of product safety. If GDPR goes further than any existing regulations put in place by the EU, GPSR will apply. Some of the products governed by these regulations include, but are not limited to, toys, household goods, ornaments, clothing, art materials and furniture. It is essential that whatever products you choose comply with all applicable safety regulations.  

Find out what is selling already

If you don’t look into what is selling already when you are debating which products to pick, you could end up failing at the first hurdle. This is key to conducting effective market research. It is vital to check that no-one else has had your idea and has started selling exactly the sort of products you hope to. You will need to gauge whether there is a gap in the market that you can fill. Try to find out if other people think your product is a good idea, or if people are buying products similar to yours.  You need to make sure the products you intend to sell are likely to gain traction in the market. There are several tools you can use to help you carry out some market research. Obviously doing a simple Google search will help you determine which sites have your product, or anything similar, for sale. You can also use Google Trends to find out how many people have been searching for a particular product over a set period of time. This can help you discover what sort of product is becoming more popular. By using this tool you can also check if a certain product has peeked. 

Look at Amazon to get an idea of how many other sellers there are dealing with similar products. It will also help you to figure out how to price your products competitively to help you attract customers. A really good pro tip is to use DS Amazon’s Quick view extension for Chrome. This gives you access to a valuable store of information about the products sold on Amazon. Some of the information you can gather using this feature includes information on sales volumes, pricing strategies and launch dates.    

By using these tools effectively, you can choose items that appeal to hobbyists by providing customers with exactly what they want. People who are passionate about something are more likely to invest money in products related to their hobby. If you can appeal to people with a hobby they are likely to engage with you more and have more loyalty to your brand. This is because enthusiastic customers are generally more involved in the industry and get more value from what they buy. This could result in a significant boost in the number of sales. You can also browse sites like Etsy, Kickstarter and eBay to find out what is selling before you decide on your niche. If you already know the sub-section of the market you are aiming for, look at some of the related items customers in your particular niche are purchasing.  

Whilst you are doing this portion of the research, you need to keep in mind that you don’t want to be selling products that are identical to what is already on offer. They should, however, be similar enough to be profitable. Always remember that lightweight items are easier and cheaper to ship and your goal when starting out is to source low-cost products which offer a high return on investment (ROI).

Pick something you are passionate about

When thinking about what you want to sell online, it may be a good idea to follow your passion, even though this strategy can be risky. You can use your knowledge to carve out a unique position in the market. In this way, you can come up with a creative way to market a product you can sell well. Your passion will come across to your customers. How your product or products will fit into the market is important because building any sort of business is difficult and requires hard work. If you are passionate and really care about what you are trying to sell, it will be much easier to keep yourself motivated when you’re on your business journey.

Make the most of any professional experience you already have. If you are knowledgeable on a given topic, you can use it to your advantage. Using any expertise you have to help build your e-commerce store will give you a distinct advantage when you enter the market. If you have experience in your field you will be able to create copy which your competitors won’t easily be able to duplicate. You will also be able to share your expertise with customers as your business develops. 

It is vital to consider what problem your product purports to solve for your customers or what guilty pleasure your product is fulfilling. If you can identify a need that is not catered for or a problem that needs to be solved, you will be able to work more effectively to give your customers what they really want. As important as passion is to the success of a business, if there is no demand for the products you sell, your business will likely flounder. You can offer products that promise to address poor or bad experience your customers have had, for example. So pay attention when you notice any common frustrations within your niche or in an existing line of products. If your product fulfils a specific desire, be sure to address that desire in the product imagines and descriptions. 

One way you can find gaps in the market is by reading customer reviews of existing products, to gather interesting feedback on their needs, wants and desires. What products do people consistently discuss, and what kind of items can be found on their wish lists? Strive to fill the gaps your competitors don’t for a profitable online business. If you can’t figure out what category of product to investigate, consider your particular customer demographic. Focus on the brands the people who fit your demographic are drawn to.

Other considerations

There are a few other things you may want to consider when you are researching and selecting the products you want to sell. 

Try to seek out products that have branding potential. Whether you are selling your own products or someone else’s, make sure you leverage the brand to increase sales. There are five main ways you can work out what a brand is worth. First, what emotions does a brand stir in its customers? Emotion is often the key to every brand’s ability to compete in the market. Next, you need to find out how much a brand is being talked about because there needs to be a strong relationship between brand awareness and returns. Is what you or other brands are planning going to excite customers? Do people want to engage with a particular brand? The level of brand awareness is often converted into profits. Are customers likely to share news of a brand? It is also essential to know where a brand will be seen. If a brand is too closely guarded and does not achieve enough reach, it may limit how far you can expand your customer base. Ask yourself where you would like your brand to be seen. The next thing you should do is assess how a brand has performed. Has it just met the market, or has the strength of the brand meant a business has grown faster than its competitors?  Does a given brand allow you to consistently sell products at prices that are above the market average? Last but not least, are customers loyal to a particular brand? Do they habitually buy from them before looking elsewhere? Doing your best to find products with branding potential will help boost your sales when you set up your e-store. 

Another good strategy to employ when deciding on products is to exploit trends to the fullest possible extent by hopping onto them early. It’s never a good idea to invest in a shrinking market. Spotting trends early can be especially important for new and small businesses because doing so lets you establish yourself in the market before others get the chance. Make sure you don’t confuse a fad for a trend, however. A trend caters for an existing need in a novel way, rather than something which has become popularly on the basis of novelty alone. Trends are in demand for far longer than fads. The following are some of the tools and resources you can use to keep abreast of up-and-coming trends:

  • Google Trends Use this tool to track the sort of things that are popular over time and to see what people are interested in. 
  • Social Listings – Look at the hashtags on Twitter and what people are talking about on Facebook to identify trends and monitor them.
  • Reddit – Use this to gauge what people are discussing and to find out what they are excited about.
  • Trend Hunter – Use this to help gain insight and find burgeoning new opportunities.   

You may also want to attend a few trade shows in your niche to give your research a boost. 

Lastly but perhaps most importantly, remember to always be on the lookout and keep an open mind, so that you don’t end up missing out on chances that may come your way. Take note of the kinds of things people are using in everyday life.

Conclusion

Researching and selecting the right products for your business can often be key to your success. Don’t be afraid to explore small niches as this can naturally generate the right amount of competition for a new business. We hope that by following these simple steps you can have the confidence to do some stellar research and get your business rolling. Be sure to check out SimpleShop now to give your business a jump start.