The first step to success on the global marketplace is knowing how to properly research products on Amazon. An eCommerce win is only possible if you can find great products to sell.
The first question really is what a great product looks like, however, and finding it is all about the work that goes into the search. A great product is one that has high demand, a good profit margin, and low competition. When you research products on Amazon, there’s the second question, which is how to navigate the marketplace to come out on top. This means watching out for brand restrictions, taking close account of selling fees, and paying careful attention to customer reviews.
With all that in mind, there are thousands of products that you could grab hold of to climb your way to the top. It isn’t the best way, though, since most of those products will be someone else’s brand. You want to build your own brand and sell your own products. That’s the clear path to success, the one that isn’t littered with land mines that can take you down at any time.
So here’s the step by step process that you need to follow to successfully research products on Amazon that will stay high on the shopping list so you can secure your margins.
1. Think Private Label
If you’re selling product from a manufacturer or distributor, you’re selling someone else’s brand. And you can bet that there are at least a handful of other sellers out there selling exactly the same thing. If there aren’t, you can be sure that they will catch on pretty quickly and give you a run for your money. There are no restrictions with these types of products, so you can never secure a hold on them for very long.
You want product that you can own and therefore control. These types of products eliminate the threat of competition from other sellers and the brand itself. They therefore secure your margins by removing the possibility of price wars, and if you do your consumer research properly, by providing a product that people need and love.
2. Distinguish Product Type
You can sell just about anything, but the best products to sell on Amazon are neither too expensive nor too cheap. Expensive products require a huge investment, and that’s dangerous when you haven’t really tested them yet. Putting all your eggs into that basket will tie you up until you move inventory. Cheap product isn’t a wise move, either, because your margins will be really narrow. You also don’t you’re your products labeled as add-ons, allowing customers to buy fewer of them and still get free shipping.
You want products that sell fast and well. This means choosing items that are basic to almost every consumer, or at least a large number of them. Basic means that they are either necessities, things that lots of people use every day, or items that many people can easily buy because they like them and they’re inexpensive – whether they really need them or not.
3. Consider Shipping
Whether you’re doing FBA or not, shipping is going to be a major concern for you as an eCommerce seller. You need to research products on Amazon that don’t cost an arm and a leg to ship. This means lightweight and small, ideally. Some shippers will base pricing on weight alone, but most consider size as well. On top of that, you have to consider packaging, especially if the product is fragile or perishable.
4. Choose the Right Categories
Amazon has a ton of categories, and some of them are really not a good idea to get into. For instance, you want to stay away from apparel and jewelry. This is bad not only because the fees are higher, but because there are a ton of variations that can make running your business complicated. Another example is electronics and digital products. The competition is crazy and shipping and returns can get really expensive.
5. Search within Categories
Armed with the information above, it’s time to begin the actual search. Start with a good category and think about the opportunity presented by the products already there. You don’t want to analyze each and every item one by one – that would take ages. Instead, narrow down your focus using the following indicators:
- Best Seller rank below 5000
- Price range between $20 and $70 (i.e. cost from $2 to $20)
- Under 1 pound and fits in a shoe box
- Ideally sturdy and non-perishable
Create a shortlist that meets the above criteria. You can search manually or use a tool to do all this research for you – the latter is really the wiser investment considering all the time it would take. Then it’s time to start narrowing down your options.
6. Look at Reviews
A product that gets five stars on all the points above is still not necessarily going to be a winner. If it has a ton of reviews, you’re going to be hard put to compete, even at a lower price. Reviews are a top trust factor for online shoppers. They will pay more for the exact same item if the seller has a long list of good reviews. It’s the only way they can really tell if that specific item is as good as it looks like on screen. Go for that product only if you have a comparable number of good reviews or if you are sure that you can get your numbers up enough to break in.
That being said, you also want to put a star next to any product that shows a high demand but has poor reviews. You don’t want to sell the exact same item, of course, but you can find a better quality one and build off that. You can then gain some trust by whatever means you have available to you, then dive in and turn all those disappointed customers’ frowns upside down with your awesome alternative.
7. Spot Poor Marketing
You don’t want to get into anything that is too competitive, but you also want to be sure that the sales are there to support it. But while you’re browsing for top sellers, pay keen attention to the marketing behind it. You want to find product that has the potential for a ton of sales but that isn’t being backed up by a great strategy. You can win with that product by doing marketing better than the lazy competition who are just riding the wave.
8. Focus on Innovation
People always like new things, but that’s not the only reason why new products can be a pot of gold. If you can find something that a lot of people need or want but with a twist, that could be your best seller. You can find dozens of the exact same thing being sold by different seller on Amazon. The key is to offer something similar – because you know that the market is there – but that has a unique edge to it. Differentiate your offering to attract attention. With that, you also won’t have to cut into your margins to compete.
In connection, you also want to explore new markets. Staying within the bounds of larger markets can blind you to niches that are actually quite profitable. It’s not always about a high sales volume for a single product. True, this makes things a lot easier, but you can still achieve a high enough number of sales for products in smaller markets to make it worth your while. Ultimately, you can’t supply the entire population with one item on your own. Find a good middle ground so you don’t end up ignoring a sweet niche. The key to dominating here is to focus on creating great listings that overshadow others in new markets – ones that aren’t yet properly optimized because sellers are just testing the waters. When you swoop in and take the cake, they likely won’t even bother putting up a fight.
9. Avoid Seasonality
To be successful, you need to research products on Amazon that will bring in a steady flow of income. Stay away from seasonal products that can give you only a month or so to gather data on and then leave you with inventory that you either have to pay long term storage for or stuff under your bed for the next ten months.
10. Calculate Profit
Finally, you want to make sure that you research products on Amazon that you can actually make a profit on after paying all the Amazon fees. Don’t be the deer in the headlights who can’t look past the thick margins initially calculated. Remember the category and all the rest of the factors that go into Amazon’s fee calculations. You need to know exactly what you will get at the end of the day or you could make a huge error in judgment.
If you research products on Amazon very carefully following the tips above, there’s little change that you won’t find a winning product that you can call your own. But there’s one last thing that you need to do before you race to log into Seller Central to start listing with one hand while calling a supplier with the other. Selling certain products on certain Amazon websites can bring up legal issues that you may not be prepared to deal with. Make sure you look closely into the legalities of your hot new item before you jump the gun and fall flat on your face.