Make no mistake: finding lucrative, in-demand products that appeal to your target audience can be one of the most consequential and difficult decisions for ambitious entrepreneurs, but it’s not impossible. Keep reading as we cover the different ways to decide what products to sell on Shopify, as well as creative approaches to positioning products in your store and some of the best Shopify apps for sourcing products.
Choosing the Best Products for Your Shopify Store
Coming up with the best products for your Shopify store out of thin air rarely happens; it takes quite a bit of research to find good opportunities. Whether you already know what product category you want to sell or haven’t even gotten that far yet, the following information will help you find products that are a right fit for your brand.
Start with Your Experience and Knowledge
If possible, use your own professional experience in a particular industry. Do you have a skill or a distinct set of expertise that makes you more skilled than the average Joe? Transforming your expertise into your own online business is an effective way to enter the market with a head start that isn’t easy for your competitors to replicate.
Focusing on your hobbies or interests can be another effective way to select a product category that you will want to stick with for the long haul. Not only does your already-gained knowledge put you in the position to write informative, unique descriptions for each product (and blog content), but you’re more likely to be able to pick products that appeal to enthusiastic consumers like yourself who are actively looking to spend money on a particular trade or hobby.
Whether using your profession or a personal interest as your starting point, every stage of building and growing your brand will be easier — from audience research, to selecting products and engaging on social media.
Explore Social Media and Forums
If you would rather consider products outside your professional experiences or hobbies, there are many opportunities to be found by looking through different social media platforms.
- Instagram: By far the most popular platform for brands in the retail, fashion, and health & beauty sectors, Instagram is easy to navigate and can make research quick by showing you how strong follower interactions are for product posts.
- Pinterest: With Pinterest, you can either see what’s trending with “Popular on Pinterest” or explore boards of related products and interests curated by passionate users. The benefit of using Pinterest over Instagram for your research is that you’re likely to get a more well-rounded idea of the variety of products you should consider within a chosen product category.
- Twitter: Tweets are fleeting (an average 18 minutes of fame per tweet based on Moz’s data). For this reason, The best use for finding products on Twitter is to keep an eye on trending topics. You can find this information on your screen when you log in or use the platform’s Explore function for a deeper dive. Also, if you have active followers, you can even ask them for ideas or feedback on products.
- Facebook: The king of social media really needs no explanation. Almost every brand, topic, and group has a dedicated page that you can engage with for product research. You can also use hashtags to refine your search results.
Not only can you use social media, but you can actively seek out groups and curators on forums like Quora and Reddit. If you haven’t come up with a product category yet, a great option is to read through discussions that focus on popular products sold on Amazon.
Searching “Quora Amazon products” in Google can take you down a rabbit hole of ideas. The question “What are the top Amazon products?” (shown above) not only gives you 12 answers but also a list of similar questions to the right, and suggested question categories at the top. You will need to create a Quora account in order to explore other questions and categories.
As for researching on Reddit forums, RepricerExpress.com offers several suggestions for subreddit groups that focus on Amazon, so please check out that article. While some of the groups are geared toward Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), others touch on popular eCommerce products to consider based on their popularity on Amazon.
Note: Quora and Reddit both provide answers based on commentor’s views and interests. The information can definitely be helpful, but be sure to do your own research to confirm the validity of their suggestions.
Lastly, you can always look through product categories on Amazon itself and filter out any products that have low ratings or are below your ideal product price point. A couple downsides to this approach is that there’s a growing issue of Amazon storefronts artificially inflating their scores with false reviews. Also, if the product is already available on Amazon at a competitive price, you need to ensure that your business strategy takes this into account by offering customers something more than just a good deal.
Use Data Driven Tools to Identify Trends and Interests
Google Trends is a widely recommended tool for confirming whether or not your product ideas hold any weight with online consumers. You can search and compare several product ideas at once and then filter the data by location, date range, category, and search type. Extending the date range to five years or more will also give you reliable information on seasonal shifts in customer interest that are important to be aware of. We suggest that you don’t solely rely on this tool to make your decisions, but you should definitely include it in your toolbox.
Google also offers a couple of less widely known tools that we think are definitely worth looking at.
- Shopping Insights is a search tool that lets you plug in products, brands, or product categories and find out which are most popular with online consumers.
- Google Shopping 100 is an ever-changing ranking list of products broken down by popular categories. The criteria to make this list is that the product must have a recent spike in U.S. search volume.
