How to find great products to sell on eBay, Amazon and your own website.

Search Queries

By looking for popular and trending keyword searches, you can establish market trends and popular products. There are some are free products that provide keyword volumes:

  • Google trends. Show trending searches across the world.
  • Google keyword planner provides search term volume for Google ads customers.
  • Amazon search volume. Sonar is a free Amazon keyword research tool from Sellics.

Browse Popular Products on Online Marketplaces

Published market research from companies such as Mintel is costly. However, online marketplaces, such as Amazon, publish lists of best-selling items which can be used to get inspiration for stock to buy. Sources of information include:

  • Amazon best sellers (UK and US)
  • Amazon sales rank. Amazon product pages, state a ‘Best Sellers Rank’ showing how popular an item is in its category.
  • Google Shopping. Google’s Best Sellers report given a list of popular products and brands on their Google shopping ads programme.

Other Sources of Product Data

  • Media. Look for what products are being advertised on major websites and in print media.
  • Competition. What is promoted on the websites of major retailers?
  • High street stores. Take a trip to a local store to see their inventory in the flesh.

Different types of product

There are several types of products for merchants to choose from:

Inventions

If you have an excellent idea for a product that you think taps into an unfulfilled demand, great!  However, bear in mind that developing a product from scratch is very time consuming, expensive and risky.  Perhaps you are the first person to notice this market opportunity, or perhaps there is no demand…

Handmade

Marketplaces like eBay and Etsy make it easy for makers to create and sell their handmade products.  Amazon has also jumped on the bandwagon with its Handmade category.

Making your product products is excellent if you want to run a part-time business or love working with your hands.  It can however, be challenging to scale.

Branded products

Branded products are products made by product manufacturers, which they sell wholesale. These companies will typically sell wholesale to retailers, who will then sell these to consumers. Increasingly brands are selling directly, but most major brands still depend on their retailers.

These are products bought off-the-shelf, so they are easy to source. If the brand is well known, your business will pick up on the demand they generate through their marketing activities. Many products are available from ‘wholesalers’ who will sell a range of product which can be bought together, allowing small qualities of any individual product to be bought.

However, for any barcoded product, it is unlikely you will be the only seller unless you have managed to enter an exclusive arrangement with the manufacturer. Margins are therefore likely to be low as sellers compete for business on price.

Private label

A private label product is typically sourced from a manufacturer and then sold under the retailer’s brand for exclusive sale. Retailers can then make changes to the product, such as colour or size, to develop their own, unique brand identity and fit their specific niche. Private label products are usually less expensive than national brands, and if marketed correctly, they have the potential to bring in a large profit.

White labelling

A white label product is a product that a manufacturer creates for sale by many retailers. Each retailer is allowed to resell the generic white label product under its name and branding. With white label manufacturing, the retailer can charge a premium on the product by attaching their existing brand because of their position in the marketplace.

White vs. Private labelling

With white labeling, a generic white label product is created by a manufacturer for multiple resellers. For example, a white label manufacturer would sell a generic soap to 10 different retailers. Each retailer is free to rebrand the soap as their own, but they are all essentially selling the same soap without modifications. This is why the many store branded products sometimes look identical.

White labeling is a fast way to get to the market, but your products will be very similar to those of other retailers. With nothing but the label differentiating your products, you’ll need to shift your focus to differentiating your brand.

With private labeling, however, the product is created for exclusive sale by a single reseller. In the soap example, the private label retailer would have the option to modify it to fit their selling requirements and brand. The modified soap is exclusive to that particular retailer, and sometimes can even be customised with the retailer’s logo or branding colors, unlike generic white label products.

With either eCommerce business model, you will not have to go through the trials and tribulations of manufacturing a product. Without the investment in product design and creation, you’ll save both time and money. In turn, you can focus on marketing and branding the product to your target audience without stretching yourself too thin.

