Whoop! So, it’s Black Friday!

Right now you may have noticed that online shoppers are in the midst of a massive buying frenzy and hopefully you yourself are knee deep in festive orders, however, as an online seller, you shouldn’t rest on your laurels as now is the time that you should be thinking ahead and preparing for 2019!

There’s a lot to be said for being chilled out, relaxing and slowly drifting into mince pie season, but it does pay to plan ahead so you should ideally be thinking about the types of products people will be looking for once the Christmas rush is over – particularly if you’re currently selling a seasonal product that is likely to lose sales traction once Christmas is done.

It’s very easy to think about only the now rather than the future too and you really don’t want to find yourself in a badly planned situation that sees you go from healthy, multiple daily sales to absolutely zero in the space of a few days.

The same is true if you’re not selling yet but are contemplating starting an online business. Planning is key (as is research) so that you are ready to go, with the right product, at exactly the moment when prospective buyers are looking for it.

So, my advice today applies not only to experienced online sellers, but newbies too, because whilst deciding which new products to add to your inventory is always extremely exciting – it can also be daunting, challenging, intimidating and quite frankly terrifying!

One of the biggest challenges is deciding exactly what to sell – in other words, finding a profitable niche and product – and that’s where good forward planning comes in.

The trick is to really consider what consumers will be looking for and the ways you can achieve a successful selling product line rather than having a quick think about what you might like to sell, then selecting a product at random – because that won’t work.

You need to think about a specific product or niche first so that you have direction and focus – then simply consider the opportunities that are all around you.

For example, historically, a new year brings an influx of people looking to purchase products in categories such as Fitness, Exercise, Slimming, Stop Smoking and so on – all categories typically associated with New Year Resolutions, so now is the perfect time to get your research done with the view to having new products in your inventory ready to go in January.

Sounds simple? Well, yes it is to a degree, but remember that those categories I’ve just listed are all also highly competitive, so your best plan of action will be to ‘dig deep’ into the sub-niches within those categories and uncover specific products that have less competition – but are still in-demand.

So, to find a niche and product that has potential you’ll need to do some research before the peak selling times begin and to do this you can apply a strategy I devised which I call ‘TOPPIK’. It’s easy to remember because it sounds just like the word ‘topic’ which of course means a subject, a matter, an area or an issue. This in turn ties in with direction and focus and it can also be associated with ‘Top Pick’ meaning the best of a selection.

So, what is TOPPIK?

Well, first you need to look at Trends 

Trends come and trends go, but by recognizing a trend early enough, and getting in to the market at the start will ensure you make a name for yourself before anyone else. Keep your eyes and ears open at all times – listen to what your children, your friends and family are talking about. Read newspapers, browse online – and keep your wits about you. Product opportunities appear in the unlikeliest of places!

You already know that for example fitness and exercise is a ‘trend’ after the excesses of Christmas, so think about whether there’s a new fitness trend working its way up, or a particular item of clothing that people will be looking to purchase as they throw themselves into their new year resolutions with gusto.

Next is Opportunity

Opportunities are everywhere, but finding a gap in a market is great news. You need to capitalize on that opportunity to the best of your ability so look at a particular niche and try and work out if there is a problem or something that is missing within that niche. It comes down to my ‘similar but better’ strategy. Think about what you could introduce to the market that is ‘similar but better’ than what is already being offered there.

This could be a ‘luxury’ item or a ‘bargain’ item; it could be a product that already sells well, but with an added element or ‘twist’. For example, if there is a slimming product that is currently selling well, can you research and source a superior model that gives faster or better results?

Try and follow your Passion

You might decide to focus on products that you have a real passion for or that you have first-hand positive experiences of. It’s likely then that you’ll know exactly what potential buyers are searching for and when and you’ll be knowledgeable about products in the niche. Just having this expertise can prove to be extremely profitable. For example, if your passion is for fashion accessories, consider what others may be looking to buy at particular times of the year and as seasons change.

Think about Problems

Solving a problem has long been a sure fire way to ensure you have a bestselling product on your hands. Think about problems that people have (or that you may have had in the past) – and how you could solve the problem with a particular product or set of products.

For example if you have recently successfully stopped smoking and you used a particular product to help you achieve that then think about the product and others relating to it with a view to researching and sourcing something similar to resell. You may be surprised to learn that a ‘problem’ doesn’t necessarily have to be in the realms of a physical ‘pain’ either. To a young lady on her first date, her problem could be as simple as finding the perfect handbag to match her shoes!

Then Identify the need

I mentioned ‘passion’ earlier and this actually applies to consumers too. When people are immersed and passionate about something – for example a hobby, an interest, a sport, a goal that they are determined to achieve – they will spend more money in order to get the best results because at that particular time it’s ‘all-consuming’. For example, can you offer a product to a cycling enthusiast that enables them to cycle further and faster with far less effort? If you can, then that cyclist would very likely be prepared to buy your superior product This is identifying a need.

Finally, it’s the Knowledge you already have

If you have knowledge of a particular industry, product or niche or if you have a particular skill or have experienced something that makes you an expert on the subject then you can use this to your advantage.

Perhaps you already know the exact peak selling times for a particular item making it easy to plan ahead. Perhaps you can offer that little bit extra with the product due to your expertise or recommend an ‘add-on’ product that will increase your sales.

You can turn your expertise into a route into online selling, safe in the knowledge that you know a huge amount about an area that competitors in the same niche may not. This leads to better products, better listings, better service and ultimately more sales.

And that’s TOPPIK!

There are opportunities all around you

The most important aspect you need to consider when choosing a product though is to not be scared of looking into smaller, less well known niches. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, the deeper you dig and the more specific you become the more opportunities there are for you to achieve success due to less competition.

For example, if your research tells you that ‘yoga mats’ are in demand, consider selling not just standard yoga mats, but instead premium quality, thicker yoga mats, or longer / wider yoga mats or unusual coloured or patterned yoga mats or yoga mats that provide acupressure (yes, they do exist!).

Remember that the niche, and ultimately the products you choose to take further in your online business will each bring unique challenges but importantly, they will shape your business for the future, so plan ahead, choose carefully and choose well.