Product Research: 6 tips for finding your next big product idea (and a 15-point checklist to research it)

Product Research: 6 tips for finding your next big product idea

For any entrepreneur, deciding what to sell is the first big challenge. Indeed, it’s exhilarating when that big idea waiting in the ether pops into your head. It fills you up with a whirlwind of possibilities and fuels your desire to springboard your brainchild into the universe.

Feels like magic, doesn’t it?

However, that great product idea doesn’t always manifest in your mind by magic. Obviously, you can’t simply wait around for it to strike. You’ve got to make it happen.

Fortunately, there’s a method to it.

In this blog, you will find six ways to light that bulb in your brain with your next big product idea. And then, you will find a 15-point checklist to research its viability thoroughly.

What is product research? 

Product research is the method by which you discover new product ideas as well as validate the viability of the one you’ve selected in order to estimate whether it will be successful or not.

It’s a part of the product development process that not only helps you zero in on the right product to sell, but also helps identify if your idea can meet customer needs and market demand. The potential result is a better return on investment on your product.

Often, the term “product research” is used interchangeably to apply to either of the two parts alone – finding product ideas, or validating the viability of the selected product. In this blog however, we shall include both parts within the scope of product research.

With that out of the way, let’s dive right into the first part.

How to find your next big product idea: 6 tips for effective product research

To find your product idea, you need to tune into the pulse of the market. Ultimately, that’s where your product will live and hopefully thrive. This remains true whether it’s your very first product or your nth. Below are six effective ways to tackle the challenge of product research head-on.

  1. Follow consumer trend publications
  2. Find bestsellers on ecommerce marketplaces
  3. Browse social curation sites
  4. Evaluate B2B wholesale marketplaces
  5. Observe niche forums
  6. Ask your own customers

1. Follow consumer trend publications

Consumer trend publications can expose you to new products and industries you may not have known existed. They also help you stay updated on the latest trends to remain competitive and discover new product opportunities.

One free platform to follow is Trend Hunter. It is the largest global product trends community, with over 200,000 people dedicated to finding the latest product innovations in the market. It rates each trend on popularity, freshness, and activity, while also indicating the consumer demographics as well as regional interest in the world. You can find trends for almost anything on this site, including beauty, fashion, culture, luxury, and other categories. Although these are largely global trends, keep an eye out for India-specific lists or collections that it publishes from time to time and explore its search results for the terms ‘India’ and ‘Indian’. For advanced location-specific searches and more, Trend Hunter has a Pro Dashboard feature, priced at $199 (~ INR 15,000) per month.

Say you spot a trend like “functional all-in-one pet furniture.” You may note that this product has high scores on popularity and activity. Also notice the regions darkened on the world map at the bottom right of the image, indicating the parts of the world where the product is trending.

Source: Trend Hunter

Source: Peelorange

Exploring this promising trend, Peelorange now sells multi-functional pet furniture on their Shopify store, along with their existing furniture range.

Another trend platform to check out is Trendwatching. It is a membership website that produces reports and insights around retail and customer experience trends. It is an independent publisher of trends scanning the globe for promising consumer trends, insights, and related hands-on business ideas.

For example, one of the trends on Trendwatching indicates how older adults are engaging through peer-to-peer education online.

Source: Trendwatching

GetSetUp rides this trend with a platform that encourages older adults to learn, share, and socialise with easy-to-setup online classes such as the one in the image below.

Source: GetSetUp

You don’t need to base your idea on a single trend though. Often, product innovation lies in combining two or more trends. Take Food Darzee, for example. The brand combines two trends – subscription tiffins or dabbas, and healthy diets – to provide customised nutritious meals in a subscription model, complete with nutritionist-approved, goal-oriented diet plans.

Source: Food Darzee

2. Find bestsellers on ecommerce marketplaces

Amazon is one of the largest consumer marketplaces in the world. You’ll surely find thousands of product ideas the minute you land on the site. But it’s easy to get lost in all the products and ads if you don’t have a plan.

