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How to find items for your online store

Selling items is what running your online store is all about. But knowing what to sell can be half the battle of starting. What’s the best way to find items to sell?

Firstly, aim for items that address the actual needs of your customers. Not only will this help to solve customers’ pain points, but items that visibly display benefits are much easier to market.

Here are some things to keep in mind when deciding what to sell:

  • Unique, original items offer inherent marketing advantages over reproductions of existing ones

  • To start with, you can price items using the cost-plus method. To do this, simply add all the costs required to get one unit onto the shelf and then add your desired profit margin on top. Read more about pricing items here.

  • Try to avoid seasonal items, as they’re only in demand at specific times of the year

Find your niche

Now it’s time to search for potential niches you can serve. Identifying a niche allows you to tap into a low-competition space in the market.

Finding a niche should start with research. Once you’ve got initial ideas, begin searching for what people are buying and saying about what they buy – on Amazon, eBay, Facebook groups or subreddits, etc.

Tap into trends

Another avenue towards building a niche is to find on-trend items. Trendy items are generally recent arrivals that create a lot of hype. It can be big for your business if you can identify a trend before others do.

An online search can make trend discovery much faster, along with one of the many digital marketing tools. Social listening through social media, or using Google Trends or Reddit can be good ways to find them. Browsing best-selling item lists in major ecommerce sites like Amazon and Etsy can be a quick way to find where customers are spending money.

Research item keywords

Keyword research will help you find out how popular your ideas are and who already leads the category. This provides two benefits – a benchmark to work against and a set of keywords you can use to promote what you’re selling.

You can perform keyword research using free tools like Google Keyword Planner, which tells you search volume for specific keywords, as well as how much competition there is to rank for them. Finding a middle ground between high search volume and low competition is a stronger position to aim for.

The rule of thumb is that ‘short tail’ keywords are more broad and will have higher search volume, but also more competition. This might be a phrase like 'black trainers'. However, the low-hanging fruit is in ‘long tail’ keywords, or longer, more specific phrases. These generally have lower search volume and lower competition – a great place to find your niche. This could be a phrase like ‘black nike running trainers’.

Appeal to passion

Focusing on customers who hold passion towards a certain item or hobby is another way to find items to sell. Passionate customers often spend more and express strong feelings towards brands.

Appealing to passion doesn’t have to only be about your customers. Having passion for your own item offering can be a huge help in selling it – especially because you can speak with genuine empathy about it rather than just as a salesperson.

Where to find items to sell

Now that you know the kinds of items you want to sell, the final question is how to source them. There are a few ways you can go about this:

  • Make the items yourself: Done in your home or studio, this is a great way to support a hobby. Alternatively, you can have items manufactured. This can entail outsourcing the work to a third-party company in countries like China, Taiwan or India and requires building relationships with contractors.

  • Buying items wholesale: This is a good choice if your goal is to sell and not make anything yourself. There are near-endless brands and companies to source items from, and you can focus more on running your online store.

  • Dropshipping: This involves two parties – you, the dropshipper, forwarding customer orders to a dropshipping partner. The dropshipping partner then takes care of everything related to storage, packing and delivery.

After deciding which items to sell with your online store, it’s a good time to find out how to use shipping to convert browsers into buyers.

Read guide

SumUp Team