Deciding what to sell is a crucial step in building your business, heavily influencing any decisions going forward and the viability of your online store.
A lot of small businesses fall into the trap of selling a variety of generic products, believing that sales will skyrocket because they're the 'jack of all trades'. While that strategy may have worked years ago, in an ever-growing eCommerce landscape, this sales tactic isn't going to get your startup very far. In today's reality, startups become successful by doubling down and focusing on being the best seller for a select niche of goods. To do so, it starts with choosing the right product & market niche in order to get your business off the ground & running.
Choosing a Product Niche
When you originally speculated about starting an online business, I'm sure the thought of " what should I sell? " crossed your mind many times. To help guide those thoughts, let's begin by narrowing down your product options by factoring in their potential success rate. The following tips below will help you narrow down your best sellers.
Products You Should Sell:
- 'Trending' products (increases your chance of generating a sale & recommended for beginners and/or those who are unsure of what to sell).
- Products that solve everyday problems.
- Products you can sell for a healthy markup, yet still cheap enough to remain competitive.
Products You Should Avoid Selling:
- Products that are difficult to advertise such as e-cigarettes, adult toys, dangerous weapons.
- Large, bulky, and/or heavy items. (shipping expenses will eat into your profits).
Do Not: Decide what to sell based on gut instinct. Thorough product research and an analysis of existing sales data needs to be done if you're serious about finding high-performing products. Otherwise, you're wasting your time and money by 'guessing'.
Choosing a Market Niche
After narrowing down some products, there's still more work to be done to make sure you've selected the right ones. Let's look into targeting specific markets relative to your desired product.
A market niche is a segmentation of a larger market with its own unique characteristics & traits. For example, within the market of Pants there are several market segments, such as pants for athletes, construction workers, and plus-size adults. All could be considered different market niches, which you could consider targeting depending on the type of pant(s) you choose to sell.
We aren't saying this is going to be an easy decision, so to help you get the ball rolling here are a few steps to take (in no particular order) that will help you select your market niche:
Identify the problem your solving
To be profitable, you need to identify problems your target customers are experiencing, then determine whether you product niche can actually solve them. You can do so by:
- Speaking directly with the target audience
- Partaking in discussion groups of ongoing conversations (ie. Reddit or Quora threads).
- Familiarizing yourself with a niche's online ecosystem. Use combinations of search terms to uncover any trends or popular queries.
Researching the Competition
Researching competing companies will help you identify if there's still an opportunity to stand out. This type of research will help you decide on the following factors:
- Target Audience
- Price Range for Products
- Area of Operation (domestic, international)
- Positioning and Branding
- Marketing Tactics
Determining Profitability of the Marketspace
Targeting a niche will make it easier to find eligible customers, but you need to make sure there are enough buyers in that niche to be successful. If you've concluded your research and determined your niche is too small to earn enough income, consider adapting your focus to a different audience within that niche or try to offer them a different product.
Doing your diligence prevents you from entering a saturated market with little room for growth where the competition is well established. Ensuring sure you've chosen the right niche will make marketing that much easier and much more profitable.
Remember: Be willing to be adaptable because even though you may achieve success early on, as your audience's needs change over time - your positioning has to reflect those changes in order to stay relevant.