To speed up the process, go straight to Amazon’s bestsellers. You can find profitable products from any category, from toys and games to electronics, home and kitchen, and more. All products on the list are based on sales and updated hourly. So you’ll never run out of product ideas for your business.

Source: Amazon Bestsellers

If you want more detailed information about products on Amazon, you can use a tool like Jungle Scout.

jungle scout

Source: Jungle Scout

You can easily search for any product by keyword, category, or custom filter within its product database. It has a searchable catalogue with over 168 million products from Amazon India. You can also evaluate product ideas in seconds with its Chrome extension. All of this can give you ideas for winning products, whether you’re a seller on ecommerce marketplaces or the owner of an online store.

You can also focus on a few different factors when doing product research on these marketplaces:

  • Product listing reviews
  • Who is spending on ads
  • Product variants
  • What product bundles exist

Other marketplaces to check out include Flipkart, Ebay, Etsy, Myntra, and Snapdeal.

3. Browse social curation sites

Image curation sites can be a rich source for finding product ideas. Just by looking at likes and trending photos, you can get a sense of market demand for a specific product or niche.

A few sites to check out include:

Let’s take Pinterest for instance, and walk through how product research can be done. Enter the niche you’re exploring into the search field– say ‘eco-friendly’. Below are the top results.

pinterest feed

Source: Pinterest

As you can see, a few product ideas are already showing up among the top results. You may refine it further by using any of the suggested tags that you see at the top of the page. Here, we’ve narrowed the niche further by adding ‘tools’

A few steps down the rabbit hole, and you’ll arrive at interesting products like the one below:

The great thing about using Pinterest is that its algorithm aids the discovery of your product ideas with suggestions as shown below.

Pin the products you think might have market potential, and research further. 

4. Evaluate B2B wholesale marketplaces

B2B wholesale marketplaces are a goldmine for finding new product ideas straight from the source. These sites will expose you to thousands of potential product ideas to sell. Additionally, if you like a product you can save it to your cart, and you can source your supply from the marketplace directly if that works out to be your best option.

Two marketplaces you’ll want to check first are Indiamart and TradeIndia, which are marketplaces that connect you to manufacturers, wholesalers, and suppliers from India. They list thousands of products to explore. You can find almost anything.

It's always a good idea to check out the products available on the B2B marketplaces and cross-reference them with what’s trending on B2C ecommerce marketplaces. If you can join the dots in a unique way, you might just have uncovered a product idea with good market potential.

Source: Indiamart

Source: Trade India

Another place to do product research, especially for dropshipping is Oberlo, which shows you products that have lots of sales, and how recent those sales were. You can check out trending dropshipping products and when it comes to running a dropshipping business, you could operate it right out of your Shopify store with any of our dropshipping apps.

Source: Oberlo

Other B2B marketplaces in India to explore are:

5. Observe niche forums

Industry and niche forums are another way to discover new products to sell. They are a good place to connect with innovators, designers, as well as potential customers.

Some niches have vibrant and active online communities. For instance, if you are passionate about gadgets and consumer electronics in general, Electronics For You is a forum you could check out. It showcases a number of DIY project ideas, one of which could be the innovative product you are looking for.

Source: Electronics For You

The forums you need to observe for product ideas need not necessarily be specific to the market you intend to sell to. Continuing with the example of consumer electronics, CES (International Consumer Electronics Show) is an annual conference of the global consumer technology industry you could look into for potential product innovations that may work, even in your market.

There’s also Reddit, which is the forum of all forums. You can find communities within Reddit for any topic, like tech, culture, and environment. To date, there are over 2.2 million subreddits, also known as communities, where people come together to talk about different topics related to the community’s title. For example, r/Gadgets with over 19 million members would be a great one to join to gather the latest conversations, insights and innovations in consumer electronics. Tools like Redditsearch.io will help you find the right subreddits for your niche.

