If you grew up in the 80s or 90s, you no doubt remember the prophetic voice that whispered over Ray Kinsella’s corn fields in Field of Dreams declaring, “If you build it, he will come.”
While it may work in the movies to abandon all common sense and build a baseball field in the middle of an Iowa cornfield, too many Amazon sellers seem to live by the same belief that if they make a product, customers will come.
Unfortunately for these Amazon hopefuls, the formula for finding success on Amazon works in the opposite direction.
Instead of blindly pursuing the creation of a product and then expecting customers to appear, the Amazon sellers enjoying true success are those making a concerted effort to first discover which products already have a lot of interest and then simply making better versions of them.
The Amazon seller’s mantra should read: “If customers are already coming, build that product.”
But how do you discover the kind of products that customers are already buying?How do you know if you can compete with the sellers already in the game? How can you really know if a product is worth your time and investment? How to find the best product to sell on Amazon FBA?
Simply put, what exactly to sell on Amazon?
We’re glad you asked.
Having a great quality product is the foundation of all your success on Amazon. Knowing how to find and create a great quality product is the first and most important step any Amazon seller must take.
Passion for a product is great, but we recommend you take a more analytical approach if you really are serious about becoming a successful Amazon seller.
It may not be the sexiest business method, but it’s the most important thing you can do if you want a solid foundation.
So, in all its unsexy glory, here’s what it takes to successfully analyze, select, and create your first and best product to sell on Amazon.
What Is Amazon Product Research?
The Amazon playing field is even bigger than it looks and in a constant state of change. A few years ago, you may have found success by finding a popular product, locating the supplier, and pasting your label on what was essentially the same product.
Amazon product research is about more than finding products that sell.
Popularity is certainly a part of the overall equation, but the competitive nature of Amazon’s prevailing playing field means that your product needs to stand apart as well.
To do that, you need to develop a unique, quality product.
You must factor both parts of the equation into your product research. Demand and quality.
It may take some time to find a product that fulfills both parts of that equation, but once you master the process it is actually quite simple and more than worth the effort.
Your Amazon product research startegy should reveal the following:
- The right product(s) to sell;
- The best possible niche in which to sell that product;
- The optimal price to set for your product;
- Who your customers are, what they are looking for, and what pain they are trying to resolve;
- How to improve upon, fix, and customize existing products to meet customer needs;
- Comprehensive competitor analysis to determine the metrics you will need to meet or exceed to rank at the top of page one;
- How to make your listings stand out from the rest with the right keywords, images, and sales copy.
What Are the Characteristics of an Ideal Product?
As we’ve established, the entire game when it comes to Amazon is offering a great quality product that already sells well.
This doesn’t mean we have to create revolutionary new products.
There is nothing revolutionary about my personal brand. The development process was all pretty boring.
All I did was take products that I had personal experience in that sell very high volume, made them better with small design changes, and then sold them.
Finding a successful new product doesn’t have to be complicated. At the most basic level, there are only two main characteristics you need to identify in a potential first product:
- High volume sales, and
- Potential for customization.
There are a number of different factors that will help you better identify if a product meets these two characteristics.
For example, once you find a product that is selling well, you’ll want to make sure that it is not in an overly competitive niche.
Look for categories where the top five sellers are doing at least 10-20 sales a day and whose total reviews are under 100, or at least in the low three digits.
Your first product should also be something that will generate steady high volume sales. No seasonal products!
Go for evergreen items that will establish steady cash flow.
Finally, look for items that are not priced too high or too low.
A seller may have high sales volumes, but underpriced items are a red flag that a race to the bottom is underway among current sellers and your margins will suffer.
In contrast, if prices are too high, that could be a red flag signaling high production and shipping costs that will also eat into your profits.
Or, it could signal high levels of competition from certain sellers who have a stronghold on the market making it difficult to compete.
In either case, if you feel the product is worth pursuing, it never hurts to do some extra due diligence and determine whether or not you can profitably compete with those products.
The key to the second characteristic – customization – is to find a product that you know you can improve and make the best in the market. Find a niche where there is a clear gap in the market and you are sure that you could create and advertise the product better than anyone else currently in the game.
This means looking for a product that you can customize or modify to make it unique to your brand. This increases your product’s immunity to competition (and copying!).
It may be difficult to scale this type of a product, but it is the perfect “first” Amazon product for building a solid foundation for a successful brand.
How to Conduct Product Research
Now that you know what to look for, let’s inspect exactly how to look for the perfect product.
There are several methods for conducting Amazon product research. Thorough research will include all of those methods.
The three umbrella methods are manual research, automated tools, and your Amazon portal. Below, we’ll take an up-close look at the first two and the various different tactics available within each one.
1. Check Out the Amazon Best Seller Page
Amazon makes it really easy to find the products that sell the highest volumes. In fact, they list them all on the Amazon Best Sellers page. They’ll even list the best-selling products in each category and sub-category.
Check these listings first to see which products in each category have the highest sales.
This is a simple and effective way to determine whether or not a particular niche is worth your time and investment. It’s also a great way to figure out which products your target customers are actually buying.
The Best Sellers page will also help you find your main competitors, which is an easy second step of your manual research…
2. Observe the Competition
Contrary to popular belief, the total number of sellers in a product category is not that important.
It may seem intimidating and impossible to compete for a spot among 30,000 other sellers for a particular item, but the truth is that you only need to worry about who’s on pages one and two and the kind of numbers they are doing.
Beyond the top 20 sellers, no one else is getting a significant piece of the pie.
You do not have to concern yourself with what the other 29,980 sellers are doing. Just look at those who are successful and figure out how to beat them at their own game.
This definitely means creating a better product, but it also means knowing how many products the competition sells a day, what they do to market the product, the keywords they rank for, the quality of their listing, whether or not they have a separate website, and other factors you can easily discover by observing their listing.
