Either as a side hustle or as a replacement to your 9-to-5, selling products online has the potential to be highly profitable. The main problem, though, is working out which products offer the highest possible return on your investment of time and money.
Here’s the dilemma:
You need to find a product or set of products that you’re confident a decent number of people will want to buy online. However, you also want to discover a niche that is not already overcrowded with other retailers who represent stiff competition.
Don’t worry, we’ve got the solution.
In this post, we’ll help you understand:
- Which the best products are to sell online in 2021
- What makes a product or set of products suitable for selling online
- How you can identify the products that are right for you to sell online
Though we’re not going to tell you exactly what to choose to sell, the aim is to give you the tools to confidently decide which products are right for you, set up an online store, and market your brand and products to the right people.
The best products to sell online in 2021
Before we launch into a list of top-selling products, it’s worth spending a moment taking note of how we compiled these entries.
We’ll go into more detail about how we chose these products. But for now, you should understand that these are not necessarily the products that most online stores are selling at the moment.
Instead they are the products with the most potential. That means they:
- Have a proven demand in the market
- A clear target audience
- Are suitable to sell online
- Are not saturated by other retailers
What types of products are in high demand right now?
First, let’s take a look at the types of products which are in the highest demand. These are the things which many people are looking to buy online, and the industries you might consider looking into.
For each of these in-demand product types, we’ll explain which products have the biggest potential based on their target audience being under-served.
Consumer electronics and accessories
A mainstay of the eCommerce world, electronics, and associated accessories regularly top-out as the best selling products online. In this market, it’s best to try and find novel and exciting niches within this, admittedly crowded, market.
The most promising electronics eCommerce product trends in 2021 are the following.
1. Solar panels and chargers. The increasing affordability and reliability of solar technology means that setups of all sizes – from phone chargers to rooftop power supplies – are increasingly popular.
2. Smart keychains. Keyring attachments with Bluetooth, WiFi, or other connectivity functionality are helping more consumers from losing their keys or performing other basic functions.
3. Portable speakers. The sound quality of small Bluetooth/portable speakers has skyrocketed in recent years, and consumers still can’t get enough.
Baby and child care
As long as people keep having babies, there will continue to be a demand for baby and child care products.
Even despite the universality of child-rearing, there are still trends within this market that can be exploited by savvy eCommerce retailers looking for new things to sell.
In 2021, the most promising baby and childcare products include:
4. Baby thermometers. Searches and sales for this and similar products spiked in the first half of 2021, and there is still space in the market for new retailers.
5. Rear-facing car seats. An evergreen product which, though popular, has potential for retailers willing to put the work into carving out their space in specific search results.
6. Baby nail-clippers. This may be a very niche product, but there is a growing demand for it in the USA and Canada in 2021.
Pets and animal care
It’s long been the case that people are willing to spend money on their pets, even before themselves.
With this in mind, selling products targeted at animal owners can be a very profitable niche to get yourself into.
7. Pet beds. It might sound like an unlikely product to be trending in 2021. However, pet ownership is up, so more people than ever before are in need of places for their cats, dogs, and other pets to sleep.
8. Customized feeding bowls. This is a relatively cheap product to manufacture, store, and ship, but the customization aspect means that there’s the potential for a considerable markup and profit margin.
9. Training collars. These products are on the more controversial side, since they involve applying mild electric shocks to animals. However, they’re nevertheless gaining in popularity
Travel is one of the best markets to start selling in.
Not only does it guarantee a constant audience of holidaymakers buying your goods, but there are also plenty of new trends every few months that offer the opportunity to add new items to your online store.
10. Backpacks. This is a good product to sell if you can find a good niche within the market. Although the overall market is competitive, consumers are always on the lookout for new, innovative, and distinctive backpacks.
11. Custom beach towels. As with customized pet feeding bowls, the benefits of having these products to sell online are their relatively low production and shipping costs, and high markup.
12. Neck pillows. Though versions of this product have been available for decades, travelers are still keen to purchase the latest and most innovative models. If your online store is travel-focused, pillows are an easy win.
