Find products to sell online
Starting your own online store is an exciting opportunity to take part in the global ecommerce market. But how do you find products to sell online? The easy way is to check what wholesalers offer or what items you can buy at a good price. But that’s just the start. Here you read how to create the right assortment of products and where to purchase them.
- Wholesalers and suppliers
- Choose products in a higher price range
- Choose a specific target audience
- Target a region
- Use current events to your advantage
Digital sales have become a part of many consumer’s lives. This is why there are many other entrepreneurs starting an online store. There is a high demand for products, but the competition online is fierce. The way you set up your online business and the products you sell should set you apart from your competitors.
There is a high demand for products, but the online competition is fierce!
A first instinct might be to try and sell a wide range of products with low prices, but most established competitors already doing this. It can be difficult to compete with them. You can also pick items you know well.
Differentiate your store from others
Although it helps to have expertise about your products, you can also choose products based on which are easily purchased, on what audience you can target or which profitable niche still has room for another ecommerce site.
‘It’s easier to differentiate your store with niche products.’
There are a lot of commoditized and niche products on the market, where commoditized products are only differentiated by price. Think, for example, of headphones or desktops. It is easier to differentiate your store with niche products.
Where will you buy your products?
Before you can begin selling online you will need to find out where you can purchase products to stock your ecommerce business. Small, starting entrepreneurs often check out thrift stores for unique products. But if you want to fill your online business with a larger assortment, you will need to look for suppliers or wholesalers. What options are out there and what are the differences between them?
Buying products at wholesalers and suppliers
If you’re looking to buy in bulk, a wholesaler is the place to go. The prices of these products are lower than when you’d buy them in small quantities at a store yourself. But you can also choose to get your products from a brand or a supplier.
Wholesalers often have a large assortment, which means that you could fill your entire shop with just one wholesaler. However, most ecommerce store owners try to incorporate products from several suppliers in their shop. If problems arise with one of the suppliers, product supply will still continue because they don’t rely on just one supplier.
Orderchamp is a European wholesale platform that brings independent retailers and brands together. It finds unique brands and uses machine learning to connect them with the right retailers. It offers low minimum order values and free shipping on a purchase of 250 euro or higher.
The Spanish dropshipping supplier BigBuy has an extensive catalogue, of more than 150.000 products. It has an international approach, and is able to dropship all over Europe. Product categories range from home and garden, beauty and health, sports, toys, fashion, and electronics.
This platform has an online database of more than 8.000 suppliers worldwide. It claims to verify each seller and provides a full guarantee on your purchase in case of damage or fraud. There are more than 1.6 million products in 75 categories available. You’ll need to create an account and pay 67 dollars to get access to the database.
With DSers, sellers can easily add products from dropshipping suppliers on AliExpress to the webshop, without buying them themselves. There is a wide range of products with low prices. Ever since the discontinuation of Oberlo, Shopify's former dropshipping plugin itself, many merchants have been using this app.
Purchasing products from a wholesaler will take some effort
For starting entrepreneurs, it can be pretty difficult to start buying at a wholesaler. Wholesale companies often have rules in place that help them weed out useless applications. Common rules are:
- Potential customers pay higher prices, or need to order a large quantity of items.
- The minimum purchase amount for first-time customers is over €10.000
- Customers also need to have a brick-and-mortar store.
- First-time customers aren’t allow to return products.
These requirements are often unattainable for a small online business venture. It will take some effort and creativity to place your first order with a wholesaler.
‘A wholesaler will be more interested in your orders when you can show them a monthly revenue.’
If you can show a wholesaler that your shop is already selling some products, how much traffic your online store generates and what your monthly revenue is, the wholesaler will probably be much more interested in doing business with you. Show the supplier that you already generate sales. This will increase your chances of success.
Deciding on the location of your supplier
The location of your supplier is also something to keep in mind when you conduct your market research. As most of the products available on today’s market are made in China, it’s not surprising that many entrepreneurs look for a supplier in China. There are some factors to keep in mind. It’s not like you can just travel to China and get to know your supplier, have a look at trending products and negotiate a good price.
When retailers from Europe search for a product to sell, they often look for a supplier in China.
On average, products from these Asian suppliers are cheaper than products from a European supplier. This is why smaller online businesses also want to purchase products there. They usually turn to websites that make the buying process easier, such as Alibaba.
European versus Asian suppliers
It might be easier to start selling these products than wait for a European supplier who is willing to do business with you. However, keep in mind that the European safety standards for products are a little different from Asian ones.
‘European safety standards are often different from Asian ones.’
Some products or materials aren’t allowed on the European market, but are often sold by Asian suppliers. You need to make sure the products you sell in Europe meet European standards. With a European supplier, you do not have to check this, as these suppliers will make sure they meet those standards themselves.