It’s always good to participate and engage in these forums instead of just being a lurker observing the activity. However, do note that each subreddit has its own rules and moderators. Most often, they are against self-promotion, advertising, and spamming of any kind. So do check out the guidelines of any subreddit you choose to join.

And if you’re still unable to find any forums around your niche, try a Google search. Type your niche + forum into the search bar and check the results that come up.

6. Ask your own customers

In case you are looking for your first product idea, you can skip this tip since you wouldn’t have any customers to ask yet.

If you have already sold a product before, you’ve done well. Whether you have five customers or five hundred, one of the best ways to get product ideas is from your own customers. You can send an email to your customer base and ask for their feedback on a few product ideas you have in mind.

For instance, check out the tweet above about exactly such an exercise and its success. Also note the persuasive language used in the email, without sounding too pushy.

 Courtesy: Alfred Lua, Founder, Open Atlas

As the email in the above example demonstrates, you could be surprised by the useful insights gained from your existing customers. Additionally, this is a great way to keep your existing customers engaged and invested in your product even before it’s launched.

Consolidate all the feedback that you get and analyse it to inform your product research and development process.

Before settling on the perfect product idea, make sure you use many, if not all six of these tips, and cross-reference the insights you uncover. Finally once you are sold on a compelling product idea, you can move to the next step.

How to check the viability of your product idea: a 15-point checklist of product research criteria for selling online

Once you've selected a product and niche to further explore, it's time to put it under the microscope. Without properly evaluating the viability of your product and niche idea, your choices will be random—and so will your chances of success.

Using the evaluation criteria below, you’ll get a much better sense of your product and niche, along with a better understanding of its strengths and the knowledge to identify its weaknesses.

You will likely never find a product or niche market that fits all the criteria below. But evaluating your idea against this list will give you a better understanding of your chosen product/niche, helping you avoid pitfalls and increasing your overall chances of success.

Before we get into each evaluation point, let’s take a quick look at an overview of all the criteria we’ll be covering:

Market-based criteria

  1. What is your potential market size
  2. What is the competitive landscape?
  3. What is your product category outlook?
  4. Is your product available locally?
  5. Who are your target customers?

Product-based criteria

  1. What is your potential selling price and markup?
  2. What is the product weight and size?
  3. Is your product durable?
  4. Is your product seasonal?
  5. Does your product serve a passion, relieve a pain, or solve a problem?
  6. What will your product turnover be?
  7. Is your product consumable or disposable?
  8. Is perishability a factor?
  9. Are there any restrictions or regulations?
  10. Is your product scalable? 

Let’s look at each of these in greater detail:

1. What is your potential market size?

Market size can be loosely defined as the number of potential customers that you can sell your product to. At the product research stage, market size can be difficult to determine. But you can probably get a good idea with some educated guesswork and research.

For example, a product that caters to pregnant women between 25 and 40 years old probably has a large market. But a product that caters to pregnant women between 25 and 40 years old who like punk rock music will likely be too narrow in comparison.

The above is, of course, a relative estimation. Consider the examples discussed below:

  1. Decorfur sells one of the costliest Fruit trays in India. It costs around INR 10,000 per tray, so the market for it is pretty niche as we can expect.

Source: Decorfur

In the example above, the price of the product narrows the market size significantly. This narrow market size limits the number of potential customers for this business. However, depending on the exact market, a narrow market size can be easier to market to, allowing a company like Decorfur to penetrate its market and capture its share cost-effectively.

Determining exact market sizes is usually impossible for most businesses, but there are some ways to understand market size in a more general way. Google Trends is a good starting point—not to determine market size, but to determine market demand trajectory instead.

Source: Google Trends

 This can give you an idea of how many people are searching for your keyword terms and, in return, can also give you a better sense of the market size.

Next, you can also look for your particular product idea being sold elsewhere and look at the number and quality of customer reviews. Are there no reviews, just a few, or hundreds?