Jewelry and fashion accessories
One reason that fashion accessories are great types of products to sell is that they’re super compact, easy to store (even in your own home), and ship.
It’s also very easy to create a range that covers a number of price points, so you can market to a relatively large demographic.
13. Minimalist design jewelry. Over the last couple of years, the trending aesthetic in jewelry has moved away from big and flashy to simple and fine. Especially if you can design or commission your own, these can be profitable products to sell.
14. Hair clips. The key to this kind of product is to make sure you’re offing something novel and unique. Hair clips are a blank canvas for creativity, and if you have an eye for new designs, it can be a good money maker.
15. Nail decoration. Expressive nails were, until recently, only achievable at a salon. With new at-home kits making it easier than before for consumers to decorate nails themselves, this has become a booming product trend.
Health and beauty
This type of product straddles the line between what consumers want and what they need. It’s a market very susceptible to trends, so be prepared to be flexible if you start an online business in this niche. Be sure you also understand regulations on specific products.
16. Beard straighteners. Since the bearded look is increasingly popular among men, beard care products are trending at a higher rate than ever. Beard straighteners are widely available, but there’s still space in the market.
17. Subscription boxes. While technically a product that could be tailored to any niche, subscription boxes of cosmetics and beauty samples are among the most popular. These subscriptions are often purchased as gifts and offer ongoing income.
18. Eye shadow stamp. You may not have heard of this product, but it’s one of the hottest trends in beauty, especially among the 18-25 female demographic. It allows users to apply eyeshadow in a matter of seconds.
Cheap to produce, buy wholesale, store, and ship, smartphone accessories sold in an online store can target pretty much every demographic.
Given the abundance of smartphones and smartphone owners, this is a reliable market to get into, with plenty of trends to capitalize on.
19. Phone tripods. With the rise of influencers and TikTok, more consumers are looking for ways to film themselves easily. For many, phone tripods are the answer. Be there when they connect those dots.
20. Ring lights. Similarly to tripods, the aim of ring lights is to make self-shot photos and videos more professional looking. Increasingly used by fans of influencers in younger demographics, these products are getting cheaper and more popular.
21. Phone cases. While not exactly the most original out of all product ideas, new phone case trends start with the release of new models. If you can carve yourself a space in this market, you’re guaranteed a stream of new customers.
Another example of a product category that is always likely to have high demand.
Homeware is particularly popular in 2021, and some products have seen a huge growth in popularity this year. Even if the boom dies down, this will remain a stable niche.
22. Watering cans. There has been a spike in people gardening at home in 2021, and watering cans are among the most popular products as part of this trend. Searches and purchases for watering cans are up by more than 300% year on year.
23. Indoor plants. This year has seen a massive spike in the number of people buying indoor plants online. Beware, though, as storage and shipping can prove challenging.
24. LED lighting. Colored and white LED lighting setups are more popular among younger consumers. Whether you sell small scale lamps or full room lighting, the markup on these products can be impressive.
Of all the suggestions on this list, clothing is likely to be the most challenging business to break into, especially if you have just started your eCommerce website. However, if you sell in-demand products and find an exclusive niche, it can prove to be highly profitable.
25. Athleisure. Casual activewear has been a growing trend for almost 5 years and its popularity shows no signs of slowing down. This is a popular product type across a number of demographics.
26. Shapewear. Designed to shape bodies into more flattering silhouettes, shapewear has become a staple of eCommerce in the last couple of years. Demand is still steadily increasing for these products.
27. Sports bras. Unlike athleisure clothing, sports bras do tend to be purchased with the intention of using them during exercise. Since fitness is an evergreen market, their longterm popularity is all but guaranteed.
Workout and exercise
People experienced in business will know how easy it is to market workout and exercise equipment.
If you can be ahead of the curve on the latest trends, you can capitalize on the latest fitness crazes.
28. Massage guns. These gadgets for relaxing muscles post-workout have been steadily increasing in popularity through 2019 and into 2021. Compared to other workout equipment, they’re easy to store and ship.
29. Mesh shoes. A best-selling product, mesh exercise shoes are intended to give a more natural running experience and cut down on foot odor.