Attributes of successful white/own label products

To be successful, products should have the following attributes:

  • Existing demand.  It is difficult to create a new market, so aim to find opportunities in existing markets.
  • Low competition.  Look for popular niches which are not saturated.
  • Good margins

In addition, the following attributes are desirable in :

  • Small and lightweight.  These will be easier to store and ship to the end customer or to a fulfilment house
  • Low seasonality.  If your product can be sold year-round, then sales potential will be higher.
  • Simple and durable.  Complex, fragile product will generate more customer service issues and returns.

Researching products

Researching products on Amazon

  1. Researching popular niches and products.  Find niches which contain popular product and successful sellers
  2. Analyse competition within niches.  Can your product compete in this niche?
  3. Analyse listing optimisation within niches.  Can you create better product listing which outperforms the competition
  4. Identify suppliers from supplier directories.

Product

eBay and Amazon sales are a great place to analyse actual sales trends in near real time.  There are several cheap or free software products which can be used in your research

  • Terapeak.  This is eBay’s marketplace research tool which is available to all eBay sellers
  • Jungle Scout
  • Helium 10
  • Bqool

Find a popular niche

When researching products, look for a  product or niche on where the top 10 sellers have at least 2,000 sales per month. It is important to find a popular niche with plenty of sales activity and customers looking to make a purchase.

Analyse competition

Once you have found popular niches, the next step is to gauge the level of competition within those niches.  Questions to ask are:

  • How many reviews do competing product have.  If there are some products with thousands of reviews, then it will no be easy to compete.
  • How many competing products are there?  If there are a lot of very similar products, it will be challenging to differentiate.

An ideal situation would be a niche with two more sellers selling 200+ items per month with a Amazon review rating of 3.7 or worse.  People are still purchasing many these units even though they get rated very poorly on Amazon, which is an excellent indicator that you can make improvements on this product and sell a lot better than these other competitors.

Analyse listing optimisation

Look at the quality of the listing within the niches you have identified.  If the top-performing products have poor quality listings, then it may be possible to create a higher quality listing that outperforms them.  Look at the following attributes of each listing:

  • Descriptions.  Are the listing poorly written and missing relevant, high volume search terms
  • Images.  Are the images used of a poor quality
  • Attributes.  Have search attributes been complete

Finding suppliers

Once you have identified your target products, you will need to find suppliers.  These suppliers will almost certainly be overseas.  Here is a list of the most popular manufacturer directories:

Tips for dealing with suppliers

  • Request a product sample to verify quality
  • Verify that it was delivered quickly and in good condition
  • Request total manufacturing costs and whether there are any hidden fees
  • Review how they handle product defects and damaged goods

Margins

Before sourcing products, investigate the price you can sell products using the research tools mentioned above and work out your profitability. Margins vary widely by sector. Marks-up in the fashion sector tend to be higher, but this needs to considered against the high return rate and the short shelf life of products.

Factor in the following costs into an online sale:

  • Product cost. The cost price of the purchased product. Volume discounts may be available. Always ask!
  • Warehousing. Oversized items will be more expensive to store as they take up more room.
  • Delivery. If you are selling physical goods, there will inevitably be a delivery cost whether you deliver yourself or dropship.
  • Tax. As Mark Twain said, ‘in this world, nothing is certain except death and taxes’. In most countries, there will be sales tax which ranges from 10-25%.
  • Payment. Online payment services such as PayPal charge between 1 and 4% for accepting payment.
  • Marketing. Marketing can either be a fixed commission (e.g., Amazon, eBay) or variable (e.g., Google Ads charged by click).

Branding for your eCommerce Business

Whether you are selling your own label or branded products, you will need a business identity. While many online businesses, especially marketplace sellers, will trade under a generic name (e.g., XYZ trading), it is best to invest in developing a brand that identifies your business and helps build customer loyalty.

Whilst a brand is usually considered to be formed of a name and a visual identity (i.e., a logo), it also more broadly refers to the experience a customer has when dealing with a business as a shopper, customer or social media follower.

Why Do I Need a Brand?

