How to choose top selling products for your online store.

The trick to selling online is not to waste time on common place goods that are way too saturated or brilliant ideas that have zero demand. I will run you through a few places where you can start your research and some common traps to watch out for when selling online.

Firstly, there are two main groups of products you could choose from: commoditised products or niche products. Some choose to sell a combination of both.

Commoditised products are essential, high demand, or popular goods or services that can be physical or digital products. These are products that everybody needs but are usually part of a competitive market. When choosing to sell commoditised products it’s important to establish some point of difference from your competitors.

Niche products are more unique, made in smaller batch runs or on demand. They can also be both physical or digital products and often offer some type of customisation to the customer. Niche products have less competition, but can have a smaller target market and therefore run the risk of producing lower sales.

Key points to remember when starting out:

• Competition can be fierce – be sure to do proper research
• Start with something you’re passionate or knowledgeable about
• Solve customers’ problems with your products
• Capitalise on trends but be careful to look for longevity

Places to research your product idea

To avoid the risk of choosing a product line that is unpopular or has excessive competition it is important to start out by doing some very thorough market research. Below is a list of places that are a good place to start your journey. It is not a comprehensive list and depending on your product, there may be more market relevant research options.

  1. Popular and successful e-commerce websites.
    Take a look at other websites to see what their trends are. Filter by best sellers, new releases and most wanted products. For instance, you could try looking on TradeMe, Amazon, Ebay, Etsy or Alibaba. Ask yourself if you can source and compete on price or difference to ensure you could have a competitive advantage.
  2. Social media platforms
    Search for popularity of hashtags, groups and topics relating to your proposed products. Assess competition with similar products take note of their followers and consider how you would differ and compare.
  3. Google Trends
    This is a good website to gauge trends in search term use on Google. On Google Trends you can establish the frequency of a certain search term relative to the search volumes. Try looking for ideas in here that are trending be sure to set the country filter at the top to be more specific to where you will sell as trends will differ globally. Take a look at related terms and check out both rising (queries with the biggest increase in search frequency since the last time period) and top queries (the most popular search queries).
  4. Google Adwords (You do need an account for this but you can set one up for free)
    Use the keywords planner tool to discover new keywords and check search volumes. I find this tool much more advanced than google trends as it can offer ideas as well data relating to the competitive value of a keyword. Keywords with high search volume but low competition could be a great place to start. You could also ask a Google AdWords advisor to do this research for you.
  5. Test the search engines
    Type in your product ideas and see what products are already available. Gauge the competition and search for trends.
  6. Ask your friends and family
    Run your idea past family and friends and gain some insight into if your idea is a good one or not.
  7. Run an online poll
    Gauge how relevant your idea is by running an online poll. If possible go wider than your friends and family and include people who are likely to be your target market. Take this opportunity to assess what needs they have and problems they are looking to solve.
  8. Find market data
    Where possible find actual statistics on the size of your proposed target market. The New Zealand Statistics Market Mapper might be a good place to start. You can also contact relevant trade associations, your local chamber of commerce, your bank, your accountant or pay an online research company.

Evaluate your products strengths and weakness.

Successful online businesses will leverage strengths and combat weakness. Part of your business plan should always include an analysis of how you will do this. It is also great place to start when deciding which products are going to be best to sell on your e-commerce store.

Strengths and opportunities can be assessed by doing market research, keyword research, understanding current market trends and looking for gaps in the market. It could include things like:

  • How your product differs from your competitors’ products
  • How you are going to make the product more affordable
  • Why your product is ready to meet a new trend
  • Additional products or services which compliment your unique offering
  • Special skills your organisation holds
  • Data on potential target segment size and any expected growth
  • What you customer service will look like and how this compares to your competitors

Weaknesses and threats include a concise understanding of your competitors and any market pressures. A good side by side comparison of your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses may help you gain a good understanding of your competitive advantage. Look out for market trends that may not last long and products where issues of supply may impact on your profits.

Some key things to watch out for:

Some key things to watch out for:

  • Seasonal goods – where profit will only be made at one time of year
  • Market trends that may not last long – leaving you with unsellable product
  • Fragile goods which are hard or costly to ship – also likely to incur more returns
  • Large or awkward products which are hard or costly to ship
  • Goods with shipping restrictions such as batteries or flammable products
  • Suppliers with limited track record – making it impossible to reorder popular products
  • Avoid excessive product line expansion – a focused, well-managed line leads to greater profits


Do you have a new idea you want to get off the ground or are you looking for advise on how to turn you current e-commerce store around? Contact me today.