Coming up with a great idea for a product to sell online will occasionally strike when you least expect it. Many times though, it’s something you need to be proactively on the lookout for. The internet contains a wealth of ideas and inspiration, but as a new entrepreneur, where do you begin? Aimlessly searching online will only get you so far so we have compiled a list of the best resources to give you direction and get you started.
Online Consumer Trend Publications
A great place to start your search for product ideas is to look at some top consumer product trend publications. Following trend publications is great way to begin getting a sense of the direction consumer products are going and the ideas other entrepreneurs are introducing to the market. Following these publications can also expose you to new product categories and industries that you previously didn’t know about. Following what’s trending can help you to dream up new goods, services and experiences for your online business.
There are several popular trend publications online including, but not limited to:
Trend Watching – Trend Watching is an independent trend firm that scans the globe for the most promising consumer trends and insights. Trend Watching has a team of thirty professionals in locations like London, New York, São Paulo, Singapore, Sydney and Lagos all looking for a reporting on worldwide trends.
Trend Hunter – Trend Hunter is the world’s largest, most popular trend community. Fuelled by a global network of 137,000 members and 3,000,000 fans, Trend Hunter is a source of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs and the insatiably curious.
Jeremy, the founder of Trend Hunter says, “Like many of us, I was an entrepreneur at heart, but I didn’t know what idea I wanted to pursue. I chose careers that I thought would lead me to my business idea… but after years of searching, I was still hunting for inspiration. It was then that I started Trend Hunter – a place for insatiably curious people to share ideas and get inspired.”
Springwise – There are millions of business ideas spanning the globe that operate in a specific way, have their own style, and market in a unique fashion. It’s not always possible to travel the world searching for these ideas to bring home though. That’s where Springwise comes in. Sources such as Springwise travel the world for you, on the search for new entrepreneurial ideas, trends, and stories. Springwise publishes a daily and a weekly newsletter, which you can subscribe to for free.
Example: A great example of someone that noticed a trend from another country and brought it home is Dan and his product, Inkkas. Inkkas are beautiful, unique shoes using authentic South American textiles. The idea came about when Dan noticed the trend for these style of shoes in Peru. Determining this was a great product that would also do well in the North American market, he brought the idea home and successfully funded his Kickstarter project, raising over $77,000 in pre-orders.
2. Industry Leaders
If you know the industry or niche you would like to be in you can use various tools to discover the influencers in the industry. Following the right people on social media can help inspire new ideas via a constant stream of carefully curated content from the people in the know. It’s up to you to uncover the opportunities.
There are several online tools you can use to discover the influencers online for a particular industry or niche:
3. Product and Trend Discovery Review Sites
Product review and discovery sites can also be a fantastic source of ideas and inspiration. Sites like Uncrate (men’s products) and Outblush (women’s products) are great ways to see new curated product trends daily. What better way to get inspired than to get a daily glimpse into the new and interesting products other entrepreneurs are bringing to the market.
Here are just a few examples of popular consumer product blogs to get you started:
Don’t just look at the big and popular sites but explore niche reviews sites as well. Consider what types of products and niches you’re particularly interested in and search for consumer product review blogs in those niches.
4. Social Curation Sites
Pinterest and other similar image curation sites can be a goldmine for product and niche ideas. Many of the images contain interesting, new and trending consumer products. Using the built in social signals you can sometimes get a sense almost immediately of their popularity. This could be your first clue if there is a market for the product or niche.
Several of the larger social curations sites are:
- Pinterest – Pinterest is the fastest growing social network with over 50 million monthly users. Don’t forget to check out the popular section for what’s trending.
- Polyvore – Polyvore is a new way to discover and shop for things you love. Polyvore’s global community has created over 80 million collage-like “sets” that are shared across the web.
- Fancy – Fancy describes themselves as part store, magazine and wish list. Use Fancy to find a gift for any occasion and share your favorite discoveries with all your friends.