Apart from these, you can do a back-of-the-envelope calculation to estimate the market size based on a number of assumptions. Say your product is a software that works as a teaching aid for play-schools, and in your first year, you want to target play-schools in the city of Pune. With some online research, you can determine the total number of playschools in the region – which, let’s suppose, is 200. Considering the IT infrastructure available in the schools, and other such factors, let’s say you realise that 40% of the play-schools can’t be a market for your product. Therefore, you can penetrate 60% of the total number of play-schools. So, your estimated market size is 60% of 200, i.e. 120 play-schools.

Combine all these methods with some realistic judgement and you should start to get a good sense of the potential market size of your product idea.

2. What is the competitive landscape?

What does the competitive landscape look like for your selected product and niche? Are you first to market? Are there already a few competitors or is the market saturated with people selling the same product or targeting the same niche?

If you’re first to market, you’ll want to do a lot of market research to determine that there is in fact demand for your product.

If there are many competitors in the market, that’s a sign the market has been validated. However, you will have to determine how you can differentiate your brand and products from the sea of competitors in order to carve out your own spot.

Google searches and SimilarWeb will help you uncover current market players, and SEO tools like Serpstat, or Ahrefs can tell you approximate search volumes for your chosen keywords.

It will also tell you how competitive they are (meaning how many other people/businesses are bidding on those words).

Source: Serpstat

Here, we searched for electric cars. The (Pay-Per-Click) PPC competition column gives an indication of how competitive the landscape is for a given search term.

Apart from finding a way to stand out from the competition in the market, you should also try to build a competitive business advantage. Which means, checking their websites, researching their marketing strategy, reverse engineering their business operations, and more. Use your in-depth research of the competitive landscape to figure out what works in the market and what doesn’t. But also go a step further and improve on your competitors’ mistakes and deficiencies. Seek opportunities to optimise processes that your competitors are performing sub-optimally.

To guide you further, use our free competitive analysis template.

3. What is your product category outlook?

Riding a fad can be dangerous. A trend can be lucrative. Stable markets are safe, and growing markets are ideal. Understanding where your product and niche lie can play a huge role in your success or failure.

To better understand the differences between each of these, let’s look at the curves, and the real-world examples of each type:

Fad

A fad is something that grows in popularity for a very short period of time and dies out just as quickly. A fad can be lucrative if your entry into the market and exit are timed perfectly, but this can be difficult to predict and usually a recipe for disaster.

A Geiger counter is a personal electronic device about the size of a cell phone that measures the level of radiation around you. Shortly after Japan suffered an earthquake in 2011, Geiger counters were flying off the shelves. However, as you can see from the Google Trends graph below, interest died as quickly as it started.

Trend

A trend is a longer-term growth trajectory that the market for a product appears to be taking. Typically, it doesn’t grow as quickly as a fad, but the growth trajectory lasts much longer. Trending products can sometimes also develop into long-term growing markets, although this can be difficult to predict.

As an example, over the last ten years, powdered milk has been growing in popularity in India. The graph below shows a consistent climb, but this would likely be labelled a trend, rather than a growing market, due to the uncertainties in the constantly evolving landscape of the nutrition market.

Stable

A stable market is one that generally is immune to shocks and bumps. It is neither declining or growing but remains stable over long periods of time.

Jute bags, as you can see above, is a product with a market that has generally remained constant and flat for a decade. There’s likely not going to be any huge spikes or dips in the interest and purchase behaviour of jute bags over the long term.

Growing

A growing market is one that has seen consistent growth and shows signs of a long-term or permanent market shift.

Yoga has been around for a long time, but over the last ten years or so has become a mainstream health and fitness activity. The benefits of yoga are well established, making this niche a solid growing market. 

if you see unexplainable spikes, research further to see what the possible cause was. In the case of yoga, the spikes you see, beginning 2015, coincide more or less with World Yoga Day in June every year.

You can use Google Trends to will help you uncover the big picture as to whether something is a fad, trend, growing, or stable market.

