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Finding Products to Sell Online

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There are gazillion sayings about inspiration and entrepreneurship: strike while the iron is hot, necessity is the mother of invention, be willing to think out of the box. But where can you go to replenish the well when it has run dry? No matter how creative and industrious an entrepreneur you may be, there are times when inspiration just won’t strike you. If you’ve got the business savvy, but lack (temporarily or otherwise) the muse’s touch, there are several places that you can mine for ideas.

Keep in mind that if you look where everyone else is looking you are less likely to find a novel idea that you can exploit. Intellectual property is the capital of choice and competition for innovative ideas and products that can distinguish your one company from another is fierce. Look past the products to the potential of a product category. Dive into new features and markets; explore new ways to apply a product or products (Source: Doba's Hot Products). Check out niche product categories, which can provide less competition and afford greater market share among a smaller, more dedicated customer-base. Finally, one extra advantage of working a smaller pool of customers and niche product categories is the potential for higher placement in Google searches. (Source: http://www.shopify.com/blog/13102477-the-10-best-places-ecommerce-entrepreneurs-go-to-find-product-ideas )

Online Idea Hunting Grounds:

1. What you already know

Consider the industry, niches, and products that you and your friends and family are already passionate about. What unmet needs do you perceive in your industry, community or personal life.

2. What you see around you

Check out trends in brick-and-mortal shops whose branding or new products spark ideas. Another area to research is local newspapers. What are they talking about? Those top stories, profiled events, or restaurant or music venue reviews might have a nugget of inspiration hidden within.

3. Consumer Trend Online Publications

New categories and products and trends can be found in consumer product trend publications. Products being introduced into an industry can ignite ideas for spin-offs or complimentary products for your company. Some of the more useful sites include:

Trend Watching

Trend Hunter

Springwise

4. Follow the (Industry) Leader(s)

Know your industry is an apt mantra for the online entrepreneur. Below are tools that can help you follow those who are leading your industry which can give you new insights into what is emerging and where your company might fit in:

  • Topsy
  • FollowerWonk
  • LittleBird

5. Trend and Product Discovery Review Sites

Sites that offer daily product refreshes are great ways to keep your own pool of ideas fresh and edgy.

Some examples of popular consumer product blogs are:

  • Uncrate
  • Outblush
  • Bless This Stuff
  • Cool Material
  • Gear Moose
  • Werd
  • HiConsumption
  • Firebox

6. Be Social

A picture is worth 1,000 words, so the saying goes. Image curation sites, like Pinterest, are goldmines for ideas, in that they are stockpiles of ideas for emerging consumer products. Although this may be a bit more circuitous, trolling image curation sites, especially casually, can lead to the “a-ha” moment you’re looking for.

Some of the notable social curation sites are:

  • Pinterest
  • Polyvore
  • Fancy
  • Wanelo (Want - Need - Love)

Some of the more popular B2B wholesale product sites are:

  • Alibaba
  • TradeKey
  • Global Sources
  • Made-in-China
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