Are you searching for the next trendy gadget to sell at your online store? Many people are looking to catch lightning in a bottle, but locating trends in the marketplace requires thought, research and analysis.
Find Clues to New Trends
There are resources for online entrepreneurs who are searching for products to sell, but the next big thing might be right under your nose according to Lisa Suttora, founder and CEO of WhatDoISell.com™ and co-author of What to Sell On eBay and Where to Get It.
“To find clues to new trends, you need to get out in the world and begin looking and listening in order to learn what people are thinking and doing,” Suttora said. “It’s a process of gathering clues to new niches and putting together pieces of the puzzle. It’s about connecting the dots to things. You start seeing opportunities everywhere.
Turn On Your Radar
In her book as well as during free, online eBay forums and at workshops, Suttora counsels business owners to turn on their radar and develop the “Product Sourcing Mindset™” (a term trademarked by Suttora). She advises etailers to put everything they encounter in a day’s time through a product-sourcing filter.
When you’re reading a newspaper, sitting in a dentist’s office looking at old magazines, walking down the aisle at a grocery store or watching your child play soccer, study your surroundings and be open to new ideas and new trends. When you observe something, write it down in what she calls a “Product Sourcing Notebook™” (another term she trademarked). This is simply a small, portable notebook where you can write down ideas. For you high-tech types, a PDA will suffice; just write it down.
“You should always be looking at products and ways to add to your product line, but do it in the routine of daily activity,” Suttora said. Many people, she said, try to think of new products to sell by plopping in front of their computer and plowing through search engines. According to Suttora, you’ll have greater success if you turn outward and begin evaluating what’s happening around you.
In her book, she outlines many free ideas to help identify new products and trends in the marketplace. Some of the things she suggests for creative online product-sourcing strategies include:
- Sign up for Google Alerts for a particular topic. When a new story is released in your area of interest, and the search engine captures the story, it will be emailed to you.
- Watch television programs and be attuned to other media within your niche. If you have an online site with home and garden products, you should be watching Home and Garden Television or DIY Network on a regular basis. When you see new products featured, take note. There’s a good chance they will be hot sales items.
- Sign up for free newsletters from trade associations in your niche market as they are full of new trends in the industry.
Suttora says “Idea Hotspots™,” like trade shows, trade organizations, magazines, consumer catalogs and newspapers, are resources where people can get an unending supply of product-sourcing ideas. Once you’ve narrowed down products that you are interested in selling, you’ll be well served to capture as much quantifiable data on the product and the marketplace that you can. That’s where a company like Terapeak comes in.
Find Easy-to-access Market Research
Terapeak is an eBay Certified Service Provider that offers in-depth, easy-to-access market research. Do you want to know if sewing thread is moving on eBay? Terapeak showcases a tremendous amount of data, including: average sales price; average starting price; average listing duration; quantities sold on each day of the week; whether it was more successfully sold at a bid auction, fixed price or multi-item; if a bold listing moved the product more quickly, etc. You can see there was $12,470 of thread sold on eBay on Tuesday, May 2 on 1,069 listings and $15,187 in sales on 1,340 listings on Sunday, April 30.
A particularly handy feature is the “sell-through rate,” which tells business owners the percentage of listed products sold. (In case you’re wondering, 47 percent of listed threads were sold on May 2 compared to 27 percent of the 1,558 listings of black iPod Nanos on the same date.)
“Terapeak can help an online entrepreneur evaluate an opportunity and the potential of that niche,” said David Frey, Brand Manager for Terapeak. “It lets you get in and see the trends and do the research. By combining Terapeak data with what’s going on in the real world, businesses can make an educated decision on products.”
Terapeak analyzes eBay’s data and packages it as an easy-to-understand tool for people looking for product trends. Its graphing option allows entrepreneurs to take a longitudinal view of sales activity so they can closely monitor where the item is in its product cycle.
Frey said their “Hot List” is one of the site’s more popular offerings.
There is a $16.95 monthly fee for the service. Its data covers 100 percent of the traffic on eBay outside of eBay Motors and Real Estate. Like Terapeak, eBay itself also sells marketplace data and provides three tiers of pricing options. The general data is the same as Terapeak’s, but it’s not presented in the same form. Terapeak also includes features like its “Hot List.”
To make it in the highly competitive online marketplace, a successful merchant must employ various tools to ensure success. Some, like Suttora noted, are free, and others are paid resources.