Amanda here. One of the biggest and most stressful questions a new dropshipper asks themselves is, “What should I sell?!” 😬

Obviously, this defines your whole business. But don’t lose sleep over it.

Because no matter what you do – no matter how many hours of research you put in – you’ll never know how well your store will perform until you get out there and try.

🏆 From the Pros

Mandie and Aubrey started with a Facebook group to sell various household, beauty, and kids products with a slight markup. It really caught on, so they decided to build a dropshipping store. They launched the store in April 2018 and earned more than $100,000 in six months – without ever spending a dollar on advertising.

Now, they have a Nike-esque “just try it” philosophy. Aubrey says:

“It’s surprising sometimes what does and doesn’t do well. Our joke is, ‘Hey, do you think this will sell well?’ And it’s like, ‘Just try it, I don’t know.’

I thought last week that a product was going to be a killer and it didn’t sell any… and I thought another product was totally stupid and we sold 400. So I just don’t know anymore, which is funny.”

And here’s a secret that most people won’t tell you: it’s not really about what you sell. It’s about why you sell it. In the end, even an amazing product is nothing without a valuable experience for shoppers. (I’ll show you all about that when it’s time to build your store and create a brand.)

One more thing. A lot of people talk about making sure that you don’t choose a saturated niche, which is a niche that a lot of people are already selling in.

But the truth is, you can find success selling just about anything if you really put in the time and learn how people shop and what motivates them to buy things.

All that said, there are some steps to help make sure you’re choosing a promising niche without pulling all your hair out on day one.

Let’s dive into those steps.

What’s a Niche, Anyway?

Before you find a niche, you should probably know what it is. As you can see in the dictionary, a niche is a distinct, targeted market inside a bigger market.

📖 Ecommerce Dictionary

niche: Short for niche market. A niche is a distinct, smaller part of a bigger market. For example, in the broad ‘clothing’ market, ‘women’s clothing’ is a niche.

For example, you can divide the clothing market into niches like men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing. But these are still huge.

You can – and should – go even smaller. Women’s clothing still has many styles like bohemian, vintage, punk, high-fashion, or minimalistic. And even then, you can still go smaller like vegan bohemian or punk for teenagers.

Dropshipping entrepreneur Tim Kock once built a store that made almost $9,000 in one month. The secret? His niche wasn’t just sunglasses. This would have been too broad.

He only marketed his sunglasses to bloggers and people with a social media presence. He aimed for people who love to share their newest fashion accessories on Instagram.

🕒 Tip Time

People who make up niche markets have more specific wants, needs, and buying habits. That’s why you should cater to a niche instead of being like a big chain or department store that sells a little bit of everything.

There are some key benefits to this strategy:

  • When you’re marketing to a niche audience, it will be waaaaay easier to find and reach your best customers, because they’ll share super-specific traits and habits.
  • Generally, the narrower your niche, the less competition you’ll have.
  • You’ll have a better chance of getting loyal customers who trust you to meet their unique needs and wishes.
  • And in the game of dropshipping, loyal and trusting customers are a golden ticket.

Here are some more niche ideas. Keep in mind that this is just barely scratching the surface!

Beauty

    • All-natural makeup
    • Eyeshadow palettes
    • Body scrubs
    • Fake eyelashes
    • Men’s skincare products
    • Nail art

Fitness

    • Running
    • Women’s cycling
    • Bodybuilding
    • Yoga
    • Children swimming
    • Crossfit

Health*

    • Vegan or organic products
    • Weight loss products
    • Digestive health
    • Teeth whitening
    • Massagers
    • Anti-stress toys

Fashion accessories

    • Scarves
    • Hats
    • Hair accessories
    • Sunglasses
    • Jewelry
    • Vintage purses

Home

    • Minimalist decor
    • Kitchen appliances
    • Cooking accessories
    • Terrariums
    • Rustic furniture
    • Outdoor gardening

Tech

    • Smart speakers
    • Smartphone accessories
    • iPhone repair kit
    • Projectors
    • Senior-friendly desktops
    • Air purifiers

 

🕒 Tip Time

Be careful in the health category. Some countries have laws and regulations about what you can sell. If you choose a health niche, make sure you do your research.

