For many ecommerce beginners, the hardest aspect of starting out is deciding which products to sell online. There are many ways to determine the product that best suits the online market at any given time.
Take note of the profit margins in various industries (1). A profit margin is the amount earned after business expenses. The goal of an ecommerce site is to sell goods and make money over time. Some industries garner larger profits than others. Phone accessories, for example, have much larger margins than other electronics.
An ecommerce store must feature products that provide new and better value, quality and performance to customers than what was available before. Often, the trick is to simplify a complicated product (2). Drawing attention to the simplicity and superiority of a product is more effective than advertising its complex technology, however impressive it may be.
Harness innovation and combine two products that have never met before. Browse niche online forums to discover the largest gripe within a specific group of people, then solve it. Using past expertise in an area to design a new way to approach one of its pain points is another way to look at an old problem with fresh eyes.
Great ideas aside, it's the execution that will make or break an online business. Logistics include product acquisition, storage, shipping and life cycle (3). Take a look at the supplies and materials needed to build a product. Whether these can be sourced locally will determine how much money will be spent attaining them. Also, if a similar product is already sold locally in stores and buyers don't have to wait for it to be shipped, this could adversely affect sales. Inventory—both products and parts—will need to be stored prior to being sold and sent out to buyers. An ecommerce store needs space to keep items safe and secure before they're purchased. Large or heavy products will eat up more shipping costs. Even offering free shipping can decrease sales if the product price increases because of it. Finally, consider the life-cycle of the product. Hot trends are typically only popular for one or two seasons; in a year's time they no longer garner the same attention. Find a timeless product and allow the business to grow.
Having an affinity for the product and its industry will make getting through the rough spots much easier. Consider what you're most passionate about—whether it's food, clothing, computers, etc.—then pick a related product.