30. Resistance band. Another product that has seen a spike in popularity in 2021 are resistance bands. As more people want to workout at home, these products help with strength and core training.
They might not be the most obvious consumer goods for people to buy online, but 2021 has seen a surprising spike in the number of people purchasing medical supplies online.
To avoid restrictions in any geographical area, here we’ll only discuss items that aren’t regulated.
31. Medical scrubs. Intended for use in hospitals, scrubs have become increasingly popular with people for personal protective purposes, and to protect other clothes while carrying out messy projects.
32. Latex gloves. Also used for crafts and industrial purposes, demand for latex gloves has shot up as more people look for methods of reducing contact with unclean surfaces and areas.
33. Face masks. Personal protective face masks of all kinds are seeing unprecedented popularity in 2021. The basic model market is saturated, but people are always kee to purchase those with unique designs.
Toys and hobbies
An evergreen market to get yourself into which always has exciting new products coming out into circulation is toys and hobby products.
It can prove a good earner with a strong potential for return custom. The secret in this niche is to have a very specific demographic in mind when creating your brand.
34. Art supplies. While certainly not a booming market, there is always a steady demand for paints, charcoals, canvas, and other art products at reasonable prices. If you have a good selection, you’ve got a chance.
35. Washable paint. Bridging the gap between toy and hobby, washable paints for kids allow creativity to run wild, without the fear of ruined carpets or clothing. This product has seen a 20% upswing in searches in 2021.
36. Branded toys. It’s an inevitable fact in retail that brand names command higher price tags, and the same is true with toys. Products that are branded with cartoon or film brands sell best, but be sure you have permission if you want to sell these.
Kitchen and cooking
The home cooking market is one that’s particularly susceptible to trends.
New devices or recipe fads mean that, while it’s easy to always have staple products in your inventory, it’s also super easy to roll out new and exciting products to the market.
37. Bread maker. Home baking is really seeing a comeback in 2021. While many people want to enjoy fresh bread at home, some don’t fancy the labor-intensive work to make it. That’s why bread makers are trending right now.
38. Waffle maker. There has been a social media trend in recent years for making pancakes and waffles with unique and colorful designs. Thanks to this, there’s been an upswing in demand for waffle makers.
39. Electric can opener. Since the first electric can openers were available in the 1940s, it might seem like a strange product to sell in 2021. However, new and innovative models are still popular online.
It’s relatively easy to find an audience with a demand for an environmentally-friendly alternative to everyday products.
As well as having less impact on the planet, consumers are increasingly expecting eco-friendly products to feature artistic and interesting designs.
40. Reusable coffee cups. Many coffee shops and cafes will now offer discounts to customers with reusable cups, not to mention the positive environmental impact. With the right design, the messaging on this is simple.
41. Biodegradable glitter. Consumers are increasingly understanding the dangers of microplastics getting into the environment. Biodegradable glitter has growing demand and is still a relatively niche product.
42. Reuseable food covers. Another concern of the environmentally-conscious is the continued use of tin foil or plastic wrap to store food. Silicone or even beeswax alternatives are having a trending moment right now.
Protection and security
It’s a sad fact that there is an increasing sense of insecurity among consumers. This has driven a demand for products to protect individuals and property from unsavory characters. This, in turn, offers retail opportunities to you.
43. Personal alarms. For consumers who want to draw attention and get help when attacked or threatened, personal alarms have been getting smaller, louder, and more visually appealing. Their popularity is increasing.
44. Pepper spray. A quick, effective, and low-effort way to disable and repel attackers, all kinds of people choose to carry pepper spray. As long as it is not regulated where you live, this is perfect for an online business geared towards security.
45. Door bars. As well as protecting themselves, consumers want to protect their homes from invasion. Digital door bars are among the latest trends in home security and are a surprisingly effective way to make money.
What makes a product suitable for selling online?
Now that we’ve given you some product ideas for an eCommerce store, let’s break down exactly what exactly makes these appropriate products to sell online.
There will be a number of factors that come into your decision-making process, many of them specific to your own personal situation.