Commonly heard complaints from ecommerce businesses are different product sizes than expected after they order a product on Alibaba. Sometimes the product is very different in real life from what was pictured. This is why you should always order some sample items before you decide to buy in bulk.
‘Always order some sample items before you buy in bulk.’
Something else to keep in mind is the fact that Asian suppliers come with higher shipping costs, which can vary per supplier. You will also have to pay customs fees, and sometimes other additional costs. Buying from Asian companies such as Alibaba suppliers comes with a lot of advantages, as well as disadvantages.
Start a dropshipping business
If you want to try out which products are the best selling products for your ecommerce store, you could start out with dropshipping. In this way of doing business, products in your shop are sent directly from your supplier to your customers. This means that you don’t stock up. You will therefore have fewer costs before you can actually start selling. For a new business venture, dropshipping is an easy way to try out the online market.
‘You’re in responsible for dropshipping shipments, even when you are not the one sending them.’
Some suppliers are geared towards supplying dropshipping stores. Before adding goods to your shop, always make sure to research the supplier and order sample items. Also please note that even though you are not in charge of the shipment, you are the one responsible for the product that your customer receives. This means that you will have to take care of any problems that might arise.
Generate product ideas: what to sell online
Trying to compete with competitors is hard for online sellers that are just starting out. Try to distinguish yourself from competitors with a coherent store. You could focus on a small range of products or even focus on niche products. Here are some tips to find new products:
1: Choose products in a higher price range
As said, most bigger competitors offer a large range of products, while catering to a large target audience. This means that competitors are always trying to sell products for the lowest prices, as this will generate more orders.
You could set your store apart from others is by selling items in a higher price range, like luxurious goods. There are not a lot of online retailers selling new cars, luxurious toys or expensive office supplies. These are more expensive to purchase, but catering to a specific group of people looking for more luxurious things will make you become the expert in this area. It also means that your store will be able to fulfil a gap in the market.
2: Choose a niche segment
Even if you do choose a product that is in a highly competitive market, there are still ways to distinguish your online store from others. Setting a specific target audience is one way to do so. Do not just launch an online electronics store, but keep a specific audience in mind. You could sell electronic appliances to farmers or people living in the countryside. Make sure that your products and lay-out reflect who you are targeting.
It is hard to find a niche that is profitable. But with the right research, you can still find some!
3: Choose a target market
With an online store you can sell to potential customers anywhere. However, it can be quite difficult to become successful worldwide. Focusing on a specific region and choosing each specific product to sell accordingly will help generate online sales. Which items are not yet widely known in your area? Launch an online store with those products!
Large online businesses often buy from large factories or suppliers. If you can find small regional or national manufacturers, your products are more unique. Chances are that this way, you will also build a much better relationship with your wholesaler or supplier.
Check major online marketplaces
If you can find a product that you can sell on Amazon or another marketplace as well then your chances on success grow quite a bit. Even a very small niche with just one or two products can have enough sales to make your own million dollar business. However, the most popular things will be already sold on such platforms. Have a look at which products are not yet that prominent on marketplaces.
4: Use current events to your advantage
Using current events to your advantage does not mean that you need to closely follow the news every day, but just be aware of trending products and events going on around the world. If you’re selling toys, try to find out what the trends for the holidays next year will be. Make sure to sell those products at the right time, to generate more sales.
‘Try to find out the newest trending products and use them to your advantage.’
But also keep an eye on pop culture and global events. If there is a new superhero movie coming out, you can use that to your advantage as well by selling merchandising, toys or other related products. With a specific domain name, a targeted design and the right products, you can definitely compete with other major players in the field.
5: Create your own ecommerce brand
You could also think about creating a recognizable and memorable brand for your ecommerce store. While some products that you might want to sell (like clothing) are also available at other stores, your items will be different from others when you sell them with your own brand.
Frequently asked questions
Some frequently asked questions about how to find products to sell are:
How do I find products to sell online?
If you want to start your own online business you need to find products first. How you do your research is up to you. There are different ways to find the right product ideas. However, always keep in mind that you also need to find a supplier and and be able to beat the competition.
How do I find a supplier for my business?
There are many ways to find a wholesaler or other supplier online. In this article we give some examples where you can start with.
Keep in mind that the one with the lowest prices isnt’t always the best pick to start with. For example, Chinese suppliers often have very good prices but their shipping times might be a problem. Also, not all products that these wholesalers offer are suitable for the European market.
How did other shop owners find their idea for their business?
At the start of the internet many online stores were started by people that just had a hobby or expertise with a range of products. Others found their idea when they couldnt buy the product they searched for themselves. However, the internet has matured up and finding good product ideas is a lot harder now, but luckily still far from impossible!