Think you have found a winning product to sell online? Not so fast, because product validation is essential before you dive in and start ordering stock or building a website.
One of the crucial moments when you decide to open an eCommerce website is the finding a product to sell online. The web offers so many that it seems that everything is already available and there is no gap to enter the market, especially with giants such as Amazon virtually selling everything.
Fortunately, it’s not entirely like this. There are still slices of the market to be captured, niches to be discovered, and innovative items that could create a certain need and become a “must” for many consumers.
Product validation helps you to confirm that the products you want to sell will be viable for business. There’s not much worse than entering into a sector and finding out that there’s no demand for what you sell. You were doomed from the beginning, and wasted a lot of time and resources in the process.
This guide is designed to help you think of ideas for products to sell online and to assist in the product validation process for any ideas you may have or find.
Make sure you check out our guide on How to Find a Niche as it details steps you can follow for not only finding a niche to get into, but also finding products to sell online, keyword research, trends, and much more.
There’s no point in choosing a product to sell before you choose a niche to sell it, so once you have gone through the steps in that guide, or if you’re ready to validate your chosen products, read on below.
Product Validation: Keyword Research
Keywords are the phrases that get typed into a Google search.
Any time you search for something on Google, that is a keyword.
Keywords are extremely important as they will make up a significant portion of your websites search engine optimization.
You don’t have to pay attention to this if you don’t want to, but you would then need to focus on getting customers through other mediums such as paid advertising or social media.
Every keyword will have a monthly search volume, that is, the amount of times per month that people search for that specific phrase. This can range anywhere from zero to many millions.
Keywords are important because they are what people type into Google when they’re looking for something.
The keyword “watches for men on sale” gets searched about 25,000 times per month. That’s almost 1,000 times per day.
Imagine if your online watch store ranked #1 on Google for that keyword.
To help you, you can use different tools like the Google AdWords Keyword Planner. It is a free tool to find groups of related or specific words, know the average monthly searches and the competitiveness of each individual keyword.
The problem with this is the range of keywords are very broad. For example, it may say that this keyword receives between 1,000 and 10,000 searches per month. But, how are you supposed to know if the search volume is closer to 10,000 or 1,000 when it just tells you a broad range?
Because of this, we prefer to use a free tool called Keywords Everywhere. It’s a browser extension that you can install for Chrome or Firefox and will show you more specific monthly search volume estimates than the AdWords Keyword Planner.
You can search for terms on Google through a regular search and see the estimated volumes for searches. You can also scroll down to the bottom of the page to see what related keywords people also searched for.
Then, you can take the keywords you have found and enter them into Keyword Finder, which will tell you how competitive it thinks that keyword is in addition to some related ones.
This is great because it could help you to decide against going for a keyword that you really like, but is far too competitive to bother with. You can then adjust your list to only keywords with a decent search volume and a competition score of 40 or less in Keyword Finder.
Product Validation: Where Does it Fit?
Generally, your chosen product should fit into at least one of the categories below. These are the most common categories and virtually any product you can think of would fall into one of them:
Solve a Problem
People have problems, it’s a fact of life. As a result, people are looking for solutions to these problems. Some of the greatest solutions to a problem came from someone experiencing that problem personally and having a Eureka moment.
Some of the solutions to problems that people come up can seem so obvious once you see the product. Others, you never would have thought of but can see the demand for it.
This Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner uses only water to generate ultrasonic waves to remove grime and dirt from your jewelry.
Ever opened the drawers in your kitchen to look for a utensil and can’t find it among all the clutter?
Well, say no more with this Customizable Draw Organizer!
How about when you’re painting and you don’t want to spill it everywhere?
Try an Anti-Gravity Paint Tray Palette!
Cater to a Need
Commodities are products that everyone needs and will always buy.
Think of food and clothing for example.
People buy these because they need them, and because of this, will always continue to buy them.
These are generally the most boring industries to get into on the surface but are among the most profitable as well. Think of what you buy on a consistent basis that would never change:
Food, clothes, toothpaste, toilet paper.
These commodities are part of life and have a limited life cycle before the consumer needs to buy more. Selling these types of products could guarantee you a steady stream of sales as there will always be customers. The hard part is, of course, getting them.
A pain point is a specific problem that people experience in regards to something.
Constantly being on hold for a long time on the phone with call centers
Public transport always running late
You’ve probably experienced those two pain points at times.
Once you identify the pain points that people experience, you can try to come up with effective products or services to help alleviate them and stand out from the current providers.
Guitar players always complain about losing their picks.
What type of product could solve this problem?
Find a Gap
Finding a gap in the market could enable you to capitalize on something that isn’t being done, but has a lot of potential.
Think of the former video and DVD rental giant Blockbuster.
Now think of all the technologies and services such as Netflix which have changed the game.
