A lot of new ecommerce businesses fail before they had any chance of success. Most of the problems leading to the ugly feeling of getting no sales later on is caused by not being specific enough and/or not validating the business idea.
This article is written to help people getting the basics right.
Take your loved ones (or even go alone) into a mall or a city next to you. Go window-shopping and take a look what’s the big stores selling right now or what kind of products they promote as “trending” or “bestseller”. Which stores you chose to visit depends on the country you live in and maybe on your personal interests. If you’re all over into fashion you can go to H&M or Hollister. If you’re a sports geek check Nike stores or other sport related shops.
I recommend to step away from technical stuff. Look after products which are non-food and non-technical based.
Use your smartphone to take pictures of the products or take notes. Evernote or Wishlist will help a lot there.
Take your time and just do some honest work. It might not feel like work going through shops but this exercise is one of my favorites. Why? Because almost no one ever even think about this. They all jump directly to websites to do some online research (which will we do also later on), but money is not only made online. Don’t forget that!
If you’re self-confident enough you can directly ask the staff what’s the best selling items right now. I did this with kids-toys and motorcycle-equipment. Because I have absolutely no idea about these two categories I just said I am in search of a present for my nephew/brother in law and need help to find some stuff everyone in his age/with his passion would love.
While doing this kind of research never think about how you could advertise this or how you could compete against huge stores. Just make a list of things that are trending (or seem to be selling fine).
Is there any famous tv-show in your country? Which series on Netflix is trending? Time to watch those stuff!
Big companies paying a lot of money for so called product-placements within these shows/series. Why? Because the marketing team, which started these product placement campaigns know that their audience tend to watch these series/shows on a daily base.
Don’t you think if Oprah Winfrey would wear a yellow dress with a pink duck on it a huge amount of this audience would kill for this dress?
Same goes for smaller TV-shows/series. Sheldon Cooper of “The Big Bang Theory” is a good here:
At the peak of the fame of this fictional character a lot of people wanted to wear shirts like him! Don’t belive me?
This trend is over. But if you would have done these kind of research in 2010 you were right on track! …and T-Shirts are super easy to dropship.
Within all these shows/series watch for product-placements (every brand you see is there on purpose) and items (jewelry, shapes of glasses characters wearing, fashion, special make-up or anything else) which seem to be not there by accident and make a list.
Do your homework and watch TV/Netflix/whatever platform exist in your country.
Check the most common resources for finding a niche online:
Take your time and do some honest research. Take a deep look into each category and look for:
- “Best Selling”
- “Hot Releases”
- “Most Wished For”
- “Gift Ideas”
If you find something similar to the products on your “offline-list” then they seem to seem to sell real. Mark them!
As you now should have quite some products on your list it’s time to validate.
Before we do the “real validation” we should find some keywords which are related to the products we found.
You can use the following tools to do a great keyword research:
- Google Global Market Finder
- Google Keywords Planer
- Google Suggest (the drop-down menu shown if you’re typing in your keyword without pressing enter)
- Google “related searches” (Just search on google and then scroll down until you see some more suggestions of keywords)
Make a list of keywords and then it’s time to validate
Validate Your Business Idea
Google Trends Validation
To use Google Trends correct you should have done your keyword research right. Otherwise you may read the results wrong. Compare every keyword with the other. Why? Because it’s possible that two/three/four/five/… words with the same meaning do have other results. And if you just type in the one with a bad results you maybe think your idea is not worth the effort of building a business although another word (with the same meaning) is trending right now.
Being lazy in this step can cost you an awesome opportunity
I just typed “sofa” and “couch” into Google Trends. (Just) two words with the same meaning (at least for the public – in terms of global thinking) have different results.
“Couch” is pretty stable whereas “Sofa” seems to trend over last years.
This is just one example where I don’t even done a keyword research. I just searched for synonyms.
Reading Google Trends
Some people might think the “100” of the Google Trends charts is the monthly search volume. This is wrong. The numbers (0-100) are just a scale so you can compare one term with others. 100 is the highest amount a term can achieve in Google Trends.
So again: This number is NOT the monthly search volume of your keyword.
Big Player Validation
(At least I guess..) none of us invented some crazy own product. We are what we are: dropshippers. Chances are pretty high (101%…) that someone selling exactly the same product as we want to.
In most cases through Amazon. Should we be scared about this? Definitely not!
It just shows you that someone who is way more experienced than you are did his/her homework and think the idea you have works. Otherwise he/she wouldn’t invest time and (a lot of) money into this. Think about that!
Go ahead and search for your items on Amazon. Someone’s selling them? Perfect. Take a deep look into the ratings, amount of reviews and the reviews itself. Search for the bestseller. If people love the products on Amazon they will also love “yours”. Period.
Don’t think about how you should compete against someone who is listed on the first site of Amazon and has better prices than you can offer. Trust me – don’t think about this!
Social Media Validation
Don’t just go by numbers, REAL people have to talk about your niche. Not some accounts of small stores. If there are quite some people take a look at what they’re saying.
The more controversial the talk on social media, the better is this for your business!
If you found a great amount of real people who are interesting in the stuff you want to sell you are allowed to be happy.
But if you want to sell iPhone cases don’t just make it too easy and search for #iphone. This wont work… Always search as specific as possible!
Validation Through Selling
This one should be one of the last steps you should take in the whole validating process. Never do this at first. Otherwise you could lose money!
THE BEST METHOD to test if you are able to make some money out of your idea is to actually make some money. But don’t go ahead and put the effort into building a shopify store yet.
Buy just one piece of the product you want to sell (hopefully it’s not a rolex watch…) on Amazon (or any other store), remove all tags that shows that this one is new, make some nice pictures of it with your smartphone and sell it on eBay, Facebook or any other platform.
Tipp: Shopify have an awesome DIY product photography tutorial
Set the price about 2-3 times higher than you bought it for and see what happens. Post it on as much platforms as possible to reach more people.
If you’ve done your research before this last step correct your chances are high that you will be able to sell this one.
Now that you’ve sold your first product it’s time to build your store.
I can highly recommend to reach out to the person who bought the product from you and ask for a testimonial. Be honest and say you want to build a brand and would like to have him/her on board. Always try to get the most out of everything!
Found a niche? No? oh… no problem! Repeat the steps above OR dig deeper.
Real life example:
If you then take a look at the global market finder you could see the monthly search volumes.
“Jeans” (90,500 monthly searches)
“Ripped Jeans” (74,000 monthly searches)
Just a slightly difference. Through the fact you’re in search of a niche which one would you chose?
Definitely “Ripped Jeans”, right?
Because those ripped jeans tend to trend. This means nothing less then people have a strong desire for those. With just a difference of 16.500 monthly searches it’s a great start.
In Terms of SEO
If you google for “Jeans” (with “”) you’ll see right beneath the search field the number of websites which include the word “jeans”
…you’ll never ever win this fight! Don’t even try to…
But (!!) If you search for “ripped jeans” …
This is a huuuuge difference. Don’t get me wrong: this also would be a fight you would lose (in terms of SEO). But I think you get it; be as specific as you can be.
If done correctly all steps together will lead to the niche you searched for!
- Offline Research
- Online Research
- Start Selling
Even if you have NO knowledge about your niche you should go for it. You want to run a successful store, not a blog.
If you do have knowledge then I really don’t know what you’re waiting for. You know got the tools!