There are other tools available for identifying trends and interests. For example, Trend Hunter is a highly recommended resource, offering both free information and paid tools that use big data, AI, and in-house experts to forecast upcoming trends. And there are similar services available that each try to carve out a unique niche in finding trends, so be sure to check out the list by BusinessIdeasInsight.com, which covers a selection of Trend Hunter competitors.
Discover Product Ideas Through Keyword Research
Another massively underrated, but effective strategy is keyword research. Google Trends is often a component of this strategy, but in-depth keyword research goes much deeper. You will need to know what product category you’re researching before starting. By using a variety of tools, you can collect hundreds or thousands of highly searched keywords for a specific product category or product and filter out all but the best based on monthly search volume (regional or global).
There are a number of free keyword tools available to help you get started with compiling your comprehensive list, such as KeywordTool.io (which also can give you keywords based on Amazon search results), Answer the Public, and Ubbersuggest.
Once you have a strong list, you need to switch over to paid tools such as Ahrefs or SEMRush to get the monthly search volume. While there is a cost involved with using either of these tools, we suggest signing up for a month and canceling when you’re done with your research. The monthly pricing is affordable and well worth the investment.
Note: Because this strategy is data driven, it’s important to understand that keyword search volume provided by the paid tools is not exact.
- The search volume is a rough estimate that is best used to compare consumer interest within your list of keywords.
- Keywords usually get searched more often each month than what the tools suggest is possible, so don’t disregard a product keyword just because the search volume is low.
Keyword research is not only effective for identifying products, but it’s also an important step in applying a well-rounded SEO strategy. You can use your keyword research for creating more effective meta titles, product names, and even blog topic ideas.
Reframing How You Position Products
Finding the best products to sell on your Shopify store is not a one-time task to cross off your checklist. Like every aspect of online retail, continual testing is key to long-term success. This is why having the tools and resources available to research, identify, and source new products are not only important for staying competitive but also for identifying new opportunities for growing your business.
Note: Several of the suggestions below for how to position products on your site work particularly well when implemented through a dropshipping business model (which will be discussed later). Even if you manufacture your own products, it’s possible to use dropshipping as part of your overall eCommerce strategy.
While you may find success with your current products, you should always be considering what your store is missing. Creating space in your product strategy for new products can be particularly effective for returning customers. Based on research by Invsep:
“Existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and spend 31% more, when compared to new customers.”
This statistic becomes even more interesting when you also consider that:
“It costs five times as much to attract a new customer, than to keep an existing one.”
The takeaway is that once customers start buying from your website, it’s much cheaper to sell to them again than to find new customers — and one thing that returning customers like is new products.
Seizing on the opportunity of trending products requires a good eye and fast action. If you have your finger on the pulse of your audience’s interests, you will be given the opportunity to capitalize on it before your competitors can. While it’s difficult to stay ahead of trends, having a plan and network in place for identifying and sourcing trending products is almost a guarantee for success. (Again, tools like Trend Hunter can keep you in the loop on new products to add to your site.)
You can add products to your store to test out ideas, try new product categories, or connect with different target audiences. Testing products goes hand-in-hand with dropshipping, because there are no costs involved with designing, manufacturing, or stocking the products. The benefit is that you can strategically test the product to confirm interest. Then if it’s successful, you can transition over to a manufacturer or wholesaler for a better price.
Cross-selling is an effective way to increase your sales revenue by suggesting complimentary products to customers based on what they put in their shopping carts. When doing competitor research, pay close attention to whether or not they use cross-selling and which products are being recommended. Shopify makes it easy to add this functionality through a variety of cross-selling apps.
Discounts and free shipping are the go-to strategies for getting hesitant customers to complete the purchase, but it’s also possible to convert by adding value through free products (think late night infomercials). The implementation can be similar to cross-selling with the use of well-timed pop-ups letting visitors know that if they complete the order, a relevant bonus product will be thrown into the shipment free of charge.
Options for Sourcing Products
After you come up with the products you want to feature on your Shopify store, you need to narrow down how you source those products. Unless your products are digital (eBooks, downloads, etc.), your choices are to work directly with a manufacturer, buy wholesale through a supplier, or become the storefront for a dropshipper.
The first two options — manufacturers and wholesalers — require a lot more work on your end, because you need to:
- Negotiate your discounted rates
- Accurately estimate order quantities and project seasonal adjustments
- Acquire appropriate warehouse facilities
- Process shipping and returns
- Manage customer service
On the other hand, dropshipping on Shopify removes all of these hurdles except managing customer service. You create a site, find dropshipping suppliers, add products to your online store, and customers place an order that you then forward to the dropshipper for fulfillment. At no point do you ever need to physically touch the product, but you still make a profit.
