Properly managing your assortment is one of the most important jobs for online store owners. But coming up with new product ideas to expanding your assortment effectively can often be downright frustrating.
How can you effectively find new products to sell? Here are a few tips that should help you drum up some new product ideas.
1. Customer who bought "x" item also bought "x" item feature
This is one of the easiest ways to find new products that you may not already be selling.
You’ve probably seen this every time you’ve shopped on Amazon, eBay, or any other large online marketplace. It’s just a simple list of other products that customers bought along with the product you’re currently looking at.
Amazon, eBay, and Walmart have invested millions of dollars mining their purchase data to increase their average dollars per sale. For the cash-strapped smaller ecommerce business, you can take advantage of this feature to get inspiration for new products for your own site. For example, let’s say your site offers outdoor gear and apparel, and one of your products is a lightweight backpacking stove.
Looking at what other customers bought when buying a backpacking stove on Amazon, we see that they also bought mess kits, stove gas, a camp stove windscreen, waterproof matches, and a water filtration system. While you may already sell the stove gas, mess kits, and water filtration systems, do you have the camp stove windscreen or the waterproof matches?
These may just seem like little things, but these lower-demand products may fit very well into your long-tail product strategy.
2. Ask current customers
Have you ever participated in a survey sent to you by a company you frequently shop? If you have, chances are you’ve seen them ask you a question along the lines of “what other products would you like to see us offer?”
What better way to come up with new product ideas than by asking your customers directly? They may want you to sell items you haven’t even considered before. Obviously, not every idea you get from a customer will be a smart choice for your business, but it’ll start you on the right path to finding new products.
Start on this immediately by creating a quick survey that you can add to your checkout process (after purchase) or include in the confirmation email to your customers after every purchase. Sweeten the deal for completing the survey, like offering a percentage discount or free shipping on their next purchase. Consider how the value of your incentive will impact your survey response rate — the better the deal, the more responses you will get.
Keep your survey short and sweet. A survey like this shouldn’t take up more than a minute or two of your customer's time. For more information about putting together a survey, this information over at Surveymonkey is helpful.
3. Use well-priced staple products to build customer loyalty
Trying to maintain a flashy array of the latest and greatest products, or even just chasing after the one new must-have product, isn’t a very effective strategy.
Instead, you should focus on the staples of your niche - the products that will keep drawing customers to your online store on a regular basis.
The Houston Chronicle has a great article on the subject. In it, author Sam Ashe-Edmunds wrote, "Staples are products your customers need, rather than want. For example, new mothers need diapers on a regular basis. Price diapers lower than your competition, even lower than your cost, if necessary, to get mothers into your store, upselling them clothing, toys, books or high-margin baby items you place near the diapers."
The same method can be applied to any kind of online store. Going back to the outdoor gear and apparel example - sportsmen will always need items like tents, tarps, rope, and water bottles. These are staples of the industry. You can price those staples lower and sell specialized equipment, like fly rods and rifle scopes, at a higher price.
Keeping your ideas simple will help you hone in on specific needs and present customers with items they can't not buy from you.
Coming up with new product ideas can be a frustrating process, but these tips should help you get on your way to finding exciting items to stock for your customers. If you found these tips helpful, you might also want to look at our free whitepaper, The Retailer’s Guide to Dropshipping.