The E-commerce blueprint- Choosing a product
E-commerce has been very promising in recent years especially at the event of the global Covid-19 pandemic, and it has also proven to be the future of retailing. These have created an urgency in the e-commerce industry as businesses and entrepreneurs are jumping on the trend. Setting up an e-commerce store is simple with the right guidance.
Here, we are going to discuss the first step in creating and owning an e-commerce store – Choosing a product. The process of choosing a product to market is influenced by a lot of factors and research, this article is a guide on how to choose one.
1. Find a product to sell:
This is the first decision you make when a product is to be chosen. Regardless of the industry, products are generally classified into two (2) categories
- Commoditized products: They are essential, high demand, or popular goods or services that can be physical or digital products. These are products that everybody needs. Examples of products like these are food, clothes, tissue paper, etc.
- Niche products: Are goods or services that serve a specific customer base and product category. In most cases, they are often one-of-a-kind type of product, are usually handmade, and run on demand.
There is heavy competition in the most common and popular product categories. Choosing a different or unique angle can be instrumental to your success. Try not to just look at products, rather look for potential in the product category. Consider new markets, new features, and new ways to use the products. Also, don’t be scared to look at smaller product categories and niches that have little or no competition as it will help your business thrive, especially at a very tender stage.
Niche segments often spell out success for e-commerce businesses. The reason for niche segments comes down to resonating with a highly-engaged, and highly-converting, audience. Serving a niche segment is a great business proposition because you create a product that solves an issue for a very passionate audience segment. Serving a passionate niche audience will help build brand awareness, online traffic, and, ultimately, new and returning converting customers.
Also, be passionate about the product you choose. Being passionate about what you do will not only help carry you through hard times, but it will also aid in crafting a brand message that speaks to people in a way that is meaningful, authentic, and engaging. Being emotionally invested means you will be able to convey its worth superbly.
2. Evaluate your product idea:
After you have chosen a product, it is paramount that it is analyzed, to know how it would sell in your local environment and then to the rest of the world.
- The first question that should be asked is what problem does this product solve? What are the problems you encounter in your day to day activities? Will the product be able to solve a reoccurring issue? Your product or service doesn’t necessarily need to be a huge, complicated endeavor — it can be quite simple, yet exceptionally effective.
Solving a customer pain point will always be an effective way to develop a product people want. Products that solve a pain point or serve a passion, are much easier to find and acquire customers, compared to a product that is just a “nice-to-have”.
- Research the existing demand for the product:
The easiest starting place is to go to Google Trends. This is a free tool that allows you to see how often people are searching for the product you’re selling.
Another way to do this is by setting up an anonymous survey with tools like Google forms and survey monkey. While doing this make sure this survey gets to people that are not directly in your circle as they are more likely to provide honest feedback.
- Consider the durability of the product:
Is it a perishable or non-perishable good? It is ideal to start with products that are very durable and not perishable. Product durability will decrease your overall shipping costs and prevent costly breakage during transit. Also, choosing a perishable product can be a recipe for disaster if you find yourself struggling to find your market and make sales.
- Weight and size of the product:
The weight and size of your product also affect sales. Bigger products will have a higher shipping cost and might dissuade potential customers from patronizing your store. And there would be a need for a large warehouse to accommodate the products.
3. Obtain your products:
After finalizing the product you are going to sell, the next step is to obtain that product. This can be done in four (4) ways: make, manufacture, wholesale, or dropship.
- Make: This usually comes from hobbies. Making your product even with a low start-up cost gives you quality control, price control, and brand control as you can make it into any brand of your choice. But this could be time-consuming especially when you handle all aspects of the business alone.
- Manufacture: Here, the manufacturers of the product you want and then improve the quality or edit the product. Manufacturing your product is a good idea for those people that have a unique idea or a variation of a current product that doesn’t exist currently.
It also offers brand, quality, and price control but has a high risk of people not being interested in it. So you must do a proper survey before attempting this mode.
- Wholesale: This is pretty straight forward as you are buying already made products. It has a lower risk than manufacturing because you are selling products of already established brands.
Here, you’d have to deal with more competitors selling the same brand of products that you sell and restricted price control.
- Dropship: The main concept of dropshipping is selling products you don’t own. The process works by taking orders from your online business and forwarding them to your supplier/dropship partner. They in return, ship the product to your customer on behalf of your company. The key to making money with drop shipping is making a profit on the price difference between what you charge and what your dropshipping partners charge you
Dropshipping also presents the ability to offer a large category of products without purchasing them. It is ideal when you have low startup capital and presents very little risk.
But this field has a very strong competition, low margins which means you have to sell at significant volume to make a decent profit, delayed shipping time in some cases, and presents the likelihood of the inventory going out of stock. Because you’re relying on someone else’s inventory, the occasion may arise where you place a shipment request to the wholesaler, but the product is sold out.