Product research: Analysing products and finding opportunities

Predicting what products will sell is a challenging task. However, there are many different data sources available to consult when building a picture of the marketplace and identifying opportunities.

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.
  • eBay research. eBay’s Terapeak tool will give the best sellers for a given category.
  • Google Shopping. Google’s Best Sellers report given a list of popular products and brands on their Google shopping ads programme.
  • Amazon Research tools. Products such as Jungle Scout and Bqool provide a suite of tools for interrogating Amazon sales history to find product opportunities.

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.

Looking for Product Opportunities

If you are researching products to buy or to make, tools like Jungle Scout and Bqool will enable you to query the Amazon marketplace to find where there is demand and limited supply, or weak competition:

  • Low reviews. It is hard to compete with a listing that has a lot of reviews. One strategy is to find products with good sales but with few reviews and create competing products.
  • Non-optimised listings. Find products that are poorly optimised (short descriptions, low-quality images) but have good revenue and create competitor products.
  • Few searches returned. Look at keyword demand on Amazon and find niches with lots of searches but few results or poorly matched results.

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).