While some of these factors are easier to detect with the help of technology, you will only reveal some of the more important details through manual research.
Read their sales copy. Scrutinize their product images. Look at their “Frequently Bought Together” and “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” sections. Search for the product on Google. Scour their website. Read the product reviews.
Buy the product and examine its quality yourself. This will also allow you to observe the different tactics your competitors use, from emails to inserts to other best practices.
No research software will tell you all of these details, so do not neglect the manual aspects of the research phase. You want to know everything you’re up against.
That being said, no proper Amazon product research is complete without using a few automated tools as well. (And you should use more than one!)
They will save you countless hours and give you insights that are nearly impossible to achieve without them.
Instead of a long, drawn-out process, automated tools can deliver metrics like daily sales, keywords and phrases, total reviews, profitable product categories, price, rank, and more in a matter of seconds.
This certainly isn’t all the information that you will need and you should not take any of it at face value, but it is an excellent start to know if a product is worth investigating further.
Amazon provides a free tool in your portal that will give you very basic information, but if you want to conduct thorough competition analysis, consider investing a little money in one of our favorite automated research tools:
Amachete will show you current sales data to inform you of the kind of daily sales your competitors are doing before you launch. It is an excellent tool that works in every Amazon country.
Seller Tools is one of our favorite tools here at Judo Launch. Instead of scraping Google or public resources, Seller Tools gets its data from the same sources as Amazon. This is a great tool for discovering the most searched for keywords, as well as suggestions for new keywords based on the original keywords you input.
KeywordInspector is a great tool that covers the majority of Amazon markets. Its best feature is its Reverse ASIN function that allows you to enter the ASIN of the top-selling product in your category to get all the keywords people are typing in that bring them to that listing.
Jungle Scout is another great web app that can search a large database of products and deliver metrics like price, rank, weight, and rating. The tool also has a great niche hunter capability.
Unicorn Smasher is a free tool that you can use to track your competitors’ inventory. It also provides sales data and other metrics, but we suggest using a more comprehensive tool to obtain that data.
For a full list of the best tools for every aspect of your Amazon FBA business, read this article.
How to Set Your Product Apart From the Rest
Once you find a product that shows potential numerically, the next step is to hone in on how you can set your version of the product apart through customization.
The metrics can tell you which product is in high demand, but they cannot help as much when it comes to knowing how to customize a particular product.
Your best resources for this second step include your own imagination and – more importantly – customer reviews.
For every new product that I create for my personal brand, I have my VA go through every single review of my competitors’ products from the very get-go.
We look at our top competitors – the top sellers for a given keyword for a product – and we go through hundreds of reviews.
We mostly focus on the negative reviews (3 stars or lower) because we know that those reviews are much more likely to be honest.
My VA then goes through each one and keeps track of the different complaints made. She keeps a running tally next to each piece of critical feedback every time someone mentions the same issue.
If you do this, you will spot patterns. I guarantee it.
You’ll begin to notice review after review saying something along the lines of, “This is a great product, but… it’s too big… it doesn’t fit in my car… the zipper doesn’t work… it makes me bloated, etc.”
All it takes to successfully customize a product is to discover the pattern and then solve that one problem with a simple design change. Add an ingredient that takes away the bloating. Reduce the size. Fix the zipper.
Just by taking this one step, you are going to be in an exponentially better position to have a successful long-term product in the future.
You can fix all the issues or just focus on the one with the most tally marks. The main things you should be asking are:
How easy will it be for someone to copy your customization?
Is the product truly better than the other products on the market?
Will this customized version of the product last, or is it more of a trend that will fade?
Hot Tip: One easy way you can solve a product’s design problems is to simply send your supplier the list of issues you found in your review analysis and ask them, “Can you fix all of these problems?”
Most sellers do not know this, but large suppliers will usually have an engineering team, a formula team – whatever space you’re in – they’ll have a core design team within their staff that you can basically use for free.
It’s free engineering, free formulation, free researchers! It’s amazing. Take advantage of it.
Just tell them, “This is what we need to place that next $30,000 order with you (or whatever amount you are looking to invest), make it happen.”
You will be amazed at what they can do.
How to Ensure You Have Profitable Margins
There is one last vital step you should take before settling on a final product and it comes down to one question:
Are you going to make any money selling on Amazon?
If you’ve whittled your options down to a few good products, examining your margins can be the deciding factor that pushes you in one direction or another.
The two costs that will vary the most by product are your production costs and your shipping costs.
When it comes to finding a supplier to produce your new product, search for the perfect cost to quality ratio. You want a product that leaves a healthy margin without sacrificing quality.
You also want to find a supplier who is easy to work with on a long-term basis. Look for a good attitude and decent English skills!
A quick hot tip is to reach out to people in your network to find good suppliers.
You can double your margins simply by finding the right supplier for the right price. This is much easier to do by networking with folks already in the know.
Shipping is one area that can quickly cut into margins, especially since many traditional logistics companies will quote you one thing up-front and charge you something entirely different upon delivery.
For ocean-port freight, we recommend using Flexport, a competitive logistics company that provides transparency throughout the entire shipment process and accurate quotes up-front.
By knowing exactly what you’ll pay from the very beginning, you can calculate your margins and have confidence they will stay at that level.
Once you take into account your product price, the cost of production and shipping, and calculate your margins, all that’s left to do is run a powerful launch to get your product to the top of page one on Amazon.
Well, that’s where we come in.
Judolaunch will get you to the top and help you stay there long-term so you can not only recoup your investment but turn your first Amazon product into the foundation of a successful Amazon business and brand.
Click here to schedule a call with our Amazon expert and get a customized product launch strategy.