Branding is a factor for consumers when they make a purchase decision. 60% of shoppers actively buy from brands they know, and 21% purchase products because they like the brand (Source: Nielsen).

Strong brand identity also acts as a unifying factor across all the channels through which a customer could interact with your company online. The same customer might buy from your company through Amazon, eBay or your website, depending on their customer journey. Here is an example of a company using the same identity across multiple platforms:

Branded eBay profile

Developing Your Brand

Good branding will lead to awareness, recognition, trust, and revenue. If your brand does not connect with your audience, it will not achieve these goals. Before developing your brand, ask the following questions:

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What is your product niche?
  • What makes you unique?

There are probably a lots competitors in your industry and niche. Think about what makes you different. What values, benefits, and qualities make your company unique? How do your products or services improve lives and contribute to success?

Choosing a Name and URL

When launching an online business, it will be necessary to select a URL for your website and usernames for marketplaces and Social Media accounts.

When choosing a name, select a different name from other companies in your space, which will help with your findability online. With the proliferation of online businesses, this is becoming more difficult but keep trying until you succeed. Here are some general pointers for selecting a name and a URL for your business:

  • Keep it short. Long and complicated names are easy to forget. Choose something which rolls off the tongue.
  • Easy to interpret. Ideally, someone can look at your name or URL and quickly guess what your company does.
  • Target broad keywords. Including keywords in your domain can help with your natural search engine performance, but do not keyword stuff.
  • Make the URL and name easy to say and remember. Avoid any difficult to say words and foreign words. Avoid number and punctuation like dashes.

In terms of your domain name, .com is preferable for commercial sites as this is seen as broadly territory neutral, which will help if you are offering your products overseas.

Create Your Visual Identify

It is best to employ a professional graphic designer to develop a professional-looking logo and visual identity. Take some time to build a set of brand guidelines (or a brand style guide) to govern your visual assets’ composition and use. This will ensure your branding is applied accurately and consistently.

Sites like Upwork are a good place to hire designers at reasonable rates.

Put Your Branding to Work

Aim for consistent implementation of your brand across your business, including all customer touchpoints. This should include:

  • Your website
  • Marketplace accounts
  • Social Media accounts
  • Marketing communications, e.g., email, flyers
  • Customer service communication, e.g., support emails
  • Packaging and package inserts

How to use Amazon promotions

Promotions

Promotions can help your products stand out from the competition and stimulate sales. Promotions are most effective when your offer wins the Buy Box.

Promotions are either money off or Buy-one-get-one-free offers which are run on a subset of your Amazon invntory products. Setting up promotions requires the following steps:

1.      Create a product selection

The first step is to create a new product selection.  To do this, first navigate to Advertising > Promotions then click Manage Product Selection at the top of the menu.  This can either be a list of ASINs from your inventory, a category or a brand name.

2.      Creating a promotion

After you’ve created a product selection, it’s time to create the promotion. First, navigate back to Advertising > Promotions then click one of the two promotion types. In the promotion you will need to specify the following attributes:

  • Condition for promotions e.g. Buying quantity, product selection
  • Promotion details e.g. percentage off

3.      Scheduling

Once the promotion has been specified, the scheduling must be set.  This sets the period during which the promotion will run.

4.      Additional options

Promotions should be carefully created as if you do not set them up properly, they can be combined giving customer a larger discount than intended.

There are three options for creating a claim code. You can choose:

  • Single-Use: Each claim code can only be used once. All codes will be random 16 digit strings.
  • Group: One code that can be used an unlimited amount of times until the promotion ends. This code can be more generic, such as 15OFF or SUMMERDEAL.  For combinability options see below.
  • None: This will allow your promotion to be activated automatically, if a customers’ cart qualifies for the promotion. They will not be required to enter a code.

If you are announcing the discount to a large group of people (i.e. deals website, social media post) you should choose Single-Use to avoid people abusing the discounts you are offering. Or, if you want to offer your email subscribers money off on their next order, you could create a Group Code like 10OFF and sent it to all your followers.