If you’re new to eCommerce, we highly recommend testing the waters with dropshipping before investing in inventory with a manufacturer or wholesaler. Dropshipping gives you immediate access to products and fulfillment, which means you can still make a profit, and you can better focus your time on building your brand in the early days. Once you’re ready, you can switch gears and begin building long-term relationships with direct suppliers.
Finding Products Through Shopify’s Dropshipping Apps
There are many dropshipping apps and tools available on the Shopify App Store that can help you source the best products to sell and jump-start your low-investment business. With the tremendous growth of third-party providers and online stores, supply is not the barrier it once was. Let’s go through some of Shopify’s most popular apps.
Oberlo Dropshipping App
Price: Free, $29.90–79.90 for additional features
Oberlo lets you sell thousands of products available on AliExpress, directly on your Shopify store. All necessary functionality is provided to quickly import products to your site and forward on orders for fulfillment by AliExpress’s sellers. Oberlo also provides custom analytics about your store performance to help you make informed decisions.
Spocket ‑ US & EU Dropshipping
Price: Free, $19–99 / month for more features and premium product availability
Spocket is a product sourcing wholesale app offering up to 60% discounts on products across numerous categories. Prices are very competitive, making the app a great alternative to Oberlo. Furthermore, the app automatically updates your store to accurately reflect product availability, and all order paperwork features your branding.
Syncee – Global Dropshipping
Price: Free up to 50 products, $29–129 / month for additional products
Syncee lets you sell products from a selection of vetted and trustworthy global brands and effortlessly import products such as fashion apparel, jewelry, home décor, baby products, and much more. While the selection may be more limited than Oberlo, the quality and reliability of suppliers will make your responsibilities as an online store owner all the more easy.
My Online Fashion Store
Price: $29 / month
My Online Fashion Store exclusively offers women’s apparel at competitive prices. The number of available products is a fraction of what the larger dropshipping suppliers offer, but with it comes a focused selection that is ideal for the right Shopify store. With your monthly fee, you also get free returns and attractive shipping rates.
Printify: Print on Demand
Price: Free, $29 / month for additional features and product discounts
If you’re an artist, designer, or an established brand with a loyal following, you can find additional avenues for sales through a print-on-demand Shopify app. Printify enables you to customize a large catalog of goods such as men and women’s apparel, bags, mugs, and so much more. Because it’s print on demand, your customers’ orders come fresh off the press every time, which means there’s no worries about stocking branded gear that may not sell down the road.
Printful: Print on Demand
Printful is yet another print-on-demand service offering extensive product customization features and merchandise branding for a wide selection of apparel (including leggings and sports bras), bags, jewelry, iPhone cases, blankets, stickers, and more. Other app features include a mock-up generator for creating your own branded designs and optional customer personalization.
Lulu xPress is a niche platform for writers, comic book artists, photographers, and independent publishers looking to sell their works through Shopify. You choose exactly what you want the final product to look like, with customizations that include dimensions, page count, paper color, binding type, ink quality, and material finishes. Lulu Xpress is an excellent, low-risk way to test the waters before investing in a larger print run.
Simplifying Products when Launching Your Site
It’s important to avoid putting yourself in a corner by adding too many products at once during the site launch. We recommend starting with 20–30 products that closely match your target audience’s needs or interests. Limiting your products makes the launch much more manageable and removes the stress of having to rewrite descriptions for each product (which is a best practice for differentiating your store from your competitors as well as for SEO). Once your site is running, you can continue to add more products on a regular basis.
Finding the Best Products for Shopify Requires Research, Tools, and Apps
The market is brimming with tools to help you research and source the best products for your Shopify store. The most important point to remember is that research often beats out intuition (or at least confirms what you already know). Don’t ignore the importance of looking at Google Trends and confirming product interest on forums and social media.
Once you find a product category you’re interested in selling, look through Shopify’s many dropshipping apps to find the best match for your specific needs. Oberlo is considered the most popular, but other suppliers may be able to provide you higher quality items, more reliable shipping, returns and customer support, or a better price point. Shopify is great at providing user reviews for each app in their app store, so don’t forget to read through them to get a feel for what you should expect.
For more information on how to successfully set up a dropshipping store on Shopify, check out our guide to Shopify Dropshipping: The Ins and Outs of Setup, Apps & More.