Steady vs. Trending Niches

A steady niche (also called an evergreen niche) is one that will have demand year-round, for a long time to come. It’s the kind of product category that isn’t going away, like various types of clothing and accessories, personal hygiene products, home goods, and sports and hobby items.

You can check easily if a niche is steady or trending with Google Trends. For example, I typed in “men’s sunglasses” and U.S. as the location and “2004 – present” as the timeframe.

You can see that it’s a pretty steady niche that’s actually growing. Since 2004, more people are looking for men’s sunglasses online.

As you can see, searches peak every June and July – which makes perfect sense, since that’s the peak of summertime sunshine in the Northern Hemisphere.

You can also change things like your time range and the region where people are searching.

Here, you can see results for “smart speakers” from users in England over the past 12 months. You can see that it’s fairly steady too. It peaked in November and December, which shows that it’s probably a popular holiday gift.

A trending niche, also known as a fad, is more temporary – it might be a hot-seller now, but the trend will eventually die off, like fidget spinners or the recent unicorn-theme craze.

There’s definitely money to be made by jumping into a trend (if you can get into it early enough), but keep in mind that your business will slow a lot once the trend is over

🕒 Tip Time

Choose a steady niche if you plan to have a solid, long-term store. Jumping into a trending niche can be risky, especially for a beginner.

Back to Google Trends, see what I mean about fidget spinners? A massive peak in May 2017, then it disappeared.

Choose a Good Steady Niche

One of the best ways to get niche and product ideas is to simply look around you, at your own buying habits and what others are buying. 

Check Yourself

  • What are the last things you bought online? Where did you buy them and how did you come across them in the first place?
  • What kinds of products do you buy even if you don’t necessarily need them?
  • Which online stores do you shop at the most?
  • What are you passionate about? What items do you know so well you would do a good job of selling them?
🏆 From the Pros

Tired of his 9-to-5, Karolis Rimkus began dropshipping as a side-hustle to fund a three-month trip around the world with his wife. Over ten months, the store brought in $14,960, allowing him to live the digital nomad lifestyle of working while he travels.

As a passionate runner, he decided to stay in his own niche because he had a lot of knowledge and experience.

“I’m an avid runner. I’ve run marathons and races and trained five times a week. I knew if I did this that I could source really good quality products from AliExpress, because I know first-hand what a good quality product is in that category. I can usually tell from the pictures.”

Check Your Surroundings

Go to the mall or some other public place and people watch.

  • What are people wearing, using, and carrying? Clothes, jewelry, accessories, shoes, and tech are all fair game.
  • What kinds of products are they buying?
  • Go to some retail stores. What’s on the shelves? Are any particular products sold out?
🏆 From the Pros

This technique is how dropshipping pro Ashley Banks found success with one of his store items. He started in the coffee niche and eventually came across a penguin thermos that went viral and made £4,713.38 (or about $6,000 USD) in three months.

“I just stumbled across added extras like the thermo mugs. Because every time I got on a train or bus, I’d always see people with these thermo flasks.

So I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll add one of these products to the site.’ And lo and behold, that became the most successful thing.”

Check Influencers

Follow some popular social media influencers on Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, and YouTube. Look up “product placements” and see what types of products other brands are trying to promote with the help of those influencers.

This can work well if you’re following “high fashion” influencers (luxury brands like Gucci, Armani, D&G, etc.). You’ll be able to offer similar styles but for way less money.

🕒 Tip Time

Choose a steady niche if you plan to have a solid, long-term store. Jumping into a trending niche can be risky, especially for a beginner.

Traits of a Good Dropshipping Product

It’s hard to look at a niche without looking at products too. For a lot of people, they find their product when they’re looking for their niche.

If you want some more ideas, check out Oberlo’s “What to Sell” section, as well as the Oberlo YouTube channel.

Less than $100. When products are too expensive, people will spend more time thinking about it. This means more work for you before you can get a customer’s trust to buy. You might also need to worry about warranties and more returns.

Not super common. Don’t sell something available at a store down the street. If it’s so common, what incentive do customers have to buy from your store and wait 2–3 weeks to get it?

Impulse buy items. The kind of thing you don’t really need, but you want anyway! Affordable and unique impulse buy products are a perfect way to rack in sales that don’t require much thought or planning in advance.

