For most online retailers, the search for new product ideas is a continuous process. Having developed a keen eye for new opportunities, they are always on the lookout for any interesting products they might be able to sell online.
Searching more proactively for new ideas, however, is also worthwhile. This is where the Internet, as a virtually infinite source of inspiration, really comes into its own. For example, many websites showcase new ideas on a daily basis, while users of social media are always posting about products they like. Similarly, Google offers a wide range of tools for monitoring the latest trends. In this article we outline some of the most important sources.
Google is one of the top sources of inspiration for those looking for new product ideas.
Here are some search terms that might help you along the way:
Product ideas – In response to this search term, Google will provide you with list after list of product ideas.
Trends (Google News) – This search brings up news articles about trends that you can use as inspiration for your product ideas.
Specialist trend websites
A number of websites have specialised in identifying and showcasing current trends. Such sites focus especially on innovative or groundbreaking products.
We would particularly recommend:
Twitter now has more than 320 million users, who frequently share their most personal thoughts with the world. Some of these include ideas for new products.
It is true that searching on Twitter can be a rather tiresome process, as the majority of postings in this area are either not meant to be taken seriously or are simply odd. Sometimes, however, you can uncover a real gem of an idea.
To do this, we would advise using the “Advanced Search” feature and then running a search on one of the following phrases:
- Product idea
- Is there a product
- I couldn’t live without
- Wouldn’t it be great if there was
- Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was
- Does anyone know how to
Instagram is a photo-sharing tool especially favoured by younger people. When users post photos to Instagram, they usually label them with a number of hashtags. By searching for such hashtags, you can discover some really interesting products.
Here are some examples:
Pinterest is another social network used by people for sharing photographs. The pictures are then shown on “boards”, as they are termed, usually focused on a particular topic.
Very often the pictures shared are of products. Because its user community tends to be young and aware of trends, browsing on Pinterest can be an excellent way to look for exciting products.
Pay special attention to “Repins” and “Likes”. If a particular photo has a high number of these, it can be a sign that the product shown on it has real market potential.
The major online marketplaces are also a fantastic source of new product ideas.
Both Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk include not only products than are offered directly by Amazon. Thousands of online retailers, in fact, use the Amazon marketplace to promote their goods to potential customers. Because of the incredible number of customers and orders involved – a total of 300 million active Amazon customers worldwide in 2015 – Amazon is a particularly valuable forum for identifying new product ideas and trends.
Especially useful are the Amazon Best Sellers. These are lists of the most popular products from various categories. Imagine, for example, you want to sell earrings in your shop but are not sure what styles are currently popular. The relevant Amazon “Best Sellers” list provides you with an easy way to find out what customers want. To do this on the Amazon UK site, for example, on the left of the screen simply click the Jewellery filter and then the Earrings subcategory. You will immediately be shown the 100 most popular earrings.
Movers and Shakers
Also useful is Amazon’s Movers and Shakers feature. This shows the products that have moved up the popularity charts over the last 24 hours, providing you with a great way of discovering items that are on trend.
Amazon’s international sites
Fancy getting one step ahead of your competitors in the UK or US markets? Then it could be worth looking at Amazon’s sites in other languages, such as www.amazon.fr – covering the French market – or www.amazon.de, to get an idea of what is hot in Germany. You might well come across products that are not even available in your home country yet.
Alibaba is a Chinese marketplace that is exclusively focused on the B2B (business-to-business) sector. Many online merchants in the West therefore use it for sourcing the goods they sell. As you’ll see, the number of products offered on Ali Baba is overwhelming: there’s virtually nothing you can’t get there. Unfortunately, however, Ali Baba doesn’t seem to include a best seller page. Even so, it’s worth a browse to see what interesting products you might find.
On the Shopzilla sites, customers in the UK and US can compare the prices of thousands of different products. By clicking the “Trending Now” link at the top of the US site’s homepage (shopzilla.com), you will see icons for all the main product categories. If you then select one of the categories – “Home Decor”, for example – you will be shown Shopzilla results in that category.
Crowdfunding is the process through which ordinary Internet users can invest in projects that have not yet been implemented. These might involve new products, for example, or artistic projects such as films or music albums. Crowdfunding websites allow you to see the types of projects involved and decide whether or not to invest in them.
Needless to say, it is important that you do not misuse sites of this type, for instance by simply copying other people’s product ideas. Even so, there is nothing to stop you from using crowdfunding sites for inspiration and as a way of monitoring product trends and successes.
Kickstarter is one of the most popular crowdfunding platforms. You can view current projects by clicking “Discover” and then selecting a category in which you are interested, such as Crafts or Fashion. You can safely ignore certain categories, such as Dance or Journalism, as they tend not to involve actual products. An even more useful feature of Kickstarter is the list of successfully financed projects. There you can see more than 100,000 projects that were successful in attracting investment.
Another interesting crowdfunding platform is Indiegogo.
Since 2005, people have been using Reddit to share content, such as links, photographs and videos, on the Internet. The site now boasts more than 500 million visitors per month.
Certain subreddits are devoted to interesting products or product ideas:
Here is another useful tip for Reddit: if you have found an interesting product niche, you should take a look around the relevant subreddits to see what further inspiration you can find.
For lots more retail help, tips and advice visit epages.com/blog or epages.com/whitepaper
About the author
Richard Stevenson is Head of Corporate Communications for cloud-driven online shop software provider ePages. He has worked in the web hosting, domain name and Software-as-a-Service industries for over 13 years, many of which working with SMEs and web pros all over the world to drive awareness and adoption of new web technologies.