4. Is your product available locally?

Since most of your product research is online, you may develop a blind spot for insights from consumer behaviour offline. Hence, it becomes necessary to call attention specifically to assessing the competitive landscape for your product outside the universe of the internet – especially so if you intend to sell your products primarily or exclusively online.

A product that’s readily available locally means there's one less reason for consumers to seek your product out online. However, a unique or hard-to-find product that isn't available locally means there’s an increased chance of someone looking for it online, and therefore increases their chances of actually purchasing it online.

For example, SHASN is a competitive strategy board game that gamifies politics. Sure, you can go buy board games anywhere but this is one of a kind and only available online.

Source: Shasn 

One of the simplest ways to find out if your selected product is available locally is by doing a search on Google for your product + the name of your city, or if you don’t live in a major city, try substituting the name of the major city you’re closest to. For example, you could search for “SHASN + Delhi.

Suppose it turns out that your product is available locally in some cities. In that case, you may consider marketing your product to the cities where it’s not available, if there is enough indication of demand there.

To check your product viability, factor in the local availability of products and what that might mean to the marketability of your product both online and offline. Doing this would also help you fine-tune your estimations of market size and competitive landscape as well.

5. Who are your target customers?

You don’t need to go into great detail defining your exact customer persona at this point, but you should be aware of the type of customer you would likely be selling to and their online purchasing capabilities and behaviours.

For instance, if you have a product geared towards Gen-Z, it’s important to keep in mind that most teens don’t have a debit or a credit card to make purchases online. Similarly, if your product is geared towards senior citizens above 70, you may find that your target demographic has a lower level of technology adoption and doesn’t like to purchase online.

To identify your target customer, you are interested in defining as many criteria as possible, as well as possible, from the list below:

  • Location
  • Age range
  • Gender skew
  • Interests
  • Education level
  • Income level
  • Relationship status
  • Language
  • Favourite websites
  • Buying motivation
  • Buying concerns

All of the above are the most relevant when it comes to marketing your product. However, determining these at the stage of product research can be quite a challenge. There are a few hacks though to get you started though.

If you have already sold products before and are checking the viability of a new product to add to your store, you may have access to some helpful data to determine your target audience – your Google Analytics account.

Google Analytics breaks down the data from your website traffic and generates reports, including helpful insights about your existing audience. You may use the audience insights of adjacent products in your store to estimate demographic and location details as well as interests.

If you are researching your first product, this will be a bit harder. You could check out insights about your competitors’ audiences on SimilarWeb. Say, the product you are researching is slip-on shoes and you have identified Neeman’s as your competitor, you would find the following information on SimilarWeb about their audience.

Source: SimilarWeb

Similarly, Google Trends will help you get an idea about the region-wise search interest of your product, which can be used to estimate the location criterion of your target audience.

Source: Google Trends

In addition, study credible sources of consumer insight such is PEW Research Centre, Nielsen and Think With Google to gather as much information as you can to get at least a low-resolution idea of your target customers.

To delve deeper, learn more about how to define your target audience.

Defining your target customers accurately helps you assess the marketability of your product as well as validate market demand and market size among the market based criteria in product research.

6. What is your potential selling price and markup?

It is vitally important to take markup for a specific product into consideration before diving too far into a product idea. When you begin selling online, you’ll quickly find out there are lots of small fees that eat into your margins, so having a strong initial markup will provide you with the necessary cushion to absorb these costs.

To understand margin a little better, let’s take a look at a real product – pulse oximeter, a tiny electronic device that measures the oxygen saturation level of your blood.

Looking around at other pulse oximeters in the market, we can determine that the average retail price of a product like this would be INR 1200. On Indiamart, we find that these are available wholesale at a cost of INR 250-300 per unit.

A 300% markup! Looks good so far, right? Let’s take a closer look at the other fees that need to be accounted for:

*values are in INR 

Although there are a number of assumptions involved in this example, you can see how the small fees whittle away at your margins. In this case, a product that had an initial markup of over 300% ends up with a markup of less than 100% when all is said and done.