However, we’re going to take a look at 5 important considerations that are universal and applicable to app products.
We’ll let you into a little secret: popular products aren’t necessarily the ones you want to sell.
Sure, you should be looking for product ideas which plenty of people want, but this comes with certain caveats:
- The demand should, at least to some extent, be untapped. This means that there is a gap in the market for you (we’ll talk more about competition in a minute).
- The people who want the product should be in a clearly defined, and easy to market to, demographic. If all of your customers are different in location, interests, and biography, your marketing costs will be through the roof.
- The products in demand should meet the other specifications on this list and be legal to sell.
For most eCommerce store owners, the aim should be for the retail price of their product (the price you charge the customer) to be between $10 and $40.
There are three main ways that the price of the items you’re selling will affect their suitability for selling online.
In most cases, you’re going to have to foot the bill of inventory before you make a sale. This will eat into any startup capital you have in hand, and the wholesale price of the products you’re selling will determine the number of units you can buy
Keeping the wholesale cost at a relatively low level means that your investment is less risky, allowing you to buy in bigger volumes, and freeing up capital to be spent elsewhere.
It’s worth noting that there are ways around large startup costs.
For instance, dropshipping is an increasingly popular way to sell online. It involves the retailer shipping products directly from the manufacturer or wholesaler to the customer without handling the inventory.
Willingness to buy
Regardless of what you as a retailer are willing to invest in your products, fundamentally a bigger concern is what your customers are willing to pay for them.
The reason the most popular products tend to sell for between $10 and $40 is that this is an amount most consumers are willing to spend on an average purchase.
It is, of course, alright if some of your products cost more than this. However, your customers are more likely to view pricier products as a big purchase, and therefore your unit sales will be lower.
Your profit margin is the difference between the amount you pay for products in your inventory and the amount your customers pay for items in your online store. Ideally, it should be as big a difference as possible, as it is the profit you picket.
The reason the minimum recommended amount for products to sell online is $10 relates to this. Once you’ve factored in how much you pay, your time and effort handling inventory, and your marketing and website costs, your profit margin on single units will be razor-thin.
Of course, there are retailers, like Wish, that operate on a high-volume, low margin basis. But for small to medium-sized retailers, you want to sell profitable products with a decent margin.
3. Storable and shippable
So you’ve come up with some exciting product ideas which you’re sure will be popular and make you loads of money?
Hold on: you’ve got some boring technical considerations to take into account before you start selling.
If you’re managing your own inventory, if even just remotely, you need to think about where, how, and how long your product can be stored:
- Avoid perishables like food, which might need refrigeration, or have a limited shelf-life
- Don’t go for a large product which takes up a lot of warehouse space
- Think about how easy it will be to access your stored product quickly once sold
You’ve made a sale, great! Now you need to send the purchased items to your customer.
Your choice of products to sell will influence how easy it is to get them to your customers in perfect condition:
- Again, avoid perishables which might go off during their journey
- Consider items which aren’t too delicate and likely to break while shipped
- Don’t sell overly bulky or heavy items which will drive up your shipping costs
Don’t pick the trend of the month
One last note on this topic.
Although it’s a great idea to sell a product that is in the zeitgeist, and has just rocketed to popularity, you should be careful not to rely on a trend that is likely to fizzle out too soon.
If you invest in a short-lived trend, you’re likely to find yourself stuck with a huge amount of unsold merchandise when consumers lose interest.
It’s a fine line to walk, but try to find something that is popularly trending, but likely to be around a while.
Anyone remember the fidget spinner?
4. Uniqueness and appeal
It might seem like it goes without saying, but the best selling products online are those which offer consumers something special, unique, and appealing.
A desire for novelty is one of the primary drivers of online purchasing decisions, so appealing to your customer’s desire for something fresh and new is an easy way to get your brand noticed.
Even if you’re selling things similar to products already on the market, try and find an angle or niche which has not yet been explored by other retailers.
Before settling on your products to sell, first do in-depth competitor research, and find out what similar retails to you are selling.
