If the idea of sitting on a beach in the sun sipping a Pina Colada while your eCommerce website rakes in the cash appeals then you are not alone.
Thousands of new eCommerce websites are started every day, but only a select few succeed and go on to make their owners money.
Most die an early death through poor product choice, insufficient promotional activity or simply lack of awareness at the huge amount of hard work required to build a profitable eCommerce business.
Getting off to the best possible start means doing some research to come up with business ideas that stand a good chance of success. Copying what has gone before is rarely a good idea unless you can add particular value to the sales proposition.
In this guide, I'm going to show you how to come up with a ton of ideas for your next site that will give you the best chance of jetting out to the beach and enjoying your drink in style.
There will always be failures, and as long as you learn from them, there is nothing wrong with that. Nothing ventured nothing gained right? But giving yourself a fighting chance from the start through good product choice is always the best strategy.
Begin By Identifying A Niche
Trying to sell everything to everyone is the absolute worst way to start your business.
Woolworths disappeared from the high street because they didn't have a singular business focus. You never really knew what you might find when you went into one of their stores.
Laser target your niche and reap the benefits of a tightly keyword bound site that are useful for search engine optimisation. The narrower your target market, the more chance you have of making it to the top of Google for your keyword set. Try using the Keyword Magic SEO tool from SEMRush for some great ideas.
Do You Already Have A Product Idea?
Many people have ideas tucked away in the back of their minds that they have never acted on. Ideas stored away for months or even years ready for when the time is right. If the idea seems too big, to begin with then narrow it down to a specific product.
It is much easier to grow an eCommerce business from small beginnings because things like software and hosting are easily scaleable. Having a huge product range from the start is not the best guarantee of success.
As an example one of the market sectors I tip to produce tremendous growth over the next couple of years is sleep.
Why? Because it is becoming universally recognised that sleep has incredible restorative properties and working too much time is detrimental both to health and the ability to produce great work.
There are so many factors that interfere with sleep in modern day society including alcohol, drugs, blue light emitting phones and tablets, stress, long working hours, etc. Getting enough sleep is becoming a real problem for many people.
Starting a “sleep” site would be a massive undertaking. Books, CD's, Clothing, meditation, bedding, alarm clocks and bedside lamps could all be part of your site, but it would be much better to start with one small section and grow from there.
“Stop snoring” has real potential and is my idea of a proper sleep niche site. So many people don't get enough sleep because their partner keeps them awake snoring and it's a great example of building a site out from a small niche.
A “stop snoring” eCommerce website ticks all the boxes for being a niche site, something that solves a customer pain point and is on the upward trend.
The best way to come up with niche ideas is to write them down as you go. You never know when a great idea is going to pop into your head.
Brainstorming A Product Idea
The best websites are always those where the author has a passion for the subject he or she is writing about because that passion shines through in their writing. You don't have to be a brilliant writer to make a great blog, the best blogs are written by enthusiasts.
It's the same for eCommerce sites. Find something that you have a passion for or a problem in your life that you need to be solved. Find the “pain point” and come up with a solution.
Easier said than done of course. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What excites me about my job or hobby?
- What do I hate doing on a regular basis?
- What could make my life easier if it existed?
One of the TV programs I like to watch for new ideas is Dragons Den. Some of the ideas pitched there are atrocious, but often they can lead to a better idea with some thought and research.
It's not always necessary to come up with something totally new. Sometimes copying an idea and improving it is the best way forward.
Following Consumer Trends
Google trends are the first place most people think of when discussing trends but there are much more sophisticated sites available for following trends and getting ideas.
I love Trend Hunter, and if it wasn't for real work having to be done, I could spend hours poring over trends here. This site is choc full of fantastic imagery and photography which makes browsing a pleasure.
How about the Top Ideas In November as a good starting point.
Springwise posts their top three trends on the site every day, but you'll need to subscribe to access the back catalogue of historical data. Subscribe to the email list to have the top three trends sent to you daily.
Trend Watching was established in 2002 and have a team of analysts based all over the world dedicated to finding the newest trends, and it's well worthwhile subscribing to the free email list to get the monthly digest.
Trend Watching uses a crowd-sourced Freemium model to keep the cost down, and the basic service costs £129 per month.
Probably the one you are most familiar with the great thing about Google trends is that they have the historical data going back for the last ten years, so it's easy to spot both short term and long term trends.
There is a forecasting feature so you can predict future patterns but this is similar to forecasting the rise of stocks and shares so don't take it too literally.
Look for trends with a rising curve over the past few years rather than short term trends which could just as easily head south.
Social Media Monitoring
What people are sharing today is an excellent indicator of what is popular and trending. These days instead of conducting endless surveys and interviews in the high street you can just tap into the social media consciousness to get your finger on the pulse.
Twitter is becoming more and more popular and with good reason. The simplicity of use combined with brevity means that you get to the heart of the conversation in seconds rather than wading through essays of prosaic prose.
Twitter is brilliant for running commentaries on TV shows and events, but perhaps its best feature is what's trending on the home page.
Finding collections of images here can be very enlightening and lead to discoveries that you wouldn't necessarily connect elsewhere. It's a great resource for finding which products are popular.
You wouldn't normally associate Facebook with eCommerce, but it's “Facebook Groups” are a goldmine of information for any product researcher. Simply find the group relating to your product, and you'll be able to monitor conversations and see what people are interested in.
Polyvore is a community where trendsetters and shoppers come together to discover the hottest brands, trends and looks. The easy to use editor lets you mix and match products from any online store to create your own “set” which you can share.
See what people are creating and sharing for great clothing collection ideas.
Similar to Polyvore but the range of items is not limited to just clothing. They also have a storefront and warehousing for sellers.
Wanelo (Want Need Love) is a treasure trove of artefacts, gift ideas, clothing and things you'd like to buy if you had the money. It's the ultimate in public consumerism in Pinterest format.
What better way of ensuring you make the most profit than by cutting out the middleman!
There are many websites that have directories of manufacturers and products the best known of which is Alibaba.
Alibaba lets you browse by category or product type and puts you directly in contact with the manufacturer. It's an Ebay for wholesalers if you like. You can be covered by their Trade Assurance scheme so that if any issues arise with the shipment, you can get redress.
Etsy.com – They have a wholesale section for handmade
Uppler.com – Mass market fashion for Western Europe
Lenewblack.com – High-End Designer clothing – mostly French
Yourbrandspace.com – Womenswear from the UK
Bonagora.com – Wholesale furniture from Europe
Cellpex.com – New and refurbished electronic equipment
Wholesalepages.co.uk – UK Wholesale suppliers directory
Still stuck for ideas?
Try Instagram for inspiring product photography.
Try Pinterest for even more visual ideas.
Ebay is always a good indicator of what the true value of a product is.
Amazon bestsellers will give you a great list of products although you are likely to face stiff competition in those very competitive markets.