Of course, these are just approximations, and you can cut costs significantly by handling fulfilment yourself and spending less on advertising, etc. Yet, estimating such numbers conservatively is the right way to begin.

Also, consider your selling price itself and estimate whether you have the right pricing strategy for your market.

Selling an inexpensive product means you’ll need to move many units to make a decent profit. Additionally, along with moving a lot of units comes increased customer service inquiries as well as an increase in other operating metrics. On the other hand, selling costly products means a longer sales cycle and more discerning customers.

Ideally, you need to find the selling price range that minimises the need to find a large number of customers to turn a decent profit and is still able to give you some cushion for marketing and operation costs.

Our previous example, the pulse oximeter, had a relatively low selling price of INR 1200. Because of this, variable costs ate away at much of the profit, leaving a profit per unit of only INR 461.

Let’s see what happens, if we switch out the pulse oximeter for a new product and assume that this new product is similar in most attributes to the pulse oximeter, but has a potential selling price of INR 3600 (i.e 3x more than the pulse oximeter). For consistency, let’s also multiply the other appropriate costs by a factor of three.

 

*values are in INR

Because of the higher pricing, we have much better margins—59.48% vs 36.30%—for pulse oximeter, and our profit per unit skyrockets from INR 461 to INR 2183.

This is primarily because, while the price dependent variable costs get multiplied by 3x, some of the other costs like packaging, and shipping are likely to remain the same as before for a product of similar attributes.

However, there are pricing strategies other than the simple cost + markup outlined above. Dive into 10 ways to find the perfect price for your products to learn more.

Figure out your mark up and selling price for your product to make the investment worth your time and effort. Feed that into your viability analysis. Will your target customer be willing to pay the price you determine? How much marketing budget would you require to effect the necessary conversions? Only when the matrix of such interdependent variables works out does your product idea pass this viability test.

7. What will your product turnover be?

It can be risky to have products that constantly need to be changed or refreshed. These types of products run the risk of not selling before the time of turnover. Before jumping in headfirst and selling a product with regular turnover, it’s vital to know what your turnover schedule will look like and plan accordingly.

For example, smartphone and tablet cases are a hot market. Yet creating new designs usually requires a high initial investment for designing, prototyping, and minimum order quantities. One of the harder parts of building an online business in a niche like smartphone cases is gaining enough traction and exposure before the next model smartphone/tablet comes out. Not selling through your inventory fast enough could leave you with a stockpile of outdated cases.

Figure out how many products you need to sell within a timeframe (usually a year to account for seasonality of demand) to break even as well as make your target amount of profit. And then consider if you can produce, purchase, stock or dropship those many products. Finally, arrive at an estimation of the likelihood that you will be able to make the sales required to make a profit that’s with your while. If these concerns don’t seem to work out in unison, your product idea may be a risky investment.

8. What is the product's weight and size?

Product size and weight can have a big impact on your sales and bottom line. These days, many customers expect free shipping, and just rolling the shipping cost into your prices doesn’t always work. This means these costs tend to eat into your margins. If you decide to pass the shipping costs onto your customer, you may find that the shock of the high shipping fee will likely hurt your conversion rate.

Additionally, if you don’t plan to use the dropshipping model, you’ll need to consider the cost of logistics, including shipping and warehousing from your manufacturer, as well as storage fees. If you’re ordering your inventory from overseas, you might be surprised at the costs involved.

Often, the weight calculations for shipping and logistics consider the volumetric weight, i.e. length x breadth x height (in centimetres) divided by 5000. The divisor may vary depending upon your shipping partner. The higher of the two numbers – actual weight and volumetric weight – go into the calculations of your shipping and logistics cost.

For large and heavy products, such as furniture, you may have to charge the customer with a shipping fee, since the variability of shipping costs to you may be hard to predict and price in.

Understanding all the considerations affected by your product’s size and weight will help you get a truer estimate of your margin, and therefore determine your product’s viability. 

