For some operators of online shops, the product idea comes first. Those merchants know right from the outset what they want to sell in their store. Others, however, start off without any idea of what should be included in their online shop. If, then, you’re one of those people who are still searching for inspiration for your product – or even entire product range – this article will help.
The two Ps: products and problems
Let’s be honest: it might not be easy to find the ideal product for your shop. It’s quite possible that a brilliant idea won’t simply pop into your head within a couple of minutes. That’s why it’s important to get into the right frame of mind for searching for ideas. This involves being on the look-out every day for the two Ps: products and problems.
Pay attention generally to the products you see around you and in the media. What type of products are used by your friends, family or colleagues? What products do you see on TV, on the Internet or on social media? While thinking about these things won’t necessarily help you find a product that you can immediately sell, it will give you inspiration and help you come up with your own ideas. What kind of trends are evident? Which products are being talked about, perhaps because people either love them or hate them? By considering these kind of issues, you’ll gradually get a feeling for things that people are looking for or tend to prefer.
If you keep your eyes open as you go about your daily business, you’ll occasionally come across certain problems. For example, what little things do you regularly find annoying that could be solved by a new product? The bigger the problem and the more suitable your solution to that problem, the more likely it is that people will be prepared to spend money on your product.
This doesn’t have to involve “reinventing the wheel” and marketing a brand new product. In many cases all that’s needed to create a new market is to make small-scale improvements to existing product categories.
For example, as a result of the widespread adoption of smartphones, millions of us faced the same problem every winter: the fact that many smartphones are impossible to use while wearing gloves. Some inventive businesspeople, however, soon noticed this problem and came up with a solution – “touchscreen gloves”, which enable their wearers to use a smartphone without difficulty. As a result, gloves of that type can now be bought everywhere.
Spotting and exploiting trends
As well as products and problems, trends can also be useful in your search for a new product idea. Pay special attention to changes of this kind. And if you think you’ve spotted an interesting trend, start to think about what products might be associated with that trend. For example, the touchscreen gloves mentioned above could only gain in popularity as a result of the continuing growth in smartphone use. In this kind of case, it’s important to spot and react to the trend as early as possible.
Making a career out of your interests and hobbies
You should also give special consideration to product ideas in fields with which you’re already regularly involved. These might be your hobbies or personal interests. There are a number of advantages to doing this:
- You’ll be in a good position to identify the kinds of products that are interesting and the factors that need to be considered
- If you’re enthusiastic about, or at least interested in, your online shop’s likely focus area then you’ll be more passionate about running your shop later on
- In the best-case scenario, you’ll already possess a lot of specialist knowledge and will therefore project more authority and credibility to your customers
- You’ll be familiar with your target audience
- Depending how much time you invest in your hobby, you will already know the main media and websites. You might even already have some contacts who could be of help. This would enable you to discuss your product idea right away with potential customers and opinion-formers.
Getting your family and friends involved
You will certainly have friends, relatives or acquaintances you can involve in your search for the perfect product idea. Why not ask those people to start looking out for products and problems in their everyday lives and to share any ideas they come up with? Even if you gain just one active ally in your product search, you will potentially be doubling your chances of finding a good idea.
Using online sources
The Internet is an ideal tool for researching new product ideas and gaining inspiration. There, for example, you can seek out ideas on Twitter or visit ProductHunt to check out the latest product trends.
Practical brainstorming tips
- You should make it a habit to write down all your ideas (as well as those suggested by your friends and relatives). To do this, it’s useful to have a cloud-based notebook available, such as a Google Docs document. That way you can note your ideas down at any time on your smartphone or PC.
- Each and every idea, in fact, deserves to be recorded, as even an apparently silly idea has the potential to get you on the right track. It sometimes turns out that the time for a particular idea has simply not yet come. In a few years, however, the idea might prove to be extremely valuable.
- The American writer James Altucher swears by the importance of writing down ten ideas every day. These can be new business or product ideas, or even ideas for totally different areas. By doing this we strengthen what Altucher calls our “idea muscle”. Go ahead and try it out. In a few days you’ll see that this method is especially good at sharpening your perceptions and helping you stay alert to new ideas. And if in a month’s time you’ve noted down 300 different ideas, there’s a good chance that one of them could be a great idea for a product. You can read more about this technique by visiting Altucher’s website.
This article was updated in August 2020.