Not easy to guess the price. If it’s something unique enough that you can’t really guess the price, it can help avoid the issue of customers trying to find it somewhere else online for cheaper.

Stay tuned for Chapter 4, where we’ll talk a lot more about choosing the right products.

How to Make Sure Your Idea Is Actually Good

Before you make a decision, you definitely want to do some research to make sure it’s a good niche. This is called validating your niche

In a way, we’ve already been low-key validating. Using Google Trends, checking your surroundings, and looking at social media are all small-scale forms of niche validation. After all, it’s proof that people are buying and using these products.

Let’s go a little further by looking at the three top tools to find solid product ideas in high-performing niches:

  1. Oberlo
  2. Amazon
  3. AliExpress

1. Oberlo

First, you’ll need to make an Oberlo account. Go to the Oberlo homepage and click ‘Get Oberlo Now.’

Fill in your email and make a password. Then click “Sign up for free.

And boom, you’re in. You’ll then be taken to the Oberlo dashboard.

In the sidebar on the left, click “Search products.”

I recommend poking around on this screen, as Oberlo will show you loads of high-performing products in different categories.

And of course, type as many searches as you want into the search bar.

Let’s say I’m interested in necklaces. Here’s what I see when I type it in.

When I click a product’s page, I can see helpful information like:

  • How much the item costs
  • How much shipping costs and how long each shipping method takes to get to customers in different countries (click the arrow to explore the different options and times)
  • The supplier who’s selling it and if they have good reviews from other dropshippers
  • Product Statistics, like a product’s rating and how many people have ordered it

Stay tuned for Chapter 4, where we’ll dive into Oberlo Product Statistics and how they can help you choose the specific items to add to your store.

🕒 Tip Time

A safe strategy is to look for products that have high ratings, plenty of orders, and lots of good reviews. This shows that it’s a strong, popular product that people really like. It also shows you how successful that niche might be.

2. Amazon

Check out the Amazon Best Sellers page for more inspiration. You can also look at “Amazon Most Wished For.”

Keep looking for high ratings, lots of orders, and lots of good reviews to get an idea of how much people like the items.

You can browse by category on the left sidebar to investigate the types of products that you’re leaning toward.

Look at the products’ ratings and reviews. You can get some insight into things that people love or wish were better.

3. AliExpress

If you’ve never heard of it, AliExpress is a marketplace like Amazon and eBay. It’s popular because it lets you directly buy from manufacturers in China or from huge wholesalers with thousands of products in stock. You can find pretty much anything you can think of, and many prices are close to wholesale costs. 

AliExpress can be a valuable tool for you, because you can use it to look for product ideas and also actually sell those items in your store. There are many companies that use AliExpress suppliers for dropshipping.

I strongly recommend going through Oberlo, because the process will be a lot easier for you. But that said, you can also go through AliExpress if you’re a daredevil like that.

We can get into using AliExpress suppliers and products later. For now, we’ll just talk about how to use the platform for picking and validating your niche.

Go to the AliExpress homepage. You can type items into the search if you have specific ideas, or you can use the “Categories” tab on the left sidebar.

When you click a category, it will show all sorts of good stuff like best sellers, top stores (suppliers) on AliExpress, and top niches. For example, searching “Women’s Clothing” brings up top “Chic” stores, which must be a popular category of women’s clothing.

If you use the search bar, type in what you’re looking for. On the results page, go to “Sort by” and click “Orders” in the dropdown menu. This way, you can see the most-ordered products.

Take note that under the search bar, AliExpress also shows you suggestions for related searches. This can be an awesome tool for getting more inspiration and validation.

For example, I typed “women’s fashion scarves” and saw helpful suggestions for:

  • Winter scarf
  • Silk scarf
  • Cashmere scarf

Sounds like silk and cashmere are pretty popular.

And if you sort by orders, you can see the top-performers. Continuing down the scarf search, it looks like plaid is popular.

Right from the search results, you can see that these top results have great ratings, lots of reviews, and lots of orders. Good contenders.

As you can see, finding a good niche and product ideas is all about digging and observing. Keep going until you’ve found an idea that you feel good about.

Want some more info on finding and validating a niche? Check out this in-depth video:

👉 Now that you know how to pick and validate a niche, you can choose what types of products to sell. The next step is to look at how to choose specific products and suppliers so you can start adding them to your store.