There’s plenty of examples of what used to be gaps in the market but are now considered to be normal.
Take a look at some online job boards.
Back in the day, you had to advertise job vacancies on TV, the radio, or in the newspaper and pay a fee to do so.
Then, some companies came up with the idea of creating an online job board and letting people advertise vacancies for free.
No one was doing this at the time, and people came in droves to be able to advertise their job vacancies for free.
The online job boards could then instead monetize their business with upsells such as resume writing or selling advertising space and paid listings with higher visibility.
Quite often, established players in a market have their way of doing business and can’t see any other alternatives for expansion, or even refuse to do so.
Do you remember the camera and photography company Kodak?
They invented the digital camera. In 1975!
But, they didn’t want to release it to the public and kept the technology suppressed because they thought it would kill their film business which made up the bulk of their profits. When digital cameras became mainstream; they were massive. And Kodak could have owned this space by being first.
These situations leave the market open for new players to find a gap and offer a solution that seems crazy to the established players but is still actually monetizable and something the consumer wants.
Validating Products to Sell Online
Once you have thought of something that may be good to sell online, you need to continue the product validation process to see how viable it can be. Take into consideration and evaluate and analyze these factors:
Easy to Ship
Products that are large cost more money to ship and take up more space. The larger the product, the harder the logistics of moving it will be. This will add to the overall cost of getting your product delivered which you will either need to build into the retail price or absorb part or all of it.
Can your product break during shipment? What measures can you put in place to avoid this? Does your product need to be transported in an encapsulated bubble to prevent it from getting even the slightest knock, or would a durable box with some foam inserts suffice?
Halloween and Christmas are fun times of the year, but how often would those types of products sell? It can be a hard task flogging Halloween products in January, and how are you going to subsidize your income for the slower months?
How much money can you make by selling these products?
Once you factor in how to price your products, how much is left over for you? Could things happen that would affect your future profit margins such as having to change supplier or an increase in manufacturing costs?
How many competitors do you have?
What does their presence look like on Google and Social Media?
Do they advertise, focus on SEO, or do content marketing?
How much does your competition charge?
Are your products already on Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, and eBay?
How often would someone buy your products?
Do they need it once every week, month, year?
Is it generally a one-time purchase? If so, then you continuously need to generate new business since old customers won’t return.
Is it something that you need to offer a warranty on?
Does it need to be repaired?
Analyzing Your Products
We covered this in the How to Find a Niche guide that we linked to at the top of this page.
Google Trends is a fantastic tool for analyzing products and their popularity.
Once you have found a list of products you’re considering to sell, type in the keyword for each individual product into Google Trends to see its history.
Here is an example situation:
This is a niche.
There’s no point trying to rank for this keyword as it’s too broad but looking at it can help you to gauge its popularity and demand.
We can see that there is a demand for it and there seems to be a sharp rise and decline every year, but the demand never crashes entirely and does maintain an interest.
After performing keyword research and finding related keywords, we can search for them on Google Trends to check the popularity.
You may think that every drone would have a camera, but according to this trend, people don’t seem to care about this.
But, keep in mind that Google Trends is in relation to what people search, so it doesn’t necessarily mean there is no interest at all. Drones could come stock-standard with a camera so there is no need for people to search for one.
Drones are not toys, so there isn’t a big surprise for this one.
Some people think otherwise though, and by the looks of the sharp rises and falls this search is popular around Christmas time.
This seems to be more like a feature that people who are interested in drones would want.
This one seems to rise and fall a fair bit, but the interest is still there.
Ok, we can now see that there are a few trends happening here.
Drones with GPS, long flight time and a Follow Me feature seem to be what the consumers are looking for.
You could sell individual drones that cater to these specific features or you could create an epic drone which has all of the features.
With the way that drones are progressing, having one with all of these features would be the most logical choice.
But, there will be consumers who don’t need all of those features either, so there still could be room to sell all those types of drones as well.
This is why the product validation process is so important, and it always helps if you have a genuine interest in what you sell because you will have a better idea of what consumers want and how they will think.
Finding Products to Sell Online
Identified what products you want to sell?
Now, where do you get them from?
Do you dropship, have them made, or buy wholesale?
Choosing the right business model is very important, as it will influence your sustainability and profits. The right business model will also depend on your chosen products, as they could be better suited to one rather than another.
Think about your products and then decide what makes the most sense.
Do you have them custom made and ship them yourself?
Or maybe the manufacturer can dropship as well?
Have you found a supplier who already stocks them and you can just dropship them?
Or perhaps you want to buy bulk quantities at wholesale prices and make your own alterations before sending them out to customers.
Whatever business model you choose you’re going to need to build an online store, most likely using Shopify or WordPress and also get your shipping management sorted so you can manage your deliveries effectively.