With the advent of affordable web development software and ecommerce shopping cart solutions as well as the easy availability of free shopping cart template designs, almost any business can now be an easy online business to start and grow. Demand has also grown to match this ever-growing supply of web stores as shoppers are taking to the Net in increasing numbers as well.
Not surprisingly these days, a large percentage of consumers with PCs or notebooks have either shopped online at some point in time or continue to shop online regularly. This is an obvious choice for many, especially with broadband speeds going up steadily: Internet shopping is extremely convenient, environmentally friendly and a haven for great deals. In the UK, Germany and Japan, around 97% of Internet users do their shopping online. The US is not far behind with 94%.
Internet shopping is getting more secure and there are more and more choices of payments methods available to shoppers. For merchants, the million dollar question is still “What do people want to buy online?”
In this blog post we’ll try to answer that question as well as share some of our thoughts to help you decide if following certain trends is the right way to go about growing your online business.
For years, the number one item purchased online has been books. All sorts of books. In fact, the sale of books has contributed to over 40% of Internet sales. This is a hefty figure since Internet sales in the US alone is worth over 100 billion dollars. But before you decide that an online bookstore is an easy online business to start, it’s important that you know some facts first.
When it comes to purchasing books online, Amazon is the first name that comes to mind for most people. This scenario is extremely common: When searching for the book they want, potential buyers type in the book title, followed by “Amazon”. These searches are specific and common, which is bad news for smaller book retailers (pretty much everyone else).
Frankly speaking, no amount of money you may spend on advertising or any amount of effort you put into making your store easier to find via search engines can get you close to Amazon when it comes to books in general. But not all hope is lost. There are a few other merchants who have been successful in selling books online. These merchants were smart enough not to try to compete head to head with the likes of Amazon. They’ve each found their own niches and have given it their all in making sure their stores rank very well for their niche groups and searches.
Additional food for thought: Amazon is also strong in the sale of CDs, DVDs and games as well. This segment contributes over 20% of Internet sales.
Apparel and Accessories
This segment takes up a sizable chunk of Internet sales as well, with about 36%. The clothing market is very competitive to say the least but people are still signing up with InstanteStore and starting clothing stores, accessories stores and shoe stores. Why? Well, the margins are pretty attractive. Once again, finding a niche and marketing a store specifically for that niche plays an important part in the success of the store.
This is one of those products which most people purchase online, which is why airline tickets comprise up to a quarter of Internet sales. This is also a very competitive product to market. It’s not really an easy online business to start as ticket merchants do not usually sell tickets as standalone products. Instead, merchants not only market to specific niche groups, but they also package or cross sell tickets with hotel bookings, vehicle rentals and travel insurance.
Sometimes bundling related products can sweeten the deal. Just remember to offer a few bundle options instead of trying to package every single product together. Over-doing bundling products may just defeat the whole purpose of this exercise as the cost of large bundles may be a turn-off for potential customers.