Questions to ask to find out what you can sell online

Questions to ask to find out what you can sell online

Money to be made online is no secret. The e-commerce industry has ballooned since the first online purchases back in 1994, with some sources estimating that companies in the United States would bring in nearly $375 million in e-commerce revenue in 2020.

More than 25% of the world’s population is online and ready for shopping these days, and more than half of shopping experiences begin online, even though they do not end there. Leveraging the internet is a no-brainer if you’re a small business owner or entrepreneur looking to start or expand your business.

Opportunity awaits even though you have nothing more than a gleam in your eye and a curiosity about the best things to sell online.

But first you need to understand which goods are in high demand and which (if this is relevant) are consistent with your overall business objectives and goals. Ask yourself the following five questions in order to decide whether you have what it takes to sell online.

Questions to ask to find out what you can sell online

What are people wanting?

Investigating whether there’s an actual desire or need for something you’re considering selling — whether it’s online or on shelves — is a critical part of the product creation lifecycle that many cash-strapped and time-strapped startups and entrepreneurs might be inclined to overlook.

Failure to perform market research can be a death sentence for your company when you do your homework and gather the crucial context information that underpins your product.

You need to collect data from primary sources (i.e., survey or focus groups of your clients) and secondary sources (trade organizations, government resources, academic studies, etc to better measure what to sell online, who to sell it to where to sell it, how much to charge, and so on. You’re trying to figure out whether you have a viable product in both cases or whether you need to pivot and make some adjustments.

On famous shopping websites, what’s selling best?

Paying attention to what’s new on massive third-party sites such as Amazon, Etsy, and eBay is another way to get some insight into the best items to sell online.

For instance, Amazon has a “Best Seller” section that puts top-performing items front and center in each category.

Best Seller

Alternatively, you can search for a specific type of item (such as “water guns”), and the site will apply an orange “Best Selling” tags to the items most commonly purchased by consumers.

Etsy Tag

Etsy also brands best-selling items with a tiny orange tag, and has made a name for itself as the go-to site for innovative people selling their products.

While this is not nearly as scientific as doing your own systematic studies, it is useful to look at these broad sites-they spend a great deal in rating the products they prioritize, marking and promoting as best sellers. This can be a great place to start if you’re trying to find some new ideas for products to sell online or just need some general knowledge of the big picture.


What’s the online search trend?

If you think you may already have an idea of a few things to sell online, it is always wise to use resources such as Google Trends to corroborate your hunch. This free and easy-to-use reporting function allows you to see how frequently specific words are searched for by people. You can filter by country and length of time, and even match two words against each other.

For instance, if you’re trying to determine whether to sell toasters or toaster ovens, you could look at Google Trends to see how often individuals have searched for both of them over the past year. Looking at the data, you can see that there’s nearly twice as much toaster search traffic. What’s more, it’s obvious that overall search traffic for both products is growing, which is often a good sign.

Google Trends

Google Trends is not the only tool that provides this form of data, but for those who do not want to make more of a financial investment in this field, it is an excellent free choice.

What do my rivals sell?

Investigating possible rivals is another important aspect of deciding what to offer online.

This approach, also referred to as a competitive assessment, is not intended to determine the items you add to your offering. Instead a deep dive into what your rivals are selling, how much these products cost, how they market their products and services, and what their sales strategies are should give you a lay of the land and help you recognize the strengths and weaknesses of your own product, as well as how to position it with your clients.

Bear in mind that there are direct competitors (those with goods that could serve as replacements for their own) and indirect competitors (those with products that are not replacements but that could satisfy the same need or want).

What am I going to ship?

Although you can definitely sell almost anything online under the sun, it is nevertheless important to take elements like size and weight into account. Not only do big, unwieldy goods need sufficient storage space, but they can also come with high shipping charges.

This does not imply that you should not open the e-commerce site dedicated to washing machines that you have dreamed of; it just implies that these realities should be taken into account in your business plan, and you should create strategies that still allow you to earn a profit while keeping your customers happy.

On the other hand, you might want to restrict your company to smaller, lightweight products in the beginning if that sounds more difficult than it’s worth.