Codes Combinability

There are two options for claim code combinability:

  • Preferential. Only 1 promo will be applied to the purchase. If the customer attempts to add multiple promotions, only the one with the greatest discount will be applied. This is a good choice for sellers who are offering multiple types of promotions for the same product selection and protects your promotions against stacking.
  • Unrestricted. Be extremely cautious before choosing this option, especially when you are using a group claim code. This option means your promotion can be stacked along with other promotions that are running for your products. This could result in you giving multiple discounts for one order, and if you have Group promo codes, people can place unlimited orders.

Messaging

By clicking on customise messaging, the messaging for checkout or details page is can be set.

Vouchers vs. Promotions

Between promotions and vouchers, the biggest difference is what they target. Promotions focus on obtaining free items or getting a money off your purchase. Vouchers, on the other hand, focus on taking set money amount off and require inputting codes to get the discount.

Other differences include:

  • Promotion codes can be distributed off Amazon as there is an actual code
  • More complex setup for promotions giving more control
  • Vouchers are just money off whereas promotions can also offer free products
  • Combinable – more than one offer can be run on a product at the same time

Launching a New Brand on Amazon

Brand Registry

If a brand is not already on Amazon then to create listing under that brand it will need to be registered under brand registry. If there are already products under that brand on Amazon then the brand should be registered in any case as it will allow the brand owner to ‘own’ that brand on Amazon, allowing them to amend product listings, kick off counterfeits and run Sponsored brand campaigns.

Once a brand has been registered in Brand registry, then the brand owner will be able to launch a branded storefront for this brand.

There will be a link on each product to this branded storefront.

Other benefits of registering a brand is that the brand owner can create A+ content and run Sponsored Brand campaigns.

FAQs

Q. I have multiple brands. How does that work?

A. From a single seller account you can register multiple brand and manage multiple branded storefronts.

Q. Can I manage multiple brands from the same storefront

A. No. That would be a bad idea. Each storefront is only for one brand and the band is assigned when the listing is created. To have multiple brand under the same storefront would require the wrong brand to be assigned to a product. This is not a a) not a good customer experience b) would possibly be difficult to change in future c) Against Amazon’s rules d) you would not be able to run sponsored brand campaigns for the individual brands.

Q. Do I have to have a branded storefront if I have registered a brand through brand registry

A. No you do not.

How to use Amazon FBA Inventory Planning

When selling on FBA you need to be able to plan how much inventory you need to send over the Amazon’s fulfilment centres.  Luckily Amazon has some tools to help in doing this.  Inventory planning which can be found under inventory > Inventory planning

Restock inventory

On this screen can be seen the sales by SKU of FBA inventory across the multiple sites.  This screen has a stock ordering system where a merchant can enter details about a product and Amazon will produce a report which will generate an inbound inventory recommendation.

  • SKU Settings.  Set the supplier and replenishment details for each SKU.  This will be combined by Amazon with sales data to generate a recommendation
  • Download Restock recommendations. These can be used to generate levels for shipping plans

Manage Excess inventory

Based on sales, this screen will show ‘excess inventory’ which is recommended for removal. 

Fix stranded inventory

Stranded inventory is FBA which for some reason is not assigned to an FBA ASIN.  This inventory can be seen from Inventory > stranded inventory and either a return requested for converted to FBA inventory.

Understanding Amazon FBA Settings

Before sending up your FBA inventory for the first time there are a number of setting which must be specified in Settings > Fulfilment by Amazon.

Cross border fulfilment settings. 

Pan European FBA is a programme where listings can be delivered across Europe at the delivery rate of the ordering country.  To qualify a listing must have a listing in each of the EU4 (FR, DE, IT, ES) and Enable multi-country inventory storage.

Labelling service. 

To be accepted into Amazon warehouses, some product must have a new Amazon specific barcode affixed (Amazon Barcode). Choose whether to allow Amazon to apply new barcodes where they are necessary.  This incurs a fee per label.

