Once you've come up with a few product ideas, it's time to make sure they'll actually sell. Of course, we have no way to guarantee a product will sell, but by vetting a product correctly, you can get a better feel for how the product will do!
Before we dive in, I'd like to point out that I'm a firm believer in the idea that if you work hard enough at something, it will succeed. In other words, if you buy a high competition product to private label that you believe you can rank for and you really work at it, good on you. Don't let me or my posts stop you!
For those of you that like to err on the safe side, I'd suggest you always vet your products and in a few minutes I'll show you just how to do that.
Things You Need to Check to Vet a Product
I've already covered the checklist you should go through when sourcing a new product, but just as a reminder, here it is again:
- Sales Price over $15
- At least one competitor with a Best Sellers Rank of 7k or under in the main category (ie. Home and Kitchen, Pet Supplies, etc.)
- 2lbs or under
- Competitors with 100 or less reviews
- No recognizable brands selling a similar product (ie. Tide, Samsung, Covergirl)
- Competitor's listings have room for improvement.
- Not electronic and not easily broken
- Not very big
- Product can be sourced for 30% or less of sale price
- Sales Price Under $50
- Amazon isn't a competitor
- Ability to expand your brand (ie. If you sell a cookie sheet, you could expand into more baking products).
- There is a way to make the product better (ie. bundle it with something, add stronger materials, etc.)
- Not seasonal
Now that you've got the general idea of what to look for and what not to, let's talk about things you'll want to vet once you think you've got a great product! This is what I like to call the "double check," just to ensure that everything is up to snuff, so you really know you're making a good buy.
How to Check a Product's Amazon Best Seller Rank (BSR)
Understanding Amazon Best Sellers Rank (BSR) is a post of it's own, but fortunately with certain extensions, in this case JungleScout, you don't need to really understand the BSR as much as you need to know how many products are selling. It's also important to use Keepa to make sure a product is selling regularly instead of once in a while.
Let me show you what I mean.
With Jungle Scout's Google Chrome extension, you're able to quickly look at a page on Amazon and determine which listings are selling, what rank they are, and how many units they're selling monthly. Using this extension on your competition is a great way to determine their sales and if you're product will sell.
1. To utilize Jungle Scout's extension, you'll first want to install it. The cheaper option is $97 and the more expensive one is $197. The biggest difference between the two versions is that the more expensive one shows weight, dimensions, FBA fees, and seasonal trends whereas the cheaper extension does not. Personally, I bought the cheaper one, because I didn't need all the extra fluff.
2. Next, search your competition. For this example, let's search mouse pads. While, we can quickly see this is not a good niche to get into (ie. too many reviews, name brands, etc.), we'll pretend it is for this example.
3. Now, click the Jungle Scout Extension and you'll quickly have information on all of your competitors.
4. The information you get is pretty straightforward, but just so everyone's on the same page, let'd go through them quickly:
- #: The order of the product on the page. #1 is the item in the top left and #2 is the item to the right of it, and so on.
- Product Name: The exact title on Amazon.
- Brand: What the brand name is listed as. This is where you can quickly see if there are any big hitters in this niche (ie. Belkin).
- Price: This is the price the item is selling for excluding shipping/tax.
- Category: This is the item's main category.
- Rank: The BSR of that item in it's main category.
- Estimated Sales: The estimated monthly sales that exact item receives based on it's BSR. This number is usually estimated high.
- Estimated Revenue: The estimated total revenue the product receives in a month.
- # of Reviews: The number of reviews the item has.
- Rating: The average star rating the item has.
- BB Seller: This is the Buy Box seller. AMZ stands for Amazon, FBA stands for an FBA seller (ie. a private labeler), and Merch stands for someone selling and shipping the product (ie. merchant fulfilled).
Other information, Jungle Scout provides for this page of products, is the average sales rank, price, sales, and number of reviews. It also gives you the ability to export as a CSV and quickly extract the next page's data without leaving the Amazon page you're on!
I find Jungle Scout super handy for both PL research and OA/wholesale research.
If you don't want to buy the Jungle Scout extension, they also offer a free web app that you can use to estimate a product's monthly sales. All you need, is an item's BSR and it can estimate just how many of an item with that BSR sells monthly. It definitely doesn't provide near as much information as the extension, but it is free!
Jungle Scout provides a lot of useful information, but unfortunately, not everything. Fortunately, Keepa is a free extension that you can use to fill in the gaps. Camel Camel Camel works the same way (also free), but I feel like Keepa works a lot better.
