For those who are late to the party (whether you’re dropshipping or purchasing your own inventory), it has become increasingly difficult to find a niche that isn’t saturated. With more than 1.8 billion websites currently online as of this moment, you’ll find competition every which way you look. However, thanks to B2B (business to business) websites like Alibaba.com and B2C (business to customer) websites like Aliexpress.com, there is virtually no limit to the type of products you can now sell online at a significant markup.
How to Source Your Products
Before deciding on a niche for your web shop, it makes sense to understand the best ways to locate manufacturers, suppliers and wholesalers. If you will be storing and selling your own inventory you’ll need to buy in bulk (most manufacturers or wholesalers have a minimum order requirement). This will require more capital to start, but will yield the most profit in the long run.
If you want to dropship then you’ll want to find suppliers who can sell one item at a time, and ideally with relatively quick delivery times. Dropshipping is less costly to start and means you won’t need storage, but you won’t be able to add too high a markup on the products. Some web shops use a mixture of their own inventory as well as dropshipping to fill out their store.
Alibaba.com – Launched in 1999 this is by far the most popular website on the internet at the moment for retailers looking to bulk-buy affordable products either directly from the manufacturer or wholesalers. Rather than buying blind, it’s possible to learn a lot about a company before placing an order, including whether they are legitimately registered and are in operation. For those who are new to ecommerce, it’s important to perform your due diligence to avoid falling victim to a scam. Note that although some companies list high minimum order quantities, you can often negotiate smaller orders.
Aliexpress.com – This is the ‘retail’ version of Alibaba which owns it. It has many of the same manufacturers running their own stores and selling single products at a much higher price point (although some also use it to sell bulk products too). This is favored among dropshippers who either order directly from suppliers once their customers purchase a product, or have systems in place so that the entire order process is automated. You can also check out their most popular products to see what items are selling like hot cakes (https://sale.aliexpress.com/__pc/hot-products.htm). This is one way to search for a potential niche. You can also use Amazon.com to look for best sellers when looking for potential products.
Made-in-China.com – This website was launched back in 1998 and provides a directory of a wide range of Chinese manufacturers and wholesalers selling products at bulk rates. Like most other similar websites they have suppliers who are gold members (those with verified business licenses), as well as those who have been audited to ensure they have business and export licenses, are tax registered, have quality control documents and more. It’s smart to look at as many websites as possible to find reputable companies you can work with and get products at the best rates. They also have a “Hot Products” page so you can find out what items are selling the most (https://www.made-in-china.com/quick-products/).
GlobalSources.com – Founded back in 1970 Global Source also provides a wide range of B2B services with more than 1.5 million international buyers. In addition to verified manufacturers and suppliers, they also host their own trade shows where retailers can travel to Hong Kong to talk to manufacturers and gauge the quality of products themselves. The website offers multiple filters so you can search for suppliers based on rating, certification, monthly capacity and more.
These are just a few of the most popular online sources, though there really are hundreds of sites that can help you find what you are looking for, both locally and abroad. You can also use plugins such as AliDropship to easily add new products to your WooCommerce store. Lastly, as with the Global Sources trade show you can really get a good feel for what products may sell well by seeing them in person. In addition to visiting manufacturers to see the products for yourself, you can attend trade shows. Three popular trade shows are:
Canton Fair – Spread over several postcodes and at different dates depending on the category of products you are interested in, the Canton Fair is held in Guangzhou, China twice a year in spring and autumn.
East China Fair – This is the largest regional trade show held in Shanghai, China and is held once a year, usually in March over a period of 4 days.
CES – The International Consumer Electronics Show is held once a year (January) in Las Vegas over five days and features the most cutting-edge consumer electronics. Those who are looking for the next trend should definitely consider attending this event.
Best Tools for Finding Niches
If any particular product that stands out from the rest, you can make a simple Google search to find out what shops are selling them online. Also make sure to consider your offline competition. For instance, try to avoid products that large retail chains sell such as Wallmart, Target, Costco, Home Depot, and Bed, Bath and Beyond etc. They are able to buy products in very large quantities and as such it will be difficult to compete with their prices even if there is enough demand to create a niche site. If there seems to be little competition you can also check out the demand by using various tools. A couple examples include:
SEMRush – This is a premium tool that allows users to check the monthly search volume of keywords and what the highest ranking sites for those terms are. This will also give you some idea of your competition and how hard it would be to outrank someone. You can also check the search volume based on country to see what sort of demand there is. As an example ‘shed kits’ are searched for around 22.2 thousand times a month in the USA. There are other free alternatives to this tool, though they are more limited. One of the best free alternatives is the Google Adwords Keyword Planner.
Google Trends – This is a free and very useful tool that allows users to check for trends based on different categories and keywords around the world. You can also see if interest in a product is gradually declining which might not make it a good fit for your shop. Keep in mind when looking at graphs that slow and steady increases means that the niche may continue to grow, whereas graphs with a rapid increase may signify a passing trend (think of fidget spinners). You can also use this tool to search for trends in topics which you might be able to sell products around.
Tips on Deciding on a Niche
It can take a lot of time and effort to find the right product or niche for your shop. By searching through categories of interest to you on wholesaler websites, or by checking out best-selling items, you can make a list of potential candidates and use the tools above as well as Google search to see if there is a demand for them and a gap in the market you can exploit. However, if you are still looking for a starting point then consider the following:
- What price point do you want to target (i.e. sell many cheap products or fewer expensive products)?
- Where will you sell to (i.e. local, national, international)?
- What demographic do you most identify with (i.e. age group, hobbies and interests)?
By considering these questions you can start to come up with ideas of products that could do well in general, or that you in particular will have success selling based on your personal interests and connections.
List of Trending Products in 2018
Although you should always be looking for the next trend which is easier said than done, the products below are doing particularly well this year:
- Maternity Dresses
- Portable Projectors
- Backpacks with Built-in Chargers
- Video Doorbells
- Virtual Reality Accessories
- Pet Care Accessories (i.e. Dog Water Bottles)
- Bluetooth Earphones
- Touchscreen Gloves
Overall, you are only limited by your imagination and ability to find out what people want or need. Also, if you can’t find the next biggest product, you can always focus on evergreen products. Some examples of evergreen product categories include weight loss, muscle building, dating, parenting/toddlers, gardening, and of course – sex. However, if you’re more of an innovative type always keep in mind this question that Larry Page (one of the founders of Google) asks before buying a company – “Is this something that you will use once or twice a day, and does it make your life better?”.