Not only will this give you a good idea of what is popular, and inspire your own product choices, but it will also help you steer away from products which are already saturated in the market.
Even if your items are of the best quality, if you’re up against too many other sellers with similar or related products, it’ll be difficult for you to stand out.
How to identify the best product for YOU to sell online
You have some idea of the products that are trending in 2021, and understand what generally makes for a good product to sell online.
Now, it’s time to explore how you should go about deciding which products you should sell.
Lean on your existing expertise
While it’s completely acceptable to launch into selling a product you’re entirely unfamiliar with, where possible, you should use your previous experience and expertise.
- Is there an industry or market you’re particularly familiar with?
- Is there a particular demographic which you belong to, or have an understanding of?
- Is there a product type you’ve worked with before which might be a suitable choice?
- Have you got any insights from a previous business that might inform your decision?
Working with products you’re familiar with or have an understanding of will give you an edge.
You’ll have an idea of the size and drivers of the demand for the product, be in tune with the demographic, and know what kind of markup you can expect to apply.
It’s an added bonus if you have a genuine passion for the products you sell; this will help you market them effectively
Identify problems to solve
Despite being one of the oldest pieces of advice in retail, the idea that you should look for a product or set of products that solve specific problems is a useful framework to make sure you have an audience for your goods.
Doing this exercise will help you find products to sell which:
- Are improved versions or have better features than similar products already on the market. You’d market these to an existing audience who like existing products, but want something better.
- Target a new audience that has been underserved by existing products. Tapping into a market where there is demand, but a lack of supply, positions you for great success.
- You can market in a novel and new way. Even if a product already exists and has an established target market, you may still be able to create a burst of excitement by pitching it in a new way to customers.
Choose between commoditized and niche products
Your web design, product listings, messaging, and marketing strategy will all hinge on whether the items you’re selling represent commoditized or niche products.
There are pros and cons to both approaches.
Commoditized products are popular products that are in high demand. They’ll have a high search volume and are often items consumer need, rather than want.
Commodities represent the opportunity for high unit sales, and can be marketed to a much broader audience.
However, competition is higher for these products, and carving out a market share is more challenging.
Niche products are targeted towards a more specific audience or need. They are likely to be products consumers want or solve a very specific problem.
Niche products give retailers the opportunity to establish a larger share of the target market.
However, the number of potential customers is smaller, and the volume of sales will be lower.
Think about your branding
Every product is a branding opportunity.
When building your online store, you’re also building an identifiable brand, and your product choice should reflect the style, ethos, and mood of your brand:
- Focus on your target audience. What do they want and expect from your brand?
- When choosing your products, think about what they say about your company.
- Take opportunities, where appropriate, to brand your products with your company ID.
- Don’t add new products that would appeal to a different target audience.
Find the balance between trends and evergreen products
There are relative benefits and drawbacks for focusing either on trending products that are having a moment, and evergreen products that will have long-landing demand.
- Products that are trending are likely to be sold in higher volumes, at least in the short-term. If you get to a trend early enough, you can also avoid having too much competition. However, once the trend fades, you may be stuck with products you can’t move.
- Evergreen products are those with a regular, long-term demand. They’re unlikely to go out of style anytime soon, and guarantee a regular market. However, you may find much stiffer competition than with trending products.
Striking the balance in your offering between trending and evergreen products will help your business grow profitably and sustainably.
At a certain point, you’ll just need to choose a product and take the plunge.
You can do all the research and planning you want, but at the end of the day, you’ll never know what’s best for you to sell until you start selling.
This doesn’t mean you’re going to be stuck with one product forever. You can start small, perhaps with limited inventory or drop shipping to reduce risk.
If you find that the products you’ve chosen aren’t selling, you can switch things up. Try:
- Changing the messaging or targeting settings of your marketing
- Targeting a new demographic or marketing through a new channel
- Selling your products on a different channel, like Amazon or Facebook
- Expanding your range to different products within the same category
- Using analytics data to explore where visitors are dropping off in the purchasing process
- Improving your user experience to encourage more visitors to make purchases
If you’re still having difficulty making sales, you might need to consider moving into a different niche.