If you aren't familiar with Keepa, it's a free extension that shows you rank and price history for items on Amazon. This helps you get a better idea as to how well an item sells.
For example, if an item has a BSR of 2,000 in a category, and you just check Jungle Scout, you might think it sells like crazy, but if you check Keepa and a day ago it was 400,000 BSR, it's probably not selling often.
2. Go to the product page on Amazon. We'll continue using a mousepad as the example product.
3. This product hovered right around 500-1000 BSR in the last 90 days (green line), so it's clear this is selling very well! Now, let's look at a bit of a deceiving product.
4. As you can see here, the rank is 10,000 which is pretty decent, but the average rank is about 55,000 in the last 90 days. That's the difference of about 175 sales a month - A big difference!
Keepa is a free extension that full of great information for resellers of all types (OAers, RAers, Wholesalers, PLers), so there' really no reason NOT to have it.
How to Check If the Product Is Seasonal
Determining a product's seasonality can be done in a number of ways that are both free and paid.
The paid option is the Pro Jungle Scout extension, which I don't have (I have the Lite version), so I can't show you, but the free options work really well!
Google Trends is a website where you can see a search's trends across time and location. This is useful to see when a product is being searched and where it's being searched for.
Google Trends tells you if a product is being searched for by rating it's search from 1-100 (the higher the better).
Let's see how mouse pads trend.
1. Head to Google Trends and type in the your product name. In this case: "mouse pads."
2. As you see, mouse pads are trending upwards in the last 5 years, so that's good. It's clear there is demand! But, let's look at the trend in one year's time to see if there are any spikes.
3. Still looks good - It's a very steady incline. People apparently love to search for mouse pads! Since it's a steady line with no big spikes, we can see this product is not seasonal which means it's a good one to sell year round.
Now, let's look at a product we know is seasonal, like "easter baskets," so you can see what a seasonal product looks like on Google Trends.
If a product is seasonal, like easter baskets are, you'll see these types of spikes at certain times of the year. These products are still sellable, but you won't want to buy a bunch of them after the spike/season.
In addition to telling you previous sales rank/pricing information, Keepa can also tell you if an exact product is seasonal. What can't Keepa do?
1. To start head to your product's page. In this case, we'll head to this mouse pad's product page. Fun fact: I'm using this mouse pad as I type this.
2. Now, let's look at the Keepa chart to see if there are any spikes.
3. As you can see, there aren't really any spikes, but in the Summer time, this mouse pad doesn't sell quite as well. It still sells quite a lot of units, just not as many as the Spring, Fall, and Winter.
You can clearly see spikes in rank that are pretty significant around April. The rest of the year, this basket sells okay, but during April, it flies off the shelves!
How to Check Demand With Keyword Tools
Using different keyword tools is a great way to determine if people are searching for your product. I go more in depth on keyword research in this post, but I cover it a bit here as well.
Long Tail Pro
Using Long Tail Pro, you are able to see how often a product keyword is searched on Google. The nice thing about Long Tail Pro is that you can have a product keyword in mind (ie. mouse pad) and you can have Long Tail Pro use Google's suggestions to add more keywords similar to that (ie. best mouse pad, mouse pads on the cheap, etc.).
I use Long Tail Pro for my products, my websites, and a lot more, because of how versatile it is.
Let's search mouse pad on Long Tail Pro to see what it brings up...
Variations of mouse pad keywords are being searched thousands of times every month. That's a lot of people looking for mouse pads!
By using LTP, you're able to judge how often people search Google for your products and by seeing that, you can determine if there is a demand. This is especially useful if you plan to move your brand off of Amazon eventually, because then you can see if your website will be able to rank for these keywords.
Merchant words works just like Long Tail Pro, however, instead of searching Google for keyword demand, it's searching Amazon.
In my opinion, Merchant Words' estimated keyword search volume is a bit higher than it really is, but by using Merchant Words, you're able to get a rough idea as to how often your product(s) are searched.
Let's search mouse pad on Merchant Words and see if people are searching for them!
As you can see people are clearly searching for mouse pads every month. The fact that the search volume is so high is both good and bad.
It's good because people are clearly searching for the product, but it's bad because that means there will likely be some stiff competition for this product.
While there is no way to guarantee your new private labeled product will sell, by vetting it with some of these methods, you're able to get a better feel for just how often and how well your product will sell.
If you have any vetting tips I missed, feel free to leave them in the comments!
In the next section, I'll be going over how I found my PL item and some more information about it!