Everyone who starts an ebiz faces the question: What do I sell? And most everyone seems to make two classic mistakes in the beginning:
- They try to sell what everyone else is selling: DVDs, electronics and designer clothing. The problem they encounter is that the market is already saturated with these products and the suppliers typically do not work in small quantity. To make any profit at all, they'd have to buy huge quantities.
- They try to sell what they know and love. Unfortunately, unless there is a significant demand for what they know and love, they are going to be stuck with a lot of product they can appreciate but can't move.
What's an IDEA HOTSPOT?
Lisa Suttora of Whatdoisell.com coined the term "idea hotspot" to refer to anything, any place or person that "provide[s] you with an unending source of new product ideas, of market trends, of developing niches and product line education?It is a fertile ground for product ideas." These hotspots keep you in touch with what people are buying, what things are up-and-coming, and what things are on their way out. If your ideas all come from one or two places, you are limiting yourself. Expand your thinking? You might consider looking at one of these "hotspots" for inspiration:
- Newspapers. You can get an idea of what is on the minds of consumers by simply reading the lifestyle section, the business section, or looking at the advertisements the big stores are putting out.
- Consumer Publications. There are hundreds of magazines designed around niche products, niche hobbies and niche markets. They are a terrific resource for building niche product lines.
- Malls/brick-and-mortar stores. Talk to the salespeople, find out what is selling. You can even source your suppliers off the boxes. Get the manufacturer's name, call them up, and ask who their local distributor is in your area.
- Trend-spotting websites, such as Trendwatching.com, Influxinsights.com and Trendhunter.com.
The entertainment industry, movies and TV drive product trends. If you know what is coming out in the movie industry, you can start sourcing related products before the trend begins. Imdb.com maintains a list of movies that are going to be released in the coming year. So if you know now that a particular movie is going to be coming out, you can start stocking up on relevant products before they become pricey, such as Batman, Superman, Curious George and Star Wars.
Write It Down
Suttora strongly suggests carrying a product sourcing notebook, be it a PDA or hand-held notebook, to keep track of your ideas as they come. She warns, "Ninety percent of ideas that you don't write down will get lost. When you're at these idea hotspots, if you see a hundred ideas for products to sell, you won't be able to remember those. You've got to write them down in your product sourcing notebook and then go back and start researching them."