What you've learned in this guide is one framework for finding, evaluating, validating and sourcing a product. However, there's always more than one way to do something, and that's no different when it comes to building an ecommerce business. With this in mind, we asked nine of the top ecommerce experts to share their best advice and tips on finding a product to sell online.
"The #1 strategy for product validation is to do pre-sales. Email people telling them what you are going to make and when it'll be delivered by. Ask for 5 orders at a specific price and see if people will buy. This will help you figure out if people want what you are making and if they don't you can ask them what they'd pay for instead. Money is a truth serum."
- Noah Kagan of SumoMe
"Is your product better than anything else on the market for the unique value it offers? If not, why are you wanting to sell it? It doesn't have to be #1 overall in the market, but it should be #1 for whatever need around the product you're trying to solve. There is little point in launching a product that offers the same value as other people already do, unless you specifically fill a marketing gap in the space. If you're offering the same thing as other people already do, profits will likely be temporary, and capped. If you offer something that solves a specific need better than anyone else, profits are more likely to be long term, and more importantly, uncapped."
- Billy Murphy of ForeverJobless
"One of my favorite strategies for coming up with product ideas is to take what I call a problem walk. If I'm stuck for ideas on anything, I'll go walk around my hometown (or whatever city I'm in) and look for any problems or things that could be done better. I take a note, and try to have 25 before I go home.
This allows me to start thinking in the mindset of helping others and finding things that need to be fixed that I could potentially provide a solution for. It's worked surprisingly well both for potential products as well as content."
- Sean Ogle of Location 180
"When you are thinking about the kind of product you want to launch, think about your own life and answer some of the following questions: What are some products that you WISH you had? What type of product would make YOUR life better? Is there an existing product that you can tweak to make it better or more useful? And would others see the value in it, too?
When you are ready to test, it's important to get feedback to validate your idea. It might be tempting to ask friends and family for their opinion, but that's not the right way to go because friends and family will either totally support you and go along with ANY idea that you might have, or they might not support you as well. The best way to go about validating your product idea is to reach out to your IDEAL customer, ask them if they would actually buy it and then ask them specific questions about your products."
- Andreea Ayers of Launch Grow Joy
"When it comes to finding a successful niche, the issue isn't product sourcing. Between drop shipping and Alibaba.com, many products can be easily found and purchase. Instead, you need to have a convincing answer for this question: why would people buy from you over someone else?
This question is easiest to answer when you've made your own unique, proprietary product that fills a specific need. And while you can still succeed reselling products made by others, it takes more work and skill. With Amazon and the legions of other trusted retailers likely selling the same thing, you really have to set yourself apart.
If you try to compete on price or selection, you'll likely find those are difficult ways to differentiate. The answer will vary for each niche you're in, but you should be able to convincingly answer this difficult and important question before moving forward."
- Andrew Youderian of EcommerceFuel
"My favorite place to find product ideas is to use a service called Terapeak. Terapeak scrapes all of the EBay listings and tells you what products are hot and what products are not. It also ties into the Amazon product listings so you can get an idea of what is selling there as well. In many cases, you can find a top selling product, iterate and make improvements and then sell it under your own brand."
- Steve Chou of My Wife Quit Her Job
"My favorite way to evaluate a product idea is by setting up a quick landing page featuring my proposed product using a cheap Wordpress theme or a service like Leadpages or Instapage. Then I spend a few hundred bucks on AdWords driving traffic to my landing pages to see what sticks. After about a week of testing, I can often figure out things like 1) what offer sells, at 2) what price point and 3) what is the resulting cost per acquisition. This knowledge is invaluable -- if you know that you can drive traffic where the cost per acquisition is lower than the margin on a purchase, you have discovered product market fit and can start to scale that business up."
- Drew Sanocki of DrewSanocki.com
"One strategy I'm excited about right now is using drop shipping as a way to enter a market and validate it. This allows me to try selling a product with very little risk and low upfront cost, even if my profits are minimal at first. By drop shipping first, I can learn about the niche, figure out what's selling, and once revenue is being generated begin purchasing inventory in bulk for better margins. This also allows me to offer a wider variety of products, since I can purchase less expensive items in bulk while continuing to drop ship the bigger items that would be difficult to purchase and warehouse."
- Leighton Taylor of EcommercePulse