Inbound settings

Choose what warning to see when sending up FBA inventory.  Some product may be fine to sell on Amazon but can’t be sent to FBA. 

Removal/Furbishing settings. 

Enabling Furblishing allows Amazon to inspect items and put them back into inventory if possible

Removal settings specific what to do with unfulfillable items (e.g. return or destroy)

Barcode preference. 

Chose to use the manufacturer’s barcode or a new barcode for each product.  If the manufacturer’s barcode is used then Amazon will use this identify items and these can be commingled with the exact same products from other sellers who also use Manufacturer barcodes for those items.  That is to say if you make a sale of a product then that same product as supplied by another seller may be sent.

This is usually fine, but some unscrupulous sellers have been known to send up fakes.

Selecting to use Amazon barcodes means that your product will be sent to fulfil your orders, but items must be individually re-barcoded using codes specified by Amazon.

More details can be found here: https://sellercentral.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/help.html?itemID=G200141480&language=en_GB

Customer support. 

Specify whether to allow Amazon to manage customer service for your orders

Shipping programmes and export settings  

Choose whether to allow overseas customers to purchase your FBA products.

How to use Amazon Sponsored Ads Match Types

Match types help control how shopping queries are matched with the keywords you are bidding on. They provide you with additional control to help you reach your campaign goals.

Each match type provides different opportunities for your ad to display when shoppers for an item. In general, the broader the match type, the higher the likelihood of matching customers’ shopping queries.  The narrower, or more restrictive, the match type, the lower the likelihood of matching the customers’ shopping queries, but it has a higher likelihood of reaching relevant customers.

Broad Match

With broad match, the shopping query must contain all the keyword terms, or close variations. Words can be in any order and contain additional words.

Use broad match you are unuse of what keyphrases customers are searching on and want to cast a broad net. For example if an advertiser specifies the keyword “soft toy”, their product could be displayed when customers perform the following searches:

  • Soft plush toy
  • Red soft toy

But not

  • Wooden toy
  • Plastic toy

Phrase Match

With phrase match, if customers use the exact phrase, or close variations, and be in the same order as keyword term.  The shopping query may contain words before or after keyword term phrase.

Use phrase match when you want your ads to appear for more specific searches.  For example the phrased matched keyword “soft toy” would appear for

  • Red soft toy
  • Disney soft toy

But not:

  • Soft plush toy
  • Toy with soft fur

Exact Match

With exact match, the customers shopping query must be the exact word or phrase, or very close variations. The shopping query needs to be in the same order and cannot contain additional words. 

Use exact match to advertise only on specific keyphrases.

Negative Match

Negative match types prevent an ad from being served if the customers look for the exact word or phrase or close variants. Negative phrase match reaches a broader audience by allowing additional words before and/or after.  Negative exact match targets a very specific audience by targeting an exact phrase.

Use negative match to filter our non-performing keywords. If a negative phrase “soft toy” is specified then an ad will not appear for the following searches

  • Red soft toy
  • Soft toy for toddler

But it could appear for the following searches

  • Soft plush toy
  • Toy with soft fur

How to use Amazon Vouchers to grow your sales

You can offer discounts on a single product or a set of products and enjoy automatic merchandising for your voucher through Amazon. Customers can discover vouchers through the following options:

  • Vouchers home page
  • Search results
  • Product detail pages
  • The Offer Listings page
  • In their carts

Add products to your voucher

You can feature up to 200 products in one voucher. While adding multiple products, selecting within the same sub-category or product group will help provide a better customer experience.

Choose voucher type

You can offer percentage or money-off discounts. The discount must be 5% and 80% of your lowest price for the product in the last 30 days. The budget you set will be utilised as customers collect and redeem your voucher. We will deactivate your voucher when your budget is fully utilised.

Schedule and target your voucher

You can set a duration of up to 3 months for your voucher. If you know which customer segment has a higher probability of redeeming your voucher, targeting can help optimise your return on investment.