Selling on Amazon is a great way to start your own business, but most people quit before they even start.
Why? They simply can’t think of a product to sell.
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve recommended someone look into Amazon as a potential business to start, they are extremely enthusiastic about the idea, only to stop before they even start because the aspect of choosing their first product is too daunting.
It’s a sad reality, but it’s understandable.
There are literally millions of products on Amazon, and when researching they’re hit with the thought of potentially getting a product manufactured, dumping a ton of money into the idea only for it to not sell.
It can feel hopeless when you think of all you need to do at once, but don’t despair! Launching a product on Amazon doesn’t have to be an expensive experiment where failure will cost you thousands.
In fact, you could do it for a couple hundred bucks, sometimes even less.
Interested in how?
In this post I’ll go over some dead simple ways you can test a product on Amazon to see if it sells so you can have some confidence in committing to a big first order to launch your business.
Let’s get right into it.
Method 1 – Use Amazon Itself to Test an Amazon Product
One of the easiest ways to test if a product category or niche is hot is to simply buy a few units on Amazon, repackage them, create a quick burner listing, and see if it sells.
Sounds too simple to be a viable idea, right?
It actually works!
Sometimes when a certain product is trending, demand for it is almost insatiable.
You can take advantage of this by testing your own version of a product within the category.
But doing this is not so easy because overseas manufacturers typically will not make you a sample set of 5-20 units to test market viability. They want big orders and they want them now.
So what is a clever future seller to do?
Look on Amazon for items that seem to be selling well in a trending category, then follow these steps:
- Buy as many of the unit as you can to feel like you’d know it will sell if you sold your own version (this can be anywhere from 5 to 50… more units will give you better data).
- When you receive the units, remove any and all packaging that would make it identifiable that you bought it from that specific brand.
- Create your own packaging for the product… it can be simple, you don’t need to start branding just yet.
- Create a “burner” listing on Amazon by making a brand new product listing, getting some minimally viable images (take some at-home level studio pictures with a cell phone or get 3D renders made), try and get a handful of supporting images made as well (we have an Amazon Photo Guide to help with image creation).
- Fill out the listing as much as possible to make it enticing for customers
- Send it to Amazon FBA through UPS
- Create a small PPC budget at launch
- See if it sells!
With these simple steps, you can see if a product is viable and feel secure in investing in it before you invest thousands of dollars.
While it does require a lot of manual labor, the cash investment is minimal, and the peace of mind of knowing a product will sell is what most potential sellers need to have in order to risk their hard-earned cash.
If you manage to sell your initial units in a short amount of time, you’ve got a hit on your hands and can start the traditional process of looking for a manufacturer to get a first real order in.
(Quick note: If you find product viability, you should delete your first listing and start fresh with your branding, design, and any innovations you can add to the new product idea.)
Benefits of this method
- Test a product idea fast. You can see if something sells within a matter of days, which is simply unrivaled.
- Affordable way to get started.
Weaknesses of this method
The issue with this method of product testing is that it only really works if it’s in a really hot product category that is trending and growing fast. Amazon products search results have the issue of “sameness” where search results all look like they come from the same factory (and likely do, especially in more saturated niches), so using one of those products to test out a category can be more difficult.
To sum it up, only use this method if it’s part of a trend and the product is not “saturated” yet (check overall review count, various listings sales data from a tool like Jungle Scout or Helium 10, and variability within the product category).
Method 2 – Use Etsy to Test Product Viability on Amazon
For many reasons, I like this one a lot more than Method 1 where we use already existing Amazon listings to test your own version on Amazon.
Etsy is great because it is absolutely teeming with innovation.
If you think you’re onto a potential hit product while doing research on Amazon, it is very possible you’ll find a version of it on Etsy that is not only unique, but a more innovative offering than what Amazon currently has.
Following the steps from Method 1 above, you can do the same exact thing, just buy the initial test run of products on Etsy instead of Amazon.
Benefits of product testing on Amazon utilizing Etsy
- Etsy products are very innovative.
- Etsy usually has trendy items for sale before they hit Amazon
Weaknesses of this Method
- Etsy doesn’t have the product variability that Amazon does, so you’ll be restricted to fewer categories
- What makes a product unique and innovative on Etsy might not be easy or even possible to produce on a large scale.
Method 3 – Convince a Manufacturer to Send You Test Units
This method can be effective, but it depends greatly on how good you are at negotiating with manufacturers, and your potential manufacturer’s flexibility to work with you.
If everything works out, you can get a potential manufacturer to make you a small set of products to test, and if it’s a hit you can then get a larger order going, but getting them to agree to it can be difficult.
Manufacturers overseas all want one thing: large orders and long-term partnerships.
Knowing that, if you present yourself as a potential for both of these things, a manufacturer might be willing to put in a bit of work if they know there could be a potential future payoff.
A few ideas to keep in mind when trying to get a manufacturer to make you a small set of test products:
- Don’t present yourself as a single new seller with no selling experience.
- Don’t open with requests for a small order that you only want to be made to test market viability.
- Let them know that you intend to do a lot of work with the manufacturer and you can use them potentially for years with ever expanding product requests.
- Don’t be afraid to say you’ll pay a bit more for these test units and will make a discounted bulk order in due time.
If you can show a manufacturer your potential value, they will be willing to get those test products made.
Benefits of this Method
- It can help you build a strong relationship with a potential manufacturer. A lot of people don’t talk about the importance of how well you work with your manufacturer, but it is crucial to success.
- It’s a more “clean” method than relisting others’ products as your own.
Weaknesses of this Method
- Can be hard to find a manufacturer that is willing to create extremely small orders
- Much bigger time investment than other methods
Method 4 - Make Your First Batch of Products Yourself
When all else fails, you have might just have to take matters into your own hands.
In today’s world, you’d be surprised at what you’re capable of making.
For every idea, you can find a YouTube video or online tutorial that can assist in you making it.
If you have the skills and dedication, you can fabricate a small batch of products if your product idea isn’t something too elaborate (like electronics).
Again, if it’s a hit and people are buying, you can find a manufacturer to make a more fleshed out offering.
Benefits of this method
- Can be extremely low cost if you have the means to make the product in your possession.
- You can be very specific and creative with what you offer, more easily allowing for small tweaks and innovations to your offering
Weaknesses of this Method
- Restricted from certain product categories due to many product types being too complex to make on your own.
- Making units one by one can be time consuming, but if it works out you’ll be outsourcing
Any way you can get products into your hands, you can list them on Amazon and sell them to see if it’s worth pursuing.
These days there’s no reason to risk huge amounts of cash to validate an idea, you just need to be clever and think of a solution to whatever hurdle or problem you’re currently facing.
Once you find “your” product category, selling within that category will spur many ideas for the time being, and you will be on your way to being a high selling Amazon business owner.