9. Is your product durable?

Fragile products can be an invitation for trouble. Products that can break easily will cost you more in terms of:

  • packaging costs
  • shipping insurance
  • order returns and exchanges

These too will eat away at your margins, and you may need to mark up your selling price higher to absorb any losses that may occur. Hence you’ll need to consider this factor while trying to determine if your product is viable.

10. Is your product seasonal?

Businesses with seasonal demand can suffer from inconsistent cash flow. Some seasonality can be absorbed, however, an ideal product will have consistent cash flow almost all round the year.

Check for seasonal trends by looking at Google Trends for your product and niche keywords.

Woollen socks clearly show a seasonal trend for obvious reasons. However, you may notice that despite the seasonality of the products, the spikes indicate an upward trend – making this a promising product despite the seasonality.

If you do choose a highly seasonal product, you may want to consider ahead of time how you can overcome seasonality, possibly by marketing to different regions or countries in the off-season as well as aggressively marketing off-season clearance sales. All such costs should factor in to determine your product’s viability over the annual cycle.

11. Is your product consumable or disposable?

Having consumable or disposable products makes selling to the same customer over and over again more natural by essentially putting a time limit on the product’s life and giving the customer a reason to come back to you for replenishment.

Bombay Shaving Comapny, for example, began with a non-disposable shaving razor as its signature product. However, their product line extensions are generally highly consumable, like shaving creams, deodorants, and more. This model keeps consumers coming back to their site to repurchase.

Source: Bombay Shaving Company

While consumable and disposable products provide opportunities to get repeated orders, often it needs a larger volume of sales for your costs to work out. Therefore it is a factor to consider for determining the viability of your product.

12. Is perishability a factor?

Perishable products are a risky proposition for any business, not just an online business. Since highly perishable products require speedy delivery, shipping can be costly. Even products with a longer perishability timeline can be risky, as it complicates storage and inventory, potentially leaving you with spoiled products.

For example, food products, supplements, medication, and anything else that needs to be kept cold or has a short expiration date all require special consideration when ordering inventory and shipping to customers.

If your product is perishable, add that to the list of factors to consider while determining your ideal product turnover rate to check if your product idea remains viable.

13. Is your product scalable?

It's difficult to think about the future and growing your business when you’re still in the launch phase, however, scalability should be considered and built into the business model right from the start.

If your product is handmade or contains difficult-to-find materials, think about how to scale it if your business takes off. Will you be able to outsource manufacturing? Will your number of employees have to increase with the number of orders or will you be able to maintain a small team? Can your product expand into newer markets?

If you remain uncertain that your product is scalable, or at least sustainable, you must have a plan to exit and/or diversify before your market share is captured by your competitors.

14. Are there any restrictions or regulations?

Restrictions and regulations on your product and niche choice are annoying at best and crippling at worst. Before you move forward with your product idea, you’ll want to make sure there are no regulations or restrictions on your product selection. At the very least you’ll want to make sure they are manageable.

Certain chemical products, food products, and cosmetics can carry restrictions not only from the country you are importing your goods into but also the countries you’re shipping your products back out to. Besides, there are often state-wise restrictions too.

For example, States like Gujarat, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, and Bihar are some of the states that have banned the consumption of alcohol in any form. But there is also excise duty considerations if you transport a product between states that do not ban alcohol. For instance, Goa’s excise department permit allows the sale of liquor only in Goa. Since the excise duties on alcohol vary from state to state, alcohol from Goa can't be imported into Maharashtra for sale.

Regulatory constraints like these certainly can’t be overlooked in determining the viability of your product. Apart from the regulations pertaining to your niche, there are a host of that apply in general. It helps to be well-versed with them.

15. Does your product serve a passion, relieve a pain, or solve a problem?

People are always on the lookout for ways to make their day-to-day lives easier. These could be better and smarter ways to accomplish everyday tasks or solve persistent problems. In fact, consumers actively seek solutions online, which means that a market is readily available, if your product directly addresses such needs. This consumer behaviour also applies to the pursuit of passions.