- Wanelo – Wanelo (Want – Need – Love) describes itself as a community for all of the worlds shopping, bringing together products and stores in a Pinterest like product posting format. You can start by checkout out trending people.
5. B2B Wholesale Marketplaces
What better way to get product ideas than right from the source. This has been a popular option amongst ecommerce entrepreneurs for a while and this list wouldn’t be complete without it. Wholesale and manufacturer sourcing sites like Alibaba exposes you to thousands of potential products and ideas. It can be easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer amount of product available so take it slow.
Some of the more popular B2B wholesale product sites are:
- Alibaba – You’ve likely heard of Alibaba. They are one of the biggest ecommerce companies in the world, up there with Amazon and eBay. Alibaba connects consumers all over the world with wholesalers and manufacturers from Asia. With hundreds of thousands of products, there’s not much you can’t find on Alibaba.
Although it’s generally accepted that Alibaba is the largest online wholesale and manufacturer database, there are many other sites similar to Alibaba you can use for inspiration and to find product ideas.
Some of the largest competitors of Alibaba include:
6. Online Consumer Marketplaces
Another rich source for product ideas are online consumer marketplaces. Million of products is probably an understatement so you may want to begin your search with some of the popular and trending items and branch out into other interesting categories that catch your eye from there:
eBay – eBay is the largest online consumer auction site.
eBay Market Research – A way to find some of the most popular product categories on eBay.
Amazon – Amazon is the largest internet retailer.
Amazon Bestsellers – Amazon’s most popular products based on sales. Updated hourly.
Amazon Movers and Shakers – Amazon’s biggest gainers in sales rank over the past 24 hours. Updated hourly.
Kickstarter – Kickstarter is the largest crowd-funding website.
Kickstarter Discover – Browse all projects by popularity, funding, staff picks, as well as many other options.
Etsy – Etsy is a marketplace for handmade items.
Etsy Trending Items – Check out the current trending items and listings on Etsy.
AliExpress – AliExpress is a new consumer wholesale marketplace from Alibaba that allows you to order in small quantities.
AliExpress Popular – The most popular products being bought on AliExpress.
7. Social Forum Communities
Reddit is the largest social media news aggregator. It describes itself as the front page of the internet and is enormously influential. Reddit has thousands of “subreddits” which are sub-sections or niches that cater to different topics and and areas of interest. It’s within these subreddits that you can find lots of inspiration for your next product or business idea.
If you have an idea for a particular industry, niche or product category, it’s worth doing a search and finding a suitable subreddit community to join and actively become a part of.
There are also many product focused subreddits that are packed with ideas.
Here are a few examples:
- Buy It For Life – For practical, durable and quality made products that are built to last.
- Shut Up And Take My Money – Interesting, clever, useful products that that people want… badly.
There are also several subreddits for curated Amazon products, make sure to check out the following:
- The Best of Amazon
- The Best of Amazon Canada
- The Best of Amazon UK
- Find It On Amazon
If you’re active on Reddit and pay close attention, occasionally you have come across interesting posts like these:
- Reddit, What is One Product Under $20 That You Recommend Everyone To Buy?
- What $100 Item Has The Single Greatest Ability to Increase Quality of Life?
No matter which approach you take, Reddit is has been and continues to be a valuable source of entrepreneurial ideas and inspiration, coupled with a great and supportive community.
Instagram isn’t just pictures of food and dogs, it is also an interesting option for inspiring product ideas. Because it’s photo based, it makes it easy to scan through many ideas and photos quickly.
There are a few ways you can use Instagram to search for product and niche ideas:
Hashtag – Once again, if you have a particular interest in a product category or industry, you can try searching for applicable hashtags. Another great option is to do a search on Instagram for applicable hashtags that insinuate buyer interest and intent like #want and #buy.
Product Curation Accounts – There are many accounts on Instagram that post curated product content. Like many other examples above, you’ll likely want to search for and find accounts within the niches you are particularly interested in.