If your product satisfies one of these three criteria, you’re in luck. Your marketing costs will tend to be lower since the need for your product already exists, and your target customers can be easily reached online.

If your product does not address either of the three, your marketing budgets will tend to increase, not just to convince your target customer that they need your product, but also to target your marketing to them effectively. This means you need to bank on other compelling reasons to validate such a product idea.

Coming up with a compelling product idea that drives your imagination is only one half of product research. It’s vital that you use all the product research tools and techniques available to validate your idea as rigorously as possible. A product idea that passes these checks will give you the greatest chances of success.

Find your bestselling product today

Choosing the right product and niche is at the very core of your ecommerce business and is one of the most important decisions you’ll make. Product research done well will help you take the next steps in launching your product with the surest footing.

Next, you could check out our list of most demanded products in India to get started, and find your way towards your next big product idea.

To turn your product ideas into an ecommerce business with your own online store, get started with Shopify’s free 14-day trial. If you already have an online store, learn more about how to migrate to Shopify and why you should.

Product research FAQ

What’s the difference between product research and market research?

The main difference is that product research refers to the methods of finding new product ideas as well as evaluating the probability of a product’s success within a chosen market, while market research refers to investigating the customer’s needs and preferences and understanding the competitive outlook. Market research forms a part of product research when it comes to estimating the product-market fit in order to check if the product idea is viable.

How do you start product research?

Product research includes both, discovering new product ideas as well as estimating its viability in the market. These are some of the ways you can start searching for a viable product idea:

  1. Follow consumer trend publications
  2. Find bestsellers on ecommerce marketplaces
  3. Browse social curation sites
  4. Evaluate B2B wholesale marketplaces
  5. Observe niche forums
  6. Ask your own customers

How do I research a product to sell?

Product research involves understanding the multiple aspects related to product and market viability. In order to get ideas for your new product, you can conduct the following steps:

  1. Follow consumer trend publications
  2. Find bestsellers on ecommerce marketplaces
  3. Browse social curation sites
  4. Evaluate B2B wholesale marketplaces
  5. Observe niche forums
  6. Ask your own customers 

Once you settle on a promising product idea, you must check its viability by researching the following criteria:

  1. What is your potential market size
  2. What is the competitive landscape?
  3. What is your product category outlook?
  4. Is your product available locally?
  5. Who are your target customers?
  6. What is your potential selling price and markup?
  7. What is the product weight and size?
  8. Is your product durable?
  9. Is your product seasonal?
  10. Does your product serve a passion, relieve a pain, or solve a problem?
  11. What will your product turnover be?
  12. Is your product consumable or disposable?
  13. Is perishability a factor?
  14. Are there any restrictions or regulations?
  15. Is your product scalable? 

What is an example of product research?

One example of product research is finding a trending item in a publication like Trend Hunter, then determining through an evaluation whether it’s a viable product to sell. Once it’s proven, you can move on to the product development process to create an early version and work out any supply chain issues. It is important to understand product viability aspects like selling price, turnover, rules and regulations and product properties such as size, perishability, size etc. Google trends and analytics are arguably one of the most effective tools you can utilise to determine the market viability of your product idea. You can search your product keyword and determine the search volume and market for the same. 

What is the importance of product research?

Product research not only helps you find the right product but also pre-judge its viability in the market. This helps you avoid many of the pitfalls of investing in a product without having done your homework.

You will be able to make a better estimate about what your markup and selling price should be, how much inventory to purchase or stock, what your product turnover should be, for the product to actually succeed. Additionally, you will understand the market better and be in readiness to meet its changing demands and trends. Researching your market competitors will help you understand what they do well, as well as identify their weaknesses, which you can optimise to outperform them.

The benefits of doing product research are immense. But most importantly, you will be able to launch your product with the greatest chances of success, if you have done your product research well.

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